British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1999

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 British Columbia
Historical News
Journal ofthe British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume j 2, No. 3
Summer lggg
ISSN ng5-82g4
Courtesy Robert C. Belyk
In 1875 the side-wheeler Pacific went
down taking all but two of the more
than 250 people on board to their
death. "We have no heart to-day to
dwell on the disaster  that has hurried into eternity so many of our
fellow citizens," wrote the Victoria
British Colonist on 9 November 1875.
The Loss ofthe Pacific
Joseph Whidbey
The Great Fire of 1898
Bertrand William Sinclair
The Nuxalk and Mackenzie
Knox McCusker - Surveyor British Columbia Historical News
Journal of the B.C. Historical Federation
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ISSN 1195-8294
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British Columbia Historical News
Publishing Committee see column on left side
Visit our website: British Columbia
Historical News
Journal of the British Columbia Historical Federation
Volume 32, No. 3
Summer 1999
ISSN 1195-8294
2 Victoria and the Loss of the Pacific
by Robert C. Belyk
Knox McCusker: Dominion Land Surveyor
by VC. Brink and Elizabeth Rutherford
11 Joseph Whidbey: a Nearly Forgotten
Explorer ofthe Pacific Northwest
by John M. Naish
16 Managing Multiple Narratives:
Alexander Mackenzie at Nuxalk Territory, 1793
by Sam Dunn
24 "On Account of Loss Suffered by Fire"
The Human Aspect on New Westminster's
Great Fire
by Dale and Archie Miller
26 "Writing the Coast":
Bertrand Sinclair's BC Stories
by Richard J. Lane
30 Book Reviews
38 Federation News - Merritt 1999
42 News and Notes
Fellow Editors of Publications
of Member Societies:
WE invite you to send
us what you consider to
be the best article on local history you published in your society's newsletter or journal in
Many of the articles published
by you are worth a wider readership and we are therefore interested in reprinting a selection
of the articles considered best in
future issues of British Columbia
Historical News.
I look forward to receiving your
submissions; just send me a photocopy ofthe article as it appeared in your journal. For publication we do require, of course,
permission in writing from the
author(s) and your association.
Fred Braches
Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past.
W. Kaye Lamb, 1937
1 Victoria and the Loss of the Pacific
by Robert C. Belyk
Robert C. Belyk is an
author and freelance
writer with a special
interest in western
history.This article is
based on his research
of shipwrecks ofthe
West Coast from
northern California to
Alaska. Mr. Belyk
wishes to thank the
New Westminster
Public Library and the
British Columbia
Archives for their
' Ken Coates and Bill
Morrison, Tlie Sinking ofthe
Princess Sophia: Taking the
North Down with Her
(Fairbanks: University of
Alaska Press, 1991).
2 Daily British Colonist (Victoria), 9 November 1875.
5 David W Higgins,"Into the
Jaws of Death" Tlie Mystic
Spring (Toronto: 1904) 319.
While many of the stories
that make up Higgins's
memoirs seem apocryphal,
his chapter on the sinking
ofthe Pacific appears in concert with the facts appearing in other sources. He has
obviously relied on his notes
made at the time to sketch
this tragedy.
4 Colonist, 16 November
5 Colonist, 21  November
In their book on the loss ofthe CPR coastal liner Princess Sophia on Alaska's Vanderbilt Reef in 1918,
Coates and Morrison argue that the sinking hastened the end of what once had been a vibrant northern
society.1 None ofthe 353 people on board the vessel would return to bring their energy to the North.Yet
the Sophia disaster was foreshadowed 43 years earlier with the sinking ofthe sidewheeler Pacific less than 12
hours out ofVictoria. Although the city would eventually recover, the loss of so many people on board the
vessel shook the Vancouver Island community to its core.
We have no heart to-day to dwell on
the disaster that has hurried into eter
nity so many of our fellow citizens,"
wrote the Victoria British Colonist on 9 November 1875.2This was no exaggeration for the newspaper had just received word that the sidewheeler
Pacific had sunk off the Washington coast taking
many on board to their deaths. The vessel had
left Victoria five days earlier bound for San Francisco. With less than five thousand residents in
the communityVictoria was overwhelmed by the
news. "I think I knew one hundred of the persons who took passage that day,"3 Victoria newspaper editor David W Higgins recalled many years
Only two men survived one ofthe worst maritime disasters on the West Coast. Although the
exact death toll will never be known, a reasonable estimate puts the total between 250 and 300
people. "Taking the number of persons lost and
the smallness ofthe community from which they
were drawn," the Colonist wrote, "the wreck of
the Pacific is one of the most terrible calamities
the world has ever known."4 While this statement may have been more than the truth, there
is no doubt that the newspaper was expressing
the feelings of its readers.There had never been a
worse day in Victoria's history.
Many of those on board were prominent men
in British Columbia mining circles. At this time
mineral extraction accounted for about 75 per
cent of provincial exports. Dennis Cain and Frank
Lyons were co-discoverers of the Cassiar gold
fields and had left the North before freeze-up. At
Victoria they booked passage on the Pacific for
San Francisco. Also on board was Richard
Waldron, a prospector who had made a fortune
in the Cassiar. Another important figure was J.H.
Sullivan, the gold commissioner for the district.
He was on his way to take passage on the Ameri
can transcontinental railroad from California to
the East Coast where he would take a ship to
Ireland to visit his mother.
Francis Garesche, Wells Fargo agent and private banker, had also booked passage on the Pacific. He had been responsible for underwriting
mining exploration in northwestern British Columbia, and his new office building in downtown Victoria was a measure of his confidence in
the province's resource economy. The loss of
Garesche symbolized the reduction of speculative capital available to the gold mining industry.
The failure ofthe Bank of California earlier that
year pointed toward general uncertainty for miners in theWest.The period of optimism had come
to an end, and mining would gradually play a
smaller role within the province's export sector.
Others had been only indirecdy involved in
the gold rush. Captain Ottis Parsons had recently
sold his interest in a riverboat and was returning
to the United States. With him were his wife
Jennie, and their 18-month-old child.
Unlike earlier gold discoveries where a very
few became rich while most miners left with litde or no gold, the Cassiar gold field was relatively evenly distributed.The Colonist estimated
that most miners came away with an average of
$1,300.5 While the newspaper's calculations appear hardly exact, the sum each miner obtained
was considerable vis-a-vis the pay scales of the
day. It was not surprising, therefore, that many of
the miners who embarked on the Pacific were in
a mood to celebrate.
Sewell P. Moody, the principal partner in the
largest sawmill operation in the province, represented another sector of the British Columbia
economy. Known as "Sue" to his friends, Moody
sold his lumber to markets in Asia, Australia, and
was even able to undersell his American competition, despite facing a high tariff wall.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 Although most passengers were men, a few
single women were travelling alone. Fanny Palmer,
18 years old, was travelling to San Francisco where
she planned to visit her brother. The daughter of
a well-respected Victoria music teacher, Fanny
was a popular member of her social circle. Her
mother as well as many of her friends and admirers had come to the wharf to see her off.
As David Higgins walked up hill from the
wharf, he saw Fanny's mother standing on a slight
rise watching the Pacific's smoke billow above the
few trees still pressing against the harbour. As
Higgins approached Mrs. Palmer, he could see
the sadness in her eyes. "I'm seeing the last of
Fanny," she said.6 Her words were indeed prophetic.
Mrs. Samuel Moote, the daughter of ex-Victoria mayor J.E. McMillan, had recendy paid her
parents a visit and was returning on the Pacific to
her husband in San Francisco. The McMillans
had recendy lost two of their sons and the remaining family had come together in a moment
of sorrow.
Lizzie Keller, her husband and child were tourists from San Francisco. On a tour ofthe Northwest, the family had spent the previous night at a
Victoria boarding house before taking passage
Civil engineer Henry F. Jelly, with his friend
A. Fraser, had booked passage on the Pacific.They
were returning home to Port Stanley via the
American transcontinental railroad. Jelly had spent
the summer months working for the Canadian
Pacific Railway, which had finally begun laying
out its route through British Columbia.
Some travellers like prominent American
merchant J.T.Vining had joined the Pacific earlier
in Puget Sound. Most passengers, though, had
boarded on 4 November in Victoria. The last men,
miners recendy arrived from the Cassiar district,
jumped on at 9:30 A.M. as she was edging away
from the wharf.'Tassed Cape Flattery at 4 P.M.,"
wrote J.H. Sullivan in his diary, "some miners
drunk; some ofthe ladies sick,"7
The Pacific had been built in 1850 as one of
the fleet of ships connecting the American East
Coast via the Isthmus of Panama to the gold rush
city of San Francisco. She served in that role until 1857 when she was placed on the Northwest
route connecting Pordand, Puget Sound, and
Victoria with San Francisco. With dwindling
mining activity in the North, the aging vessel
was consigned to the mud flats at Mission near
Photo courtesy R.C. Belyk
San Francisco in 1871.
She would probably have
rotted away there had it
not been for a new gold
rush in the Cassiar district of northern British
Columbia. The Pacific
and several other old
ships were purchased in
1874 by a new American company, Goodall,
Nelson and Perkins,
which later claimed to
have spent as much as
$75,000 refurbishing the
After such expense it
seems difficult to explain
why the Pacific went
down. "The vessel was in
excellent condition and
considered the best sea-boat on the coast,"9 wrote
the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the San
Francisco Daily Alta California the ship had recendy been in dry dock, "where she was found
to be as sound and staunch as a new boat."10 For
whatever reason, the San Francisco press accepted
the company's word concerning the Pacific, but
in fact the ship was little more than a rotting
hulk held together by a new coat of paint.
When survivor Henry Jelly was picked up
within a mile ofVancouver Island on 6 November, having spent 36 gruelling hours lashed to
the top of the pilot house, he told the story of
how the Pacific was lost after she lighdy struck
another unknown vessel. As far as the San Francisco newspapers were concerned, such a happening was almost inconceivable.
The entire accuracy ofthe story of Jelly, the survivor, is doubted by some persons acquainted with
the coast who believe that a number ofthe passengers and officers and crew have been saved in boats
and on pieces ofthe wreck,11
wrote one San Francisco newspaper. The identity ofthe "some persons" mentioned above remains a mystery but it was apparent that the opinions of Captain Nelson, one ofthe ship's owners,
carried much weight with the press.
One of the first newspapers to question the
shipping company's claims about the safety of its
ship was the Victoria Colonist, which wrote:
In our ignorance of marine architecture we have
always looked with suspicion upon old ships that
Above: Captain Jefferson
D. Howell of the Pacific.
'' Higgins, 325.
7 Cited in Higgins, 332.
" Chronicle (San Francisco),
9 November 1875.
' Chronicle, 9 November
10 Chronicle, 9 November
11 Daily Alta California (San
Francisco), 10 November
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 12. Colonist, 10 November
come from the builder's hands 'as good as new' If
the renewal process be a radical one—if every plank
and knee are removed; all old bolts drawn and new
ones driven, then a ship is new in everything save
her name. But to claim that a ship has been rebuilt
when decayed timbers are removed, old bolts driven
a little closer to bind the old planks, and a new coat
of paint donned is simply to attempt a fraud on the
travelling public.12
As would become apparent later, it was doubtful whether the ship's owners removed even the
decayed wood.
At 3:00 A.M. on 8 November, on the fourth
day after the sinking, quartermaster Neil Henley
was found alive clinging to pieces of the hurricane deck and paddle boxes that had been fashioned into a raft. Given the chaos on board at the
time of the disaster, both Jelly and Henley presented remarkably similar stories. The quartermaster, too, had arrived on deck in time to see
the lights of a ship in the distance. She did not
stand to as was required by maritime law, but
continued out of sight.
On 11 November the mystery ship was finally
identified as the Boston square-rigger Orpheus
after her crew was located camped in Barkley
Sound where the vessel had wrecked. According
to Captain Charles Sawyer, the second mate had
mistaken the lighthouse at Cape Beale for the
light at Flattery. As a result, the vessel was wrecked
on the shores ofTzartus Island. Fortunately everyone on the Orpheus was saved.
The discovery ofthe Orpheus deflected public
attention from what had happened aboard the
Pacific. After all, the Orpheus had cut across the
Pacific's bow—a breach ofthe rules ofthe road"
as it was called. However, more seriously, Captain Sawyer did not wait to see if the other vessel
needed assistance but kept to his northerly course.
The fact remained, though, that it was the Pacific
that struck the square-rigger with her bow and
it was the latter ship that likely should have gone
to the bottom, but this was not the case. Part of
the bow of the Pacific had broken off and was
later found hanging in the tangled rigging ofthe
In 1875, British Columbia's entry into Confederation was largely in name only for the country was not really joined together until the completion ofthe Canadian Pacific Railway ten years
later. On the West Coast there was no mechanism for establishing marine inquiries. Because
the friends and relatives ofthe victims demanded
to know the reason for their loss, the coroner's
jury became the means of determining the cause.
In this case the inquest's mandate was to look
beyond the cause of death of one ofthe victims
on the Pacific, Thomas J. Ferrell, and conclude
blame. To underscore that the proceedings were
more than an inquest, its findings were to be forwarded to Ottawa.
The testimony of passenger Jelly and crew
member Henley was a condemnation ofthe seaworthiness ofthe Pacific. Jelly had noted from the
time the ship left Victoria she had a pronounced
list to starboard. He had observed the crew filling the port lifeboats to bring the ship on an
even keel, but the vessel now listed to the opposite side with the result that the process had to be
done again, this time emptying the port boats
and filling the starboard ones. Quartermaster
Henley noted that there had never been a lifeboat drill on board the Pacific, and he wasn't even
sure how to release the craft from their davits.
While the Pacific was governed by United States
regulations once the ship crossed into American
waters, the vessel's agent in Victoria, E. Engelhardt
claimed that he had no idea what safety regulations demanded for he had lost his copies ofthe
inspection certificates.Technically Engelhardt was
not required to comply with American regulations and it is clear that the ship was loaded beyond the capacity stated on the document. Mattresses had been placed on the floor of cabins for
the benefit of extra passengers. This was probably
the case in steerage as well.To make matters worse,
there had been so much cargo taken aboard that
it had to be stowed on deck.
The soundness of the Pacific was questioned
by the Orpheus' second mate James G. Allen. Allen
had earlier served aboard the Pacific and he implied that the San Francisco Board of Steamship
Inspectors, which had certified the sidewheeler,
was corrupt and open to bribery. Not surprisingly, the inquest was unable to obtain witnesses
from either the steamship line or the San Francisco drydock where the work was supposedly
done, but several men employed along the waterfront testified that the vessel was regarded as
During this time Victoria was rife with rumours that the Pacific's captainjefferson Howell,
the brother-in-law of Confederate President
Jefferson Davis, had a severe problem with alcohol. Howell, some claimed, received his command
only after the ship's former master, Captain EC.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 Sholl, threatened to make public the deplorable
condition ofthe Pacific.
Captain Sawyer of the Orpheus also came in
for much criticism. This was the era of maritime
reform led by British M.P. Samuel Plimsoll who
fought against the gready overloaded vessels he
called "coffin ships." In America the wretched
conditions of common seamen were receiving a
sympathetic hearing in the press. Masters who
were earlier free to beat their crew for the slightest infraction found themselves charged before
the courts. Sawyer was a man distant from those
who served with him, and once on shore on 12
November at Port Townsend, four seamen swore
a statement which essentially laid blame at the
feet of the master of the Orpheus for bringing
about the collision with the Pacifiic.Thzt he failed
to stand to after determining his vessel was not
taking on water was also alleged.
The same charges were repeated by some of
his crew before the Victoria inquiry, but possibly
feeling he was in physical danger from angry
friends and relatives ofthe victims, Captain Sawyer decided to remain on American soil. In San
Francisco also, which lost a number of its citizens on the Pacific, there were feelings against
Sawyer.The city's two major papers, the Chronicle and Alta, were more than willing to paint the
master of the Orpheus as the villain in this tragedy.
Sawyer's public rebuke also deflected criticism
away from the condition ofthe ship and the standards of the San Francisco steamship inspectors.
According to the testimony of Jelly, Henley and
the crew on board the Orpheus, it was clear that
the Pacific should have only suffered minor damage. Also, according to the crew of the Orpheus,
the Pacific had plenty of time to alter course herself and avoid a collision. It was noted at the Victoria inquiry that the Pacific's officer ofthe watch
was a former freight clerk who had recendy been
promoted to third mate. As far as anyone was
aware, he had no previous experience as a seaman.
On 15 November Charles C. Bemis, the supervising inspector of steamships based in San
Francisco, appointed a two-person inquiry to look
into the sinking ofthe Pacific. Unlike the Victoria
inquest it was held behind closed doors. Moreover, one ofthe commissioners was Bob Waterman,
inspector of hulls, whose certification ofthe Pacific was now openly questioned.
At 4:50 P.M. on 23 November the foreman of
—r——nri'nrnii-r ilm      ri imfii
Photo courtesy R.C Belyk
the Victoria coroner's jury returned with its verdict that read
in part:
That the Pacific struck the Orpheus
on the starboard side with her
stem [bow] a very slight blow, the
shock of which should not have
damaged the Pacific if she had been
a sound and substantial vessel.That
the collision between the Pacific
and the Orpheus was caused by the
Orpheus not keeping the Pacific's
lights on her port bow .... That
the watch on the deck ofthe Pacific at the time ofthe collision was
not sufficient in number to keep
a proper lookout.13
The jury also stated that the
Pacific's lifeboats "could not be lowered by the
undisciplined and inefficient crew." Captain Sawyer was also blamed for having failed to stand to
in order to assess the condition ofthe other ship.
The San Francisco steamship inspectors issued
their report on 11 December, in which they noted
that the accident was the result of the Orpheus
taking a course across the Pacific's bow. Her crumbling hull had nothing to do with the age ofthe
ship, but because she struck the sailing vessel at a
vulnerable spot: the bluff of the Pacific's stem.The
Pacific would have sunk just as quickly had she
been recendy launched, Captain Waterman and
his colleague explained. Moreover, the tremendous loss of Ufe could be blamed on the passengers who rushed the lifeboats and not on the
crew themselves.
"White-wash," the Colonist charged.14
To appeal to a commission of which the chief culprit was the chief member was like appealing from
Caesar to Caesar. How could Captain Waterman
be expected to convict himself? How could the
friends of those who went down on that frightful
night expect a righteous verdict?15
On 6 January 1876 Captain Sawyer found himself in San Francisco accused of deliberately
wrecking the Orpheus at Cape Beale.The charges,
though, were eventually dismissed and Sawyer
moved to Port Townsend where his friend H.A.
Webster, collector of customs, lived. In later years,
many Northwest mariners came to accept his
contention that he had not been responsible for
the tragedy.The year after Sawyer's death in 1894,
E.W.Wright wrote
His friends, who were by no means few, have always contended that he was a deeply injured man
and his actions on that terrible night... were in no
Above: Captain Samuel
A. Sawyer ofthe
13 Cited in the Colonist, 24
November 1875.
14 Colonist, 13 January 1876
15 Colonist, 14January 1876.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 '6E.WWrighted.,Leu«mjd
Dryden's Marine History ofthe
Pacific Northwest (Portland:
1895), 226 n.
17. Higgins, 333.
18. Higgins, 335.
19. Gordon Newell and Joe
Williamson, Pacific Coastal
Liners (Seattle: Superior,
1959), 24.
way different from what could be expected of any
shipmaster in a similar crisis.16
With the benefit of hindsight it is difficult to
contend that Sawyer was blameless, but it had
not been the captain who refloated the rotting
hulk of the Pacific from the mud flats near Mission Creek and returned it to service. That had
been an act of calculated greed perpetrated by
Goodall, Nelson and Perkins.
The sea gave up hardly more than a dozen of
its dead. The body of Cassiar gold commissioner
J.H. Sullivan washed up on the rocks near Beechey
Head on Vancouver Island. He was buried at Victoria. Ironically, the body of Fanny Palmer, the
young woman prominent in Victoria social circles, returned almost to her home. The remains
travelled up the Washington coast and then east
along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to come ashore
at San Juan Island. The 110-mile journey had
taken Fanny virtually past her parents' front porch.
A message from the dead was received at Victoria's Clover Point. Cut into a piece of wreckage—part of a cabin support—was: "S.P.Moody.
All Lost."17
As if more proof concerning the cause ofthe
disaster was needed, long after the tragedy broken pieces of the ship's hull continued to wash
up on the rocks ofVancouver Island. While it is
true that the Victoria inquest had affixed blame,
no action was taken.The frontier West was a place
more suited to quick justice than arguing the sophisticated points of law of an involved court
The death ofthe Pacific was, of course, a disaster not only for Victoria but for British Columbia as a whole. It meant the loss of many of those
responsible for development of the Cassiar gold
fields. Mining, already in decline as compared to
other sectors of the economy received a heavy
Yet it is the personal face upon this tragedy
that is the most poignant. In a blinding snowstorm on 28 November, with six young women
as pallbearers, Fanny Palmer's funeral cortege
wound through the streets of Victoria. Despite
the weather, it was one of the best-attended funerals in Victoria's history. Memorial services had
earlier been held in Victoria churches for the many
dead never recovered from the sea. Beyond the
grieving, though, the Pacific would cast a long
shadow on many of those who had remained
behind. Wrote David W. Higgins 28 years after
the tragedy:
About fifty families were broken up and scattered,
and many more came upon the public for maintenance. There were two suicides at San Francisco in
consequence of the disaster, and there were many
instances of actual distress of which the public never
Another twist to this story took place after
the revenue cutter Wyanda, which earlier was
condemned by the American government, was
sold to Goodall, Nelson and Perkins who added
a new superstructure and renamed her Los Angeles. The ship had a narrow beam and was top-
heavy with the result that she did not perform
well on the northern run to Victoria. However,
the vessel owners pressed the Los Angeles into
service. On 29 November 1875, only three weeks
after the sinking ofthe Pacific, the Los Angeles left
San Francisco with a full complement of passengers and freight. Two days later, she was about a
hundred miles south ofthe Columbia River when
her engine died. The damage could not be repaired so the vessel was forced to run up her sails.
The winds were from the south but the sea was
becoming increasingly rough. The ship was rising and falling into the peaks and valleys created
by towering waves. On the hurricane deck, seaman James Walsh was carried overboard by a huge
wave, and his body was never recovered. The
weather finally abated and the ship reachedVic-
toria eight days after leaving San Francisco. Captain Cain, master ofthe Los Angeles, and his crew
earned the respect of the passengers, but it was
another case of the ship itself being unreliable
and unseaworthy.
Not long before the Pacific sinking, Jefferson
Howell had been an officer aboard the Los Angeles when it ran aground on the rocks near
Tillamook Head, Oregon. At considerable personal risk, Howell reached shore where he made
his way to Astoria to sound the alarm. Howell
received the captaincy of the Pacific as a reward
for his bravery—a prize that would mean his
At least partially the result of the company's
sullied reputation, Goodall, Nelson and Perkins
reorganized in 1877 as the Pacific Coast Steamship Company.19 More than 30 years later, the
company's vessel, Valencia, commanded by an incompetent captain and operated by an ill-trained
crew, took 117 people to their deaths offPachena
Point on the west side ofVancouver Island. Once
again, grief and despair rode the waves of the
North Pacific.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 Knox McCusker: Dominion Land Surveyor
byV.C. Brink and Elizabeth Rutherford
/ have always felt uncomfortable about the fact that the Mary Henry Expeditions and the Bedeaux expedition into
northeastern BC did not recoginize the tremendous role ofthe surveyors—Knox McCusker and E.L.W.Lamarque.
The much publicized expeditions could not have proceeded without the assistance and direction of these men,
particularly Knox McCusker whose maps were used by Lamarque. Also, I was a liaison officer (Canadian) when the
Alaska Highway was driven through by the US Armed Forces and knew the tremendous role he played in informing
and assisting the US Forces—the Americans gave him a medal but we, in Canada, hardly recognized him!
—VC. Brink, in a letter to Naomi Miller, Editor BC Historical News, 13 November 1998.
In an era of satellite imaging and laser
geodetics, it is easy to forget the role land
surveyors played in exploration and setdement. In fact, they should be counted among the
great pioneers of western Canada. In British Columbia especially, they worked in a wilderness of
many unknowns: barrier mountains, the vagaries
of the weather, turbulent rivers, insect pests,
muskeg, and dense forest. Land surveyors left a
legacy of maps and documents showing the main
features of landscapes, mountain ranges, and valleys, noting animals, vegetation, and rocks, and
surveying routes for transportation and lands for
towns and farms. Many of the surveyors were
men of high intelligence, competent in mathematics, and possessing great hardiness. Knox
Freeman McCusker was such a surveyor.
Knox was born in 1890 in Hawkesbury, Ontario, the son of a Presbyterian minister and Mary
Orr McCusker. He received a good education at
the Gault Institute in Valleyfield, Quebec and
Queen s University in Kingston, Ontario. In 1909,
he gained his first field experience as one of two
technical assistants to party chief Mr. St. Cyr of
what was then the Topographical Survey Branch
ofthe Dominion of Canada, Department ofthe
Interior. The summer and autumn were spent
surveying in the Peace River area of Alberta and
BC, specifically the Spirit River area. Knox, by
his own accounts, recognized the harsh features
of the West but developed affection for it. He
learned much from St. Cyr, a senior surveyor, who
had spent nearly 50 years mapping in what became the western provinces andYukon Territory.
On his return to Ottawa in 1909, McCusker
was quickly assigned to other surveys and in 1914
was formally commissioned as a Dominion Land
Surveyor (D.L.S.). In the next 41 years until his
death in 1955 at Fort St. John, Knox McCusker
was party chief of many surveys in Canada, mainly
in the West. Most of his assignments were commissioned by the Government of Canada, but
some were by secondment and by contract to
private agencies. In later years, he undertook surveys for the Government of Alberta and was privileged to add A.L.S. to his name.
As the great economic depression deepened,
in 1931, the Canadian government reduced its
civil staff; Knox was one of those temporarily
unemployed and not to be re-hired again for several years. He pre-empted land north of Fort St.
John, developed a ranch, and took private surveying and guiding contracts.
McCusker was a large man, well over six feet
in height. Some say, he was easy going, but others point out that he had a sharp mind of his
own. This was borne out when in the last Mary
Henry Botanical Expedition in 1935, Mrs. Henry,
a woman of strong will, wanted to climb to the
summit of the mountain peak named after her,
but McCusker had good reasons for not supporting her wish. Mount Mary Henry is a substantial
mountain and the party lacked proper equipment
for the ascent. He won the argument but Mrs.
Henry did not forgive him his opposition.
