British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Jan 31, 1952

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Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in co-operation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
Willard E. Ireland,
Provincial Archives, Victoria.
Madge Wolfenden,
Provincial Archives, Victoria.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
Editorial communications should be addressed to the Editor.
Subscriptions should be sent to the Provincial Archives, Parliament Buildings,
Victoria, B.C. Price, 501 the copy, or $2 the year. Members of the British
Columbia Historical Association in good standing receive the Quarterly without
further charge.
Neither the Provincial Archives nor the British Columbia Historical Association
assumes any responsibility for statements made by contributors to the magazine.
The Quarterly is indexed in Faxon's Annual Magazine Subject-Index and the
"Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past."
Vol. XVI Victoria, B.C., January-April, 1952 Nos. 1 and 2
Steamboat Days on the Upper Columbia and Upper Kootenay.
By Norman Hacking       1
Some Notes on the Economic Past, Present, and Future of Vancouver
By H. Cuthbert Holmes    53
" Record of a Trip to Dawson, 1898 ": The Diary of John Smith.
Edited with an introduction by Walter N. Sage    67
Notes and Comments:
British Columbia Historical Association    99
Kamloops Museum Association  106
Contributors to This Issue  106
The Northwest Bookshelf:
Goodchild:  British Columbia: Its History, People, and Industry.
By Willard E. Ireland  107
Hult:  Steamboats in the Timber.
Newell: Ships of the Inland Sea.
By Norman Hacking  110
The Fifteenth Report of the Okanagan Historical Society.
By W. W. Bilsland  112
Johnson:  Pioneer Days of Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes.
By A. F. Flucke  114
White:  David Thompson's Journals Relating to Montana.
By Walter N. Sage  116
Papers Read before the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba.
By Willard E. Ireland  117
Pratt:  Towards the Last Spike.
On looking at the headwaters of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers
to-day—the former turbulent and rapid, the latter narrow and meandering—one can hardly believe that once these streams were navigated by
good-sized steamboats. Yet it is not long ago that the river-valleys
echoed to the shrill toot of the steam whistle and the churn of the
paddle-wheel. Iron-nerved swift-water steamboat-men were pioneers of
civilization in the area and, indeed, navigated the entire length of the
Columbia-Kootenay Valley, from Golden in the north to Libby, Montana,
more than 300 miles to the south.
From earliest times the great river-valleys which cut long narrow
channels through the mountains of British Columbia have been the main
highways of wayfarers. In succession have come Indian tribesmen, the
explorers, fur-traders and missionaries, the prospectors and settlers. In
the early summer of 1807 David Thompson, greatest of the geographers
of British Columbia, crossed the Great Divide of the Rockies at Howse
Pass and followed the mountain torrent of the Blaeberry River down to its
junction with the Columbia, 10 miles north of the mouth of the Kicking
Horse River. Then for the first time he cast eyes upon the Columbia-
Kootenay Valley, which stretches far south to the source of the Columbia
and then follows the Kootenay River deep into the heart of Montana.
In August, 1807, Thompson built the first white habitation in the
valley, which he called Kootenae House, near the present village of
Wilmer. Here he wintered, and next season, on April 20, 1808, he
headed south to the headwaters of the Columbia River at Columbia
Lake.1 There he was the first white man to observe a natural phenomenon, which became an important factor in the later development of
the region. This was the fact that the headwaters of the Columbia and
Kootenay Rivers are separated by only a mile of flat land from which
the former river flows north and the latter flows south.
(1) J. B. Tyrrell (ed.), David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in
Western America, 1784-1812, Toronto, 1916, p. 385 ff. See also M. Catherine
White (ed.), David Thompson's Journals Relating to Montana and Adjacent
Regions, 1808-1812, Missoula, Montana, 1950, passim.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XVI, Nos. 1 and 2.
1 Norman Hacking
Map of the Kootenay region. 1952 Steamboat Days 3
From Columbia Lake the Columbia River flows due north to the
Big Bend, where it arcs south through the narrow defile of the Arrow
Lakes into the State of Washington. A mile from Columbia Lake
the turbulent Kootenay descends from the Rockies to flow south deep
into the States of Montana and Idaho, whence it curves north again into
Kootenay Lake in British Columbia, then flows west to join the Columbia
at Castlegar. Thus, except for that mile of level land at the head of
Columbia Lake, known to-day as Canal Flats, a giant Kootenay island
is created, embracing the Selkirk range of mountains in its heart.
Thompson called the flats McGillivray's Portage, and in the next
three years he was to carry his canoes and supplies across the divide
several times in his Kootenay travels. Perhaps the thought struck him
that it would be relatively simple to join the Upper Columbia and Upper
Kootenay Rivers by a ditch across the portage, thus saving the trouble
of unloading his canoes. Since the Kootenay at high water is only 11
feet above the Columbia at this point, force of gravity would soon carve
a navigable channel. In fact, there is physical evidence that Columbia
Lake, ages ago, emptied into the Kootenay.2
Whether or not Thompson envisaged such a plan, the idea was
discussed by later travellers, and eighty-one years later the proposal
was brought to fruition, with the completion of a canal which linked
the two rivers for more than 300 miles of navigable length. To-day the
halcyon era of the steamboat is over. The canal is long since filled in,
its lock hardly discernible in the midst of a pig-farm. Memories are
short, and few people recall to-day the passages of the canal made by
Captain F. P. Armstrong in the Gwendoline in 1894 and the North Star
in 1902.
Steamboat navigation in the Columbia-Kootenay Valley lasted for
only twenty-eight years, from 1886 to 1914, but those years were an
exciting era of development. They saw the building of the first wagon-
roads, the completion of the railways, the onrush of miners and settlers,
and the evolution from a truly " wild western " age to the vaunted
benefits of modern civilization. Old-timers nostalgically say that the
years when the steamboats ruled the rivers were the happiest and most
prosperous years of the valley.    Certainly never since has there been
(2) John Taynton, of Invermere, told the writer that in digging down 8 feet
at Canal Flats he found cedar-trees preserved in the gravel-bed, facing the Kootenay; evidence that Columbia Lake once emptied into the Kootenay River rather
than into the Columbia River, which it does to-day. 4 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
such zest for life. There was a mining boom, and a logging boom, and
a railway boom, and a land boom. To-day, abandoned farms, worked-
out mines, the ghost of a canal, a dilapidated railway are evidence of
the optimism of the pre-war years.