"Mac" McCusker was a man of peace, believing deeply that the tenets of his church should
be stated in actions and not in preaching. Routinely he adroidy defused confrontational situations by asking questions, by changing the subject or by good humour. Humour, it may be
noted, is a useful quality when men, and sometimes women, were living for months at a time
in close quarters in tents, often in inclement
weather, and traversing tough terrain far from the
comforts of populated areas.
Horses he liked, but Mac was not a horseman.
He rarely rode except to cross streams, largely
Mrs. Elizabeth
Rutherford, Knox
McCusker's niece, was
raised in Onion Lake,
AB, now lives in
Victoria, BC
V.C8rink,a retired
Professor of Plant
Science from the
University of British
Columbia, knew"Mac,"
in the early days of the
surveying for the route
ofthe Alaska Highway.
The authors want to acknowledge the assistance of:
Wildlife Biologist,
formerly of Fort St.
John, BC now living in
Victoria, BC Ministry
of Environment Lands
and Parks. (Rod Silver is
a former student ofV.C
Neighbour, Wrangler
with Mac 1931-1935,
farmed at Ootsa Lake,
BC, now living in
Vernon, BC
7 Photo courtesy V.C. Brink
Above: "Mac,"Knox
McCusker far right, with a
survey crew, date not
because he was conscious of his weight as a heavy
burden for any horse. He often walked Indian
style in moccasins. Nonetheless he established that
in the wilderness pack horses and ground surveys were often of more use than modern means
such as aircraft, because horses could work in any
weather all seasons.
Needless to say, Mac had definite ideas about
survey crew organization, but he recognized that
circumstances often demanded change. Ideally the
chief's crew had two technical men, two wranglers and a cook—the most important crew member, as he often said.
Mac had many good friends in the West and
in Ottawa. He married late in life—understandably one may believe because he was almost always away from wherever home base might be.
After 1933, he called his pre-emption quarter section ranch at Fort St. John rather than Ottawa
his home base, but over the years his brother's
farm to which his father had retired, at Onion
Lake, Saskatchewan, north of Lloydminster, was
also "home."
Mac first and foremost was a surveyor. He was
an outdoorsman and did not Uke to work in the
office, but did it well. In the field he was highly
efficient and accurate, and undertook many kinds
of surveys on dominion government lands. He
did surveys for railways, such as the Hudson's Bay
Railway out of the Pas to James Bay, surveys in
national parks, such as Jasper, townsite and road
surveys, and meridian surveys (It was important
to know whether the sizeable town of
Lloydminster was in Alberta or Saskatchewan).
During and after the war, Knox McCusker
worked on the Alaska Highway right-of-way and,
of particular interest to those in BC, he did map
surveys in the northern Rockies, Foothills and
the Peace River area. A friend in Ottawa observed that Mac did not get credit for his work
but then surveyors seldom do. Mac did not seem
to mind. He used to say: "a job well done is the
main thing."
Below we provide some samples of Knox
McCuskers's surveys, giving special attention to
those undertaken in northeastern BC. From time
to time, Mac would write in a general fashion
about his work. His motive to write is clear; he
wanted to tell other Canadians about an almost
unknown part of their country and its few people that he had come to cherish. He contributed
a few newspaper articles, notably to the Toronto
Star, and an article for Saturday Evening Post. He
wrote notes for his professional colleagues and
left some unpublished reminiscences.
1909, Spirit River Prairie
In notes written in later years, Mac wrote amusingly about his first formal survey with Mr. St.
Cyr, a veteran Dominion Land Surveyor. He left
Montreal in early spring of 1909 with, as he states,
a paternal blessing and $15.00 pinned to his vest,
and travelled by rail to Edmonton to meet the
party chief. Brought up in Glengarry and therefore familiar with the French Canadian patois he
could converse -with the axemen who made up
most ofthe party of 14. His fellow technical assistant, a schoolteacher from southwestern Ontario, not conversant with the patois, found an
English/French dictionary almost useless.
Five teams of horses were assembled and four
sleighs loaded with pork and beans, flour, dried
apples, and prunes, a Utde tea, hardware, instruments, and iron survey posts. With most of the
crew weU liquored up, they left for the Peace
River country with the party chief riding on one
load and the rest alternately walking and riding.
The main idea was to get the party out of town.
Travelling due north, and after about four or five
camps, the party reached Athabaska Landing on
the Athabaska River. Here, the party chief took
on a load of whiskey. After he had generously
imbibed the RCMP detained him. The poUce
persuaded the two green technical assistants to
get the party moving. The police later brought a
sober party chief to the camp by cutter.
It was near thaw time with snow melting, ice
break-up on the rivers, and mud on the trail, and
during much ofthe travel, as it is said, it was "left
to the horses" to choose the trail. Nonetheless,
and despite a terrific bUzzard, the party made good
use of the ice travelUng on the Athabaska River
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 to reach the eastern end of Lesser Slave Lake
without loss of horses or sleighs. By Easter, they
were at the mission at Grouard. On a sea of mud
for one hundred miles and again on river ice they
made Dunvegan in time to see the rotting river
ice move to the Arctic Sea the day after their
arrival. That summer of 1909, using the Peace
River as base, they surveyed the Spirit River prairie to about the BC/Alberta meridian. They
managed to add to their horse herd by snaring
feral horses one of which, Mac notes, was still in
service at Jasper National Park in 1930. Mac
writes sympatheticaUy about the pioneer setders
and their hardships, preceding those coming in
the later land rushes. He notes their fine farms,
painted barns, and poplar copses on the present
day landscapes..
1927 - Beyond
the Peace: Into
the Northern
Rockies and
their Foothills
Fur traders had
explored the valleys of the two
great rivers of
BC, the Peace
and, roughly five
hundred miles to
the north, the
Liard. Until the
1920s and 1930s
it was believed
that the land between the two rivers consisted of
barrier mountains and impassable muskeg. It was
unmapped, a great "white spot" on the map of
It was thought, however, that geological formations ofthe northern Rockies were sedimentary and similar to those ofthe southern Rockies
of Canada and the USA, a matter of considerable
interest to petroleum companies seeking oil and
gas fields. In 1927, the Marland Oil Company
mounted an exploration party to which the Dominion Topographical Branch, specificaUy to undertake a reconnaissance survey of that "white
spot," seconded McCusker.The party, a small one
of five men, five saddle stock and fourteen pack
animals, was in the field for six months working
the terrain from Hudson's Hope to Ft. Nelson.
The route chosen was predominandy north,
just east ofthe high rugged crest ofthe Rockies,
Photo courtesy V.C. Brink
crossing vaUeys ofthe such major rivers as those
we know today as the Besa, the Sikanni, the
Prophet and the Muskwa, aU of which flow into
the Fort Nelson River and, ultimately, the Liard,
the Mackenzie, and the Arctic sea.Trails were fairly
weU defined out of Hudson's Hope to Laurier
Pass, designated by Inspector J.D. Moodie ofthe
RCMP thirty years earUer as he blazed a trail to
the gold fields ofthe Cassiar in northern BC and
to those ofthe Klondike in the Yukon. After leaving the Brady Trading Post on the upper Halfway River the trails were faint or non-existent.
Probably on the lower Prophet River they were
met by Archie Gardner, a man who knew much
ofthe Fort Nelson area, and who gave them some
assistance with rivers, fords, and aboriginal trails.
The meeting was pre-arranged and on time. Mac
writes interestingly
of Gardner as "a
man [who] descended from one
of the first famiUes
of England on his
father's side and on
his mother's side,
[from] one of the
first families of the
Sikinni Indians.
The Gardner party
arrived in traditional northern
style with two pack
ponies, five pack
dogs, sundry pups,
numerous children, one squaw, one rabbit robe,
one rifle, one pot, one frypan, one axe, and one
Mac reports weU, and with good humour, on
the trip on the river boat D.H.Thomas from Peace
River up to Hudson's Hope, and on the enthusiastic welcome given the first boat ofthe season.
He comments on the problems of getting the
pack train started with new and sometimes fractious horses. He writes ofthe pleasures and some
ofthe hazards of summer travel over high mountain meadows, of the crossing of swift rivers, of
the idiosyncrasies of pack horses, and ofthe customs of the few nomadic aboriginals they met.
The Marland Oil Co. party returned to Hudson's Hope on 1 October 1927, after reconnaissance mapping ten thousand square miles of
"new" territory. Some years later, the data was
used for an 8 mile to the inch map produced by
Photo courtesy V.C. Brink
Above: Topographical
surveying and guide
outfitting brought people of
very different backgrounds
together. Miss Josephine
Henry, entomologist from
Philadelphia, Penn. with
insect net and Smokey
Neighbour, wrangler, raised
on farm and forest of
northern Alberta.
Led: Horses of the 1931
Mary Henry Botanical
Expedition crossing one of
the many fast flowing
rivers in the Rockies of
northeastern BC
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 1 For more on the Mary
Henry expeditions see:V.C.
Brink and R.S. Silver,"Mary
Henry: Pioneer Botanist of
the Northern Rockies," in
BC Historical News, vol. 30,
no. 1, (Winter 1996-1997).
Below: A Mary Henry
Botanical Expedition pack
train crossing alpine tundra
in nottheastern BC
the Dominion Topographical Survey Branch.
I93I-I935 —The Mary Henry Botanical Expeditions. The Tropical Valley and the Crossing of Northern British Columbia from Alberta to the Pacific.
Mrs. Mary Henry, a botanist and horticulturist
from Philadelphia, USA, vacationing in Jasper
National Park in 1929 and 1930, heard rumours
of the existence of a "tropical" vaUey and thermal springs in northern BC from a prospector.
Unusual plants are often found around hot springs.
She therefore inquired about the possibiUty of a
visit. Not deterred by warnings, lack of maps, and
hazards, she enUsted the support of Sir Henry
Thornton, President of the Canadian National
Railways, to mount an expedition to locate the
thermal springs and to coUect plants in the largest unmapped spot in Canada.The result was that,
in 1931, a party was organized by Mr. Stan Clarke,
guide and outfitter from Jasper National Park, to
which Knox McCusker was seconded by the
DominionTopographical Survey Branch as a surveyor.
It was a large and successful expedition that
collected plants and located the Toad River
Hotsprings, but they missed the rumoured large
hot springs, known today as the Liard River
Hotsprings, designated as a provincial park. Mrs.
Henry employed Knox McCusker to organize
her botanical expeditions in 1932, 1933, and
1935.1 The expeditions were remarkable in a
number of ways. Not a horse was lost in four
seasons of travel over difficult terrain, but on one
occasion an important food supply was lost from
a raft in crossing a stream. This impeded but did
not deter the travel. Large, representative coUec-
tions of pressed plants and some Uving specimens
were added to the herbaria and botanical gardens of Scodand and the United States. Many
additions were made to reconnaissance maps of
the area and a number of prominent features
(mountains, rivers, and lakes) were given names.
It was demonstrated for all to appreciate that crossing northern British Columbia from Alberta to
the Pacific was possible and reasonable. Mr.
Lemarque, route manager for the much heralded
but unsuccessful Bedeaux expedition which used
motorized transport, acknowledged the indebtedness to Knox McCusker's maps and information. Bedeaux should and could have succeeded
because McCusker and the Mary Henry expeditions had demonstrated that the terrain of the
Northern Rockies and the FoothiUs was, in season, a pleasant and beautiful land and far from
being as formidable an obstacle as once imagined.
1941-1942—Routing and Construction of
the Alaska Highway and Northwest Air
staging Route
The US Army Corps of Engineers gave
McCusker a medal for his work on this enormous construction job. He is one reason why
the projects were consummated so quickly. Mac
was able to lay out the routes to foUow for road
and airfield: "no trial lines to swing around obstacles but straight go ahead." Says one of his
friends: "He was able to show what men to use
in certain work, how to guard against the extreme cold, where and how to build camps and
airfields. He understood the overseeing of some
of the work himself and expended much of his
great energy in the project." His friend goes on
to teU how Mac beat the freeze up with a load of
heavy machinery for the Fort Nelson airfield
when it was critical to get on with ferrying the
planes to Russia. His success and knowledge of
terrain and weather saved many months in vital
construction work and enabled the Americans
to meet their delivery dates of aircraft to the
Russians for the Eastern Front of World War II.
To end a paraphrase ofthe words of a friend of
Knox McCusker: "Mac ended his days near Fort
St. John on the best ranch in the country with
the best spring of cool water that never dries up,
with the best house in the neighbourhood and
with the best wife in the world. His eyes shone
bright and his laugh is deep when he teUs his
stories about the lands ofthe Peace and beyond."
Photo courtesy V.C. Brink
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 Joseph Whidbey: a Nearly Forgotten
Explorer ofthe Pacific Northwest
by John M. Naish
The man whose name was given to a large
island (population: 80,000) in the state
ofWashington and who was later largely
responsible for an original engineering project—
the building of a detached breakwater across Plymouth Sound in England—had almost been forgotten at the time ofthe bicentenary of his birth
in 1954. At no time has there been an entry for
him in the 21-volume British Dictionary cf National Biography; though those who live long
enough wiU see a six hundred word entry for
him in the New Dictionary of National Biography,
now being prepared and due to be pubUshed early
in the new miUennium.The lettering on his stone
tomb in St. James' churchyard in Taunton, England is wearing away but his memory has been
refreshed by a brass plaque newly placed in an
extension to the St. James' church hall.The chosen wording is the work of Andrew David, late
of the Hydrographic Department of the Ministry of Defence in Taunton and an internationally
renowned historian of eighteenth century Pacific exploration. It is appropriate that, now so
soon after the pioneering voyage of 1791-95 has
been commemorated by bicentenary conferences
both in Vancouver and Anchorage, his achievements should be reviewed.
Unfortunately, due to the loss of key Admiralty records, the exact date and place ofWhidbey's
birth are unknown. Like so many officers and
men of the Royal Navy he never found time or
opportunity to marry, and we know nothing
about what his contemporaries quaindy referred
to as his "tender passions". Our knowledge of
Joseph Whidbey begins in 1779 when, at the
youngish age of 25 and during the height ofthe
American Revolutionary Wars, he received his
warrant as Master.1 After attaining this rank, the
most senior non-commissioned one, he was steadily employed in both war and peace, and in 1786
was made Master of Europa, the flagship of the
American Squadron based in Kingstonjamaica.2
Here he became ship-mates with George Vancouver, one of Europa's senior Ueutenants, and
they worked together on a hydrographic survey
of the approaches to the port. Their definitive
chart, which was later pubUshed, allowed the intricate approaches to be buoyed and marked. In
1790 he was appointed Master of Discovery, a new
ship being fitted out for a voyage of exploration
under Henry Roberts, one of James Cook's
youngest cartographers. Whidbey was on board
during much of 1790 and was largely responsible for the fitting out. When Vancouver succeeded
to the command in November Whidbey was already famiUar with the ship and guidedVancou-
ver's hand during last-minute modifications.
When the crews of Discovery and Chatham were
finaUy mustered late in the year, Whidbey at the
age of 36 was the oldest officer and almost the
oldest individual on the voyage. He was certainly
a guide and friend to Vancouver and was reported
by Archibald Menzies, the naturalist, to be his
"chief confidant" during the voyage.3
Plans had been made by the Admiralty for an
astronomer to travel out in the store ship Daedalus
to join the expedition in the late summer of 1792.
Unfortunately the astronomer, Gooch, was killed
along with his commander and a seaman in the
island of Oahu before he had even reached the
Northwest coast. Consequendy, Vancouver and
Whidbey had to share the duties of astronomical
navigation and position fixing. It appears from a
letter written by Whidbey to an unknown correspondent in England in January 17934 that
Whidbey had possession of the Admiralty Instructions for the Astronomer and that he regarded
himself as chiefly responsible for those duties.
Certainly, Whidbey was always put in charge of
the observatory tent and its precious array of instruments whenever he was not engaged in boat-
Owing to the nature ofthe coast between 48°
N.Lat. and 61° NLat. the majority ofthe coastal
surveys had to be made by small-boat expeditions. These boats were thoroughly refitted in
Hawaii during the early months of 1793 so as to
afford dry storage for the ammunition and a fort-
John Naish, a retired
physician, lives near
Bristol, England. Dr.
Naish is the author of
several books including The Interwoven
Lives of George Vancouver, Archibald Menzies,
Joseph Whidbey and
Peter Puget, reviewed
by J.E. Roberts in BC
Historical News 30:1
(1996/97): 42-43.
' Steel's "List ofthe Navy",
1779: 38.
2 PRO Adm 106/2809
gives the names of three of
the ships Whidbey served
in as Master: Nimble from
24 February 1779 to 8
March 1779; Greenwich
from 14 June 1780 to 26
September 1780; Juno from
24 September 1780 to 16
March 1785; then on 21
April he joined the Expedition, the flagship ofthe
American squadron, transferring to Europa with the
admiral shortly afterward.
3W Kaye Lamb, ed., Tlie
Voyage of George Vancouver
1791- 1795 (London:
Hakluyt Society, 1984),
220. Quoting Menzies'
letter to Banks, 21 October 1796.
4 Lamb, voyage, 1637. Letter from Whidbey at
Monterey, 3 January, 1793.
11 Right: Joseph Widbey's portrait, painted by J. Ponsford
of Modbury, Devonshire,
about 1814. Dr. Naish
comments: "It was probably
commisioned and paid for by
John Rennie,for it was subsequently given by his son,
George Rennie, to the Institution of Civil Engineers
of Great George Street, London, England, where it now
hangs in the entrance foyer
on the first floor. The illustration shown here is from a
copy discovered in a Portsmouth junk room about
1980 and shipped over to
Vancouver for the centenary
celebrations. I was not able
to photograph the original
due to the glare from the protective glass."
'The estimate of boat-
miles travelled is very approximate, and is based
both on chart mileage, allowing for detours, and an
estimated average of 30
miles for each full day
away from the mother-
ship. Vancouver's own boat
exploration ofthe Behm
Canal in August 1793
lasted 23 days and was estimated by him to have
covered 700 geographical
miles.This Journal record
acts as a calibrator for
other boat journeys. The
length of a single day's
voyage would depend
mainly on the weather.
'' A. Menzies "Journal",
British Library Add. MS
32641. Entry for 18 August 1792.
Courtesy John M. Naish
night's provisions. Awnings provided some shelter for the crews if they were compeUed to spend
the night in the boats; this happened often enough
because of the steep and rocky nature of the
shoreUne or because of perceived threats from
large gatherings of Natives, mainly the TUngits,
whose customs and bold behaviour were an
enigma for the explorers. The latter used their
firearms mainly as warnings but there was one
incident in August 1793 when, after a boat had
been invaded and two members of the crew
wounded by spear thrusts, the other boat fired a
swivel gun at the TUngit canoes and several men
were kiUed.Whidbey was not present on this occasion but the journals of both Vancouver and
Menzies show that Whidbey was extremely judicious and emoUient during Native contacts.
During the first year of exploration from 30
April to August 1792 when the continental shores
of Puget Sound, the Strait of Georgia, Desolation Sound and Queen Charlotte Sound were
being surveyed, Whidbey usuaUy accompanied
Peter Puget who, though very young, was a commissioned officer and thus senior and placed in
command of the two boats. It seems clear from
the accounts ofVancouver, Menzies, and Manby
that Whidbey was the man who did aU the most
onerous surveying work. On the occasion ofthe
survey ofthe shores ofWhidbey Island, which
at the time was thought to be a long penin-
sula.Whidbey was in sole charge ofthe cutter;
his log of the exploration, which was incorporated inVancouver's Journal, showed that he
enjoyed exceUent relations with the Natives, a
band ofthe Coast SaUsh who regularly sheared
their packs of dogs for the wool to decorate
their bark-fibre cloth. One of their chiefs came
on board the cutter to enjoy the explorer's
meal. Most Natives reUshed a mixture of bread
and molasses though they were a bit suspicious ofthe salt pork because they suspected
the Europeans of cannibalism. On shore, one
of the Natives was convinced that Whidbey's
white skin was painted and he insisted that
Joseph should unbutton his shirt to see whether
he was reaUy white aU over.
Whidbey was always given the task of
sounding out suitable anchorage for the ships
when it had been decided to make a prolonged
stay for the purposes of repair, crew health,
and astronomical position fixing.Whidbey s explorations covered just short of a thousand
miles during 1792, half south ofthe 49th paraUel and half north up to 51° N.Lat.5. At that
time the boats were not properly equipped for
long surveys in the rainy, foggy, and squaUy conditions met with north ofVancouver Island, and
the boats' crews suffered great hardships. The
words of Archibald Menzies who joined several
ofWhidbey s explorations express with Celtic flare
what they had to endure: " open boats
exposed to the cold rigorous blasts of a high
northern situation.... performing toilsome labour
on their Oars in the day and alternately watching for their safety at night, with no other couch
to repose upon than the Cold Stony Beach or
the wet mossy Turf in damp woody situations
....enduring at times the tormenting pangs of both
hunger and thirst "6.
After spending the winter months of 1792/
1793 in the Hawaiian Islands where Whidbey
made some surveys, notably a first but incomplete one of Pearl Harbor in March, Discovery
reached Nootka Sound again in May and began,
rather late in the season, the arduous surveys up
to and beyond the present Alaskan border. Despite the frequent speUs of atrocious weather the
modifications which had been made to the boats
aUowed longer absences from the ships. Due to
Vancouver's deteriorating health the responsibiU-
ties for surveying by boat feU largely to Whidbey
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 and to Johnstone, Master of Chatham. Whidbey
covered more than a thousand miles in that year,
his most formidable voyages being the exploration from Princess Royal Channel to Gardner
Channel and the approaches to Kitimat. Later,
the passage through the GrenviUe Channel to the
estuary of the Skeena lasted almost a fortnight.
In August he had a weU-earned rest at Salmon
Cove in Observatory Inlet while Vancouver was
making his record-breaking circumnavigation of
Revilla Gigedo Island and the complex Behm
The last year of the Northwest survey, 1794,
was one in which the increasing iU health ofVancouver and the frigid April start in the high latitudes of Cook Inlet put enormous strain on the
fortitude and stamina of Joseph Whidbey, now
nearly 40 years of age. During his two long surveys of Cross Sound, Lynn Channel, Stephens
Passage and Frederick Sound he traveUed a thousand miles in wretched conditions of floating ice
and frequent rain. His total boat travel for the
whole year was 1,500 miles.8
The voyage ended for Whidbey when Discovery moored in the Thames in October 1795. He
had already made known to Vancouver that he
considered his sea-going days to be over and that
he would like to be a Master Attendant at one of
His Majesty's dockyards.Vancouver supported his
request and wrote enthusiastic accounts of
Whidbey's behaviour and achievement during the
voyage.The Admiralty accepted the proposal and,
until a suitable vacancy should occur, he was sent
to Portsmouth where he appeared on the books
of Non Pareil. No doubt he was learning about
his future dockyard duties which would include
the care and maintenance of aU boats and tenders, beaconage, buoyage and dredging of channels together with salvage operations when necessary. In 1799 he was detached to make a
hydrographic survey of Torbay with a view to
the possible building of a breakwater to make it a
safe Fleet anchorage.The resulting chart was published in his name.9
Meanwhile he had been appointed Master
Attendant at Sheerness dockyard. Something must
be said at this point about his relations with Vancouver after the voyage and before Vancouver's
death, in May 1798. It is possible that Whidbey
had become disiUusioned by Vancouver s failures
in the management of men and in the exercise of
his command though there is no hint in the surviving journals or letters of an open rift. How
ever, as soon as the voyage was over Whidbey's
actions proclaimed him an enemy ofVancouver.
There is nothing to show that Whidbey visited
his erstwhile commander when he was dying,
probably of chronic nephritis, at Petersham. On
the other hand we know from a letter Archibald
Menzies wrote to Sir Joseph Banks, dated 21
October 1796 at Portsmouth, that Whidbey was
only too wiUing to provide the great man with
evidence exculpating the arrogant and psychopathic ex-midshipman, Thomas Pitt 2nd Baron
Camelford and, by inference, accusing Vancouver
of intolerance and cruelty. Menzies' letter contains an extensive statement from Whidbey in
which he makes Ught of Camelford's breach of
discipline in Tahiti, in January 1792, when he
bartered a piece of ship's iron for a favour from a
young Tahitian woman.Whidbey mocks Vancouver's charge against the midshipman of "purloining ship's property". By thus making nothing of
Camelford's infraction and ridicuUngVancouver,
Whidbey seems to have forgotten that on arrival
in Tahiti Vancouver had issued strict orders that
any sale of ship's property would be treated as a
very serious offence. I think we can understand
why Vancouver threatened such draconian punishments for this offence; laxity on his part would
surely have led to dismantling ofthe ship's equipment. In the part of Menzies' letter devoted to
Whidbey's statement we gather that Whidbey
writes of Camelford's aUeged crimes: "I know of
none", and of his future: "he wiU prove an ornament to his profession."10 In view of Camelford's
later career and short life of violence and aggression culminating in his death in a duel,11
Whidbey's assessment ofthe young man must be
seen either as a complete misjudgement of his
character or, worse, as a deUberate attempt to curry
favour with Sir Joseph Banks at the expense of
his former shipmate and commander.Whichever
explanation is correct it is a serious blot on
Whidbey's reputation. By 1796 when the statement was made, the tide of pubUc opinion had
set strongly against Vancouver. The general ridicule of him amongst his former ship's company
and amongst the upper echelons of society had
already condemned him to spend the remaining
few months of his life in utter despair.12
Whidbey's cultivation of Sir Joseph paid offin
many ways. He was prompdy paid for his services as astronomer by the Board of Longitude
whereas Vancouver's paraUel claim was apparendy
ignored.13 The aU-powerful Sir Joseph promoted
7 See note 4.
8 See note 4.
'John M. Naish,"Joseph
Whidbey and the Building
ofthe Plymouth Breakwater," Tlie Mariner's Mirror 78
(1992): 37.
10 Lamb, Voyage, 1633-
1634. Quoting letter from
Menzies to Banks, Oct, 21
1796. Includes statement
from Whidbey.
" Nikolai Tolstoy, Tlie Half-
Mad Lord: Tliomas Pitt 2nd
Lord Camelford (London:
12 John M. Naish, Tlie Interwoven Lives of George Vancouver, Archibald Menzies,
Joseph Wliidbey and Peter
Puget (Lewiston. NY:The
Edward Mellen Press,
13 Lamb, Voyage, 222.
14 Fisher, R. and H.
Johnson, From Maps to
Metaphors (Vancouver:
UBC Press, 1993), 244.
13 Right: Bovisand, near
Plymouth, 1825, where
Wliidbey lived at that
time. Note the Plymouth
15 LWS = Low water
springs, i.e. the lowest level
to which the water sinks
during spring tides. The
spring tidal range at Sheer-
ness is 5.2 meters.
"'Transactions ofthe Royal
Society, 28 April, 1803:
17 Naish, "Joseph
Whidbey", 1992.
I8.E. Moon, Report on the
History ofthe Plymouth
Breakwater. (Public Services
Library, Devonport, Plymouth)
" Margaret Green, William
Buckland's model of Plymouth Breakwater: some
geological and scientific
connexions. Archives of
Natural History. 23 [2]:
219-244. 1996.
211 Naish, Tlie Intenvoven
Lives, 397. Quoting letter
in Box 19798 of Rennie
Archives, National Library
of Scotland.
Etching by William Daniell. Courtesy lohn M. Naish.
Whidbey's FeUowship ofthe Royal Society. Sig-
nificandy, he never did the same service for his
devoted nominee on the voyage, Archibald
Menzies, who probably deserved it as much but
had irritated the great man by the dilatory preparation of his Journal which Banks had hoped to
have pubUshed before Vancouver's Journal was
ready for the press.14 Undoubtedly Banks, who
had had so much to do with the planning ofthe
exploration of the
Northwest, had decided that the outstanding success of
the survey was due
in large part to the
stamina and common sense of
Whidbey. Although
admitting the validity of such an
opinion, it is sad
that so few of his
officers empathized
with the immense
strain that the over-
aU command put on Vancouver.
This digression on the subject of his relations
with his former commander has been necessary
in order to throw Ught on Whidbey's second successful career as a Civil Engineer.This began when
he was Master Attendant at Sheerness and particularly when he salvaged the frigate Ambuscade
which had sunk in 25 feet of water LWS 14 on
the Nore Bank.This feat attracted a good deal of
publicity and led to Sir Joseph Banks' asking for
a fuU account of the methods in a paper for the
Royal Society which he himself read from the
chair in 1803.16The circumstances ofthe salvage
are worth recaUing as they Ulustrate Whidbey's
ingenuity. The Ambuscade had gone down under
fuU sail and the huU was firmly embedded in the
sticky mud of the Thames estuary. Whidbey, who
appreciated the great adhesive power of mud, decided that the wreck could not be shifted until it
was first freed from mud suction and that he
should use the hefty Thames tidal range to effect
this. First dismasting and de-gunning the ship, he
ranged a large auxiliary vessel alongside the frigate with four other smaller vessels bow-on to its
other side. He then rove strong cables through
the deck spaces ofthe huU to the capstans in the
auxiliaries. They were hove tight at low water
and then he waited for the flood to lift her clear
of the mud; this happened without any cables
parting and the Ambuscade came upright. After
further adjustments during succeeding tides the
locked-together ships were able to drive with the
wind to a shore near Sheerness where it was estabUshed that the frigate had suffered hardly any
Whidbey's promotion to the far larger dockyard ofWoolwich foUowed, and in 1805, his election as FeUow of
the Royal Society.
Around this time
his long friendship
with John Rennie,
the already famous civil engineer, began and
flourished. This
together with the
patronage of
Banks and Earl St.
Vincent, who had
commissioned his
survey of Torbay,
determined his
later appointment as Superintending Engineer
for the building of the Plymouth Breakwater
which commenced in 1811 .The fuU story of this
massive and original work is recounted elsewhere
by the present author,17 but the key events were
first the hydrographic and geological survey of
Plymouth Sound and the subsequent report dated
21 April 1806 by Rennie, Whidbey, and
Hemmans, a previous Master Attendant at Plymouth who had local knowledge.18
Their conclusion and plan for a central detached breakwater were in the course of approval
by the Admiralty, the matter being urgent due to
the vulnerability ofthe Channel Fleet which was
without a secure base in the west of England from
which to command the blockade of Brest. However, the Batde of AusterUtz, the death ofWiUiam
Pitt, and subsequent changes of government
caused the project to be postponed until it was
revived again during the Regency in 1811.
Whidbey was first on detached duty from
Woolwich and lodged at the Pope's Head in Plymouth with a salary of .£1,000 p.a. plus expenses
and the service of a clerk. Later he moved out to
a newish Regency-style house in Bovisand Bay
from which he could look out on the site ofthe
breakwater which began to be visible at low water springs in 1814 and was acting as an efficient
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 shelter for men-of-war by 1815. Over two million tons of limestone were quarried from
Oreston where modern iron rails and trolleys were
used to handle the heavier blocks. Natural caverns were opened up during the quarrying and
Whidbey was perspicacious enough to note that
ancient animal bones were preserved in them.
Thus, late in his career and when he was over
seventy, Whidbey came to be the author of two
more papers in the Transactions of the Royal
Society. Some ofthe bones had gone for analysis
to Sir Everard Home, President of the Royal
CoUege of Surgeons, and others to the Reverend Richard Buckland, a geologist of Oxford
University, who was a world expert on the palaeontology of caves. The bones were identified
as those of extinct European animals notably rhinoceros, a primitive bear and hyena.
The story of the collaboration between
Whidbey and Richard Buckland has recendy
been told by Margaret Green in the Archives of
Natural History.." It was the finding of a polished
limestone model ofthe Plymouth Breakwater in
the Oxford Geological CoUections which caused
Margaret Green to investigate the connection
between Buckland and Whidbey. Whidbey had
sent the model to Buckland in 1826, perhaps as a
belated wedding gift, for Buckland had been made
a Canon of Christ Church and had married in
1825. Whidbey by this time was in his early seventies and preparing to retire. It is strange to think
of the former warrant officer and intrepid explorer ofthe Northwest rubbing shoulders with
the "good and great" of England.There had even
been talk of a knighthood for him in 1815 but
Whidbey scorned the idea in a letter to Rennie,
feeUng that the only good of "such a handle to
my name" would have been to aid him in his
dealings with the Navy Board whom he found
impossibly bureaucratic and obstructive.20
After a period of iU health and after the death
of his great friend, John Rennie, Whidbey retired at the age of 75 to Taunton where he bought
the substantial property of St. James House right
opposite St. James Church. He was a congenial
and interesting man who had a large circle of
friends many of whom, even old shipmates from
Discovery, were remembered in his wiU.This will,
engrossed in 1832 a year before Whidbey's death
in October 1833, is stiU available.21 His residuary
legatee was Mary Ann Burn who was married to
a sailor, address unknown. She was the daughter
of Nancy Jackson, Joseph's favourite (and possi
bly only) niece who had kept house for her uncle during his middle age.The task later-feU to an
ex-naval man, Henry Oglan and his wife
Catherine, the two being beneficiaries of a trust
which enabled them to continue Uving in St.
James House after Whidbey died and to coUect
rents from neighbouring properties. In August
1834, the year after Whidbey's death, a trial was
held at the Wells Assize on the subject of
Whidbey's testamentary capacity. The suit was
brought by the Burn family and other unnamed
relatives on the ground that at the time when
Whidbey made his last wiU, on 13 May 1833, he
was not of sound mind, memory and understanding. The plaintiff and the defendant caUed over
80 witnesses. The contention ofthe Burns relatives, was that the banker Woodforde had used
undue influence on a senile Whidbey so that he,
Woodforde, was made the residuary legatee if
Mary Ann Burn should die without issue. The
jury found unanimously in favour of the plaintiff,Woodforde, so the wiU executed in May 1833
was upheld. The trial was fuUy reported in The
Taunton Courier of 20 August 1834.
As for Whidbey's character, those who have
read the accounts ofthe great voyage, his reports,
and letters must agree with the conclusion of
Samuel Smiles who, in the second volume of his
Lives of the Engineers, in the chapter on John
Rennie, writes about Whidbey:22
His varied experience had produced rich fruits in a
mind naturally robust and vigorous. As might be
expected he was an excellent seaman. He was also a
man of considerable acquaintance with practical
science and had acquired from experience a large
knowledge of human nature of a kind not to be
derived from books.... He was gready beloved and
respected by all who knew him.
21 The last will and testament of J. Whidbey is in
PROB. No. 11/1828/127.
22 Smiles, Samuel. Lives of
the Engineers. Vol 2. (1874)
Photo: courtesy Mr. Harry Moore.
Left: Bovisand as it is
15 Managing Multiple Narratives
Alexander Mackenzie at Nuxalk Territory, 1793
by Sam Dunn
Sam Dunn holds a B.A.
in anthropology and
history from the
University of Victoria,
he currently lives in
Toronto, and is
pursuing an M.A. in
anthropology at York
1 I wish to thank Randy
Bouchard and Dorothy
Kennedy for providing me
with the oral accounts of
Mackenzie's arrival at the
Bella Coola Valley. This
essay would never have
materialized without their
assistance. I would
especially like to thank
Randy Bouchard and
Wendy Wickwire, both of
whom made helpful
suggestions along the way.
2 Bernard McGrane,
Beyond Anthropology: Society
and the Other (New York:
Columbia University Press,
1989), 1.
s For a celebratory account
of Mackenzie's Pacific
journey, see Richard P.
Bishop, Mackenzie's Rock
(Ottawa: Printed at the
Government Printing
Bureau, 1924 [?]).
'Wendy C.Wickwire,"To
See Ourselves as the
Other's Other:
Nlaka'pamux Contact
Narratives," Canadian Historical Review 75 (1994), 2.
5 For an economic
perspective on the western
fur trade, see Richard
Mackie, Trading Beyond the
Mountains: Tlie British Fur
Trade on the Pacific, 1793-
1843 (Vancouver: UBC
Press, 1997).
6 Julie Cruikshank,
"Discovery of Gold on the
Klondike: Perspectives
from Oral Tradition," in
Reading Beyond Words:
Contexts for Native History,
A culture that discovers what is alien to itself simultaneously manifests what is in itself.2
—Bernard McGrane (1989J
On July 19, 1793, fur trader Alexander
Mackenzie became the first person of
European origin to cross the North
American continent. Along with feUow North
West Company (NWC) trader Alexander McKay,
Mackenzie traveUed to the Pacific Ocean in search
of a commercial Unk to the Orient. Their long
and arduous journey from Fort Chipewyan at
Lake Athabaska to the BeUa Coola River is weU
documented in Mackenzie's journal, originaUy
pubUshed in Voyages from Montreal (London, 1801),
and this event has since crystaUized in the Euro-
Canadian imagination as a "heroic" moment in
the westward expansion ofthe fur trade.3 Indeed,
Mackenzie's journal has been the primary "lens"
through which scholars and the general public
have viewed his arrival at Nuxalk territory in
the summer of 1793.4 As a result, Mackenzie's
relationship with the Nuxalk has been interpreted
primarily in economic terms: it was an important step towards establishing a new regional
economy on the Pacific.5
This paper aims to show that contact between
Mackenzie and the Nuxalk also constituted a cultural encounter between peoples of different social, cultural, poUtical and economic backgrounds.
This encounter can best be understood by comparing and contrasting several contact narratives.
Until recendy, scholars have largely accepted Mackenzie's written account as "the" account of contact and trade in the BeUa Coola vaUey. That is,
Mackenzie's journal has been treated as providing an objective, detached and therefore truthful
depiction of this encounter, while the Nuxalk's
own version of the story has been undervalued.
An important focus of this paper is to understand why Nuxalk oral history, and, by extension, oral narratives in general, have not been
treated as vaUd sources of information on contact situations.
Ethnohistorians, social historians, and anthropologists are paying increasing attention to the
ways in which oral and written accounts can together be used to enhance our understanding of
the past. Anthropologist JuUe Cruikshank notes
that oral and written sources may provide contrasting accounts of past events.6 In some cases
there may be considerable disagreement between
sources over what actuaUy happened in the past.7
Cruikshank also suggests, however, that because
aU accounts are embedded in unique social contexts—in which factors such as race, ethnicity,
class, and gender play important roles—historical narratives should not be "sifted for facts," but
rather analyzed in terms ofthe information they
provide on the cultural values of the respective
narrators.8 Other scholars, such as anthropologist Jonathan HiU, have argued that "history is
not reducible to the what 'reaUy happened' of
past events" because narration is a selective, interpretive process.9 In other words, because individual viewpoints are Umited by particular socio-
cultural backgrounds, the teUing of past events
necessarily involves the selection of certain details
over others. From this perspective, then, aU historical "facts" are culturaUy mediated.111
With this theoretical perspective in mind, this
paper examines how Mackenzie's written account
and Nuxalk oral narratives enhance our understanding of contact and trade at BeUa Coola River
in 1793. Each account offers a unique version of
Mackenzie's arrival. This paper wiU not focus,
however, on the "facts" that can be rendered from
these diverse sources. I am not looking for the
"real story" in the past. Nor wiU I attempt to
meld these texts into one "indisputable truth.""
Instead, I find it more interesting and useful to
focus on the cultural values that underUe and
inform the actions and words of Mackenzie and
Nuxalk men and women. With respect to oral
history, this paper argues that Nuxalk narratives
do not simply provide an alternative view of Mackenzie's pubUshed account. Rather, these accounts
are equaUy vaUd sources of historical data. They
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 are shaped by the interests and needs of the
Nuxalk, and therefore provide unique information on the socio-cultural contexts in which they
are enmeshed.
Alexander Mackenzie: A Brief Background
Alexander Mackenzie was born in 1764 in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, Scotland. One of four children, Alexander emigrated to the United States
with his father at the age of ten. Shortly after
being orphaned in 1778, Mackenzie moved north
to pursue a career in the fur trade. Working for
the firm of Gregory,
MacLeod, in 1784, he
made his first trading trip
to Detroit. Later in the
same   year,   Gregory,
MacLeod amalgamated
with the newly formed
North West Company,
and Mackenzie began to
make plans for a westward
expedition in search of a
route to the markets ofthe
On his first expedition
in 1789, Mackenzie followed what was to become the Mackenzie
River, only to discover
that it did not lead west,
but rather north to the
Arctic Ocean. Mackenzie
was well aware of the
causes of his failure to find a route to the Pacific
in 1789: "I was not only without the necessary
books and instruments, but also felt myself deficient in the sciences of astronomy and navigation."13 To prepare for a second expedition along
the Peace and Fraser Rivers, Mackenzie compiled as much information as possible on Native
trade routes, and also went to England to learn
basic navigational skiUs.14 Mackenzie's plans for
the second, "Pacific," journey were far more
elaborate than those for his first trip. As historian
Richard Mackie notes, Mackenzie, along with
London geographer Alexander Dalrymple, "devised a model for the territorial control and commercial exploitation of the Pacific region of the
fur trade."15 Mackenzie expressed his intentions
as a commercial entrepreneur in the preface to
his journal:
I was led, at an early period of my Ufe, by commercial views, to the country North-West of Lake Su
perior, in North America, and being endowed by
Nature with an inquisitive mind and enterprising
spirit; possessing also a constitution and frame of
body equal to the most arduous undertakings, and
being familiar with toilsome exertions in the prosecution of mercantile pursuits, I not only contemplated the practicability of penetrating across the
continent of America, but was confident in the qualifications, as I was animated by the desire, to undertake the perilous enterprise.16
Mackenzie clearly viewed himself as the best
person for the job. His whole-hearted commitment to finding a route west was also acknowledged by his feUow traveUers. As one crewman
from the first voyage remarked:
"[Mackenzie was] a man
of masterful temperament,
and those who accompanied him, whether white
men or natives, were
merely so many instruments to be used in the accomplishment of any purpose which he had in
Mackenzie's character
earned him a rather ambiguous relationship not
only with his own crewmen, but also with the
various Native peoples
he traded with during
his travels.
Mackenzie's investigation ofthe Pacific region's
economic and commercial potential began in earnest in May, 1793.18 His initial crew consisted of
ten men: Alexander McKay, his second-in-command; six French-Canadian voyageurs (two of
whom had been members of his first expedition); and two Sekani men who acted as guides
and interpreters.19 Mackenzie and his crew traveUed west from Fort Fork along the Peace River
to the Parsnip, and then south along the Parsnip
to the Fraser. His route west from the Fraser followed weU-beaten Carrier travel routes to the
Coast Mountains. Mackenzie entered Nuxalk territory from the east, descending the Coastals along
Burnt Bridge Creek to the BeUa Coola River.
This paper takes up Mackenzie's narrative upon
his arrival at the viUage of Nutteax20 (or Burnt
Bridge) on July 17, 1793. But first, a brief description of Nuxalk culture and economy at the
time of Mackenzie's arrival is provided.
Essay submitted for
the British Columbia
Historical Federation
competition 1998.
Recomended by Dr.
Elizabeth Vibert,
Associate Professor,
Department of History,
University of Victoria.
eds. Jennifer S.H. Brown
and Elizabeth Vibert
(Peterborough: Broadview
Press, 1996), 433.
7 See, for example, Frieda
Esau Klippenstein, "The
Challenge of James
Douglas and Carrier Chief
Kwah," in Reading Beyond
Words: Contexts for Native
History, eds.Jennifer S.H.
Brown and Elizabeth
Vibert (Peterborough:
Broadview Press, 1996).
8 Cruikshank, "Discovery
of Gold on the Klondike,"
"Jonathan D. HiU,
"Introduction: Myth and
History," in Rethinking
History and Myth:
Indigenous South American
Perspectives on the Past, ed.
Jonathan D. Hill (Urbana
and Chicago: University of
Illinois Press, 1988), 2.
10 Klippenstein, "The
Challenge of James
Douglas and Carrier Chief
Kwah," 147.
11 Elizabeth Vibert, Traders'
Tales: Narratives of Cultural
Encounters in the Columbia
Plateau, 1807-1846
(Norman: University of
Oklahoma Press, 1997), 5.
13 Germaine Warkentin, ed.
Canadian Exploration
Literature: An Anthology
(Toronto: Oxford
University Press, 1993),
I3W Kaye Lamb, ed. 77ie
Journals and Letters of Sir
Alexander Mackenzie
(Toronto: Macmillan,
1970), 58.
14 Lamb,Journals, 18.
15 Mackie, Trading Beyond
the Mountains, 3.
16 Lamb,Journals, 57.
17 Mackenzie does not give
the name of this crewman.
Lzmb.Journab, 22.
17 " Mackenzie's Pacific
journey officially began at
Fort Chipewyan in
October 1792. However,
his crew was forced to stop
at Fort Fork (located at the
intersection ofthe Peace
River and the Smoky) in
order to repair canoes and
replenish supplies. Several
authors treat Mackenzie's
departure from Fort Fork
as the starting point of his
Pacific voyage. See Lamb
Journals and Letters, 21 and
Warkentin, Canadian
Exploration Literature, 265.
" Lamb, Journals, 21.
211 Mackenzie later named
this settlement "Friendly
Village." The spellings used
throughout this paper for
Nuxalk villages and other
place names follow as close
as possible those given by
anthropologists Dorothy
Kennedy and Randy
Bouchard, and
ethnographer Thomas
3i Today, Nuxalk is the
general term of reference
for the people ofthe Bella
Coola Valley. Although
referred to as the "Bella
Coola" in fur trader and
subsequent government
and ethnographic
documents, the term
Nuxalk is used here to
respect its revival as a term
of self-identification for
the people ofthe valley.
For an insightful discussion
ofthe importance of
"naming" in First
relations, see Ken G.
Brealey, "Mapping them
'Out'": Euro-Canadian
Cartography and the
Appropriation ofthe
Nuxalk andTs'ilhqot'in in
First Nations'Territories,
1793-1916," Tlie Canadian
Geographer 39 (1995), 140-
"Dorothy I.D. Kennedy
Nuxalk Language, Culture and Economy
The Nuxalk21 speak a Coast SaUsh language that
is geographically isolated from the rest of the
Salishan family. The Nuxalk are surrounded by a
number ofWakashan-speaking peoples: the Haisla
to the north, the Heiltsuk and Oweekeno to the
west, and the Kwakwaka'wakw to the south.The
Nuxalk are bordered to the east by two
Athapaskan-speaking groups, the Chilcotin and
the Carrier.
In the late eighteenth century, the Nuxalk Uved
in several permanent viUages along the major
channels, rivers and creeks of the BeUa Coola
VaUey. The abundant supply of food and other
resources in the area aUowed the Nuxalk to remain sedentary throughout the year, apart from
occasional excursions to seasonal camps to exploit specific resources. Nuxalk subsistence was
based primarily on fish (mostly salmon and
eulachons), procured mainly by traps set in weirs
across rivers and creeks.The Nuxalk also hunted
animals (particularly the mountain goat) for food,
clothing, and medicines. Although the Nuxalk
shared a common language, the viUages did not
form a single political unit. Rather, Nuxalk poUtical and economic Ufe was centred around the
descent group, in which an individual traced his
or her membership patriUneaUy (i.e. through the
male Une). Fish weirs and hunting areas, for example, were controUed by individual descent
groups. In terms of external relations, the Nuxalk
traded and intermarried with the Heiltsuk,
Chilcotin, and Carrier, but also had had many
so-called "wars" with these groups.22
Right: Native language
groups showing the Salish
speaking Nuxalk and their
A part of a map drawn by Eric Leinberger reproduced with kind permission from
Richard Mackie, Trading Beyond the Mountains, UBC Press, 1997.
Hospitality at Friendly Village
It is important to note that Mackenzie's original journals underwent considerable revision before pubUcation in 1801. Even though the original logbook for the Pacific journey is no longer
extant, several scholars have noted that WiUiam
Combe, an EngUsh Uterary hack, put the finishing touches on Mackenzie's manuscript. In
the Preface to Voyages, Mackenzie himself recognized the Umits of his own hand:
I must beg leave to inform my readers, that they
are not to expect the charms of embellished
narrative, or animated description; the approbation due to simplicity and to truth is all I presume
to claim; and I am not without hope that this
claim wiU be allowed me. I have described whatever I saw with the impressions of the moment
which presented it to me.23
Like so many other fur traders and explorers,
Mackenzie aimed to produce an objective, firsthand account ofthe day-to-day activities ofthe
Native peoples he came into contact with. Mackenzie attempted to establish that he had "been
there, looking and recording."24 Phrases such as
"I observed" and "I saw" punctuate Mackenzie's narrative, thus confirming his authority as
a witness to the behaviour of foreign peoples.
One of the most powerful images that
emerges from Mackenzie's text in his description ofthe Nuxalk is the image offriendship."
On the evening of July 17, Mackenzie and his
crew arrived at the viUage of Nutteax seeking
food and lodging after a long descent into the
vaUey. Mackenzie was instandy impressed by the
hospitality of the viUagers: "I walked into one
of [the huts] without the least ceremony, threw
down my burden and, after shaking hands with
some of them, sat down upon it. They received
me without the least appearance of surprize...."25
After meeting the chief of the viUage (whose
name does not appear in the text), Mackenzie
and his crew were treated to a large meal consisting of roasted salmon, gooseberries, and various herbs. Mackenzie seems to suggest that his
hosts were predisposed towards this sort of behaviour: "Having been regaled with these delicacies, for they were considered by that hospitable spirit which provided them, we laid ourselves down to rest with no other canopy than
the sky..."^Before his departure the foUowing
day, Mackenzie offered goods to the chief in
return for the hospitahty afforded the crew: "I
presented my friend with several articles, and
also distributed some among others of the na-
Mackenzie s Route
From Fort Fork to the Bella Coola Valley
Smoky River
tives who had been attentive to us."27 Since Mackenzie was planning to return to FriendlyViUage
after reaching the Pacific Ocean, he was determined to establish good trade relations with the
chief and the other viUagers.
Descriptions of friendship, reciprocity, and (future) trade are found throughout the writings of
fur traders and explorers. In his discussion of contact and trade between Captain Cook and the
Nuu-Chah-Nulth at Nootka Sound, historical
geographer Daniel Clayton argues that the images of friendship and the prospect of trade found
within Cook's journal cannot be properly
analyzed without taking into account his interests and goals as a European explorer in search of
trade on the Northwest Coast.These images, according to Clayton,"helped confirm [Cook's] status as a gentle and humane explorer."28 In Mackenzie's case, these sorts of images were employed
in order to bolster his reputation as a successful
commercial entrepreneur on the frontier of the
western fur trade. Phrases Uke "my friend"29 and
"regard and friendship"30 are repeated throughout the text to earn the confidence of a Euro-
Canadian31 readership that held expressed interest in the future commercial exploitation of this
western hinterland region. As such, Mackenzie's
account imphcidy, though no less powerfuUy, re
flects broader interests than simply estabUshing
friendships on the Northwest Coast.
Hostility at Great Village
Other images in Mackenzie's text seemingly contradict his construction ofthe Nuxalk as a friendly,
hospitable Native group, engaged in peaceful exchanges with Euro-Canadians and other Native
peoples. For example, on July 18, Mackenzie, accompanied by seven Nuxalk, set out for the village of Nusqlst,32 about nine miles downstream
from Nutteax. Because of the treatment that his
crew had received at FriendlyViUage, Mackenzie
was shocked by the reception at Nusqlst:
Some ofthe Indians ran before us, to announce our
approach, when we took our bundles and followed.
We had walked along a well-beaten path, through a
kind of coppice, when we were informed by the
arrival of our couriers at the houses, by the loud
and confused talking of the inhabitants. The noise
and confusion ofthe natives now seemed to encrease,
and when we came into sight ofthe viUage, we saw
them running from house to house, some armed
with bows and arrows, others with spears, and many
with axes, as if in a great state of alarm33
According to Mackenzie, these viUagers exhibited similar behaviour after he had discovered
that one of his axes was missing: "...the viUage
was in an immediate state of uproar, and some
danger was apprehended from the confusion that
Left: Sketchmap of
Mackenzie's approach to
the coast. Courtesy Sam
and Randall T. Bouchard,
"Bella Coola," in Handbook
of North American Indians
(Northwest Coast), ed.
Wayne Sutdes
(Washington: Smithsonian
Institution.Volume 7,
1990), 323-9.
23 Lambjoumab, 59.
24 Daniel Clayton,
"Captain Cook and the
Spaces of Contact at
'Nootka Sound'," in
Reading Beyond Words:
Contexts for Native History,
eds. Jennifer S.H. Brown
and Elizabeth Vibert
(Peterborough: Broadview
Press, 1996),101.
25 Lzmbjournals, 360.
26 Lamb,Journals, 361.
27 Lzmb,Joumals, 363.
28 Clayton, "Captain Cook
and the Spaces of
Contact," 114.
29 L3xnb,Journals, 363.
"Lamb.Joumak, 365.
31 The term "Euro-
Canadian" is a useful
device for identifying the
European influence on fur
trade culture, and for
aligning this culture with
later social and cultural
developments in North
America, even though
"Canada" as we now
know it did not exist in
the late eighteenth century.
"Mackenzie referred to
this settlement as the
"GreatVillage" because of
its large size and his
admiration for the chief
there. Mackenzie counted
eleven houses and
estimated a population of
about two hundred (Lamb,
Journals and Letters, 366-7).
Ethnographer Thomas
Mcllwraith mentions that
the village was abandoned
around 1880 (Thomas F
Mcllwraith, Tlie Bella Coola
Indians [Toronto:
University ofToronto
Press.Volume 1,1948], 9).