In 1882 there were only eleven white residents in the entire East
Kootenay area. The only " settlement" was at Wild Horse Creek,
where a few Chinese eked out a living from the remains of the Wild
Horse placer claims, which had created a furor in 1864 and 1865. At
near-by Galbraith's Ferry, on the Kootenay River, R. L. T. Galbraith
and his brother John operated a ferry and trading-post. Far to the
south, on the American border, at Tobacco Plains, Michael Phillips
was the Hudson's Bay Company trader and Indian agent. The only
other whites in the vast area between the Rockies and the Selkirks were
a handful of itinerant prospectors. Trails were few and far between.
Supplies and mails had to be carried by pack-train from Walla Walla,
nearly 500 miles to the south-west. The Dewdney Trail from the Pacific
Coast, completed in 1865, was now abandoned, while the MacLeod
Trail from Fort MacLeod, across the Rockies, completed in 1877, was
little used. The year 1882 is important for the Kootenay country, for
it marked the arrival of the first railroad, the open sesame to the vast
wealth of the land-locked mountains. Completion of the Northern
Pacific Railroad, through near-by American territory, brought civilization to the door-step of the land.
Nearest station on the Northern Pacific to the Kootenays was
Sandpoint, Idaho, and here arrived in 1882 a big-game hunter and world
traveller named William Adolph Baillie-Grohman, who was destined to
devote many years to the development of the Kootenay country.3 Half
Scottish and half Austrian—his mother was a Tyrolean countess—
Baillie-Grohman was a man of vision. He was a peppery little man who
did not get along well with Canadians; he made many enemies and he
suffered sadly in a financial way from his attempts to develop the country,
but he was truly anxious to make the Kootenays prosper and he deserves
recognition for his gallant efforts.
In the course of his big-game hunting expedition of 1882, Baillie-
Grohman observed the narrow portage at Canal Flats, which had so
struck David Thompson. He also noted that the Kootenay Flats, where
the Kootenay River empties into Kootenay Lake, near the present town
(3) See W. A. Baillie-Grohman, Fifteen Years' Sport and Life in the Hunting
Grounds of Western America and British Columbia, London, 1900, passim. 1952 Steamboat Days 5
of Creston, contained some of the finest arable land he had ever seen.
Unfortunately, every year at high water the Kootenay River flooded its
banks and inundated the rich potential farm land. Baillie-Grohman saw
a simple solution to the flooding difficulty. If a channel was cut at Canal
Flats, much of the Kootenay River could be diverted into the Columbia.
There would be a consequent fall in the Kootenay at Creston and many
thousands of acres of teeming rich soil would be made available for
fanning. The cost of building the ditch would be small, and the results
would be highly profitable to the country and incidentally to Baillie-
Grohman. So was born the Canal Flats project, which was to occupy
his mind and efforts for many years thereafter.
Baillie-Grohman hastened to Victoria and placed his proposal before
the Provincial Government, who, without too thorough an investigation,
acquiesced in the scheme and granted him a concession of 47,500 acres
of land for ten years with an option to purchase alternate blocks after
reclamation. The concession thus granted included every inch of
valley land between the United States boundary and Kootenay Lake.4
In 1883 Baillie-Grohman went to England to raise money for his project
and returned the next spring with a party of backers to show them over
the land. In the meantime other developments had arisen which were
to mark the doom of the whole scheme, although the promoter did not
yet see the difficulties that were to confront him.
Conditions had changed materially in the Upper Columbia and
Upper Kootenay Valleys between 1882 and 1884. Completion of the
Northern Pacific Railroad in the adjacent American territory had
attracted settlers and prospectors to the Wild Horse Creek district.
Farther north the Canadian Pacific Railway was nearing completion, and
much land had been pre-empted in the valley south of the railway boom
camp of Golden " City." The new settlers were strongly opposed to
the diversion of the Kootenay into the Columbia, which meant the almost
certain flooding of their lands.   Even more important, the diversion
(4) " Return to an Order of the House for a Return . . . [re Lease, Kootenay Reclamation Scheme]," British Columbia Sessional Papers . . . 1883-84,
Victoria, 1884, p. 426. Other details of the lease specified an annual rent of $100,
except that during the last five years rent was to be 5 cents an acre on land
reclaimed and brought under cultivation. In addition, during the first three years
not less than $15,000 was to be spent in British Columbia and during the balance
of the term not less than $10,000 per annum. The annual report of the Chief
Commissioner of Lands and Works for the year ended December 31, 1883, contained a long report from A. S. Farwell on a reconnaissance he had undertaken
in the valley in the company of Baillie-Grohman.   Ibid., pp. 255-261. 6 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
scheme incurred the opposition of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who
feared that the sudden increase in the flow of the Columbia would wipe
out their railway grades. Protest also came from R. L. T. Galbraith,
member of the Provincial Legislature for East Kootenay, who owned
many acres near Wild Horse and had no desire to see the Kootenay
reduced to a trickle. The enemies of the project had a powerful weapon
in their hands, for the Canadian Pacific Railway Company's lawyers
quickly discovered an illegality in the original concession. In the eyes
of the law the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers are navigable waters and
consequently come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
The permission to divert the waters given by the Provincial authorities
was clearly ultra vires, and accordingly a strongly worded petition was
sent to Ottawa in protest. A special committee of the Privy Council
was set up to study the project and, after protracted delays, outlawed
the original plan in its entirety.
Since money had been raised in England and a company called the
Kootenay Syndicate Limited registered in London, Baillie-Grohman,
rather than abandon his project, made another proposal which was
approved by the Privy Council. Instead of diverting the Kootenay into
the Columbia by a ditch, he agreed to construct a navigable canal,
provided wth a lock, and guaranteed " that the level of the Kootenay
shall not at any season of the year, or at any point of its course, be
lowered below the ordinary low water level at present in existence " and
he undertook " to keep the gates or lock of the canal permanently
closed after the last day of August, except at such intervals when steamers
or other craft may pass through the canal."5
With this permission granted by the Federal Government, the
Kootenay Syndicate made a new agreement with the Provincial authorities, dated October 30, 1886, which effectively nullified the original plan
to overcome the flooding of the Kootenay Flats, for it agreed " not to
affect the volume of water in the said river or lake [Upper Kootenay
River and Columbia Lake] or the Columbia River." The canal was to
be in no place narrower than 30 feet or of less depth than 4 feet, while
the lock was to be 100 feet long by 30 feet wide. In return for its
expenditure on the canal, which was to revert to the Crown on completion, the syndicate was to receive a free grant of 30,000 acres of land
(5) Report of a Committee of the Honourable the Privy Council, approved
by His Excellency the Administrator of the Government in Council, on the 25th
August, 1886, in "Correspondence: Kootenay Reclamation Scheme," British
Columbia Sessional Papers   .   .   .   1891, Victoria, 1891, pp. 493-494. 1952 Steamboat Days 7
in the Upper Kootenay Valley, to be chosen at will between Elko and
Tobacco Plains. In addition, the syndicate was to have the concession,
with option to purchase, of 45,000 acres in the Lower Kootenay Valley,
between Kootenay Lake and the boundary, and of 2,500 acres at Canal
Flats and 1,000 acres at Lardeau at the head of Kootenay Lake.6 Later
Baillie-Grohman admitted that his new contract was a mistake, for he
could have bought all the land outright at a dollar an acre, totalling
$78,500, whereas the canal alone cost the syndicate more than $100,000
to build.7
Preparations for the canal began in the spring of 1887 with the
building of a sawmill and store at Canal Flats, but it was not until late
in the summer that the Government engineers finally approved the plans
and work commenced. Construction went ahead slowly in 1888, many
of the workmen being Chinese coolies who had lately worked on the
railway. There were frequent vexatious delays, and the final cost was
about twenty times that of the original project to turn the Kootenay
River. On July 29, 1889, according to agreement, the canal was
declared completed and turned over to the Provincial Government. The
ditch was 6,700 feet long, 45 feet wide, and equipped with one wooden
lock 100 feet long by 30 feet wide. Even at this period, however, the
canal was not fit for navigation, all those concerned having already lost
faith in its usefulness, and for several years it remained disused. Adhering to its share of the bargain, the Government allotted to the Kootenay
Syndicate 30,000 acres in the Upper Kootenay Valley.
Baillie-Grohman carried on for several years his attempt to reclaim
the Kootenay Flats at Creston, first by widening the outlet of Kootenay
Lake at Grohman Narrows and later by dyking. The great flood of 1894
wiped out his work, and he returned to Europe a disappointed man.
Kootenay Syndicate Limited, later known as Kootenay Valleys Company
(6) "Lease, Kootenay Reclamation and Colonization," British Columbia
Sessional Papers . . . 1887, Victoria, 1887, p. 315. This was signed on behalf
of the Provincial Government by William Smithe, Chief Commissioner of Lands
and Works, and by W. A. Baillie-Grohman, J. B. Fenwick, and Thomas Bate as
directors of the Kootenay Syndicate, whose address was 46 Queen Victoria Street,
London, England. A previous agreement between the Provincial Government and
the syndicate was dated September 7, 1885, and is to be found in "Return to an
Order of the House for a copy of the final agreement entered into by the Government with William Baillie-Grohman, in connection with the Kootenay Colonization
and Reclamation Scheme," British Columbia Sessional Papers . . . 1885,
Victoria, 1885, pp. 419-424.
(7) W. A. Baillie-Grohman, op. cit., pp. 262 ff. 8 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
Limited,8 never made a penny out of the scheme, and most of its grant
of 30,000 acres eventually reverted to the Crown for taxes. The Canal
Flats scheme was certainly not a success, and Baillie-Grohman suffered
much criticism at the time. However, his original concept was a sound
one, and if he had been permitted to divert the waters of the Kootenay
as he first proposed, the benefits would likely have been lasting. It
is ironical that a plan for control of the Upper Kootenay is again to
the fore, and an international joint commission is seriously studying the
possibility of regulating the flow of the river by a dam at Libby, Montana.
While Baillie-Grohman was thus attempting to develop the wilderness
by engineering, the valley was being opened up naturally by adventurous
prospectors and settlers. The year 1882, which saw the arrival of
Baillie-Grohman, was also the year of arrival of Francis Patrick Armstrong, the " father of navigation " in East Kootenay. This adventurous
young man was born in Sorel, Quebec, in 1862, a member of a prominent
Loyalist family that settled in Sorel after the revolutionary war. His
father was the Honourable James Armstrong, C.M.G., Chief Justice of
St. Lucia and Tobago; his grandfather, Captain Charles Logie Armstrong, was a St. Lawrence River pilot who, with his two brothers, had
fitted out three privateers in the War of 1812 to fight the Americans.
Frank Armstrong inherited much of the adventurous blood of his
ancestors, and his blithe and convivial spirit is still remembered with
much affection in East Kootenay.9
He joined the engineering staff of the Canadian Pacific Railway in
1881 and in the following year was one of the exploring party under
the Honourable Fred Aylmer which blazed a trail from Kicking Horse
Pass to Rogers Pass, at the summit of the Selkirks. During 1882
Armstrong first traversed the Columbia Valley from Golden (then
known as The Cache) to Cranbrook (then Joseph's Prairie). At this
time a half-breed named Baptiste Morigeau was the only pre-emptor
(8) This company was organized March 18, 1887, " to acquire lands in British
Columbia and certain water rights." See Thomas Skinner, The Stock Exchange
Year-book for 1894, London, 1894, p. 762. By 1894 Baillie-Grohman was no
longer a director of the company. For further details concerning this company
and its efforts to dispose of its rights to the Alberta and British Columbia Exploration Company (Limited) see British Columbia Sessional Papers . . . 1891,
pp. 502-508.
(9) J. B. Kerr, Biographical Dictionary of Well-known British Columbians,
Vancouver, 1890, pp. 86-87. See also J. P. Forde, "Armstrong, of the Upper
Columbia Valley," MS., Archives of B.C., and Norman Rankin, " Master of the
River," Canada Monthly, IX (1911), pp. 422-429. 1952 Steamboat Days 9
of land north of Wild Horse. Armstrong fell in love with the country, and on July 9, 1882, he recorded a claim for 320 acres on the
east shore of Columbia Lake, which is still known as Armstrong's
Range.10 In 1884 he decided to become a farmer, as he saw there were
prospects of making money supplying produce to the Canadian Pacific
Railway construction camps. He brought in seed-potatoes by pack-train
150 miles from Montana and sold his first crop for $140 a ton at Golden.
It is more than 100 miles from Columbia Lake to Golden, and to
transport his potatoes he whip-sawed lumber by the lake-shore and built
two bateaux. He thus gained his first knowledge of navigation of the
Upper Columbia.
At this period, bateaux had long been a familiar means of transportation on the rivers of Western America. They were flat-bottomed and
wide-beamed, averaged 30 to 40 feet in length, 6 feet in width, and 3
feet in depth, and could carry up to 10 tons of freight. Propulsion was
usually provided by four Indians rowing, two to a side. Small bateaux
are still used in some of the shallow British Columbia rivers.