33 Lamb, Journals, 364.
19 Right: Bella Coola Ghost
Mask. Reproduced with
kind permission ofthe
Canadian Museum of
34 Limb, Journals, 370.
35 Lamb, Journals, 364.
36 Lzmb,Journals, 387.
37 McGrane, Beyond
Anthropology, ix.
38 McGrane, Beyond
Anthropology, 52.
3'Lamb,Joum(ib, 367.
'"Lamb.Joumdb and Letters,
"Warkentin, Canadian
Exploration Literature ,261.
42 Kennedy and Bouchard,
"Bella Coola," 336.
43 Lamb, Journals and Letters,
44 Lamb, Journals and Letters,
45 Mary Louise Pratt,
Imperial Eyes:Travel Writing
and Transculturation (New
York: Routledge, 1992),
4'' McGrane, Beyond
Anthropology, 47.
"John Scouler,
"Observations on the
Indigenous Tribes ofthe
N.W. Coast of America,"
Journal ofthe Royal
Geographic Society 11
(1841), 224.
prevaUed in it."34 The hostile appearance35 ofthe
residents at Nusqlst, although soon queUed by the
calm and coUected Mackenzie, was to perma-
nendy reshape his view of the Nuxalk. The image of perfect tranquillity36 that Mackenzie had
constructed of FriendlyViUage and other smaUer
viUages along the BeUa Coola River had been
tainted, and would be
further corrupted by his
experiences elsewhere
in the vaUey
These incidents led
Mackenzie to assume
that the Nuxalk, like
other Native peoples he
had met during his voyages, were irrational and
dangerous creatures
who posed a threat to
the Uves of his crew and
the safety of its trade
goods. This dual image
of the Nuxalk as hospitable and hostile is not
as contradictory as it
may seem. According to
the eighteenth century
European worldview,
Native peoples (who
were coUectively represented as the "Other")
were predisposed towards these types of behaviour. "Friendly" at one moment and "violent"
the next, Native peoples were incapable of Uving
up to the rational ideals of Enhghtenment Europe. As anthropologist Bernard McGrane has
argued, during the Enhghtenment: "Ignorance
came between Europeans and the Other."37 That
is, Native peoples could be both passive and dangerous because ultimately they were
"unenUghtened."38 In the case ofthe Nuxalk, their
"uncultivated" nature, as Mackenzie put it, made
them unpredictable and therefore untrustworthy.39 According to Mackenzie, the Nuxalk were
at once benign and threatening:
They appear to be of a friendly disposition,
but they are subject to sudden gusts of passion,
which are as quickly composed; and the transition is instantaneous, from violent irritation to
the most tranquil demeanour.40
The point here is that while Mackenzie had
"neither geographical nor ethnographical instincts,"41 he actively constructed a Nuxalk world
Collection Canadian Museum of Civilization, catalogue number VII-D-200
which embodied the quahties of a nonciviUzed
Other. Images of hospitality and hostility in the
BeUa Coola VaUey, then, can best be understood
by aUgning them with the larger belief systems
of late eighteenth century Euro-Canadian culture.
In Search of "Legitimate Commerce"
Mackenzie's interests as
a commercial entrepreneur manifest themselves in other ways
throughout the text.
Mackenzie provides detailed (and useful) descriptions of Nuxalk
viUage sites, technology,
and Native use of European trade goods.42
During his first visit to
Nusqlst, for instance,
Mackenzie gives several
first-hand accounts of
Nuxalk men and
women, respectively,
catching and preparing
fish. He also documents
the use of copper, brass,
and iron for culinary
and decorative purposes.43 Significandy, on his final day in the BeUa
CoolaVaUey, Mackenzie provides an extensive description of Nuxalk subsistence activities, marriage practices, reUgion and government.The following comments are particularly illustrative of
his intentions as a NWC trader:
Ofthe many tribes of savage people whom I have
seen, these appear to be the most susceptible of civilization. They might soon be brought to cultivate
the Uttle ground about them which is capable of it.
There is a narrow border of a rich black soil, on
either side ofthe river, over a bed of gravel, which
would yield any grain or fruit, that are common to
similar latitudes in Europe.44
Historian Mary Louise Pratt has caUed this kind
of pursuit "legitimate commerce."45 Mackenzie
was not looking to setde or colonize the BeUa
CoolaVaUey, but rather to legitimise the commercial exploitation ofthe area in the eyes of his
feUows in the NWC and his wider readership.
Clearly, this required not only an abundant landscape, but also a people "susceptible of civiliza-
tion."The seemingly ubiquitous nature of Euro-
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 pean goods in the area was a clear indication to
Mackenzie that the Nuxalk were prepared to
become fuU-fledged participants in the emerging regional and international economy.
In sum, the images produced by Mackenzie
suggest that his journal cannot be treated at face
value. He did not simply record what he saw "on
the ground." This discussion has aimed to show
that Mackenzie actively created distinctions between Euro-Canadians and the Nuxalk.The most
pervasive images in his text, those of hospitahty,
hostility, and "legitimate commerce," serve to
highlight wider Euro-Canadian beliefs about the
Native Other. Although the Nuxalk showed signs
of "civUization," they stiU posed a constant "threat
of nature"46 to Mackenzie and his crew. Mackenzie's status as an enlightened and, therefore,
superior Euro-Canadian is preserved throughout his narrative, even though he must rely extensively on the skiUs and assistance of Native
guides and chiefs.
"The Man that Comes from the Dead"
Several sources indicate that the arrival of Mackenzie at BeUa CoolaVaUey has been told through
Nuxalk oral history. Writing in 1841, naturalist
John Scouler noted that "some ofthe old men of
the tribe stiU remember his visit."47 In 1924, ethnographer Thomas Mcllwraith wrote that Mackenzie's visit was "an event of such great interest
to the grandparents of the older people that the
memory of it is still preserved."48 In the same
year, Captain Richard Bishop, a government surveyor who retraced Mackenzie's route from the
mouth of the BeUa Coola River to the famed
Mackenzie's Rock in Dean Channel, claimed that
the historic arrival at the Pacific at Bella Coola is a
matter of great interest to the inhabitants of the
valley, and of proud tradition to those Indians whose
forebears gave Mackenzie a hospitable reception.49
The remainder of this essay examines three
short, yet informative, oral narratives on Mackenzie's arrival at Nuxalk territory. Nuxalk narratives, it is argued, offer much more than a simple recounting of Mackenzie's own story.
The three oral50 narratives presented here are
centred around the Nuxalk beUef that white people had returned from the dead. One narrative,
originally told in the Nuxalk language by the
late Felicity Walkus, describes Mackenzie's arrival
at the viUage of Nutteax:
The people greeted him and gave him some barbecued fish. When they continued going down the
river, the chief put a feather on Mackenzie's head
to guide him.They spread the contents of his chamber-pot on the trail, before and after him. They
thought that he had returned from the dead, so this
would prevent him from disappearing.51
A similar description of Mackenzie's arrival is
given by Orden Mack, a man of Scottish and
Nuxalk background:
When Alexander Mackenzie came through to Burnt
Bridge, right straight down the river to the Indian
village right there, that's when he saw the chief.
And he (the chief) told them he was born from the
dead, he came to Ufe again, because his face was
white he didn't look Uke the Indians.52
In yet another account, the late Agnes Edgar
notes that "the Indians thought that these white-
coloured people had come back from the dead."53
Nuxalk perceptions of outsiders have also been
described by Thomas Mcllwraith, who, in the
early 1920s, conducted extensive ethnographic
fieldwork among the Nuxalk. According to
...when Mackenzie appeared...they thought that
he must be from another world. Some thought him
a dead man returned to Ufe, others considered him
a supernatural visitor from above who had fallen
down to earth, as did their first ancestors.The latter
view prevailed, and it was ultimately decided that
he must be Qomcua, a supernatural being resident
aloft of whom litde was known.This name was applied to him, and it has since been given to all white
This evidence suggests that at the time of
Mackenzie's arrival newcomers were perceived
as supernatural visitors, as people returned from
the dead.55 As we shah see, the representation of
Mackenzie as a man born from the dead not only
helped the Nuxalk to make sense of his arrival,
but also had important socio-economic functions
in Nuxalk society.
This particular construction of Mackenzie had
a major influence on the events that transpired at
BeUa CoolaVaUey. In several instances throughout his journal, Mackenzie is perplexed by the
Nuxalk's refusal to let him buy or trade for fresh
We were all very desirous to get some fresh salmon,
that we might dress them in our own way,
but could not by any means obtain that gratification, though there were thousands of that fish strung
on cords....They were even averse to our approaching the spot where they clean and prepare them for
dieir own eating.56
Significandy, Mackenzie and his crew are only
able to obtain roasted salmon: "they refused to
seU one of them, but gave me one roasted of a
48 Mcllwraith, Tlie Bella
Coola Indians, 5.
,9Bishop, Sir Alexander
Mackenzie's Rock, 11.
50 While these accounts
have indeed been
transmitted orally, it is
important to note that this
paper draws on tvritten oral
51 British Columbia Indian
Language Project,
Unpublished Bella Coola
Fieldnotes, 1971-1977.
52 Susanne Storie, ed. Bella
Coola Stories (Report of
the B.C. Indian Advisory
Committee, 1968-69), 94.
53 British Columbia Indian
Language Project,
54 Mcllwraith, Tlie Bella
Coola Indians, 56.
55 See also, Bruce G.
Trigger, "Early Native
North American
Responses to European
Contact: Romantic versus
Interpretations," Journal of
American History 77
(March 1991), 1201.
56Lamb,Jowrri<ik, 366.
21 '7 Lzmb, Journals, 372.
'sLamb,Jonr»rt/5, 362.
'" Storie, Bella Coola Stories,
'"' British Columbia Indian
Language Project,
61 Kennedy and Bouchard,
"Bella Coola," 325.
r'2 Julie Cruikshank, "Oral
Tradition and Oral
History: Reviewing Some
Issues," Canadian Historical
ReviewlS (1994), 408.
63 Michael Eugene Harkin,
"Dialogues of History:
Transformation and
Change in Heiltsuk
Culture, 1790-1920"
(Ph.D. dissertation,
University of
Chicago, 1988), 20.
"Wickwire,"To See
Ourselves," 18.
1,5 Mcllwraith, Tlie Bella
Coola Indians, 56.
'"' Bishop, Mackenzie's Rock,
very different kind."57 Mackenzie's only justification for this failure is the superstitious nature
of the Natives: "These people indulge in an extreme superstition respecting their fish, as it is
apparendy their only animal food."58 Invoking
the image of the superstitious, ignorant Native
aUowed Mackenzie to explain away his faUure to
obtain a potentiaUy viable resource for the NWC.
The oral narratives provide a very different
explanation for the Nuxalk practice of restricting "white man's" access to fresh fish. Orden
Mack, for example, gives a vivid description of
Mackenzie's return trip along the BeUa Coola
Every, every fish trap they got into, they have to
portage. They take that canoe around that fish trap
because these Indians didn't beUeve in that., .the man
that comes from the dead—he was dead once and
came to life again, this Mackenzie was—what they
believe. If he sees the fish trap, the fish wouldn't
come by it. So they wouldn't let him see it. AU the
way up, another fish trap, they have to portage everything, the baggage and the canoe.59
Agnes Edgar, too, describes how Mackenzie's
crew was unable to examine the fish weir at
Nutteax: "They didn't want the white people to
go to the fish weir that evening. They grabbed
hold of them and held them back."60 The Nuxalk
clearly felt that the crew's "whiteness" (or
"deadness") would bring harm to their fish stocks.
Fish, as we wiU recaU, formed the basis of Nuxalk
subsistence. Five types of salmon were caught, as
weU as steelhead trout; eulachons and Pacific herring provided boUed, barbecued, or smoke-dried
staple food; and eulachon grease was a highly valued trade item.61 In the view ofthe Nuxalk, these
supplies were threatened by Mackenzie's presence. As such, the representation of Mackenzie
and his white crew members as returned from
the dead, functioned in two ways: to make sense
of the newcomers' appearance and to preserve
their most important resource. Nuxalk oral narratives, then, are imbued with both cultural values and economic needs.These accounts not only
offer a unique perspective on Mackenzie's arrival
(indeed, they explain elements of the story that
cannot be found in Mackenzie's pubUshed text),
but they also help us understand the cultural and
economic contexts in which they are embedded.
Oral and written histories, such as those discussed
here, cannot be compared easUy. They are sub
jective, interpretive accounts about the past that
often diverge on matters of place, person, and
event. For some, this means a bewUdering array
of possible pasts that prevents us from reaUy knowing what happened in the past. A primary contention throughout this paper has been that contact situations can only properly be understood
by attempting to manage multiple narratives, both
written and oral. Oral accounts are important in
that they chaUenge the very notion of "fact" and
"detail."62 That is, in the case of Mackenzie's arrival, while the ways of telUng the story may
change, the essence remains the same.These brief
accounts diverge, for example, on the exact chronology of Mackenzie's trip from FriendlyViUage
to Mackenzie's Rock and back again. However,
there is considerable agreement between these
sources on the why of what happened in July,
1793.This demonstrates Michael Harkin's point
that "through repetition within the community,
historical events become part of a common heritage."63 In other words, Nuxalk oral accounts
inform—and, in turn, are informed by—the larger
cultural, social and economic contexts of which
they are a part. The construction of Mackenzie
as born from the dead has iUustrated this point.
This paper has argued that oral and written
accounts are equaUy vaUd sources of historical
information in order to iUustrate precisely that
they have not been treated as such. Contact history is stiU largely based on the writings of white
explorers.64 Until recendy, the notion that oral
history is more subjective and less truthful than
written accounts has remained unchaUenged by
historians and other scholars.Thomas Mcllwraith,
for example, argues that "traditions of this type
are valuable as reflecting the interests of a people,
but their historical accuracy may well be
doubted."65 This view is echoed by Richard
Bishop who, in attempting to locate the exact
position of Mackenzie's Rock, felt that "it might
be risky to take local information too seriously"66
Oral narratives are frequendy downplayed as 'lore"
because they do not produce the "real story."What
these arguments fail to recognise is that written
accounts are also shaped by the individual biases
of the author and the wider cultural value system of which s/he is a part. Like oral accounts,
written texts are also subjective, however much
they portend to be objective. "AU histories," argues Judith Binney, "derive from a particular time,
a particular place, and a particular cultural heritage."67 In addition, written accounts, including
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 fur trader texts, undergo considerable revision and
embelUshment before pubUcation.68 Indeed, Mackenzie's journal is no exception.
One dilemma which continues to perplex
scholars and many Native groups is the question
of how and why oral sources have not been afforded the same historical .weight as written
sources.65 To paraphrase Julie Cruikshank's question, how is it that one account is included in
official history, while the others are relegated to
coUective memory?7" My findings suggest that
the disempowerment of oral history is not only
the result of scholars' reluctance to include oral
narratives in historical analyzes. Oral history has
also been discredited because of the questions
that are being asked about the past. This paper
has aimed to iUustrate that searching for "facts"
in Nuxalk and Euro-Canadian contact narratives
prevents us from understanding the range of cultural values that underlie these accounts. In an
attempt to manage a multiplicity of contact narratives at Nuxalk territory, it has become clear
that we need to rethink our questions about past
events and processes. "Sifting for facts" on what
happened in the past has become the dominant
mode of analyzing contact situations because we
have yet to fuUy acknowledge the value of oral
historical narrative.
Primary Sources - Unpublished
British Columbia Indian Language Project. Unpublished Bella Coola fieldnotes, 1971-1977.
Primary Sources - Published
Lamb.W. Kaye, ed. Tlie Journals and Letters ofSir Alexander Mackenzie. Toronto: Macmillan, 1970.
Storie, Susanne, ed. Bella Coola Stories. Report ofthe
B.C. Indian Advisory Committee, 1968-69.
Secondary Sources - Unpublished
Harkin, Michael Eugene. "Dialogues of History:
Transformation and Change in Heiltsuk Culture,
1790-1920." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1988.
Secondary Sources - Published
Bishop, Richard P. Mackenzie's Rock. Ottawa: Printed
at the Government Printing Bureau, 1924[?].
Brealey, Ken G. "Mapping them 'Out'": Euro-Canadian Cartography and the Appropriation ofthe
Nuxalk and Ts'ilhqot'in in First Nations' Territories, 1793-1916." The Canadian Geographer 39
(1995): 140-156.
Clayton, Daniel. "Captain Cook and the Spaces of
Contact at 'Nootka Sound'." In Reading Beyond
Words: Contexts for Native History, edited by Jennifer
S.H. Brown and Elizabeth Vibert, 95-123. Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1996.
Cruikshank, Julie. "Oral Tradition and Oral History:
Reviewing Some Issues." Canadian Historical Re-
viewlS (1994): 403-18.
Cruikshank, Julie. "Discovery of Gold on the
Klondike: Perspectives from Oral Tradition." In
Reading Beyond Words: Contexts for Native History,
edited by Jennifer S.H. Brown and EUzabeth
Vibert, 433-58. Peterborough: Broadview Press,
HiU,Jonathan D. "Introduction: Myth and History."
In Rethinking History and Myth: Indigenous South
American Perspectives on the Past, edited by Jonathan
D. HiU, 1-18. Urbana and Chicago: University of
Illinois Press, 1988.
Kennedy, Dorothy I.D. and RandaUT. Bouchard.
"BeUa Coola." In Handbook of North American Indians (Northwest Coast), edited by Wayne Suttles,
323-39. Washington: Smithsonian Institution,Volume 7, 1990.
Klippenstein, Frieda Esau. "The ChaUenge of James
Douglas and Carrier Chief Kwah." In Reading Beyond Words: Contexts for Native History, edited by
Jennifer S.H. Brown and EUzabeth Vibert, 124-51.
Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1996.
Mackie, Richard. Trading Beyond the Mountains: The
British Fur Trade on the Pacific, 1793-1843. Vancouver: UBC Press, 1997.
MacLaren, I.S. "Exploration/Travel Literature and
the Evolution ofthe Author." International Journal
of Canadian Studies 5 (Spring 1992): 39-68.
McGrane, Bernard. Beyond Anthropology: Society and
the Other. New York: Columbia University Press,
Mcllwraith,Thomas F. The Bella Coola Indians.To-
ronto: University ofToronto Press.Volume 1,1948.
Pratt, Mary Louise. Imperial Eyes .Travel Writing and
Transculturation. New York: Roudedge, 1992.
Scouler, John. "Observations on the Indigenous
Tribes ofthe N.W Coast of America." Journal ofthe
Royal Geographic Society 11 (1841): 215-50.
Trigger, Bruce G. "Early Native North American
Responses to European Contact: Romantic versus
Rationalistic Interpretations." Journal of American
History 77 (March 1991): 1195-1215.
Vibert, EUzabeth. Traders'Tales: Narratives of Cultural
Encounters in the Columbia Plateau, 1807-1846.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.
Warkentin, Germaine, ed. Canadian Exploration Literature: An Anthology. Toronto: Oxford University
Press, 1993.
Wickwire, Wendy C."To See Ourselves as the Other's Other: Nlaka'pamux Contact Narratives." Canadian Historical Review 75 (1994): 1-20.
"In Cruikshank, "Oral
Tradition and Oral
History," 410.
68 See I.S. MacLaren,
Literature and the
Evolution ofthe Author,"
International Journal of
Canadian Studies 5 (Spring
1992), 39-68.
"Cruikshank, "Oral
Tradition and Oral
History," 417.
70 Cruikshank, "Discovery
of Gold on the Klondike,"
23 On Account of Loss Suffered by Fire"
The Human Aspect of New Westminster's Great Fire
by Dale and Archie Miller
Dale and Archie Miller
are the principals in
the firm, A Sense of
History Research Services, Inc. operating out
of New Westminster.
In September 1998,
they wrote and published a book, entitled
The Great Fire of 1898:
The Devastation and
Rebirth of Downtown
New Westminster, to
commemorate the
100th anniversary of
that event.
Phote courtesy Dale and Archie Miller
Above: Douglas Elliott
block at 6th and Columbia. Note saves in
Next page: Tlie destruction on Columbia Street.
Tlie Columbian newspaper.
(New Westminster), September, October, 1898.
The Daily Columbian newspaper. (New Westminster), September, 1899.
The Province newspaper. (Vancouver), September, 1898.
The Kamloops Inland Sentinel
newspaper. September, 1898.
Applications for Relief. Relief
Committee, New Westminster, 1898
ON Saturday night 10 September 1898,
the Peter McGonigle family, who lived
in the back part of a small store in the
Lytton Hotel on Front Street in New Westminster had retired to bed early and all were sound
asleep. A litde after 11 o'clock Mrs. McGonigle
was awakened by a cracking noise on the window pane and looking out she saw the flames.
Screaming "Fire!" she woke her husband and the
three children. Peter McGonigle took the two
elder children, seven-year old May and six-year
old James, and started for the front door, the only
means of exit. His wife, Jessie, with the youngest
child, Florence, followed her husband only to find
all avenues of escape blocked by flames encircling the building. There was
only one choice left: to make a
dash through the fire. Rather
than perish in the building Peter and Jessie took their children in their arms and ran
blindly through the fire toward
the door. How they got
through the flames neither of
them could tell. They only
knew that when they did get
through the children's clothes
were on fire. There seemed to
be no help anywhere and it was
only because the children were
clad in nothing but nightdresses that their burns
were not fatal. As it was, the two elder children
were severely burned about the lower parts of
their bodies and Mrs. McGonigle was burned
about the neck.The youngest child, Florence, was
the most severely burned of all and bore crippling scars for the rest of her life. Peter McGonigle
lost everything he owned—household effects,
some cash, a gold watch and the stock in his store.
But in spite of their injuries and loss, they counted
themselves fortunate, for they had survived the
Great Fire of 1898—the conflagration which destroyed the entire downtown of New Westminster, in a little over six hours during the night of
10 September, 1898.
Vancouver City Council
C.P.R. Co.
Lord Strathcona
City of Victoria
City of Montreal
City ofToronto
Hamilton City Council
Victoria Board ofTrade
Winnipeg City Council
Citizens of Kaslo
Citizens of Glasgow, Scot.
Citizens of London, Eng.
S.S. Empress of India
Citizens of Blaine, WA
Vancouver high school pupils
R.P. Rithet & Co. 200 bags of Enderby flour
In the cold light of Sunday's dawn, the
McGonigles discovered that they were not alone
in distress. Over 500 families had been rendered
homeless and most of the rest of the city was
temporarily thrown out of work, since the business core of the Royal City was in ruins. The
final tally showed that virtually everything from
the Fraser River up to the south side of Royal
Avenue, between Fourth Street and Tenth Street,
some 80 acres in all, had been consumed by the
fire. The loss to public and private property was
enormous, with aggregate losses totalling over
three million dollars. But while the losses to the
business community were enormous, it is sometimes easy to forget that behind those businesses
were real people, and their
losses, while not as impressive
from a dollar perspective, were
even more devastating to those
incurring them.
Before the flames were completely extinguished, substantial
contributions to the relief fund
had already reached New Westminster, and assurances of still
more had been received. Donations flooded in from individuals, from cities and from
businesses, not only in the Province, but from across the country and around the world.
A meeting was held on 19 September to set
up a Relief Committee to allot and disburse the
funds to aid the sufferers of the fire. The ad-hoc
committees which had been directing relief matters since the fire had been constandy at work.
The original committee of six was soon increased
to twenty-one, and a thorough house-to-house
canvass was carried out to inform sufferers from
the fire of the means of obtaining relief. During
the week after the fire, one thousand people received provisions and 8,500 meals were served
free in the Armory. Not much later a special Relief
Committee was established to deal with the large
amount of money which was flooding in for the
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 relief of suffering. An executive committee reported to a general committee made up of the
mayor and one alderman, a member ofthe Board
ofTrade, one representative from each ofthe city
churches (Church of England, Roman Catholic,
Reformed Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist,
Baptist, and the Salvation Army), one representative each from the Bank of Montreal, the Bank
of British Columbia, and the Dominion Savings
Bank, and one representative each from the Relief Committee and the Distribution Committee.
The work of the Relief Committee was carried out with much care and careful investigation. Applications were required on printed forms
and these applications were then reviewed and
designated at one of three levels of urgency. Recommendations were made and reviewed, and letters of credit or cheques were issued. Four hundred and seventy-nine applications for relief were
filed, claiming losses, net of insurance, of $408,179.
Of these, 414 received relief totalling $29,702.
Seven hundred and fifty families received assistance in the form of groceries and provisions, blankets, tent, and clothes, issued from the Armory.
In February of 1899, the Relief Committee
turned over its accounts to City Council, with a
balance of almost $52,000.
One of the hallmarks of most large, devastating fires is loss of life. There were no lives lost as
a direct result ofthe Great Fire of 1898 in New
Westminster.There were massive and overwhelming corporate financial losses, accounts of which
filled the newspapers for months after the event.
There are numerous accounts of spectacular rebuilding and the miraculous rebirth of the business community. Perhaps the greater losses however, were suffered by many people who lost
possessions worth only a few dollars—a fishing
net, a suit of clothing, a dress and hat—all they
owned, or who were injured and, like Florence
McGonigle, carried physical and emotional scars
for the rest of their lives.
Photo courtesy Dale and Archie Miller
Excerpts from a few of the 414 "Applications for Relief" submitted
to the Relief Committee detailing property destroyed and other property owned by the claimants.
Margaret Geldard; 29-year-old woman, no trade or occupation, 3 children. Loss: kitchen,
dining room, front room, bedroom furniture, all destroyed except the kitchen stove
which was badly broken. Other property owned: "Nothing."
Newman family: 29-year-old fisherman, 18-year-old wife and 6 month old baby. Loss:
Total—managed to save only a bedstead, baby buggy and cradle. Other property
owned:" No thing."
. Mah Duck: 34-year-old Chinese cook. Loss: 2 pair blankets, cooking utensils, 1 cook
stove, 2 warming stoves, 1 suit clothes, 300 chickens, 17 ducks. Other property
owned: "Nothing."
Annie Moorhouse; 20-year-old waitress. Loss: 1 sewing machine, 1 month's wages in
drawer of machine, 1 coat, 1 dress, 1 hat, underwear. Other property owned: "Nothing"
Mrs. E. Knapp: 71-year-old dressmaker, widow. Loss: Clothing, blankets, bed and bedding. Life-size photos of self and husband, sewing machine, mirror. Other property
owned:"A pair of blankets." Note:"Wants a sewing machine. She has paid $5.00 on
machine and is unable to pay any more."
WE. Mercer; 30-year-old fisherman, wife and 3 children. Loss: One sockeye net of
best 8-ply barbers twine. Other property owned: "The net was the only property I
J.E Collister; 30-year-old grocer. Loss: "Trunk and case containing the majority of my
clothes, case containing a number of books and a large quantity of music." Other
property owned: "None—all I possessed was in the firm of Johnston & Collister.