Frank Armstrong was not one to be satisfied with such a primitive
conveyance, and in the winter of 1885 he decided to build a steamboat
for operation between Golden and Columbia Lake. There was good
reason for optimism. The last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway
was driven on November 7, 1885, and soon regular transcontinental
trains would be running. Already there was an influx of settlers into
the valley. Mails which heretofore had been brought 150 miles by
pack-train from Sandpoint, Idaho, via the Moyie Trail, would soon arrive
via Golden. There was also a revival of interest in the Wild Horse placer
mines. Armstrong was convinced that there would be enough business
to make a steamboat pay. He borrowed money from his family and
ordered a boiler and engines in the East. The engines, which were to see
many years of usage in various steamers on the Columbia, were a
curiosity even in 1885. They had been built in 1840 and were originally
in a catamaran ferry running from the Island of Montreal to the mainland
at Bout d'lsle. As late as 1920, those venerable engines were still doing
service on the Columbia in the steamer Nowitka.11
(10) Armstrong's pre-emption was preceded in 1882 by those of E. T. Johnston
on April 18 for 80 acres at the site of Wilmer and the Honourable F. W. Aylmer
on July 2 for 320 acres adjoining Johnston near the site of Athalmer.
(11) Captain F. P. Armstrong, "Thirty-four Years Steamboating on Upper
Columbia Comes to an End," Nelson Daily News, May 12, 1920. 10 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
There was no sawmill at Golden in 1885, so Armstrong found lumber
for his vessel from the remains of an old mill built at Donald by William
Mackenzie during railway-construction days. Since the plans for the
vessel were drawn in his head, there was more of utility than of beauty
about the first Duchess, pioneer of steamboat navigation on the Upper
Columbia. The boards that went into her construction were of all
thicknesses, so, all in all, the Duchess was no gem of marine architecture.
She has been described as " slab-sided," with immense superstructure
and projecting decks, and had very much the appearance of an exaggerated parlour match-box.12 Fortunately a picture of this odd craft
survives in Lees and Clutterbuck's A Ramble in British Columbia,™
which fully bears out the description. Her keel was laid on March 26,
1886; the boilers and machinery, which had arrived on the first through
train of the Canadian Pacific Railway, were fitted on May 8, and in June
she was ready to face the perils of the Columbia River.
Although the Columbia River between Golden and Lake Windermere,
a distance of 100 miles, is a comparatively sluggish stream, it holds many
perils for the unwary navigator in the shape of sand-bars, snags, shallows,
and sharp bends. Its main course alters with every spring freshet,
necessitating very specialized local knowledge. For the first 50 miles
above Golden the river is comparatively wide, averaging about 200 feet.
It makes countless twists and turns, and at one place, known as the " S,"
it forms a double horseshoe. To navigate these bends it was necessary
to tie hawsers to the shore and line up to them by capstan. The early
vessels had no steam capstans, and Captain E. N. Russell, who made his
first trip up-river in the Hyak in 1894, told the writer that the voyage
took a week, and he spent most of the time winding the capstan. He was
a passenger, but passengers were expected to work or swim. For sleeping
accommodation they rolled up in their blankets and slept on some hay.
About 50 miles above Golden there is a complete change in the
scenery. The valley widens to 12 or 15 miles, with but a solitary butte
in the centre known as Steamboat Mountain. After passing the mouth
of Toby Creek, near the village of Wilmer, the river becomes a very
small narrow stream, which in the early days teemed with salmon.
There were extensive salmon-spawning grounds in the gravel-beds of
(12) Norman Rankin, " Master of the River," loc. cit., p. 425.
(13) J. A. Lees and W. J. Clutterbuck, B.C. 1887: A Ramble in British
Columbia, London, 1888, p. 96. This illustration has been reproduced in this
Quarterly. Their comments regarding the Duchess are to be found on pp. 72-75,
95-97. 1952 Steamboat Days 11
the river where the Columbia empties from Lake Windermere, which in
the spawning season sometimes prevented steamers from entering the
lake because of the amount of gravel piled up by the fish. Similar
spawning-grounds existed at Sam's Landing, at the head of the lake.
Navigation was possible from April until October, but only by the
lightest-draught steamers.14 At other periods when the river was not
frozen, bateaux were used. After entering Lake Windermere the early
steamers called at the little village of Windermere on the east shore and
then proceeded to Sam's Landing.
It is recalled that during the construction of the Duchess, the Shuswap
tribe of Indians, living on Lake Windermere, heard of it and sent a
delegation to inspect her at Golden. The report that they brought back
was that is was absolutely a case of " white man's folly " and altogether
too big and clumsy to be handled by oars. One bright afternoon,
however, the Duchess appeared at Sam's Landing. The Indians and
half-breeds were astonished, but soon their enthusiasm broke bounds
and in a body of 500 they swooped down to welcome her and pulled her
over the salmon-flats on which she was temporarily stranded. Many years
later, the late Honourable R. Randolph Bruce said of Captain Armstrong: " He was the sort of man who never got stuck, no matter what
the obstacles. He bumped a lot of scenery on the Columbia, but he
always got through." Normally it took the steamboats about two days
to make the 100-mile trip up-river from Golden to Windermere, laying
up overnight, and less than a day to make the return trip down-river.
However, there were often exceptions, and in 1887 it took W. A.
Baillie-Grohman no less than twenty-three days to make the trip from
Golden to Lake Windermere in the Cline.15
There was little enough business for the Duchess in 1886, and in the
season she carried only 100 tons of freight and 220 passengers, so the
first year ended in a loss for the young skipper. Prospects for 1887
looked much better. There was a placer boom at Wild Horse, which
overnight had become a roaring camp. Threat of Indian disturbances
had led to the dispatch of a detachment of North West Mounted Police
under Major (later Sir) Sam Steele.16 Heavy freight rates were offered
(14) Navigation opened from Golden in the early days on the following
dates: Duchess, May 19, 1890; Pert, April 7, 1891; Hyak, March 30, 1892;
Hyak, April 27, 1893; and Hyak, April 11, 1894.
(15) W. A. Baillie-Grohman, op. cit., p. 272.
(16) Walter N. Sage, "The North-west Mounted Police and British Columbia,"
Pacific Historical Review, XVIII (1949), pp. 354-361. 12 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
on supplies brought in from Golden. A load of 2 tons in a bateau with
four men rowing, brought up-stream 100 miles in four days, paid $100
to $115, so many able-bodied men built bateaux at Golden and freighted
supplies to Canal Flats or down the Kootenay to Galbraith's Ferry, now
known as Fort Steele. Work also started on Baillie-Grohman's canal
project in 1887, further booming freight rates.
Among those who built bateaux for the river was Fred Wells, a young
prospector who had pre-empted a claim on Vermont Creek, a tributary
of the Spillamacheen, in 1884. He freighted on the river for several
years, and in 1887 built the Alert, a husky 50-foot bateau of selected
Coast fir and oak ribs with a capacity of 5 tons. Wells had formerly
served with the Royal Navy on the China Station, and he named the
Alert after a Yangtsze River gun-boat. She was fitted with engines and
paddles in 1890, renamed Pert, and ran for many years thereafter.17
Wells later became one of the most successful mining-men in this
The Duchess had bad luck in 1887. She ran into snags on July 7
while carrying a cargo of oats for the Mounted Police,18 sprang a leak
and was headed for a sand-bar at the head of Canyon Creek rapids but
(17) Information given to the writer by Fred Wells, Wells, B.C.
(18) Details of this incident are to be found in the annual report of Superintendent S. B. Steele, dated at Kootenay, B.C., December 1, 1887, as follows:—
" The steamer started for Columbia Lakes and it was reported to me that she
was not properly trimmed, and had a great deal of bilge water which should have
been pumped up before leaving. I was informed shortly afterwards that she had
capsized near Lang's Landing and that most of the light stores were floating down
the river. I sent men under an officer to endeavor to save some of it. They were
thus employed for several days, and succeeded in saving a great deal, but almost
everything recovered had been rendered useless by the water. A carload of oats
and all the officers' uniforms and many other valuable articles belonging to them
were destroyed. I sent some volunteers to assist Mr. Armstrong to raise his boat,
but up to the time of leaving nothing had been done.
" I engaged a small steamer belonging to J. C. Hayes, a merchant in Golden,
to freight stores for the division to the Columbia Lakes, at the usual rates of
freight, viz., one dollar per hundred. Mr. Armstrong had agreed to do it for
seventy-five cents per hundred, but there now being no competition I could not
make such terms with Hayes. . . . The steamboat ' Clive' [sic] taking some of
the dismounted men, and the rations and forage for the trip. Each mounted man
carried his dinner and forage for his horse. I arrived at the Hog Ranche at 5 p.m.,
expecting to find the steamer there as the distance was only 25 miles, but she did
not appear until after 10 p.m., the men and horses being all this time without
anything to eat. It appears that Hayes cupidity was too much for him, as he had
waited for some passengers.   .   .   . 1952 Steamboat Days 13
sank before reaching it. The passengers got off without much difficulty,
but the cargo was badly damaged. The steamer was raised with an
effort and in three weeks was running again, though a sad-looking
wreck.19 Thus the second season was as short financially as the first.
The first steam competition for the Duchess arrived on the river in
1887, provided by a remarkable craft called the Cline, built below
Golden by a man named Jack Hayes. No description of this deplorable
steamboat could better that of Baillie-Grohman, who had the misfortune
to travel in her.   He wrote:—
A scatterbrained young Canadian had been bitten with the idea of starting a
rival steamer, and he invested a few hundred dollars in buying up a square-ended
barge that had been used in the railway construction to drive piles. She was made
of four-inch planks, and was of the unwieldiest shape, i.e., about as broad as she
was long. Somewhere else he had picked up cheap an old upright boiler that had
once formed part of a Manitoba steam plough, and in another place he had
obtained at " old iron " prices the discarded machinery of a small river tug. These
three component parts of a steamer were awaiting the advent of a deus ex machina,
who could put them together, and make a steamer of them. This the skilled
mechanic I had, fortunately, brought out from Ontario to superintend the erection
of the sawmill proved to be, and by using a few parts of my sawmill machinery,
a unique " steamship " was patched together.
Nothing quite so odd as this pile-driver steam plough-sawmill combination
steamer has, I am very sure, ever navigated water, and as we took twenty-three
days to cover the hundred miles, our rate of progression can be easily calculated,
every minute of daylight being, of course, made use of. Her little boiler, that had
once careered about Manitoba wheatfields, had a fire-box constructed to take coal,
but as this article was unobtainable, we had to cut up sticks of wood to about the
size of grown-up toothpicks and soak them in coal oil or the fire simply refused to
generate steam. The boiler, in the absence of a suction pipe, was kept filled with
a hand bucket. . . . The huge planks out of which the Cline was constructed
made her " sit kinder heavy in the water," as the owner expressed himself, and as
" On the 3rd August, the ' Duchess' started for her first trip since being
raised.   ..."
Appendix F, " Report of the Commissioner of the North-west Mounted Police
Force, 1887," in Canada Sessional Papers, Session 1888 (Ottawa, 1888), No. 28,
pp. 53-55.   See also Victoria Colonist, July 26, 1887.
(19) ". . . we lunched on the Duchess (the larger of the two Columbia
steamers) with the captain, Mr. Armstrong, who was in all ways most obliging.
His craft presented a somewhat decrepit appearance, as about a fortnight before
our arrival she had been wrecked in the Columbia with a full cargo and some
passengers. They had managed to fish her up again out of about fourteen feet of
water, and she was now in steaming order, but her fittings and former smartness
had gone where other good things go. Her general aspect, in fact, was that of an
old canal-boat into which a travelling gipsy's van had been hastily crammed
without regard to its position or safety."   Lees and Clutterbuck, op. cit., p. 72. 14 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
there was no room on board the Cline, her chief load, the sawmill boiler, was
placed on a sort of raft and towed. The much rivetted interior of this boiler was
about the only dry place during most of those twenty-three nights, and I bagged
it for my sleeping quarters the very first day.   .   .   .
The funniest thing about the Cline was her steering. So uncompromisingly
square was her trough-like hull, that but for the little stern wheel at one end, it
would have been hard to tell which of her four sides was supposed to act as bow.
Her persistent desire was to go up the Columbia broadside on, hence this did not
matter so much. ... If the craft was a singular looking one, the river we were
on was but a counterpart to it. Such a variety of sand and mud banks, such an
array of snags, consisting of wholly or partially submerged tree trunks, lying with
the stream, and hence forming dangerous projections for crafts to impale themselves on when going up stream, had never been seen ... it was on the upper
part of the Columbia just below, and just above where the sportive Toby Creek
set all natural laws at defiance, that most of our twenty-three days were spent.