We had $1,200 to meet liabilities of $2,000. We had started just five months when
the fire swept us out."
Mah Lung; 45-year-old unemployed man. Loss: Blankets and clothes. Other property
owned: "None—destitute and in poor health."
Martin Gooderham; 37-year-old steward, wife and 3 children. Loss: Two bedroom
outfits, dining room, kitchen, carpets and matting, groceries (fruit and pickles for
winter use). Other property owned: "We got out of fire 1 trunk, 1 dresser, 1 baby
high chair, and 1 go-cart."
James Martin; 56-year-old labourer. Loss: One trunk containing all my wearing apparel and $76 (my savings). Other property owned: None.
William B. Walker; 77-year-old gardener, wife. Loss: 2 sacks large white onions, 2
boxes pickling onions, 4 crates tomatoes, 1 box pickling cucumbers, 1 sack large
pickling cucumbers. Other property owned: small quantity tomatoes, 10 boxes apples.
William P Turner; artist, wood engraver and teacher; wife and 2 children. Loss: Mahogany box with 36 whole cake colours, manufactured by Winsor & Newton,
drawing and painting studies, 2 mahogany boxes containing silver instruments, routing
machine, engraving tools, carving tools, 27 engraving blocks (miscellaneous and
salmon labels), engraving machine attachments, etc. Other property owned: None.
Johnny, Fort Rupert Indian; 34-year-old fisherman. Loss: $12 money, bed, pillow,
blankets, pants, 2 shirts, undershirts, shoes, 2 pair gumboots, gum coat, apron, cartridges, rifle, sack of clothes and a box of food. Other property owned: None.
S.Wilcox; painter; wife and 5 children. Loss: 80 gal. paint oils, 1 barrel mineral paint,
300 lbs. white lead, 15 gals, mixed paint, 3 gals, varnish, 10 gals, turpentine, 10
books gold leaf, tube colours, brushes, graining tools, stencil for wall decorating,
dry colours; etc. Other property owned: None.
A.G. Campbell; 31-year-old farmer. Loss: Clothing and glassware. Other property
owned: 1 team horses, a few hens, "I am bust, started on a rented place. This is the
truth and nothing but the truth."
Sam Goldstone; 25-year-old barber; wife. Loss: List of barber supplies, "photos that
money could not buy." Other property owned: None
Mrs. John Collier; 37-year-old wife of bartender. Loss: Bookcase including Dickens'
works, Shakespeare's works, Byron's works, encyclopaedias, complete Halls Caines
works, large family Bible, large family Doctor's book, numerous books. Other property owned: None.
Mrs. L. Hughes; husband and 2 children. Loss: Collection of curios including fancy
work from the Philippine Islands, Indian horn dippers and spoons, (on display in
Public Library). Other property owned: House and lot.
25 "Writing the Coast":
Bertrand William Sinclair's BC Stories
Richard J.Lane
Richard Lane is a professor in English at the University of Westminster
in London, UK.
' Bertrand William Sinclair,
"Cargo Reef, The University of British Columbia, Special Collections
Division, Bertrand William
Sinclair Collection (BWS),
Box 3, Folder 17 (3-17).
2 Bertrand William Sinclair,
Poor Man's Rock, (Boston:
Little, Brown, 1920), p.18.
i Sinclair often ignored his
first two, and some ofthe
later novels in listing his
work; the full list of novels
is as follows: Raw Gold
(1908), Tlie Land of Frozen
Suns (1910), North of
Fifty-Tliree (1915), Big
Timber: A Story ofthe
NorthWest {\9\6), Burned
Bridges (1919), Poor Man's
Rock (1920), Tlie Hidden
Places (1922), Tlie Inverted
Pyramid (1924), Wild West
(1926), Pirates ofthe Plains
(1928), Gunpowder Lightning (1930), Down the
Dark Alley (1935), Both
Sides of the Law (1951),
Room for the Rolling M
4 To Registrar of Canadian
Citizenship, May 2,1963,
BWS 29-3.
5 George Woodcock, British Columbia: A History of
the Province, (Vancouver:
Douglas & Mclntyre,
1990), p.211.
''Jean Barman, Tlie West
Beyond Tlie West: A History
of British Columbia, (Toronto: University ofToronto Press, 1991), p.253.
7 Elda Mason,  Lasqueti Island: History & Memory,
(Lantzville, B.C.: Byron
Mason), p. 15.
A man justified his existence, I vowed, when he.
went down to deep waters with hook and line
and brought back food for a multitude.1
So wrote Bertrand William Sinclair, a man
better known for his novels of theWildWest
or the logging industry of British Columbia. But Sinclair was a fisherman too, and wrote
many a fisherman's "yarn" while working the BC
coast. His pubUshed work in this area started with
the novel Poor Man's Rock (1920), set on Lasqueti
Island, which, as he describes it, "...lies in the
Gulf of Georgia midway between a mainland
made of mountains like the Alps, the Andes, and
the Himalayas all jumbled together...and the low
delta-like shore ofVancouver Island."2 Sinclair
followed Poor Man's Rock with a number of well
received fictional works, in particular The Inverted
Pyramid (1924) and Wild West (1926), the latter a
return to his Montana years.3 Sales of his later
novels were not what he had become used to;
writing to the Registrar of Canadian Citizenship in 1963, Sinclair said: "When the acute depression of the early '30s struck, the economic
effects made it impossible for me to earn a living
by writing. I had a good able 8-ton boat, and I
had fished salmon in 1918 and 1919.Then I didn't
fish again until 1936.1 have operated as a licensed
salmon troller each year since, 26 consecutive
seasons." 4 The Depression certainly hit British
Columbia hard; many of the province's primary
industries depended on strong international demand, yet Black Thursday, on the 29 October,
1929, was to lead swifdy to the opposite.5 In 1931,
PremierTolmie decided that his free-market principles needed some professional reinforcement;
he handed over the province's problems for assessment to a group of businessmen. The result
was the Kidd Report, published in 1932, arguing
that"... further taxation being impossible, the only
alternative lay in sharply reducing provincial expenditures. Social services must be cut back drastically."6 It was exacdy this sort of disregard of
social value that Sinclair despised. Sinclair's time
at Lasqueti Island had brought him, once more,
into contact with those who would suffer most
from such "expert" advice and ideology. His
salmon fishing of 1918 is briefly mentioned in
Elda Mason's history of Lasqueti Island: "
anchor in Squitty Bay at the time was Bertrand
Sinclair's boat while that author was busy at work
on his book Poor Man's Rock."7 Sinclair had
bought a salmon troller in 1919, and moved permanently to Pender Harbour in 1922—the lure
of the salmon was undoubtedly never to leave
Sinclair again.
Where had this writer of the BC coast come
from? How had he found his way to the province which would come to call itself "Beautiful
British Columbia"? Born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1881, Sinclair was soon to arrive in North
America at the age of eight years. Laurie Ricou
notes that Sinclair "...was born William Brown
Sinclair on 9 January 1881... to George Bertrand
and Robina Williamson Sinclair. According to
an obituary in the Vancouver Province,William came
to Canada with his mother in 1889 and setded
in Regina, Saskatchewan. He ran away from home
at age fourteen and became a cowboy in Montana."8 Sinclair published his first short story'The
N-Bar Freak" in 1902; it was published in the
San Francisco Argonaut earning him the grand
sum of $12.50. While working at the Tingley
Ranch in Montana, Sinclair met B.M. Bower, a
talented young Western writer who had launched
her own career writing for the pulps. Bertha
Bower would become famous for her Chip ofthe
Flying U stories and an extensive list ofWesterns,
although her publishers would suppress all knowledge of her gender. Kate Baird Anderson, Bower's grand-daughter and biographer, notes how
Sinclair and Bower "...were catalysts for each
other.. .The first two Flying U stories, and'Chip'
were written while Bill [Sinclair] was there. He
was the only person to read the novelette before
she sent it [to her publishers], and was the basis
for the main character..."9Their literary interests
developed as in a romance; Bower left her first
husband, Clayton, and married Sinclair in 1905.
Perhaps this is reflected in the tide of Sinclair's
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 1905 Argonaut publication, "A Mix Up With
Cupid." The Blue Mule took Sinclair's third short-
story, but the Argonaut was to be his main supporter in the early years, publishing "Under Flying Hoops,""The Stress of the Trail," and "There's
Never a Law," to name but a few. Sinclair gradually gained access to other pulps, such as Western
Field, Popular and The Bohemian. One of Sinclair's
keenest desires was to present the range west with
historical accuracy, a desire which would remain
with him throughout his
writing career. Sinclair and
Bower parted ways in
1911; Kate Anderson
notes that he left Bower
in anger, which was
"...perhaps the only way
he could make the break
to find his own voice and
path. He never gave her
due credit for being his
mentor and lover/
mother."10 Sinclair moved
to Vancouver in 1912 with
his second wife, Ruth,
Bower's cousin—and so
the story returns to British Columbia.
Sinclair's move from
Vancouver to Pender Harbour didn't go unnoticed.
In 1922, Stewart Edward
White wrote to Sinclair
about a sailing incident:
"You are in the papers as
tipping over in a dinghy
and being rescued at last moment by a tug. How
about it?"11 Sinclair's somewhat exasperated reply is full ofthe spirit that would send him trolling in future years, in harsh and demanding conditions: "Yes, I swamped the Kitten in a hell-roaring southeaster, and rode the submerged hull till
a rowboat from a tug took me off. And the local
correspondent made a splurge about it, as he was
hard put for items... I had her reefed down close,
but it was no breeze for a dinghy. The local inhabitants think I'm a damned fool for sailing in
such a wind, but I ask you, if a man can't sail
when there is wind, when can he sail?"12 Although
Sinclair was to publish seven more novels after
his move to Pender Harbour, his love-affair with
the sea triggered a change in the material used
for the pulps.While he would never stop writing
about his experiences ofthe range west, the BC
coast became more and more of an obsession. In
the first six months of 1922, for example, Sinclair
made eight sales from four short-stories: "Yo-Ho
And A Botde ofRum"and"The Golden Fleece"
(Maclean's and Metropolitan Magazine),"Over the
Border" and "Sorrowful Island" (Maclean's and
Popular Magazine). The combined income from
these stories was
just under fifteen
hundred dollars,
the 1922 publication of The Hidden
Places. Throughout his corre-
Sinclair gives the
impression that
after the Depression his writing
was entirely replaced by his trolling activities; this
is not at all accurate. In 1937, he
was writing and
selling short-stories through
Jacques Cham-
brun, Inc., of
New York City.
While the prices
paid for pulp stories certainly
Sinclair's literary output remained high, and his
readers keen. In 1938, for exampleJnoTConnell
wrote to Sinclair asking for details ofthe trolling
boats described in his short-stories of the BC
coast, treating Sinclair as a writer who has an
obvious working experience of what he was
writing about.13 Connell wrote that he read with
interest and pleasure Sinclair's stories of salmon
fishing, but he also wanted some business advice
for his two 36-foot luggers: " I have found
the salmon spoons used in the west very effective in taking Kingfish, I am anxious to get a
diagram ofthe layout for trolling on the salmon
boats—how the outriggers are rigged and arranged, how the line is taken in with the engine,
just how the whole set up is made."14 Sinclair's
'-a sms
m\   \^&$*l
L^Jvl         Sr    ■
Piv^H^?* \V gjL
Hi BLfi  sj
HI Ur>'u-jU
Special Collections, UBC Llbraiy, B. W. Sinclair Collection, Box 29, Folder 3 (BWS 29-3)
8 Laurie Ricou, "Bertrand
William Sinclair (9 January
1881-20 October 1972),"
Dictionary of Literary Biography, (NY: Gale Research,
1990), Ed.W.H.New, Vol.
92, Canadian Writers,
1890-1990; pp.362/3.
9 Kate Baird Anderson to
Richard J.Lane, Jan. 15,
10 Kate Baird Anderson to
Laurie Ricou, Jan. 12,
" Stewart Edward White
to Bertrand William
Sinclair, Nov. 1,1922,
BWS 1-22.
12 Bertrand William
Sinclair to Stewart Edward
White, Nov. 13,1922,
BWS 1-22.
13Jno.T. Connell to
Bertrand William Sinclair,
Oct. 9, 1938, BWS 1-7
and Bertrand William
Sinclair to Jno.T. Connell,
Nov. 2,1938, BWS 1-7.
"Jno.T. Connell to
Bertrand William Sinclair,
Oct. 9,1938, BWS 1-7.
Centre: Portrait of
Bertrand William Sinclair,
ca. 1950. Reproduced with
the kind permission of George
Brandak at the Special
Collections and University
Archives Division, UBC
27 15 Bertrand William
Sinclair to Jno.T. Connell,
Nov. 2, 1938, BWS 1-7.
"' See my comments on
gender in the novels and
short stories of Bertrand
William Sinclair in, RJ.
Lane, "British Columbia's
War ofTwo Worlds: The
Birth ofthe Modern Age
in Bertrand Sinclair's Fiction," Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol.
XXXI, No.l, 1996, pp.71-
81, "Dreams of a Frontier
Classic: Inverted Pyramids
in the New World," Co»i-
monwealth: Essays and Studies, Vol. 17, No.2, Spring
1995, pp.50-57, and "Archive Simulations: Reading the Bertrand Sinclair
Collection," BC Studies,
No. 97, Spring 1993,
17 Bertrand William
Sinclair, Down The Dark
Alley, (London: Hodder
and Stoughton, 1935) p.
59 & p. 61.
" See Stephen Miller,
"The Grid: Living in Hollywood North," in. Paul
Delany, ed. Vancouver: Representing the Postmodern
City, (Vancouver:Arsenal
Pulp Press, 1994), pp. 282-
19 Bertrand William
Sinclair, "The Golden
Fleece," in Carole Gerson,
ed., Vancouver Short Stories
(Vancouver: UBC, 1992)
typical response was to spend time and effort in
his reply, modesdy condemning his sketches while
providing practical detad and advice. He notes in
particular that "I sure have had working experience with salmon trailers in the North Pacific,
having trolled commercially the last three years
from June to October, working a thirty-six foot
powerboat single-handed." He adds further that
it is through his work as a "bona-fide salmon
troller" that his BC coast stories gain "punch."15
Sinclair's reluctance to describe his writing
activities during the Depression may have had
more to do with falling sales than anything else.
His novel Down The Dark Alley, published in 1935,
certainly failed to live up to his expectations.The
novel's over-complex romance structure is probably more suited to a television soap-opera than
a written work of fiction, and Sinclair's stereotypical gender-roles were beginning to seem a
bit old-fashioned even in 1935.16But the fadure
of Down The Dark Alley does not mean that
Sinclair's coast writings should be forgotten or
ignored, since in many respects the short-stories
of this period succeed where the later novels do
not. For example, where the short-stories are
controlled and contained, Down The Dark Alley
sprawls and over-runs.
Nonetheless, Down The Dark Alley is part of
the BC coast writings, dealing with the effects of
the Volstead Act upon the fortunes of Vancouver's "rum-runners" and the projected development of a new diesel engine (which would of
course have had great significance for the salmon
trolling industry). The Eighteenth Amendment
is portrayed in Down The Dark Alley as "...a challenge to the individual" which, rather than having its intended effect, spawned a whole new
profitable industry: "The traffic began on the
Pacific coast in a small way. Bold entrepreneurs
who saw a chance to make money ran with one
or two hundred cases from Vancouver to Puget
Sound, in fast motor-launches."17 The novel depicts a decadent Vancouver where the smuggling
of liquor has become an organized industry on
the brink of collapse, and where the greed of a
few selected smugglers reflects the more general
post-war greed of an ever-expanding city. The
protagonist is seeking to make a fortune as part
of a package of reparations: a moral rather than
purely economic crusade.
Sinclair's short-stories ofthe BC coast are written in quite a different style from Down The Dark
Alley: perhaps the best description, to use an old-
fashioned technological metaphor, would be that
of a telegraphic style. One of the first impressions
given by the stories is that they are written by a
man who is in a hurry, possibly writing in between tending to his trolling gear, stealing a few
minutes before sleep, or, more likely, cramming a
year's writing into the winter break from trolling. In other words, Sinclair uses a snappy "pulp"
style with all the "pulp" romance ingredients. But
Sinclair the thinker cannot be effaced: "Prelude
To Storm," for all its pulp qualities, is essentially a
story about representation—more importandy for
a modernist writer such as Sinclair, it is a story
about filmic representation. Not only was Sinclair
concerned with the question of who would represent the BC coast, but he also wondered which
medium would be used to best advantage? He
recognized the growth and power of the film
industry, fearing the distortions he had seen with
Hollywood "Cowboy" movies. In many ways, his
fears were justified; today, a whole series of television programmes (such as The X Files) can be
filmed in BC without the province being identified as such.18 So Sinclair set out to do some "representing" himself, although he focused more on
the personalities and relationships amongst the
men and women working the coast; thus his "history" ofthe salmon industry gives only incidental glimpses of places and technologies important to those doing more academic research.
The BC coast stories are a development of
Sinclair's Western material, and this can be seen
in the way that "mateship" functions throughout. Pardy derived from "the partner" in typical
Westerns, and pardy representing the fact that
two small trolling boats would often form an informal pair to watch out for one another, the
relationship between men has as strong a place in
the stories as the other romance elements. In
"Blow The Cat Down" the close male bond is
disrupted by Mary Carmichael—the cat is a
loosely veiled reference to what the men are fighting over, although the fact that it is a "tomcat"
means that the protagonist is quite happy to keep
him on board the new boat as a surrogate male
partner. Women are represented as problematic
intruders into the harmony of working men's
lives: they are constructed as either virgins or
whores, helpers or parasites.The city—in this case
Vancouver—is a place of oppressive loss of individuality, and it is no accident that the scheming
Doreen Beacon in "Prelude to Storm" wants to
manipulate and control the protagonist's life.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 Throughout Sinclair's work, city women are portrayed as threatening and dangerous—perhaps this
is because the modern city was a place where
women not only found independent work, but
where they began to break free of their predefined
roles within the patriarchal family. Here, men who
choose to stay in the city become soft and
"feminized" like Sherrin in "The Golden Fleece";
undoubtedly, the fact that Sinclair wrote about
what he perceived as purely "masculine" activities always caused problems when it came to fitting women into his scheme of things.
Sinclair seems to be torn in his BC Coast
stories between a vision of home as being fixed
on firm ground, for example his house at Pender
Harbour, and home as being the trolling boat
itself, exploring the inlets and waterways of British Columbia. In "The Golden Fleece", the central character, Sherrin, gazes for a whde at the
Capdano Mountains, dreaming of escaping the
office for some hunting and fishing. His gaze soon
turns to the boats in "Galata Wharf" in Vancouver, which his office overlooks: "The lesser craft
intrigue his fancy most. He knows something of
them and the men that man them—tugs, halibut
schooners, purse-seiners, stubby yachts and yachty
powerboats. They serve, for profit or pleasure, a
thousand miles of coasdine, a myriad of islands,
inaccessible save by the furrowed highway ofthe
sea. A hardy lot."19 Sherrin has become involved
in "rum running" to the extent of investing some
cash in one ofthe smuggling boats. What makes
this financial investment important for him is not
the projected economic return—rather, it is the
emotional connection that he gains with the adventurous, but risky, sea-faring world ofthe smuggler. Sherrin is a man insulated from "the hot
glow of struggle", yet his investment enables him
to form an empathic bond which in turn generates his imagined narrative of what the smuggling boat, the Tosca, is experiencing amidst severe storms. The tensions in this story between
desk-bound home and experiences of the sea
reflects the tensions in Sinclair's Ufe as a deskbound writer and fisherman; these tensions allowed Sinclair to write stories anchored in the
realities ofthe BC coast whde still having room
to spin the yarns, exaggerate, play with myths and
recount overheard fragments of stories. Sinclair's
yarns are part ofthe BC fabric, while fabricating
in turn more stories to share with family, friends
and distant readers.
Publication Details. -
"The Golden Fleece" was
reprinted in Carole
Gerson, ed., Vancouver Short
Stories, (Vancouver: UBC
Press, 1985; reprinted
1992), pp.20-33.The editor notes that Sinclair's
"...first-hand knowledge
ofthe waters and conditions ofthe Pacific Coast
contributes to the realism
of stories like 'The Golden
Fleece." (p.33). Sinclair's financial records show that
"The Golden Fleece." was
sold to the Metropolitan
and Maclean's in 1922.
All other short-stories
mentioned have been
accessed from the original
or in manuscript form,
with the kind permission
of George Brandak at The
University of British Columbia, Special Collections
Division in Vancouver.
Archie and Dale (Kerr) Miller's article about
the Great Fire in New Westminster (pp. 24-
25) reminded me that the fire may have had
unknown implications for researchers of early years of
BC history. A serious loss of documents of historical
value is reported, for instance, in a letter written by
the Indian Agent, Frank Devlin, to the Indian Superintendent in Victoria, W Vowell. The New Westminster Agency was accountable for a large part of the
province. The letter, dated 13 September 1898, a day
after the fire, reads as follows:
Sir, I have the honor to report for your information
that in the Fire which broke out in this City on Saturday night last my Office with practically all the contents thereof was destroyed I only having saved a few
Maps and a few Books. I am not quite certain yet if
the books are safe. I put them in the Vault in the Land
Office which has not yet been opened. The fire was so
fierce that I am afraid everything will be scorched even
what was placed in the Vaults.
Will you please duplicate the Order which I sent to
your Office in the early part of July last for supplies for
this Agency for the current year and kindly add
thereto one letter press and one ruler. Request the
Department to fill this Order without delay as I am
entirely out of all Stationery, Forms, etc.
Your Obedient Servant,
Frank Devlin, Indian Agent
The letter books containing copies of outgoing correspondence survived, but incoming correspondence
received prior to September, 1898 was lost in the fire.
The surviving letter books are now part of the Department on Indian Affairs (DIA) files, kept at the National Archives of Canada, referred to as Record Group
10 (RG10) and available on microfilm.
The letter mentioned above has the following reference: DIA RG10 No 1452 Letterbook New Westminster Agency 1898-1899 p. 388 ReelV-14264.To
distinguish files relating to western Canada, i.e. Canada
west ofthe Ontario/Manitoba border, the DIA added
the reference "Black Series" to these files.
As shown by George Richard in his prize-winning
essay on aboriginal water rights (BC Historical News,
Spring 1999), the RG10 records include not only evidence of lives lived on reserves, but also document the
interface between First Nations and immigrant settler
Most students of local immigrant history are not
aware that the RG10 files also hold details ofthe lives
of immigrant setders, their descendants, and their communities, often not available from other sources, such
as municipal records.
One wonders what more, besides the records ofthe
Indian Agent, went up in flames during that fateful
night in 1889.
A Historical Aspect ofthe Fire
of 1898
by Fred Braches
29 Book Reviews
Books for review and book reviews should be sent to:
Anne Yandle, Book Review Editor BC Historical News, 3450 West 20th Avenue, Vancouver BC
Kathryn Bridge
By Snowshoe, Buckboard and Steamer:
Women ofthe Frontier.
Reviewed by Frances Lew
Bill Merilees
Newcastle Island: A Place of Discovery.
Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve
Branwen Patenaude
Golden Nuggets: Roadhouse Portraits
Along the Cariboo's Gold-Rush Trail.
Reviewed by Esther Darlington
Al King with Kate Braid
Red Bait! Struggles of a Mine Mill
Reviewed by Ron Welwood
Charles S. Burne
The Fraser River Gold Fever of 1858.
Reviewed by Fred Braches
Raymond Cubs
Vancouver's Society of Italians.
Reviewed by Gordon R. Elliott
Charlene Porsild
Gamblers and Dreamers: Women, Men
and Community in the Klondike.
Reviewed by Lew Green
Charles Lillard with Terry Glavin
A Voice Great Within Us.
Reviewed by George Newell
E.C. Burton and Robert S. Grant
Wlieeb, Skis and Floats: Tlie Northern
Adventures of a Pioneer Pilot.
Reviewed by Kirk Salloum
Bush and Artie Pilot.
Reviewed by Kirk Salloum
John Adams
Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery,
Victoria, BC, Canada.
Reviewed by Ron Welwood
Mary and Ted Bendey
Gabriola: Petroglyph Island.
Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve
J.G. MacGregor
Peter Fidler: Canada's Forgotten Explorer
Reviewed by Barry Gough
Correction and apology:
The review in BC Historical News 32:2 of Tlie
Sale-Room, by Norman Simmons, was by
accident wrongly attributed to Kelsey
McCleod, whereas it was in fact written by
Phyllis Reeve. The editor apologizes for his
mistake and any upset it may have caused the
two individuals concerned.
Frances Lew is a journalist with CBC Radio
in Northwestern BC.
Phyllis Reeve lives on Gabriola Island.
Esther Darlington, a resident of Cache
Creek, is an enthusiastic Cariboo
Ron Welwood is President ofthe British
Columbia Historical Federation.
Fred Braches is Editor of this journal.
Gordon R. Elliott is Professor Emeritus of
English, Simon Fraser University.
Lew Green has spent many years in the
North as a geologist.
George Newell is a member of the Victoria
Historical Society.
Kirk Salloum is an educational instructor
living in Vancouver.
Barry Gough is Professor of History at
Wilfrid Laurier University,Waterloo,
Lieutenant-Governor's Medal For Historical Writing.
First place BCHF Writing Competition
By Snowshoe, Buckboard and Steamer:
Women of the Frontier. Kathryn Bridge.
Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1998. 231 pp.
Illus. $19.95.
Reviewed by Frances Lew
In her latest book, historian and archivist
Kathryn Bridge tries to add some gender
balance to the existing record on BC colonial history.
The book brings together the stories of
four pioneering women who lived and travelled in backwoods BC between the 1860s
and 1890s.The book is no small feat, considering how little documentation exists, on
early immigrant women to BC. Bridge has
combed the BC Archives for journals, letters, articles, and other clues to help her reconstruct the stories of these four intriguing
women. Her detective work has paid off, with
an attractive, engaging book.
The women in this book were trailblaz-
ers, and in some ways oddities in their time—
white, female, and daring to venture into isolated and unknown pockets of early BC—
from Vancouver Island, to the Nass Valley, to
the Cariboo. The women ranged from the
wife of the Anglican Bishop of New
Westminister, to the daughter of a fairly well-
to-do, would-be farmer.
Bridge wanted to include women from
diverse walks of life, but that proved to be
impossible, because not all 19th century immigrant women were literate enough to produce letters and diaries.The few records that
exist, come from educated, middle-class
women. Bridge admits,"They were all wives
or daughters of upper-middle-class men ...
these women were very secure in their sense
of position within the social order and had,
to a certain degree in their dealings with those
they felt were beneath them, an arrogance
born of this assumption."