There, too, we did the most execution among the sandbanks and snags, and
I am sure those coming after us found many a well-known old mudbar shoved out
of position, many a veteran snag twisted from its well-known post of vantage; at
least if the vigour and frequency with which the broad-breasted Cline rammed
them, counted for anything. There was no fooling about it: with a full head of
steam we went at them, and the safety valve—but there, I won't say what we did
do with that self-same safety valve, assisted by a good coal oil fire, for I believe
there are such beings as steamboat inspectors. But presently even a 200 lb. pressure of steam and a ton pressure of western eloquence failed to secure a sufficiently
broad high-road through an obstinate old mudbar which stoutly refused to be
shoved on one side, and disputed with more might than right the freedom of the
highway. The Cline, and not the bar, was shoved aside by the current, and we got
stuck hard and fast in the clammy embrace of good stickfast Columbia mud. The
water looked, and felt, cold; snow was low down on the mountain side, and the
air was, to say the least, " chippy," but there was no choice. All of us, except the
engineer, who about that time gave extra attention to the old safety valve, had
to jump out into the water, which reached to our waists, and to prise the Cline
over the bar by means of long crowbars made from young trees on the bank. This
we had to repeat more than once, but presently this no longer sufficed, and we had
to make portages of her load, or, in other words, take out half of her load of bulky
machinery, &c, dump it on the bank, make a bold dash at the bar and shove the
lightened steam-trough over the obstructing bank by the sheer lifting power of eight
men, then unload what remained of the cargo above the bar and go back for the
first half, and repeat this steamer shoving ad infinitum. That the novelty of this
sport began presently to pall, need not be said, and by the time we did get to our
goal, I was quite of the same opinion one of my fellow sufferers had expressed
respecting the desirableness of forthwith ordering a glass case wherein to preserve
for all time the Cline, lock, stock, and barrel.20
Her career was short.    On her second trip up-river, loaded with
equipment for the Mounted Police, she sank near Spillimacheen, sadly
(20) W. A. Baillie-Grohman, op. cit., pp. 272-276. The Selkirk. The Marion at Halcyon, B.C.
_■____                       [ *
____k                         1
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[EHIll-fir-'     -r  y«
'| To   '     -'  " 'I
«m___S  _Ptj£_Sb*
1  \
The North Star. 1952 Steamboat Days 15
damaging a consignment of red uniforms. She was later raised, but it
is said that the engineer stole the whistle and important component parts
of the machinery, so that was the end of the Cline.21
Despite his early set-backs, Captain Armstrong persevered, and in
the winter of 1887 raised money to build two new steamers for the river.
The financial aid came chiefly from Lady Adela Cochrane, who, with her
husband, T. B. H. Cochrane, a cousin of the Earl of Dundonald, owned
a placer mine at Findlay Creek, south of Canal Flats. Their backing
enabled Armstrong to send to Victoria for Alexander Watson, a skilled
shipbuilder who constructed the majority of British Columbia river-
steamers during that era. Proper lumber was now available from the
new sawmill of the Golden Lumber Company, so the dilapidated old
Duchess was discarded. Her antique machinery went into a new Duchess,
81.6 feet long, which was launched in the spring of 1888. She was even
provided with such amenities as private cabins and a dining saloon, for
even at this early date Captain Armstrong had hopes of attracting tourists.
The little Marion, 61 feet long, was built at the same time as a low-
water consort. When full of cargo and passengers, she drew little more
than a foot of water. Accommodation aboard was primitive, as witnessed
by an early tourist in the valley, Mrs. Algernon St. Maur, later Duchess
of Somerset, who travelled in the Marion from Windermere to Golden
in the autumn of 1888 and wrote of her:—
. . . there is no cabin on the Marion. . . . There was a board roof or hurricane deck, with canvas hangings at the sides, which afforded some shelter against
the rain, which came down in torrents. The passengers sat shivering round the
funnel of the steamer, while the poor sick men were stretched out on blankets
amidships. The larger steamer The Duchess no longer runs on the river, as she
draws too much water. The Marion, therefore, a much smaller boat, has taken
her place, which the men say could float in a heavy dew.22
The career of the Marion on the Upper Columbia was brief, for in 1889
she was sent to Revelstoke on two flat cars. She did low-water service
between Revelstoke and Arrowhead until late in 1897, when she again
travelled overland to Kootenay Lake. There she operated on the Duncan
and Lardeau Rivers at the head of the lake, meeting her doom in the
mud of Howser Lake.23
(21) Information given to the writer by J. H. Taynton, Invermere, B.C.
(22) Mrs. Algernon St. Maur, Impressions of a Tenderfoot, London, 1890,
pp. 206-207.
(23) Not long ago the writer was surprised to find the name-board of the
Marion nailed to a cabin in the deserted village of Lardeau.
2 16 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
During the prosperous year 1888 Captain Armstrong carried 370
tons of freight and 685 passengers to south-east Kootenay points from
Golden. The freight rates ran from 33 cents per hundredweight for
lumber to $1.25 for whisky. The latter was a popular cargo, and it is
said that for many years the Columbia boats sailed up-river laden with
full whisky bottles and down-stream with the empties. For ore, $1 a ton
was charged from any river point to Golden. During high water the
Duchess or Marion ran twice a week between Golden and Columbia
Lake, about 113 miles, making stage connections at Canal Flats for
Fort Steele, Wild Horse, and Cranbrook. Passenger fare to Windermere
was $4.
The stretch of the Columbia River between Lake Windermere and
Columbia Lake is the most difficult to navigate on the river and could
only be used at extreme high water. Half-way between the two lakes
is a small shallow lake known as Mud Lake, or Adela Lake. From
Columbia Lake to Adela Lake there is a drop of 38 feet in a 4-mile
stretch, so that the river, here very narrow, is a series of rapids and
riffles. Freight destined for Fort Steele and southern points often had to
be portaged over this 4-mile stretch, with its snags and sand-bars.
Life at this period was still very primitive in East Kootenay and held
many aspects of the " Wild West" of romantic fiction. Although there
was never the lawlessness of American camps, able-bodied men usually
went about armed and there were many desperate characters about.
A place known as the Hog Ranche, about 24 miles above Golden, was
especially notorious as a hang-out for desperadoes. During railway-
construction days, liquor was forbidden in Golden and all railway
camps, so the Hog Ranche became a rendezvous of liquor smugglers.
Fort Steele was also a rough camp before the Mounted Police arrived,
and the late Teddie Warren, who arrived there in 1887, told the writer
that shots used to ring out at frequent intervals during the night as
drunken miners vented their high spirits. Wide-open poker games at
that time ran twenty-four hours a day. Another place famous for poker
games was Hanson's " roadhouse " at Wasa, described by J. H. Taynton
to the writer as " a hang-out for tough Swedes." Even quiet little
Windermere had its nights of revelry, as Mrs. St. Maur relates after an
experience at the Windermere Hotel in October, 1888:—
After we had gone to bed, there was too much noise to allow us to sleep, and the
drunken orgie [sic] ended in what they called a "Bull's Ball" in this country.
A fiddler arrived, about thirty men danced together, and the shuffling of feet and 1952 Steamboat Days 17
the talking and the laughing, and the reek of bad tobacco, disturbed us until an
early hour the next morning.24
To replace the Marion as a low-water boat, Captain Armstrong
purchased the bateau Alert in 1890, equipped her with a primitive engine
and side-wheels, and renamed her Pert. She ran for a year or so on
Columbia River before being sent to Columbia Lake. She was a " one-
man boat," under the command of a skipper-deckhand-engineer named
George Drake,25 universally known as " Dirty " Drake, whose career
later came to a doleful end. As a result of many complaints from
passengers, Captain Armstrong took him to Golden and ordered a barber
to give him a bath. The barber took one look at " Dirty," shuddered,
and said, " I dare not. The shock would kill him." But Captain
Armstrong was adamant and Drake was bathed, perhaps for the first
time in his life.   It was his last bath.   In a week he was dead!
There was a heavy flow of freight south to Canal Flats and Fort
Steele, but it proved extremely expensive and cumbersome to portage
across the 5-mile stretch from Adela to Columbia Lake. It occurred to
Captain Armstrong that a tramway might solve the problem. Accordingly, representations were made to the Government, a land subsidy was
promised, and in 1891 the Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway
Company was incorporated, with power to build a tramway from Golden
Station to the steamboat-landing on the Columbia River; from the west
shore of Mud (Adela) Lake to the north end of Columbia Lake; and
from the head of navigation on Columbia Lake to the Kootenay River.26
Finances for the ambitious project were supplied largely by the Coch-
ranes, the Honourable Frank Lascelles, son of the Earl of Harewood,
who had built a home at Columbia Lake, and Lord Norbury, who lived
at Tobacco Plains. Thomas B. H. Cochrane was president of the
company; J. F. Armstrong, of Golden, a brother of Captain Armstrong,
was secretary; and Captain Armstrong was manager.   Light rails were
(24) Mrs. Algernon St. Maur, op. cit., p. 205.
(25) Drake was the subject of a humorous poem in the Golden Era, July 1,
1893, which began:—
A story I'm about to relate,
Of a man who sails on Columbia Lake,
For energy and skill he's wide awake,
A real descendant from Admiral Drake.
(26) British Columbia, Statutes . . . 1891, Victoria, 1891, pp. 431-436;
chapter 50, "An Act to Incorporate the Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway
Company." 18 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
imported, and two of the tramways laid—one between Golden Station on
the Kicking Horse River and the steamboat-landing 2 miles away and the
other from Adela to Columbia Lake, a distance of 5 miles. Motive
power was a horse, pulling one or two cars. The passenger-car was of
the " observation" type, carrying about ten persons on each side.
Another car hauled the freight.
In addition to building the tramways, in 1892 the company added
another steamer to its fleet—the Hyak. She was smaller than the
Duchess and useful in low-water periods. She opened the 1893 season,
and early that year a traveller in the district described the transportation
system as follows:—
On May the 30th I started up the Columbia from Golden. ... It was the
first trip of the season for the Duchess. During the lay up she was thoroughly
overhauled, painted and carpeted nicely and in every way is a very comfortable
vessel. The Hyak, a smaller boat, had been making the trip since navigation
opened. . . . Captain F. P. Armstrong, the manager of the Upper Columbia
Navigation & Tramway Co., was at the wheel. He is one of the most energetic
little men I ever met. He is the pioneer steamboat man on this route. He built
the steamers himself, and operated them until a year or two ago, when a company
was formed. The steamboats and outfit owned by the company are valued at
Two events occurred in 1892 which were to be of great importance
to the Upper Kootenay Valley. These were the completion of the Great
Northern Railway and the discovery in June, by Joe Bourgeois, of the
North Star group of mineral claims. Completion of the Great Northern
brought rail connection with Fort Steele much closer than ever before.
No longer was it necessary to make the long overland pack trip from
Sandpoint, Idaho. Closest station on the new line was at Jennings,
Montana, on the Kootenay River about 130 miles below Fort Steele, a
stretch of the river known to be navigable. Discovery of an immense
body of galena ore on Mark Creek about 20 miles north-west of Fort
Steele brought a wave of optimism to the valley and a new mining boom
commenced.28 The North Star, which is now part of the fabulous
Sullivan property at Kimberley, was purchased in July, 1893, by Donald
(27) Golden Era, July 9, 1893.
(28) " During the past summer a most important discovery of an immense
body of steel galena was made near the St. Mary's River, about twenty miles northwest of Fort Steele. . . . Towards the end of September last the discoverers,
Messrs. Bourgeois and Langill, bonded the property to Messrs. Woods Bros., of
Quebec, who have since transferred four-fifths of their interest to Mr. D. D. Mann,
of Montreal." British Columbia, Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for
.   .   .   1892, Victoria, 1893, p. 538. (From Lees and Cluttsrbuck, A Ramble in British Columbia.)
The Duchess.  1952 Steamboat Days 19
Mann, later Sir Donald, and it was apparent that major development was
ahead.29 The most conveniently located smelters for handling the North
Star ore were on the Great Northern Une at Great Falls, Montana, or at
Everett, Washington, and it was obvious that there was a profitable
future for steamboats shipping ore down the river to the rail-head at
The Kootenay is not an easy river to navigate, for it is a rnuch more
turbulent stream than the Upper Columbia. A few miles above Jennings
is the " Elbow," or Jennings Canyon, which was to reap a heavy toll in
shipwrecks in the next few years. Below Jennings the river is navigable
to Libby, Montana, shortly above Kootenay Falls. North of Fort Steele
the Kootenay is navigable for a short period of high water as far as
Canal Flats, a trip which took two days for the 50 miles because of the
swift current.
In the winter of 1892 the first steamboat to navigate the Upper
Kootenay,30 the 92.5-foot Annerly,31 was built at Jennings, Montana, by
B. Walter Jones, a former Texas stockman who operated a general store
at Jennings, and Captain Harry S. DePuy. The Annerly started her
first trip north late in May, 1893, under command of Captain DePuy.
It was a hectic voyage, taking twelve days, and even then she was unable
to reach Fort Steele but was forced to dump freight and passengers at
Fenwick's Landing, some miles below. There was one woman passenger
aboard, Mrs. Johanna Quirk Cuffe, of Eureka, Montana, and she has
recorded her experience:—
Upon boarding the Annerly, I discovered I was the only woman passenger.
. . . The prospectors cooked their meals over a sheet of tin on a coal stove in
the middle of the boat. I ate at the Captain's table. . . . The men slept on the
floor; I slept in a curtained corner, on a mattress.   There were no cabins.
(29) British Columbia, Annual Report of the Minister of Mines for . . .
1893, Victoria, 1894, p. 1065. "The advantageous position of this mine, and
neighbouring properties, as regards water communication, can be seen by referring
to the annexed general sketch map of the District. . . . The mine is within
sixteen miles of the Kootenay River, on which there are at present two steamboats
running, one in connection with the Great Northern Railroad at Jennings, and the
other with the Canadian Pacific at Golden."