This leads to one of the most interesting
elements in these stories: insight into 19th-
century race relations between the white
colonizers and the local First Nations, as well
as the Chinese servants hired by the white
families. These women often held the same
world views prevalent among most British
immigrants of the time, including an unwavering belief in the superiority of British
society.There are often patronizing references
to First Nations and Chinese people. Native
people were often regarded as merely there
to serve the British colonizers—there to help
them do the washing, chop the firewood, and
guide them in the backwoods. But these interactions also made some of the women
question the assumptions of the day. That
happened to Eleanor Fellows, who immigrated from England to Vancouver Island in
the 1860s with her husband, who owned a
hardware business in Victoria. At one point,
they live in a cottage in the woods near
Esquimalt Harbour, and Eleanor vents her
anger at the "westerners" who have devastated the native population by introducing
"firewater...a shameful business". She even
attacks the stereotypes ofthe day: "As for the
Indians, I had now seen enough of them to
take them at their true value...their faces are
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 as intelligent and as prepossessing as are those
of many among the best of my fellow-
countrymen...that the aborigines of to-day
are a 'wretchedly degraded race', idle and
thriftless, etc., is an accusation devoid of
truth". Eleanor tells an amusing anecdote
about her Native friend and servant "Lucy."
Though there's some condescension in her
tone, it's also obvious Eleanor has genuine
affection for Lucy, as she describes her delight in introducing Lucy to the joys of cherry
pie. Elsewhere, Eleanor says "At no time during our twelve-months' stay at the house in
the woods did the Indians ofthe neighbouring village act towards us in any hostile manner".But she also adds this observation:"One
reason for this pleasant state of things probably was that the land on which the village
stood had not yet become sufficiently valuable to tempt the white man's greed."
Eleanor is perhaps the most interesting of
the four women in this collection. Because
of her musical talents, she even became a bit
of a minor celebrity during her time in the
Victoria area. After singing at several public
concerts, she garnered enthusiastic reviews,
but that didn't win her any friends, because
Eleanor was dabbling in "the stage" at a time
when it was unacceptable for respectable "ladies" to perform publicly. Bridge says this,
combined with her strong personality and
lack of deference to her husband in public,
led to her being ostracized by her "peers,"
who saw her as "somewhat lacking in refinement".
The writing by the four women in this
collection is somewhat uneven. Some are
more polished writers than others, but
Kathryn Bridge warns us ahead of time with
her own commentary. For example, Bridge
refers to Kate Woods' s "frequendy inelegant
style." Kate completed an amazing journey
from Victoria, up the Inside Passage, and overland through the Nass Valley in the early
spring of 1880. She and her brother sailed
from Victoria to the Nisga'a Village of
Kincolith (a village which still remains one
of BC's most isolated communities—accessible today only by plane or boat). From
Kincolith, they undertook an arduous 26-
day snowshoe journey through the deep
snow and ice, accompanied by several Nisga'a
guides. Their destination was a mission near
Kispiox, where Kate's sister and missionary
brother-in-law were living. This snowshoe
journey is one ofthe most incredible adventures detailed in this book, but I found Kate's
writing style didn't quite do full justice to
the experience. It's a competent account of
the physical details ofthe sometimes harrowing, often exhilarating trip, but Kate isn't very
reflective about the experience, so the account lacks depth. Then again, anyone who
has to wake up at 1:30 A.M. to leave camp at
3:30 for the day's journey, can be excused
for skimping on the introspection. It's just
that given today's huge interest in all things
Nisga'a, it would have been wonderful to read
Kate's reflections on Nisga'a/white relations
in the 19th century, as she journeyed with
her Nisga'a guides.
Ultimately, this is a fun, enjoyable book.
It's full of terrific stories, nice photos from
the BC Archives and private collections, and
some impressive sketches by the women pioneers themselves. Kathryn Bridge has brought
us the real voices of four inspiring women,
who give us a rare glimpse into the world of
19th century colonial BC, through female
Newcastle Island: A Place of Discovery.
Bill Merilees. Surrey, BC: Heritage House
Publishing, 1998.128 pp. Illus, index, notes.
Softcover $11.95.
Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve
Bill Merilees has crammed this litde book
with enough information to set a reader's
head spinning. Or to send a dozen historians
off in various directions, following his leads.
Or to enhance the enjoyment of any tourist.
One ofthe first of British Columbia's provincial marine parks, and one of the most
accessible, Newcastle Island in Nanaimo harbour is a destination for picnickers and boaters, a popular stop-over for summer cruisers.
It takes its name from the English coal-mining centre of Newcasde-on-Tyne, and provided several of the sites for the mining activity which drove Nanaimo after 1850.The
mining has finished, but the picnicking continues.
The author knows exacdy what he is doing: "The purpose of this book is to put before the reader a simple, accurate account of
Newcasde Island's history and to provide a
suitable companion for any visitor to its
shoreline." But he has given us something
more than a disposable guidebook, and that
is part of his intention: "I have not attempted
to fully develop each story; many await, and
are worthy of, further research. It is in the
interests of such research that I provide a list
of references, copies of which are on file with
the Nanaimo Community Archives and
Nanaimo branch of the Vancouver Island
Regional Library. All photographs, illustrations, tape recordings, and other materials
gathered as part of this project have likewise
been placed in these archival repositories."
Even without full development of the
story, Merilees provides maximum information in minimal space. The chapter, "The
Role of Sandstone," for instance, relates the
discovery of the island's superior sandstone
and the development of the industry, outlines the methods for quarrying, and documents some of the notable projects using
Newcasde sandstone: among these the United
States Mint in San Francisco, the BC Penitentiary, the supports for the Alexandra suspension bridge near Spuzzum, the Bank of
Montreal in Vancouver, a private mausoleum
in Napa, California, Lord Nelson School in
Vancouver, Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, and a number ofVictoria fireplaces.The
McDonald Cut-Stone Company cut cylindrical sandstone blocks which would grind
wood into pulp. The pulpstone operation
relocated to Gabriola Island in 1932. Photographs enliven almost every page, and sidebars
offer informational titbits.
Other chapters give us ajapanese herring
saltery, a shipwreck, a murder, the world's
longest telephone cable—and the CPR pavilion, "the only surviving dance pavilion
from the indigenous coastal resort industry
that flourished in British Columbia between
the two world wars."
All summer long, people come into my
store on Gabriola in search of a "book about
the island." Bill Merilees's book about Newcastle is exacdy the sort of pocket history
they want and Gabriola lacks. I'm envious.
Honorary Mention BCHF Writing Competition
Golden Nuggets; Roadhouse Portraits
Along the Cariboo's Gold-Rush Trail
Branwen Patenaude. Nanoose Bay: Heritage House Publications, 1998. 96pp. Illus.
Reviewed by Esther Darlington
Glossy pictorial histories like Heritage House
Publications' Golden Nuggets, Roadhouse Portraits Along the Cariboo's Gold-Rush Trail by
Branwen Patenaude are sure-fire winners at
every major tourist stop these days. But such
books are more than eye catchers. They often contain juicy tidbits. In this case, "nuggets" of personal detail about the rugged
roistering characters and places not found in
standard history texts. Branwen Patenaude
31 has unearthed another treasure trove along
the Cariboo Gold Trail that leaves a fine
legacy of BC history for the casual reader.
Heritage House Publications should be
congratulated for producing a beautifully laid
out book from cover to cover.
Roadhouses may seem, at first glance, a
less than promising subject material. "Plain
Janes" along the dusty Cariboo trail, they were
neither attractive nor were they particularly
durable, many of them. Often built in a hurry
to accommodate the ever increasing numbers of travellers, few of the buildings had
prepossessing exteriors. Utterly graceless for
the most part, these road houses were built
strictly along practical lines, and the immediate surroundings of barnyards, stables and
outbuildings did litde to enhance the air
quality. But fill these houses with pioneer folk
of real colour and substance, tragic circumstance and achievement that defied almost
every obstacle a new territory can hold, and
you have the prescription for a fascinating
taste of Cariboo frontier life during the
horsedrawn transportation era.
Branwen Patenaude's painstaking research
includes a wealth of detail about families,
social life and mercantile endeavours that
worked for their time and their place in the
development ofthe Cariboo. Future historians, movie makers and writers will draw upon
this wealth for years to come. Golden Nuggets
includes some South Cariboo points that
have hitherto been almost ignored. For example, Ashcroft, once the transportation terminus for the railroads, providing freight service and passenger transport for goods and
persons bound for northern Cariboo points,
is well represented.
The photographs, many of them produced
by pioneer photographers like Charles Gentile, are numerous and varied.They are spread
tastefully and imaginatively throughout the
book. Oval portraits of the main characters
in the history of historic Hat Creek Ranch,
for example, are overlayed against the backdrop ofthe beautiful Hat Creek Valley with
a smaller picture of a sideview of Hat Creek
House. Obscure hamlets such as Jesmond,
Dog Creek, Alkali Lake, Pavilion, and Fountain House are included, leaving "no stone
unturned" along the Gold Rush Trail.
In all, Golden Nuggets, is a fitting crown of
achievement for both Branwen Patenaude
and Heritage House Publications.They have
left us a legacy of history both memorable
and infinitely pleasurable to read.
Red Bait!
Struggles of a Mine Mill Local
Al King with Kate Braid.Vancouver:
Kingbird Publishing, 1998.176 pp. Illus.
$20.00. (Available from the publisher, 8096
Elliott Street,Vancouver, BC V5S 2P2)
Reviewed by Ron Welwood
Al King, capably assisted by Kate Braid, relates his association With the fledgling International Union of Mine Mill and Smelter
Workers (IUMMSW or Mine Mill) ofTrail,
BC starting in the late 1930s. King, born and
raised an Irish Catholic in Protestant Manchester, England, learned at an early age to
fight "the right way—clean and honest." His
commitment to improve the lot of his fellow workers direcdy parallels the struggle of
Mine Mill, particularly after the Second
World War.
The tide of this book is quite revealing.
The definition of red bait is "to harass and
persecute (a person) on account of known
or suspected Communist sympathies." King,
by his own admission not a very good communist, belonged to the party because he
believed in unionism and "a code of behaviour that allows people to live in community, in peace and harmony with each other."
Throughout his working life he fought for
these principles. In spite ofthe personal suffering caused by bis red label, King continued to struggle for his causes in an honourable manner. In fact, this book ably illustrates
the open and democratic process used by the
IUMMSW compared to the rather underhanded tactics employed by some other labour organizations. Mine Mill not only negotiated for fair wage compensation, but also
was a staunch advocate for health and safety
issues, workers' compensation and pensions.
King's memoir is documented, often in
colourful language, as if it was a personal chat
over a glass of beer around the kitchen table.
Insightful vignettes are highlighted in framed
sidebars and are relevant to adjacent text.
Although a useful "Guide to Abbreviations"
is listed at the beginning ofthe book, either
a more detailed contents page or an index
would be helpful for future reference. However, this is an excellent first hand account
and a primary source of information relating to the Mine Mill union and the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company
(COMINCO). An appendix includes Ross
Jordan's "The Struggle: A Brief History of
Local Labour Movements and the Rossland
Miners'Union HaU" (1985).
Mr. King stated that "the Mine Mill union very early committed itself to the health
and safety of workers and I intend to document it in a separate history." Since Al King
is a man of his word, let us sincerely hope he
is able to fulfil this promise. Anyone who is
interested in an insider view ofthe Mine Mill
union movement of British Columbia would
be well advised to consult this insightful publication.
The Fraser River Gold Fever of 1858.
Charles S. Burne. Blind Bay, BC:
Sambrook Publishing, 1997.218 pp. Illus.
Softcover $15.95
Reviewed by Fred Braches
Two university-trained young men team up
with an experienced placer miner and a
cockney ex-employee ofthe Hudson Bay Co.
to form a partnership to mine for gold in
the Fraser canyon in 1858. The honest and
decent foursome have a successful season
because of dedication and shared skills. One
of the university lads shows an intelligent
interest in what is happening to the First
Nations people caught in the gold rush, and
his sympathetic actions earn him a special
chief status and the hand ofthe Chief's mission-school trained daughter, Little Dove.The
other three settle down for a happy life in
British Columbia as well.
The story is studded with references to
historical events ofthe day. Efforts to express
authentic historical records in dialogue are
not always successful, and the conversations
on these subjects sound untrue. No serious
attempts have been made either to avoid
modern vernacular. The use of broken English in "Native" talking is an unfortunate
choice, given the respect of the author for
First Nations culture.
The book shows the author's rich experience of outdoor living, fishing, hunting, and
of course, the pursuit of placer gold. This
personal knowledge echoes in the adventures
ofthe gold-seeking foursome and gives their
life in the canyon the colour of a modern
camping outing in the wilderness.The 19th
century seems often far removed.
This is a historical novel allowing the author some liberty in presenting facts. Of litde value for historians the book may attract
readers of this genre looking for an entertaining account, even if this is not great literature. Those interested in factual history
may prefer to read Netta Sterne's recent book
Fraser Gold 1858!
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -SUMMER 1999 Vancouver's   Society   of  Italians.
Raymond Cubs. Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 1998.223 pp illus., index.
28 pages of notes.
Reviewed by Gordon R. Elliott
The blurb on the dust jacket of this book by
Raymond Cubs—retired from The Vancouver
Sun and The Vancouver Province and in the
1970s a contributor to L'Eco d'Italia—calls
the book "a compelling social history"; in
the foreword, Judge Dolores Holmes thanks
Raymond Cubs "for the many hours he has
spent compiling this history;" in the preface,
Cubs himself says that he takes "pride in presenting this historical account ofVancouver s
pioneer Italians and their institutions" and
that he dedicates it to the "many wonderful
people who played a positive role in ... our
Italian-Canadian community, circa 1904-
1966...." He goes on to say that he was
"guided by a single criterion: to chronicle
the documented contributions of the men
and women closely associated with Vancouver's Italian mutual aid societies". He trusts
that he has "fulfilled adequately this primary
He has indeed fulfilled this primary objective. And has done more. His first chapter,
"Farewell to Marino," is about the 1995 funeral of his 91-year-old father, a key figure
in Vancouver's Italian community and in The
Sons of Italy Mutual Aid Society, its name
having been suggested by Angelo Calori,
owner ofthe Europe Hotel. This first chapter also neady introduces the Branca family:
Filippo worked to found theVeneta Benevolent Society, and in 1963 his son Angelo fostered the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese Society. The tensions, rivalries and jealousies
between theVeneta Society and the Sons of
Italy remained until the community faced
the idea of fascism in Italy. Later, even, Cubs
and Branca really came together to support
the creation of the present Italian Community Centre on Slocan Street, an effort not
really forwarded by old timers, but by postwar newcomers.
Most chapters following the first give
insights into old families involved in the various Italian societies over the years and while
doing so tell something ofthe members and
activities of those societies, but beginning
with the funeral in the first chapter, and with
the second chapter flipping back to Marino's arrival in Vancouver at the age of six in
1910, the book could almost be considered
a biography of Marino Cubs by his son. In
addition, however, this second chapter, like
all the others, introduces more and more
well-known names, names such as Carrelli,
Galetti, and Ferrera, Anderlini, Cianci,
Delasala, and Marchese, but the major figure
throughout this book, the major thread running through it, is Marino Cubs. And, with
him, Angelo Branca.
But while telling us of his father,
Raymond Cubs sprinkles into his text other
items of interest. For instance, after the Governor General, the Duke of Connaught, had
cut the ribbon to open Connaught Bridge—
now Cambie Street Bridge—the first person to cross it was Alberto Principe in a
horse-drawn beer-wagon; the 64-foot-high
Italian-created arch on Hastings Street at
Homer, under which the Governor General
progressed, introduced Carlo Marega, the
sculptor, to the city. The next chapter, only
two pages long and entided "Murder!," works
in such names as Nick Cosco, Gabrielle
Iacobucci, and Mario Montenario, the man
who murderedAngeloTeti, the owner ofthe
Sylvia Hotel.The fourth chapter, only a page
and a half, introduces Giuseppi Guasparri
who "in the early 1880s" became the first
Italian to settle in the Hastings Mill area after fighting in the American Civil War as
"John Lewis" and after coming to British Columbia for Cariboo gold. The fifth chapter,
another one of two pages, tells us about hunger during World War II and about men who
joined the Canadian army.
And so it goes. With lots of pictures and
lots of names. Funerals at Mountain View. The
Italian Ladies' League. Restaurants. Bars.
Hotels. A singing teacher. The best in sport:
Marino Cubs.ToscaTrasolini and, of course,
boxer Angelo Branca, Canadian Middleweight Champion in 1934, and Felice
DiPalma as "Phil Palmer" fighting pro at
Madison Square Garden. The Grape merchants—Branca.Tosi, Minichiello, Bosa—sold
to the average man for home consumption
only, to people who would of course never
ever consider selling wine for profit. But turn
the page and you find that "Scores of Italian
families sold small amounts of home-made
wine to their friends and lodgers."Were they
the ones boodegging in that joint on Abbott
Street in the early 1940s? Or in that other
one so easily accessible on Homer? Not identified are the "big four booze baron families
[who] lived on Seymour, Prior, Union and
Georgia Streets."
The story continues. The celebration of
successes, and of the jealousies such successes
engendered. Stories of picnics and of banquets, and annotated photographs of them.
But contributing to the obvious rivalries was
the arrival ofthe Fascisti in Vancouver, and
one ofthe possible repercussions of that arrival was the creation of the Vancouver Italian-Canadian Mutual Aid Society, the third
such society in the small community.
Depending on a reader's definition of'history," picnics and banquets become much less
important than the problems created for the
community by II Duce's conquest of Ethiopia and the subsequent rising of local interest in Fascism. By 1937 the Italian Vice-Consul, Dr. Brancucci, was openly reproaching
local Italians for daring to criticize Italy, but
though the "naive" Marino Cubs seems at
first to have followed the same line while
writing for the new newspaper, L'Eco Italo-
Canadese, not all the community did so.With
Alberto Boccini, Cubs bought the newspaper in 1938.The partnership did not last very
long after Cubs and Boccini had a fight in
their 12th-floor office ofthe Dominion Bank
Building: "Verbal abuse escalated to push and
shove. The men struggled toward an open
window. With Marino pressing his thumbs
against his adversary's throat, Boccini fell
backward onto the windowsill. Draped precariously on the outside ledge, Boccini barely
managed to save himself from falling to the
street below. Fortunately, both men came to
their senses in time to avert a certain tragedy." For the reader, such dramatic action
comes as a major relief.
The picnics and parties and the elections
of queens of this and of that continued, but
by 1940 political issues were becoming severe and the ominous "Pact of Steel" forced
local Italian societies to think of amalgamating in order to meet the dangers to face all
of them in a short time. On June 10,1940, at
a meeting ofthe new Vancouver Canadian-
Italian Vigilance Association, Angelo Branca,
its founder, led the attack on Fascism; Marino Cubs, who had led the Sons of Italy to
back the new association, served as secretary.
War came, and two chapters—both too
short, but both thought-provoking—tell of
problems faced by internees at Alberta's easygoing Kananaskis camp and at Ontario's more
structured and socially different Petawawa
camp. They also tell of problems faced at
home in Vancouver at the time—struggles
for food, the loss of income, and the ruined
businesses. Other men, enlisted men, however, travelled the world. One of them, aVan-
couver man who could speak no Italian, went
33 at his mother's request to visit her relatives
in Frosinoni, southeast of Rome, relatives he
did not know and could not talk to. But they
could and they did smile at and laugh with
each other all evening. Such human touches
are rare in this book, and almost as soon as
the war is over the round of banquets and
school classes and choirs take precedence.All
widi pictures and lists of people. But war had
brought new blood to Vancouver's Italian
society, new blood which saw the divisions
in the local community and set out to bring
the factions together.
Raymond Cubs does meet his primary
objective, but whether successfully or not is
disputable. The tide of the book Vancouver's
Society of Italians, is somewhat misleading
when the author himself wants to concentrate on Vancouver's Italian mutual aid societies, plural, though he includes almost any
association of people while telling really litde about them. Judge Holmes thanks him
for "compiling this history," but whereas a
history is a logically developed narrative, even
a story with a plot, this volume sometimes
seems like a clutter of notes, many unrelated
to Cubs'"primary objective". His many wanderings away from that objective also often
obscure his theme. In addition, his lists of
names smother action, and surely a history
should move the readers on in one direction
or another, possibly emotionally as well as in
space or in time. That first chapter of only
two pages has one list of ten names and another of fifteen.The index indicates roughly
1200 names, many of them appearing 7, 8,
10,11,12 times, 40 for Angelo Branca and
70 for Marino Cubs, most of them old families. Identified as a daughter of Angelo Branca
in a footnote, Judge Dolores Holmes calls
this a social history, but even in generalities a
social history could comment on who all
these people were, where they came from,
why they came, what they wanted here, and
why some of them gave up and returned
The book also purports to show Vancouver's Italian world "circa 1904-1966"—a
large "about," a great "approximation": people coming in the 1950s and 1960s are too
often ignored. Anna Terrana, a Member of
Parliament, earns only one short sentence;
Peter Olivieri, who was producing pasta as
early as 1957 and who had become locally
famous for it by 1966, earned one footnote;
Nando Flaim, a well-known stonemason,
none. Not so a man with an Italian tide who
came to Canada in the 1920s: he earned al
most a page of family background and ten
footnotes; seven families of the same name
appear today in the Vancouver Telephone
Directory. Why they remain here might be
part of a real social history.
Although difficult to read because of its
being broken up by those lists of names, by
the many, many pictures, and by its in vogue
sidebars, because of its not going into any
great depth on any subject, and because the
action without plot slows down at times to
even less than a snail's pace, this book is worth
reading if only for the homage it renders to
Vancouver's Italian community which itself
might not give the book an overwhelming
reception because the shape ofthe book does
not allow it to fit easily into any normal
bookcase and the owners are therefore forced
rather to ostentatiously display the book on
coffee tables. But some advice to readers: do
not skip those 28 pages of footnotes which
supply information so important that it
should have been worked into the 170 pages
of text. And even more advice: find a copy of
Opening Doors: Vancouver's East End, a 1979
publication ofthe Provincial Archives Sound
Heritage program, the issue which prints
decent-length interviews with Angelo
Branca, Marino Cubs, and Ray Cubs himself, three interviews containing material
which would have added much to this volume, material which might enhance any subsequent volume.
Gamblers and Dreamers: Women, Men and
Community in the Klondike. Charlene
Porsild.Nebraska: UBC Press, 1998. 250
pp. Illus. Paperback $20.00,
Reviewed by Lew Green
The size and importance of the Klondike
gold rush is all but forgotten today. In 1900,
the best year, the $22,275,000 worth of gold
recovered represented close to 35 percent of
the total dollar value of Canada's mineral
production. The search, that began with the
California Gold Rush of 1848, had moved
north through British Columbia, and in time
would continue into Alaska.
The author describes Gamblers and Dreamers as "a social history of a mining camp created in a few weeks which then developed
into a permanent settlement and a complex
society over the next few years," and in a
later paragraph states:
In the pages that follow, I have attempted to
reconstruct several key components of Dawson
City between 1896 and 1905. Rather than
concentrate on administrators, bureaucrats, and
other celebrated figures ofthe period, as other
Klondike historians have done, I have chosen
to focus on die more anonymous men and
women who lived and worked in Dawson in
its earliest years. The experience of the ordinary Klondiker, then, is at the heart of this book.
The results challenge pre-existing notions of
an egalitarian, transitory, male mining camp and
demonstrate that a heterogeneous and stratified community emerged early and remained
long after the gold rush ended.
For Dawson it is difficult to overlook the
turmoil inflicted on the community by officialdom in the form of Clifford Sifton, Canada's Minister ofthe Interior until March 1905.
Sifton, who would never visit the Klondike,
believed that gold production would fall as
the initial mining was completed and that
the future lay in large-scale, capital-intensive
operations taking over and reworking the
ground. The concept was correct but bis attempts to force change by granting concessions covering large blocks of ground were
disastrous. Dawsonites and miners united to
protest perceived injustices threatening their
well-being. Many individuals, uncertain
about the future of mining in the Klondike,
left to return outside or to join new gold
rushes on the Alaska side.
Components ofthe Dawson community
are examined and described. Like other cities ofthe period Dawson had a social structure with the commissioner at the top, progressing through the ranks ofthe professional
and mercantile sectors to the miners and labourers on which all depended and at the
base the prostitutes, Metis and Native people.
The book contains new information about
a fascinating piece of Canadian history including many brief individual stories. However, reading it one has to remember that
Dawson had a young population and, judging by the Dawson newspapers and contemporary accounts, there was always a lot going
on and a great deal of humour. Somehow
this fails to come through. For example, prostitution described as "hard work done under
trying conditions" contrasts Laura Berton's
scene of "unparalleled gaiety" observed on a
surreptitious trip to observe the prostitutes
Also Noted: Mountain Heritage Magazine,
1998. 327 Hoodoo Crescent, Canmore.Alberta,
T1W 1A8. $29.00 for two years.
Vol 1:1 includes articles "Women in the Rockies,"
and "Randle Robertson and the Burgess Shale."
Vol. 1:2 includes "Robson Revisited—Who was
Really First to the Top ofthe Rockies," and "The
Ghost of Stanley Thompson."
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 A Voice Great Within Us.
Charles Lillard with Terry Glavin.
Vancouver: Transmontanus /New Star
Books, 1998.116 pp. Illus., bibliography.
Reviewed by George Newell
At the time of his death, in 1997, Charles
Lillard had accumulated a considerable quantity of material about Chinook and had begun to select from his own writings on the
subject for publication in book form. With
Lillard's death, Terry Glavin completed the
project, adding to Lillard's some of his own
articles. On the seven sections in A Voice Great
within Us, four are written by Lillard, three
are by Glavin, and Glavin has also provided a
foreword. Possibly the best short description
ofthe book's contents is provided on its front
cover—"The Story of Chinook, B.C.'s Lost
Language, with a Chinook Lexicon, Examples of its Use, a Map and Gazetteer of
Chinook Place Names, Chinook Poetry, and
a Discussion of its Origin and Legacy."
A Voice Great Within Us does not claim to
be a definitive study of Chinook and its use.
The authors are more modest in their aims.
Whether or not it qualifies as a language is a
central issue. The article in The Canadian
Encyclopedia (2nd ed., 1988) calls it a jargon,
as does A Dictionary of Canadianisms on Historical Principles (1967). Glavin, for his part,
prefers language:
It's not just because the term 'language' dresses
it up a little and makes it more presentable. It's
that the term 'jargon' applies to specialized or
technical terminology, and generally implies
litde more than a vocabulary of slang. Chinook
was far more than that.
He notes that "It expanded upon itself,
and is elaborately expressive."
Readers of A Voice Great Within Us may
well be surprised by the extent to which the
language, or jargon, if you prefer, was used
throughout British Columbia. "Over time,"
Glavin writes, "a body of Chinook literature
began to evolve, and it went in many directions, not the least of which was poetry and
popular songs." Although only eleven published items are listed in the bibliography,
many more are mentioned in the text and in
the captions which accompany the illustrations. Lillard's section, "A Chinook Gazetteer, circa 1997", an updated version ofthe
chapter he wrote for Men ofthe Forest (David
Day, comp. and ed., 1977), illustrates the extent to which Chinook words have been
adopted as place names. In the Chinook to
English half of his "A Chinook Lexicon",
Glavin lists 286 Chinook words, a few of
which, such as chuck and skookum, are widely
Chinook, despite its extensive use over
many decades, has received limited coverage
in the province's standard histories. A Voice
Great Within Us should bring some much-
warranted attention, and will be of interest
to a wide range of British Columbians.
Wheels, Skis and Floats: The Northern
Adventures of a Pioneer Pilot.E.C (Ted)
Burton and Robert S. Grant. Surrey, BC:
Hancock House Publishers, 1998.171 pp.
Illus., appendix. Paperback $19.95
Bush and Arctic Pilot. A.R. (Al) Williams.
Surrey, BC: Hancock House Publishers,
1998.255 pp. Illus. Paperback $23.95
Reviewed by Kirk Salloum
Early Canadian aviators are seldom acknowledged for their role in this country's development. Their stories, however, contribute
significandy to Canada's history, as is illustrated by the two books Wheels, Skis and
Floats:The Northern Adventures of a Pioneer Pilot
and Bush and Arctic Pilot.
Wheels, Skis and Floats is rooted in a 20-
thousand word manuscript written in the late
1940s by Edward Cherry Burton. The authors of the book, Robert Grant (an established aviation writer) and Ted Burton
(Edward's son), along with the help of
Edward's and Ted's spouses, rewrote the
manuscript in its present form. Interspersed
throughout the text are doggerel and sketches
by Edward Burton and a collection of photographs.
Burton was an aviation pioneer who found
the lifestyle challenging and rewarding. Born
in England, he emigrated to homestead in
Saskatchewan in the early 1900s. There he
was tried for killing a man and acquitted by
the court by reason of self-defense (he had
been attacked by three assailants). Burton then
moved to rural Toronto. Shordy thereafter
war broke out. After being rejected by the
infantry, Burton managed to join the Royal
Flying Corps which was seeking recruits
"with lots ofthe devil.'The early flying skills
Burton acquired during the war proved to
be a major asset to his future.
As his commercial aviation career unfolded, Burton's reputation as an excellent
pilot grew. He had the ability to understand
and "feel" his way through each new aircraft
design that he flew. His skills and luck as
sisted him in surviving a number of life-
threatening accidents. In one mishap, Burton
became the first Canadian to make a forced
parachute jump at night. In a more unfortunate incident, he suffered permanent damage to his left leg.
In Burton's days, pilots flew without the
benefit of radios to inform them of poor
weather and were often required to make
unscheduled landings in dubious terrain.
During such times, Burton would sketch and
write poetry while waiting for the weather
to clear. Many of these artistic endeavours
made their way into letters he sent to his
wife and son.
The manuscript that Burton compiled
conveys not only his knowledge of and experiences in aviation, but how the airplane
affected northern and rural life. Having
worked across various regions of Canada,
Burton provides the reader with stories that
happened direcdy to him or those people
around him: one describes "Canada's first
aerial [bank robber] getaway."
The book is as much a history of Canadian aviation as it is a biography of an aviator who became the oldest licensed commercial pilot until his flying certificate lapsed
for medical reasons. Burton "saw aviation
grow from a shaky fledging start through
regular trans-Adantic scheduled flights to the
beginning ofthe space age."
Bush and Arctic Pilot is an autobiographical account of A.R. Williams's flying days
which began in the 1950s. As a child he
thought about a story in which "daddy bear"
takes his family for an airplane ride and later
learned from his aviator brothers "that humans (not just bears) could fly." Initially,
Williams wrote vignettes about his aviation
career for family members and was encouraged by them and friends to have the stories
Through Williams's photographs, his personal stories, and the stories he heard, the
reader is provided with a captivating view of
Canada's aviation history. Williams also discusses the management of aviation companies, the regulating of aviation, northern and
rural Canadian lifestyles, and economic conditions at the time. An added dimension of
local history is supplied in these stories: as
examples, the reader learns how particular
places received their names, such as Flin Flon
and No Run Lake; the reader is introduced
to characters who were involved in the aviation industry, such as General Custer's great-
grandson and Tom Lamb who "virtually invented flying in Manitoba."
35 These stories capture the notion that pilots can become intimate with individual aircraft; that "these machines do develop personalities of their own."Williams spends considerable time discussing the designs and engineering concerns of different aircraft within
the context of his stories. As a humorous
example, he points out that some aircraft
engines are better for cooking a can of beans
than others. Like many pilots that flew in
rural and northern Canada, Williams had
close calls with landings and takeoffs. Since
Williams had a good understanding of each
aircraft he flew, he managed to survive the
most life-threatening situations imaginable.
Other catastrophes were avoided by keeping
aircraft well-maintained and giving them frequent visual inspections.
This book goes beyond having value for
its portrayal of aviation in northern and rural Canada. Williams's stories convey a picture of a vocation that has ended: the self-
reliance of pilots has been replaced by air
traffic control and global positioning systems.
In Williams's words, "I flew for the love and
freedom of flight. In those days, the bush pilot and Arctic pilot was probably the last free
human on the planet... .Those days are gone
Williams's book and the one by Grant and
Burton capture the aviation spirit of their
times.While one is biographical and the other
autobiographical, both oudine how pilots of
the day learned quickly to recognize the eccentricities of each aircraft. Their careers required them to spend considerable time away
from their families and to adapt to Canada's
rural-northern cultures, climate, and geography. Williams and Burton were individuals
who could appreciate the ironies that accompanied their experiences. No matter which
book you pick up to read, either would be
intriguing and beyond belief by today's aviation standards.
Historic Guide to Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, BC, Canada. John Adams. Victoria:
Sono Nis Press, 1998. 48pp. Illus., maps.
Paperback $9.95
Reviewed by Ron Welwood
Cemeteries reflect the nature and times of
the surrounding community and are often
the earliest form of planned landscape. In the
nineteenth century open garden-like cemeteries were developed. Burial grounds were
transformed into peaceful, beautiful gardens
in order to make the dead accessible to the
living.These cemeteries emphasized the sanctity of the family as well as a sense of tranquillity and a focus on public health.
Ross Bay Cemetery, now designated a
heritage site by Victoria City Council has
been in use since 1873.The current population ofVictoria's necropolis is about 28 thousand. This guide includes over 150 entries
to selected gravesites of both the rich and
famous as well as the poor and lesser known.
Some of its citizens include the who's who
of early British Columbia.
This small publication is as good as it gets.
It has an excellent layout with an overall map
located in the centre ofthe booklet.The tours
are broadly organized by denomination. Each
ofthe thirteen tours includes a detailed map
and is complemented by either contemporary or historic black and white photographs.
The detailed map includes numbered site
locations and additional map notes. It is followed by entries beginning with surname,
monument description, given name(s), dates,
epitaph, and a brief biography.
The beginning of this monograph includes a history of Ross Bay Cemetery and
suggestions for using the guide. Near the end
there are useful notes on monument makers,
a key to tombstone symbols and illustrations
of monument styles. A very thorough index
is located at the end (this reviewer has only
one very minor suggestion: for multiple referenced entries, use boldface type to indicate the main entry).
John Adams, a well-respected necrologist,
must be heralded for publishing this excellent, updated revision of his 1983 monograph.
The modest price makes this resurrection
issue an outstanding deal. It certainly is an
ideal template for anyone interested in such
an unusual undertaking!
Peter Fidler: Canada's Forgotten Explorer 1769-1822. ].G. MacGregor. new
edition; Calgary: Fifth House, 1998. 265
pp., maps. Paperback $12.95
Reviewed by Barry Gough
This fine publisher's Western Canadian Classics reproduces some of the best western
Canadian history, biography, memoirs, stories of explorers and homesteaders, and other
great works. A recent addition to this good
list is James MacGregor's pioneering biography of a less than well known explorer of
western Canada: the HBC's Peter Fidler.
Often regarded as an "also ran" in the remarkable and vibrant history of Canadian
exploration, Fidler is given his literary due
in this work. Thus the reprinting of this account, first published by McClelland &
Stewart over three decades ago, in 1966, is a
testament of its subject and the literary durability of MacGregor, whose travels in search
of this subject (often by bus) and love of character are legendary.
Historical scholarship has pushed back the
darkness on Fidler since MacGregor's book
first appeared, and this new edition does
nothing to advance the record or reflect this
recent research. It is fair to state that Robert
Allen's biography of Fidler, in The Dictionary of Canadian Biography, ought to be consulted in the first instance by any serious student ofthe subject. But leaving the technicalities aside (if one is able to do so) it will
be appreciated that MacGregor had a wide
canvas to work upon, featuring a less than
vibrant character. Not all of Canada's explorers "jump out ofthe page" such as Mackenzie or Fraser. Many, like Fidler, led prosaic
And what about Fidler? This robust Englishman brought to the Northwest scholarly
capabilities and accounting skills. He served
under Philip Turnor, and the two of them
were given a better opportunity as surveyors
owing to the fact that David Thompson had
suffered an eye injury and was temporarily
incapacitated. Fidler honed his skills in the
interior. In 1792-93, too late to catch Mackenzie, he journeyed to the foothills of the
Rockies. In subsequent years he ran or built
several HBC posts, perhaps the most significant of which was Nottingham House, on
English Island, Lake Athabasca (near Fort
Chipewyan ofthe NorthWest Company).
Fidler was on the receiving end of reprisals
by NorthWest Company and XY Company;
he was particularly targetted by the great pest
in these matters, Samuel Black. In 1806-1810
Fidler had a quieter duty: surveying Red
River, Lake Winnipeg and region. Again, in
June 1810 the dreaded Black paid him an
unwelcome call, this time in company with
his boon companion Peter Skene Ogden.
(Why hasn't a movie been made out of this?)
We find Fidler escorting the second group
of Selkirk Setders in 1812, then surveying
river lots on the model of Lower Canada.
He was pensioned offin 1821, and was treated
with some veneration in later years. His partner in life was Mary, a Swampy Cree, with
whom he had a very large family.
Fidler was largely self taught as a surveyor.
He had an interest in various matters, but he
lacked a formal education that would have
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 put him into a premier league of explorers
and journalists. He seems to have had no dash,
and showed no spirited leadership skills. But
he followed orders. However, his legacy will
always be that he was a surveyor and map
maker who left contributions to that branch
of science and geography. The HBC was
made very much of a number of such lesser
lights, and indeed the whole history of the
country and nation of Canada may be an
aggregate of such individuals. Harold Innis
said of Peter Pond that he was one of the
sons of Martha, by which he meant an everyday worker and not a luminary. The same
could be said of Fidler.
This book, appearing again, will be welcomed by those interested in the western
process in that age when fur was king—before the age of railway and settler. In many
ways it was a happier age for all involved, but
it presaged a different sort of imperium. Fidler
was an agent of empire, a servant ofthe geometric, a quantifier of landscape. He did his
job to his firm's satisfaction, and he left an
important historical and biographical legacy
amply advertised in his useful, though now
somewhat dated, treatment.
Gabriola: Petroglyph Island. Mary and
Ted Bentley. Victoria: Sono Nis Press,
1998. Soft cover $14.95.
Reviewed by Phyllis Reeve
In 1976 the Bendeys discovered a major
petroglyph site on Gabriola Island. Describing themselves as "amateur archaeologists and
fascinated admirers of native culture", they
proved to be the ideal discoverers, promoters, and protectors of these rock glyphs and
the others on Gabriola. Carrying litde in the
way of academic, political, or spiritual baggage, they proceeded with infinite care and
common sense to record and share their discovery. They approached the owners ofthe
land, Weldwood of Canada, who subsequendy donated the site to the Province. In
1981 Sono Nis published the first edition of
this book, which has been an invaluable guide,
souvenir and restraint for eager and over-eager petroglyph hunters.
In the twenty-two years since their discovery, more petroglyphs have been revealed,
and "petroglyphs have become an important
identity for the island.They have emerged as
a cultural component and are a source of
pride and inspiration for modern-day islanders. Interest in the carvings has crossed over
from a small number of professional archaeologists and dedicated amateurs to the gen
eral population/'Those years also witnessed,
among both Native and non-Native peoples, an increased reverence for these stunning remnants of an almost forgotten past.
The new edition contains fifty more
pages than the first, pardy because of larger;
more readable print and a more useful arrangement of photographs, drawings and
charts. Each site now has its own chapter, as
has the new Gabriola Museum and Petroglyph Park.—For pilgrims disappointed
with the inevitable fading of the Weldwood
Site, now politically renamed the Church
Site, and longing to see the glyphs which
hide on private land, the Park offers excellent and accessible replicas.—The Bendeys
have added a new foreword and accounts
of new discoveries reported even as the book
went to press.
The Bendeys focus on the Gabriola sites,
recording and describing, making some
connections, but leaving it to the sources in
their bibliography to comment on the full
context of aboriginal culture. Nor do they
spend much time speculating on the psychic and spiritual aura ofthe sites.
As a Gabriola resident, who has been
clamouring for some years for this second
edition, I am delighted with the book, but
I find it difficult to judge its wider relevance.
Perhaps its value lies in its deliberate focus
on the known and the knowable, and in its
provision of a model of intelligent stewardship.
The Land of Heart's Delight
In 1911 a booklet was published to attract
setders from Britain tided The Land of Heart's
Delight. Mike Layland ofVictoria and his
company Baytext Communications Inc.
borrowed the tide for a colourful reproduction of a 1913 map ofVancouver Island
sponsored by a Victoria realtor ofthe day.
You will find this map in the shops ofthe
Royal BC Museum inVictoria and theVan-
couver Maritime Museum. Or call Mike at
(250) 477-2734 for a point of sale near you.
From the Editor
ioo Years Ago
The 1898 gold rush had an enormous impact on the lives of many British Columbians
and United States citizens.The centennial of
Yukon gold was remembered by the US
Postal Services with a stamp. Canada Post
missed the opportunity.
Commemorative stamps relating to our
British Columbia history are scarce. Suggestions to issue commemorative stamps honouring personalities important for the history of our province do not seem to find a
receptive ear in Ottawa. Canada Post Corporation could not be convinced to honour
Captain Vancouver or issue a Boas/Teit commemorative stamp. Why is that?
I wonder if the philatelists among our
readers could tell us which (if any) BC history stamps have been issued and when.
The Other Simma Holt
The following letter was received from Mrs.
June Wilson of Kimberley with reference to
Laura Duke's article on Simma Holt in BC
Historical News, 32:2, Spring 1999:
I have just read "Against a Tide of Change: an
Interpretation ofthe Writings of Simma Holt,
1960-1974" by Laura Duke.
There are many omissions and errors.
Simma's parents came from the Ukraine and
were not Russians.The family was Jewish born
and bred.This article makes it sound as if Simma
and Len had money—not true. They eventually did own a house but it took many years of
struggle and assistance from Simma's dad.
I truly believe that something should be
done to tell Simma's true story. I do not like to
think of this article being a lasting memory and
that it is on record at the Historical Society.
Someone should interview Simma and the true
story written and it should be published in the
same magazine. As the editor, can you do something about this?
I hope that by publishing this letter I encourage one of our readers to follow up on Mrs.
Wilson's suggestion to interview Mrs. Holt
and write an article for publication in BC
Historical News.
37 Federation News
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 1 May 1999 in Merritt Civic Centre
Ron Welwood called the meeting to order
at 8:35 A.M. Fifty-five registered delegates
and a few guests attended. Arnold Ranneris,
corresponding secretaryjoel Vinge, subscription secretary; Nancy Peter, membership secretary; and R. George Thomson, recording
secretary sent regrets. The Minutes of the
1998 AGM in Surrey were accepted as circulated. Leonard McCann/Myrde Haslam.
TREASURERS REPORT: Ron Greene announced that, effective 1 April 1999, the accounts ofthe BC Historical News will be re-
combined with the Federation account.
Moved that the signing officers be expanded
to include the editor ofthe News to ascertain that there is a smooth flow ofthe News
business expenses. Signing officers will be any
two of the following: president, treasurer,
corresponding secretary and editor. Ron
Greene/Melva Dwyer. A vote of thanks was
moved to the retiring News treasurer, June
De Groot. Ron Greene/Alice Glanville.
KPMG Chartered Accountants donated their
evaluative expertise and prepared a final summary. Moved Ron Greene/Leonard McCann
that KPMG be appointed for the coming
year. Moved Ron Greene/Alice Glanville
that the secretary write a thank you to
KPMG. The treasurer then presented highlights ofthe report. Full members paid $1975
(1997-98) +$1711 (1998-99), but affiliates
quadrupled from 260 members to 1124.
Report accepted. Ron Greene/Myrtle
Haslam. Carried.
Committee Reports
News Publishing: Tony Farr noted that subscriptions to the BC Historical News through
Member societies—although offered a reduced subscription rate for their members—
vary from zero to 100% of those enlisted locally. He appealed to all member societies to
take a subscription for their society and to
urge their members to become subscribers.
Fred Braches requested that members wishing to subscribe at the reduced Member rate
of $12 subscribe through their local secretary. Individual subscriptions ($15) should go
direcdy to the BC Historical News subscription secretaryJoelVinge. First time contributors of articles printed in the BC Historcal
News will receive a one-year complimentary
subscription, commencing with the summer
1999 issue.
Writing Competition: Shirley Cuthbertson
thanked the former coordinators of this committee, and the three judges who had a heavy
load reading, and carefully evaluating, 43
books, 22 of which arrived late December
barely before the deadline. Non-fiction books
are eligible; fiction books with historical slant
were returned to sender.
Historical Trails & Markers: John Spitde
reiterated the plea by Charles Hou for added
voices to appeal for preservation of the
Anderson Lake Trail in the Fraser Canyon.
John also described the frustration of a visitor wishing to access the Mackenzie Trail
from Quesnel to Bella Coola.
Pubucations Assistance: A report from
Nancy Stubbs was read indicating that a few
inquiries have been handled but no writer
has a book nearing completion, thus requiring a loan to help pay printing costs.
Archivist: Margaret Stoneberg announced
that as the BC Historical Association/Federation is now 77 years old, we should be
preparing to publish a history of our organization. She needs histories of the various
branches to roll into the story of BCHE
Membership: Nancy Peter sent in her resignation, which was accepted with regret.There
are 33 member societies representing, when
we add affiliates, 2218 persons.Terry Simpson
ofNanaimo volunteered to fill this position.
David Mattison Website Prize
David Mattison promises to donate $100 for
a prize but wishes the BCHF to arrange for
judges and to establish the entrance requirements. Moved Alice Glanville/Leonard
McCann that we accept this offer in principle.
Okanagan History Talking Books
Fred Broderick of Kelowna and his mother
Molly Broderick described the development
of their talking book program.
President's Report: Ron Welwood
stated that the BCHF has used its collective
"clout" twice in the past year. First was to
protest the proposed reduction of BC publications for sale in ferry bookshops. The second was to point out to the federal government that a tax on blank audio recording
tapes is preposterous. The president extended
thanks to the table officers and committee
heads who have worked hard to keep the
BCHF business flowing smoothly.
Reports from Member Societies:
Some highlight from reports given by delegates from our roster of local societies. Societies heard from were:
Alberni District Historical Society received a legacy from Helen Ford to aid with
the archives.
Arrow Lakes Historical Society had their
first book reprinted, the third book has sold
out, and their fourth book is nearing completion.
Atlin Historical Society had a grand reopening ofthe GlobeTheatre inAugust 1998
after three years of restoration.
Boundary Historical Society held a
luncheon at Golden Heights heritage home
and restaurant to celebrate their 48th Anniversary.
Bowen Island Museum is working very hard
with interesting speciality events as
Burnaby Historical Society Laura Duke
won the Evelin Salisbury $1,000 scholarship. The Burnaby Historical Society is restoring Interurban Car #1223.
Chemainus Valley Historical Society has
switched from evening meetings to 11:30
A.M. luncheon gatherings.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 Cowichan Historical Society declined to
sponsor a book on the history of Duncan so
a separate group has arranged for Tom Henry
to write this book.
District 69 Historical seem to be busy
people.They recommend history buffi to visit
the Comox Airforce Museum.
East Kootenay Historical Association
had a good bus trip through Rogers Pass to
Revelstoke with tour guide Milton Parent
on the Revelstoke—Nakusp leg, Nikkei Memorial Centre in New Denver, Slocan City,
Nelson, Creston, and return to Cranbrook.
Gulf Islands Branch BCHF has 100 members spread over four islands. They shuttle
between islands adjusting to ferry schedules.
Senator Pat Carney hosted a recent meeting.
Kamloops Museum Association Cuyler
Page is preparing new exhibits.The Art Gallery has moved out ofthe building.
Kootenay Museum Association. Nelson
Museum is part of a regional heritage group,
a support organization that is hoping to include East and West Kootenay and Boundary District.
Nanaimo Historical Society is helping the
City of Nanaimo with community celebrations for the 125th year of Incorporation.
North Shore Historical, i.e. the north
shore of Burrard Inlet, or the City and District of North Vancouver. Busy preparing a
history of North Vancouver.
North Shuswap Historical Society has a
young president, enthusiastically introducing
Shuswap Chronicles V
Princeton & District Museum and Archives. The museum has been given a large
collection of fossils. Local organizations are
preparing their histories for a book on
Princeton for the year 2000, which marks
Princeton's 140th Anniversary of founding.
Salt Spring Island Historical Society.
Their president, Ken Mackenzie, is conducting two railway elder hostels, followed by
leading an elder hostel on Salt Spring Island.
Surrey Historical Society has increased
attendance by setting their meetings on Saturday mornings.
Vancouver Historical Society has 199
members. The Vancouver bibliography has
now expanded to 16,000 listings.
Victoria Historical Society has two outings planned plus regular meetings with
Conference 2000 in Port Alberni:
Meg Schoffield outlined some ofthe planned
highHghts. Enthusiasm is growing within the
Alberni membership and expectations are
raised for prospective delegates.
Election of Officers: Alice Glanville
was Nominations Chair.
Ron Welwood, president; Wayne Desrochers,
1st vice-president; Melva Dwyer- 2nd vice-
president; Arnold Ranneris, corresponding
secretary; Ronald Greene, treasurer; Roy
Pallant and Bob Cathro, members at large.
All were returned by acclamation. Elizabeth
(Betty) Brown ofVictoria agreed to become
the recording secretary.
MEMBERSHIP: Moved Myrtle Haslam/
Melva Dwyer that the membership fee for
1999-2000 be $1.00 per person of each
member society. Carried.
New Business:
Captain Vancouver Day: Ted Roberts ofVictoria asks support for an appeal to have 12
May named "Captain George Vancouver
Day" within the province to honour the explorer of our coastline. May 12th was the
date of Captain Vancouver's death. Moved
Leonard McCann/Pam Odgers that we ask
our Corresponding Secretary to write on
behalf of our Federation.
Provincial Heritage Sites: Naomi Miller briefly
outlined the plight of historic buildings and
sites owned by the province. She urged delegates to agitate for more responsible care of
those sites.
Adjournment: Tony Farr moved that the
meeting adjourn at 11:38 A.M.
Acting Recording Secretary:
Naomi Miller
Winners of the
British Columbia
writing competition
for books on any
facet of BC history,
published in 1998.
BC Historical
By Snowshoe, Buckboard and Steamer: Women of the Frontier
Kathryn Bridge, Sono Nis Press, Victoria BC
Lieutenant Governor Medal for Historical Writing
First Place in BCHF Writing Competion
Tie Hackers to Timber Harvester: The History of Logging in ihe BC Interior
Ken Drushka, Harbour Publishing, Madeira Park BC
Second place in BCHF Writing Competition
The Fort Langley Journals: 1827-30
Morag Maclachlan, contribution by Wayne Suttles, UBC Press, Vancouver BC
Third place in BCHF Writing Competition
Honorary Mention:
Between Forest and Sea: Memories ofBelcarra
John Doerksen, Mike Cotton, Colleen MacDonald,
The Belcarra Historical Group, 4975 Belacarra Bay Road, BC V3H 4N5
Golden Nuggets: Roadhouse Portraits Along The Cariboo's Gold Rush Trail,
Branwen Patenaude, Heritage House Publishing Co. Ltd., Surrey BC
39 Merritt 1999
Above: "Flourishing Under the Sun" in front ofthe
Quilchena Hotel. Photo by John Spittle.
by Naomi Miller
The Nicola Valley Museum and Archives
Association hosted a wonderful weekend.
Delegates learned a lot and laughed a lot.
OnThursday, 29 April 1999 the mayor of Merritt,
Clara Norgaard, and BCHF President Ron
Welwood welcomed the gathering in the museum's Senior Citizens Building. Greetings were
exchanged by old friends and handshakes extended to first time attendees. Visitors moved
between the wine and cheese reception and the
neady presented exhibits in the Nicola Valley
On Friday morning two buses were loaded
with delegates. The first stop was the Nicola
Ranch a few miles out of town. Tour guides in
cowboy garb boarded the buses and gave a thumbnail history of this site, which was intended to
become a town until the CPR changed plans for
a rail route. They explained the breeds of cattle,
the mechanics of feed lots and ranch life in the
early years. At the rear ofthe ranch many corrals
contain fallaw deer raised from stock imported
from New Zealand.The deer provide anders for
the Asian market and meat for exclusive restaurants. The restored Murray Church and interesting cemetery sit beside a gift shop and petting
zoo.The buses then proceeded to the Quilchena
Hotel for lunch and a tour ofthe lovely building.
After lunch our guides were Steve and Mike Rose,
fourth generation owners ofthe spread. We were
treated to a display of cowboys and herd dogs
directing yearling catde into a chute where they
On the left (top to bottom):
Cattle is what ranching is all about. Photo by
Leonard McCann.
Irene Alexander, delegate ofthe North Shore
Historical Society, North Vancouver, dwarfed by a
wheel of a mining rig. Photo courtesy Irene Alexander.
The Quilchena Hotel built in 1908. Photo by
Leonard McCann.
Vie old courthouse, built in 1913, acaoss the street
from Murray church. Photo by Irene Alexander.
were doused with anti-wood-tick spray. Commentary, laced with anecdotes, informed about
silage compacting, alfalfa growing, bunch grass
enhancement, honey and pollination benefits,
fence patrol, the building ofthe old barn, harness
repair and machinery maintenance. We heard
about the emergency trucking of catde out of a
forest fire zone, flood mitigation, arson of the
Douglas Lake Band Catholic Church and its rebuilding, the polo fields at Guichon's Quilchena
Ranch, which were transformed to a modern golf
course, and activities on Nicola Lake. All stories
to further whet interest.
The Nicola Valley Community Band performed during the Happy Hour on Friday. After
a fine supper Christine Pilgrim appeared demonstrating 1890s women's fashions—from hats
and hatpins to petticoats and button boots, This
"teacher from Barkerville" strutted around demonstrating various parts of the wardrobe with
hilarious commentary.
On Saturday morning the Annual General
Meeting proceeded smoothly. A guest from the
Okanagan Historical Society briefly introduced
the new Talking Book program. Elections saw
two new volunteers fill vacant seats. Elizabeth
(Betty) Brown became Recording Secretary and
Terry Simpson took the Membership Secretary's
job. All other positions were refilled by acclamation.
Lunch was served in the meeting hall.Then it
was back aboard the buses. En route to Logan
Lake two local teenagers, Darren and Cindy,
pointed out landmarks, some with delightful ancestral stories. The pause at the Logan Lake Visitor's Centre saw even the tour buses dwarfed by
the giant machines on display at the parking lot.
The visit to the HighlandValley Copper Mine
was noted as "the last tour prior to closure."This
huge mine, one ofthe most technically advanced
operations in the province, is closing due to low
world prices for its product. HighlandValley Copper is the second largest consumer of electricity
from BC Hydro, who have failed to give concessions which would allow the mine to continue
processing the low-grade ore. Highland Valley
Copper is an amalgamation of Bethlehem, Lornex
and Highmont. It employed a thousand workers.
In the office building these and other facts were
presented and a video was shown of Highland
Valley Copper's operation and reclamation successes. Up the hill we visited the maintenance
shop where huge trucks and other machinery
were being serviced. Crushers, trucks, and conveyor belts throw up clouds of white dust as raw
ore is prepared for the mill.
On Saturday evening the diners were entertained with a collective challenge (on paper) to
earn their turn to go to the buffet tables. Considerable hilarity resulted from the challenge of finding words near the end of the alphabet to get
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 most points—like claiming Zeballos as the furthest city away visited, or defining someone's eyes
as "violet".
With James Teit's last surviving son, Sigurd Teit
in the audience, guest speaker Wendy Wickwire
ofthe University ofVictoria introduced her studies of Merritt's own James Teit. To study native
bands in British Columbia American ethnologists hired Franz Boaz, a German professor. The
first few summers Boaz had difficulty accomplishing his goals. Then, in 1894, he met James Teit,
and thereafter Teit's massive tomes of beautifully
written notes came to Boaz each year. From 1897
to 1902 Teit worked with Harlan Smith ofthe
American Museum of Natural History on the
Jesup Expedition. That work included recording
Indian songs on wax cylinders—a forerunner of
oral history recording. Wickwire's research indicates that, far more than the academic Boaz,Teit
deserves formal recognition for a huge resource
of ethnographic history of western Canada and
northwestern USA. (Esther Darlington wrote
"The Man Who Lived with Indians." on anthropologist James Teit in BC Historical News 28:4)
The Nicola Valley Night Hawks gave a fascinating demonstration of native dancing. They
compete in national and international dance festivals.
After that the spotlight was on the BCHF
honourees.Alice Glanville lauded the work done
by Melva Dwyer and declared Melva an Honorary Lifetime Member of the Federation. First
Vice-President Wayne Desrochers presented Certificates of Appreciation to Merritt's much admired Barbara Watson and Bette Sulz. He proceeded with the presentation of Certificates of
Appreciation to BCHF's Nancy Peter, R.George
Thomson, June De Groot, Peter and Naomi
Miller, and Melva Dwyer.
Writing Competition Chair Shirley
Cuthbertson spoke ofthe challenge to the judges
in picking the best from forty-three entries of
1998 books on BC history. She announced the
winners, which are mentioned on page 39.
The winner ofthe award for the best article
published in the BC Historical News in 1998 was
Eric Swantje ofVancouver for his article "Stanley
Park: Tourism and Development" (Vol. 31:3).
Swantje, a B.A. from UBC, says that showing his
work in our publication clinched his appointment to a research assignment for the federal Ministry of Indian and Northern Affairs. Finally, the
winners of Heritage Trust scholarships, were introduced. Details in News & Notes.
On Sunday morning Merritt offered a farewell pancake breakfast for delegates, all of whom
voted the program delivered by the Nicola Valley
volunteers THE BEST YET.
Left column bottom:
Ron Greene, John Spittle and Alice Glanville. Photo
courtesy John Spittle.
Centre column from top to bottom:
The winner ofthe writing competition, Kathryn
Bridge, on the left, receives a Certificate of Merit from
the commission's chair, Shirley Cuthbertson. Photo
courtesy Kathryn Bridge.
The Nicola Valley Night Hawks impressed all by
their fascinating presentation. Photo compliments of
Merritt News.
Tlie "shoolmarm from Barkerville," Christine
Pilgrim, showed us the fashions of that other turn of
the century. Photo by John Spittle.
Wendy Wickwire, here shown with Michael
M'Gonigle in front ofthe Quilchena Hotel, spoke
about James Teit at the Awards Banquet. Photo by
John Spittle.
The well-tuned Nicola Valley Community Band
played for us on Friday evening. Photo by Murphy
Ron and Frances Welwood in conversation with
Merritt's Mayor Clara Norgaard. Photo by Murphy
Below from top to bottom:
Stephanie, Emilie, and Wayne Desrochers. Photo by
Naomi Miller.
Upper Nicola Murray church and cemetery. Photo by
Leonard McCann.
The old Guichon house at the Home Ranch. Photo
by Irene Alexander.
41 News and Notes
News items concerning Member and Affiliated Societies and the BC Historical Federation should be sent to:
Naomi Miller, Contributing Editor BC Historical News,PO Box 105,Wasa BC VOB 2K0
Anderson Brigade Trail
Charles Hou of Burnaby South Secondary
School is heading an appeal to have the
Anderson Brigade Trail from Alexandra
Lodge to Gate Mountain in the Fraser Canyon declared a heritage park. If any reader
wishes to add weight to this request please
send your opinion to the Minister of the
Environment, The Honorable Cathy
McGregor, in Victoria. For more information please contact John Spittle, chair of our
Historical Markers and Trail committee. His
address and phone number can be found on
the inside ofthe front cover of this issue.
Port Alberni
Maritime Discovery Centre
This new centre is evolving as part of a new
harbour marina. A "lighthouse" will be the
core of the interpretative centre and it will
have a viewing area from which visitors can
identify local landmarks or watch deep-sea
vessels working at the nearby terminal. The
sponsors are searching for West Coast maritime artifacts. Potential donors are asked to
contact the Alberni Valley Museum at 250-
723-2181 or the Maritime Heritage Society
at 250-723-6841.
Jewish Fashion Industry
An exhibit called "Broken Threads," shown
at the Jewish Community Centre inVancou-
ver, featured Jewish clothing designers who
led the German and Austrian high fashion
industry between 1895 and 1938. Pride in
ancestral success was shown mixed with sadness that it all came to such a tragic ending.
The Woodcocks Leave
With an article in the spring edition of 1997
of BC Historical News (30:2) Phillipa Woodcock introduced us to the history ofthe old
stone house at Narvaez Bay. After their arrival in 1990 "Pip"Woodcock and her husband Derrick became deeply involved in
community life on Saturna Island.The couple not only ran a bed & breakfast and a general store, they were also active in the theatre, the Lions Club, continuing education,
craft fairs, church committees, the Historical
Society and more. Recendy they sold their
Stone House and returned to England. At
the fareweU gathering Pip asked her friends
to "allow enough change on Saturna to keep
it growing."
Maurice Hodgson 1934-1998
Douglas College Creative Writing instructor Maurice Hodgson passed away on December 29,1998. Many of our readers may
remember with pleasure his book The Squire
of Kootenay West: A Biography of Bert Herridge
(Hancock House Publishers, 1976). INside,
the Douglas CoUege Newsletter wrote in his
memory: "...Maurice was more than just a
people person, he was a man of ideas, and
this was after his compassion and understanding his other gift: the gift of thinking. He
knew how to take initiative and make ideas
Judge James Harvey 1907-1999
The Honorable "Jim" Harvey of Prince
Rupert died peacefuUy in his sleep at home
on 9 May 1999. Judge Harvey contributed
several interesting articles to our magazine
in recent years.There was no public memorial service by his request. His ashes were
spread in the harbour he looked over for
many years.
Salt Spring Hosts BC's
Birthday(?) Party
Dr. Richard Mackie, winner of the 1997
Lieutenant Governor's medal, argues that the
colonial foundation of BC history began on
13 January 1849, when the British Government initiated the colonization on Vancouver Island and adjacent islands. The originators of our BC Historical Association (now
Federation) debated the question if 19 November 1858, should be declared BC's birthday. In 1958 the provincial government
(egged on by the Vancouver branch of the
Native Sons of British Columbia) celebrated
BC's centennial in August, because neither
November nor January were deemed pleasant for outdoor activities,.The government
is planning a 150th birthday bash in 2008.
Mackie arranged a 150th birthday party and
conference on Saturday 9, and Sunday 10
January 1999 in Fulford Harbour on Salt
Spring. Over 90 participants enjoyed two fuU
days of speakers on four aspects of colonial
history: imperial ideologies, First Nations
responses to colonization, colonial immigration and society, and native landscape change.
A Salt Spring Island lamb dinner was offered
on the Saturday evening.There were five Salt
Spring Island authors participating, with
Ruth W SandweU using this event to launch
a fine new coUection of essays: Beyond City
limits: Rural History in British Columbia. (UBC
Selkirk College Acquisition
Dr. W Kaye Lamb, who was an early President ofthe British Columbia Historical Association (now Federation) and Canada's first
National Librarian, generously donated to the
' Selkirk CoUege Library his complete set of
the Champlain Society Publications and the
Canadian Historical Review (1920-1966) The
provenance of this coUection makes it unique.
Dr. Lamb acquired the earlier volumes from
his friend Judge F.W. Howay.
Black History in Prince
In February the CoUege of New Caledonia
hosted a lecture by Israel Prabhudass. Two
hundred and fifty people crammed into the
smaU theatre and the adjacent haUway to learn
about British Columbians honoured during
Black History Month. Portraits shown via
the overhead projector included James Douglas, Harry Jerome, Emory Barnes, Hedi Fry,
Rosemarie Brown, and the district's own
John Robert Giscome. (See BC Historical
News 23:3 "Giscome Portage and the Huble-
Seebach Trading Post."
J.Arthur Lower's collection
of Canadiana to Prince
The library of the late J.Arthur Lower has
been given to the University of Northern
British Columbia in Prince George.
Lower's widow,Thelma, explains that this
coUection of Canadiana was directed to the
new Prince George university because Arthur
Lower worked in Prince George as a student, held his first teachingjob at nearby Loos,
wrote his MA thesis on the Grand Trunk
Railway in BC in Prince George, and later
BC HISTORICAL NEWS - SUMMER 1999 their son Philip and his family lived there
for several years. Mrs. Lower extends thanks
to Dean Robin Fisher and Librarian Neil
CampbeU for arranging the transfer of this
valuable coUection.
Doukhobors—ioo years in
In 1899 some 7,500 Doukhobors left their
native Russia to escape persecution by the
Czar. They practised pacifism and communal life and refused military service. The
Doukhobors first setded in Saskatchewan but
later most moved to the West Kootenay.
A radical splinter group caUed the Sons of
Freedom gained notoriety by their protests.
Many of their children briefly became wardens ofthe state. Most Doukhobors prefer a
peaceful path. They belong to the Union of
Spiritual Communities of Christ and are not
radicals. Anniversary celebrations were held
in Casdegar and Grand Forks.
The War of the Nickel Bar
On 27 April 1947 a handful of children in
Ladysmith protested the 3-cent increase in
the price of chocolate bars and started a
movement that spread accross Canada. (The
Beaver 79:1) It you were involved in this event,
or know anyone who was, please contact
Yanick LeClerc: 2023 7 Ave SE, Calgary.AB
T2G 0K2 Phone (403) 251-4554 or email
Galiano Museum Society
The Galiano Museum Society is working
with the 75-year old Galiano Club to celebrate Galiano history over the years. They
have only a tiny cottage available but offer
rotating exhibits at the community activity
centre. Robin Ridington has digitalized
Alistair Ross's coUection and some gready
enlarged pictures are mounted on waUs.The
spring 1999 meeting featured speakers on
memories of life at the Porlier Pass light
Naomi Miller honoured
The Kootenay Lake Historical Society conferred an Honorary Lifetime Membership
on Naomi MiUer as a very special "Thank
You!"The fifth annual BC Heritage Award,
presented to Naomi on February 16, at a
smaU ceremony in the Parliament Building
in Victoria, was accompanied by a $10,000
prize "to be given to a non-profit heritage
charity ofthe winner's choice." Naomi designated the Kootenay Lake Historical Society to receive the money for the maintenance
ofthe S.S. Moyie. Naomi MiUer received the
cheque from Minister Ian Waddell then
handed it over to Robert Turner who has
been a consultant during the ten year restoration ofthe Moyie.
Fraser River History Conference
Please note that the dates for this year's Fraser
History Conference to be held at LiUooet
have been changed to October 15 to 17. If
you have a topic you would Uke to contribute please contact Blake MacKenzie: email: Phone: (604) 869-
5630, fax: (604) 683-2495, or write to PO
Box 1965, Hope BCVOX 1L0
Burnaby Heritage Awards
Pixie McGeachie was honoured with the
Evelyn Salisbury Award for her work to "increase community awareness and sensitivity
to heritage issues." Since she moved there in
1947 Pixie has been writing books and articles about Burnaby. EUen Wirick was recognized for editing and pubhshing The Burnaby
Historical Society: 40-Year Diary 1957-1997.
Douglas Perm was honoured for his history
ofthe Burnaby Fire Department. Laura Duke,
who wrote an article on Simma Holt's writing in BC Historical News (32:2) won the
Evelyn Salisbury Scholarship of $1,000.
Congratulations to aU winners.
Quarter Century
On July 17th, the Cowichan Historical Society in Duncan wiU hold a 25th anniversary dinner for their members at the Silver
Bridge Inn. The main thrust of the Cowichan Historical Society is the operation of
its museum and archives in the old, nation-
aUy recognized heritage railway station.
Phoenix Cemetery
The Boundary Historical Society has started
with the restoration ofthe cemetery ofthe
old townsite of Phoenix. During the winter
some large trees were carefuUy removed and
fallen trees were cut into pieces and taken
away. Work parties are conducting a general
cleanup and they are planning to fence the
area, and fill the hoUows of sunken graves. A
researcher hopes to identify the 180 pioneers
buried at the cemetery.
Letter from Australia
The envelope was addressed simply: "The
Historical Society of British Columbia.Vic-
toria, British Columbia, Canada." An ingenious postal worker scrawled on the envelope:
"try 800 Johnson St. V8W"That took it to
the Heritage Branch ofthe BC Government,
where the letter was opened and prompdy
forwarded to Naomi MiUer. It was a request
for information on Rear Admiral Richard
Charles Mayne, surveyor ofVancouver Island
between 1855 and 1866 and of mainland BC
from 1857 to 1861. A couple of phone caUs
were made to known maritime historians,
who gathered the information on behalf of
BCHF to go to Artarmon, NSW, AustraUa.
Talking Books
MoUy Broderick of Okanagan FaUs is visu-
aUy impaired. On an Annual General Meeting ofthe Okanagan Historical Society, of
which she is a life member, she suggested to
issue the society's historical publications
(there are 62 books) as talking books.
At first the project was postponed indefinitely because ofthe high costs of producing
the master tapes. Then Molly's son Fred
Broderick and the Kelowna-Rudand Lions
Club got involved. Fred convinced the Lions and Lioness Clubs from Osoyoos to
Salmon Arm to work together for the funding ofthe production ofthe master tapes.
The tapes are now produced by Apex
Audiovisual of Kelowna and are read by professionals. Once a master tape is completed
it is turned over to the Okanagan Historical
Society who produce enough copies ofthe
master to supply aU the Ubraries in the area
under their mandate. The project is a huge
success. So far four volumes have been produced and the fifth is now in the making.
Each volume has seven hours of listening.
Please contact Jessie Ann Gamble of
Armstrong at (250) 546-9416 if you would
Uke to purchase a volume. The price of each
volume is $45.00.
Heritage Trust Awards
Keith Simmonds, Constituency Executive
Assistant to the Honorable Harry LaU, Minister of Transport and Highways, presented
Heritage Trust scholarship awards of $5,000
to the foUowing students:
Leonora Bar-el, Linguistics Department,
University of British Columbia.
Laurell Crocker First Nations Studies,
University of Northern British Columbia.
Rosaly Ing, Department of Educational
Studies, University of British Columbia.
Cheri Rauser, School of Archive/Library
Studies, University of British Columbia.
Brian Thom, Department of Anthropology,
McGill University.
The ceremony took place on 1 May in
Merritt at the Awards Banquet of the BC
Historical Federation. Congratulations to aU.
43 The Globe Theatre, Atlin BC
On August 1,1998, the Adin Historical Society celebrated the 100th anniversary ofthe
discovery of gold in their community with
the reopening of the Globe Theatre in the
presence ofthe Lieutenant-Governor and a
grandson of the original budder and owner
ofthe theatre. Since the opening, the Globe
is once more a key player of Ufe in Adin. A
new Uve theatre group has been formed and
the theater hosted a variety of events including movie and sUde shows, and concerts.
In 1995 the Society began the three year
rehabiUtation project ofthe Globe Theatre
with a budget of $180,000. They secured
$150,000 in assistance through British Columbia's Ministry of SmaU Business, Tourism and Culture. For Ughting and projection
equipment a further $20,000 was secured
through the Vancouver Foundation. The remaining capital needs, the administration of
the project and the research needed to complete the project were spearheaded by the
Adin Historical Society with great community support and hundreds of volunteer
AtUn's Globe Theatre is one of the surviving legacies of the gold rush. Edwin
Pillman built the Globe in 1917 after a fire
devastated most ofthe town core.Typical of
the northern architecture of its day, the Globe
was hastily constructed with siUs laid direcdy
upon the ground. To keep the drafts out the
interior walls were covered with rose coloured craft paper—the weight of light blotting paper—held in place with tin washers.
The unassuming exterior gives no hint of
the simple, but marveUous, vaulted arch ceiling inside the building. Tourism had grown
steadily from the early 1900s into the 1920s
Photos ofthe Globe Theater courtesy Atlin Historical Society
but it crashed in the 1930s. AtUn dwindled,
and when Pillman left the north and retired
in the early 1940s, the Globe Theatre closed.
In 1995, when the AtUn Historical Society
became owners of the theatre the siUs and
joists had rotted, weather leaked in, waUs had
sunk into the ground, and the mosdy rotting
floor was heaved and distorted. The 9-X-12
foot movie screen was torn and original seating had deteriorated.' Restored historic seats
(34) were complemented with purchased
used seating (63). During the restoration of
the seating, newspapers under the upholstery
showed that the seats were made in 1907 in
the Chicago area. An old program from the
MooreTheatre in Seattle, built in 1907-1908,
was found under a seat bottom. The Moore
hit financial problems around 1911 and sold
off details such as the upholstered seating.
British Columbia Historical
scholarship 1999-2000
Applications should be submitted
before 15 May 2000
The British Columbia Historical
Federation annuaUy awards a $500
scholarship to a student completing
third or fourth year at a British
Columbia coUege or university.
To apply for the scholarship, candidates
must submit:
1. Alerter of appUcation.
2. An essay of 1500-3000 words on a topic
relating to the history of British Columbia.
The essay must be suitable for pubUcation,
in British Columbia Historical News.
3. A professor's letter of recommendation.
Send submissions to: Frances Gundry
Chair, B.C. Historical Federation
Scholarship Committee, 255 Niagara
Street Victoria BC V8V 1G4
(250) 385-6353 (home) (250) 387-3623 (work)
The winning essay wiU, and other selected
submissions may be pubUshed in British
Columbia Historical News.
Manuscripts for pubUcation in
BC Historical News should be
sent to the editor. If at all possible
submissions should not be more than
3,500 words. It would be appreciated if
authors could also send us their manuscripts on a diskette. IUustrations are
welcome and should be accompanied
by captions, source information, registration numbers where applicable, and
permission for pubUcation. Photographs are preferred over laser copies.
They will be returned uncut and unmarked.
Authors pubUshing in BC Historical
News for the first time wiU receive a
one-year complimentary subscription
to the journal. If they wish, this complimentary subscription may be assigned to another person of their
choice as a one-year gift subscription.
There is a yearly award, directed at
amateur historians and students, for
the Best Article pubUshed in BC Historical News.
BC HISTORICAL NEWS -SUMMER 1999 British Columbia Historical Federation
Organized 31
October, 1922
Member Societies
Anderson Lake Historical Society
Nanaimo Historical Society
Box 40, D'Arcy BC VoN 1L0
PO Box 933, Station A
Alberni District Historical Society
Nanaimo BC V9R 5N2
Box 284
North Shore Historical Society
Port Alberni
c/o 1541 Merlynn Crescent
BC V9Y 7M7
North Vancouver BC V7J 2X9
Alder Grove Heritage Society
North Shuswap Historical Society
3190 - 271 Street
Box 317, Celista BC  VoE 1L0
Aldergrove, BC  V4W 3H7
Okanagan Historical Society
Arrow Lakes Historical Society
PO Box 313
RR#i, Site iC, Comp. 27,
Vernon BC ViT 6M3
Nakusp BC VoG 1R0
Princeton & District Museum & Archives
Atlin Historical Society
Box 281, Princeton BC VoX 1W0
Box in, Atlin BC VoW lAo
Qualicum Beach Hist. & Museum Society
Boundary Historical Society
587 Beach Road
Box 1687
Qualicum Beach BC V9K 1 K7
Grand Forks BC VoH 1H0
Salt Spring Island Historical Society
Burnaby Historical Society
129 McPhillips Avenue
6501 Deer Lake Avenue,
Salt Spring Island BC V8K 2T6
Burnaby BC V5G 3T6
Sidney & North Saanich Historical Soc.
Chemainus Valley Historical Society
10840 Innwood Rd. RR3
Box 172
North Saanich BC V8L 5H9
Chemainus BC VoR 1K0
Silvery Slocan Historical Society
Cowichan Historical Society
Box 301, New Denver BC VoG 1S0
PO Box 1014
Surrey Historical Society
Duncan BC V9L 3Y2
Box 34003 17790 #10 Hwy.
District 69 Historical Society
Surrey BC V3S 8C4
Box 1452, Parksville BC V9P 2H4
Texada Island Heritage Society
East Kootenay Historical Association
Box i22,VanAnda BC VoN 3K0
c/o 109-45-23 Ave S.
TkAiL Historical Society
Cranbrook BC ViC 4P1
PO Box 405,Trail BC ViR 4L7
Gulf Islands Branch, BCHF
Vancouver Historical Society
PO Box 3071,
Galiano Island BC VoN 1P0
Vancouver BC V6B 3X6
Hedley Heritage Society
Victoria Historical Society
Box 218, Hedley BC VoX 1K0
PO Box 43035,Victoria North
Kamloops Museum Association
Victoria BC  V8X 3G2
207 Seymour Street
Kamloops BC V2C 2E7
Affiliated Groups
Koksilah School Historical Society
5203 T^ans Canada Highway
Bowen Island Historians
Koksilah BC VoR 2C0
Langley Centennial Museum
Kootenay Museum and Historical Society
Nakusp & District Museum Society
402 Anderson Street
Nanaimo & District Museum Society
Nelson BC ViL 3Y3
Native Daughters of BC
Lantzville Historical Society
Nicola Valley Museum Archives Association
c/o Box 274, Lantzville BC VoR 2H0
Union of BC Indian Chiefs (Research
The British Columbia
Historical Federation is
an umbrella organization
embracing regional
Questions about
membership and
affiliation of societies
should be directed to
Terry Simpson,
Membership Secretary,
BC Historical Federation,
193 Bird Sanctuary,
Nanaimo BC V9R6G8
Please write to the
Editor for any changes to
be made to this list. ■ Return Address:
British Columbia Historical News
JoelVinge, Subscription Secretary
RR#2 S-13C-60
Cranbrook,   BC    VIC 4H3
Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 1245716
BC Historical News welcomes
manuscripts deaUng with the history
of British Columbia and British
Please submit stories or essays on any
aspect of the rich past of our
province to: The Editor BCHNews,
Fred Braches,
Whonnock BC V2W 1V9
Phone: (604) 462-8942
Contributing Editor Naomi MiUer
PO Box 105,Wasa, BCVOB 2K0
welcomes news items.
Phone: (250) 422-3594
Fax: (250) 422-3244
Send books for review and book
reviews directly to the Book Review
Editor, Anne Yandle
3450 West 20th Avenue
Vancouver BCV6S 1E4
Phone: (604) 733-6484
Please send correpondence about
subscriptions to the subscription
Secretary, Joel Vinge
RR#2 S-13 C-60
Cranbrook BC ViC 4H3
Phone: (250) 489-2490
BC Historical
The British Columbia Historical Federation invites submissions of books for
the seventeenth annual Competition for Writers of BC History.
Note that reprints or revisions of books are not eUgible.
Any book presenting any facet of BC history, pubUshed in 1999, is eUgible.
This may be a community history, biography, record of a project or an
organization, or personal recoUections giving a glimpse ofthe past. Names,
dates and places, with relevant maps or pictures, turn a story into "history."
The judges are looking for quaUty presentations, especiaUy if fresh material is
included, with appropriate Ulustrations, careful proofreading, an adequate
index, table of contents and bibUography, from first-time writers as weU as
estabUshed authors.
The Lieutenant-Governor's Medal for Historical Writing wiU be awarded to
an individual writer whose book contributes significantly to the recorded
history of British Columbia. Other awards wiU be made as recommended
by the judges to valuable books prepared by groups or individuals.
AU entries receive considerable publicity. Winners wiU receive a Certificate of
Merit, a monetary award and an invitation to the BCHF annual conference to be held in Port Alberni in May 2000.
SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: AU books must have been pubUshed
in 1999 and should be submitted as soon as possible after pubUcation. Two
copies of each book should be submitted. Books entered become property
of the BC Historical Federation. Please state name, address and telephone
number of sender, the seUing price of aU editions of the book, and, if the
reader has to shop by mail, the address from which it may be purchased,
including appUcable shipping and handUng costs.
SEND TO:  BC Historical Federation Writing Competition
c/o Shirley Cuthbertson
#306-225 BeUeviUe Street Victoria BC    V8V 4T9
DEADLINE: December 31, 1999


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