(30) The late B. R. Atkins, of Revelstoke, in " Columbia River Chronicles,"
Vancouver Province, April 8, 1922, stated: "To Mr. Hanson, of Wasa Creek, is
due the credit for bringing up the Kootenay in 1890, the first steamboat to the
Columbia head." The writer has been unable to find proof of any steamer on the
Kootenay River prior to the Annerly.
(31) The name Annerly was adopted to compliment Mrs. Annie McCracken,
wife of John McCracken, a partner with B. W. Jones in the general store. 20 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
A short way above Jennings we loaded wood at Doak's place. We continued
up to Elbow Canyon, where two rocks stuck up out of the turbulent water. A few
yards below the rocks, John Brown jumped ashore and carried a heavy cable
upstream. He fastened it to a large tree on the east bank. They wound up on the
windlass, pulling the boat across a narrow strong current, extra high in flood time.
Half way across, the cable broke! All was turmoil—noise—shouting—the engine
stopped! The current wheeled the boat around and headed it downstream, barely
missing the rocks along the bank on the east, and the two submerged rocks in the
river on the west. The boat drifted with the current for some distance before they
got the engine started and ran her aground on a sand bar. During this life-and-
death interval I hung grimly on to an upright pole in the middle of the deck, which
supported an overhead loft where freight was carried.
The deck of the Annerly was no more than a foot above the water line; there
was no wall on two wide doors (for loading wood). The rest of the ship was
walled, with windows for light; upright timbers supported the freight aloft. There
was no railing around the upper deck, except on the front part where the Captain's
wheel was and the windlass.
After three days repairing the boat, and waiting for the river to go down, we
were ready to try again. The river had dropped slightly so the point of the rocks
could be seen. This time most of the passengers walked up the west bank until
the danger spot should be passed but I stayed with the boat. The up-crossing was
successful and was wildly cheered by the passengers, who were high above us on
the west bank. The boat then put in to shore to pick up the hikers; they rested
here awhile, had lunch, and then continued up-stream.32
After this pioneer trip, B. W. Jones sent to Portland for Captain J. D.
Miller, one of the most highly experienced of western steamboat captains,
to take command.33 Under his able handling the Annerly was able to
maintain a fairly regular time-table, taking two and a half days to make
the trip up-stream from Jennings and eight hours to return.34 The run
down-stream with the current was a thriller, for the steamboats often
exceeded 16 miles an hour. Passenger traffic picked up with rumours of
rich mining discoveries in the Fort Steele area, and soon every trip of
(32) Olga Weydemeyer Johnson (ed.), The Story of the Tobacco Plains
Country, Caldwell, Idaho, 1950, pp. 78-79. This chapter was written by Mrs.
Guy Brock and a shorter version is to be found in her article " Steamboating on
the Kootenai," Spokane Spokesman-Review, January 2, 1949. The arrival of the
Annerly was noted in the Golden Era, June 3, 1893.
(33) Captain J. D. Miller in 1903 wrote his " Life and Travels," describing his
steamboat experiences on the Kootenay and other rivers. The MS. is in the
Library of Washington State College, Pullman, Washington. A portion of it was
published under the title " Early Oregon Scenes" in the Oregon Historical
Quarterly, XXXI (1930), pp. 55-68, 160-180, and 275-284, and concludes with
his taking command of the Annerly.   See also Golden Era, June 24, 1893.
(34) Ibid., June 24, 1893. 1952 Steamboat Days 21
the Annerly brought new prospectors from all sections of the adjoining
States. As business improved, the inevitable gamblers and honky-tonk
girls arrived to add to the amenities of civilization at Fort Steele.
Captain Frank Armstrong was not satisfied to see Americans reap
all the benefits of the mining boom, so he also began construction early
in 1893 of a steamboat at Hanson's Landing, or Wasa, 12 miles above
Fort Steele, on behalf of the Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway
Company. Wasa was a stage-coach stop and roadhouse on the Fort
Steele-Golden route, operated very profitably for many years by a Swede
named Nils Hanson, known locally as " Governor " Hanson. It was
hardly an ideal place to build a steamboat, for there was no sawmill to
provide lumber, no skilled workmen, and no tools or materials.
Armstrong persevered throughout the spring with a crew brought from
Golden, but the bad state of the roads prevented him bringing in
equipment.35 During the late summer the steamer was launched in an
uncompleted condition and christened Gwendoline, after Lady Gwendoline Rous, daughter of the Earl of Stradbroke, who was then staying
at Thunder Hill Ranch on Columbia Lake.
It is doubtful if the Gwendoline made any commercial voyages on
the Kootenay River in 1893, although she was advertised as being in
operation.36 Instead Captain Armstrong decided to take her north to
Golden, where there were excellent facilities to complete her at the
Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company's yards, adjoining
the sawmill of the Columbia River Lumber Company, then controlled
by Mackenzie and Mann. The Grohman canal at Canal Flats was in
no condition to be used by the Gwendoline, as the foreman in charge of
the property had been forced to blast open the gates of the locks in June
during high water to save the sawmill and hotel from flooding.37 But
Captain Armstrong was not one to be deterred by obstacles, least of all
(35) "The Armstrong steamer at Hanson's is getting along slowly owing to
the want of material—iron, etc., as they cannot be pushed forward on account
of the bad state of the roads."   Ibid., June 3, 1893.
(36) The advertisement began appearing in the Golden Era, June 24, 1893,
announcing the Gwendoline for the Kootenay River run. This same issue contained the following news item: " Capt. Armstrong and a party of ladies & gentlemen are expected on Saturday and will likely make a trip on the Co.'s new boat."
Nearly a month later [July 22, 1893] it was announced: "The Gwendoline made
a trip last Sunday and is looked for again daily." A fortnight later [August 5,
1893] the Gwendoline was being anxiously looked for and by this time may have
been taken over to the Columbia River.
(37) Ibid., June 10, 1893. 22 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
a mile and a half of more or less dry land. The Gwendoline was taken
to Canal Flats and partly dismantled, and the hull hauled on skids and
rollers to Columbia Lake, refitted and taken to Golden.38 That winter
the Gwendoline was completely reconstructed in a more workmanlike
manner to reappear on the Columbia River in May, 1894, a smart little
vessel 63.5 feet long.
It was still Captain Armstrong's intention to run her on the
Kootenay, and with this in mind he persuaded the Provincial authorities
to spend $2,500 in repairing the damaged Grohman canal to make it fit
for navigation. This was done during the spring, and on May 22, 1894,
the Gwendoline set out on a memorable voyage from Golden to Fort
Steele, the only time the passage was ever made from north to south,
up the Columbia and down the Kootenay. Fortunately the log of the
voyage, kept by Captain Armstrong, was published, and we are able to
glimpse some of the difficulties of the trip, unique in steamboat annals.
The following are excerpts from the log:—
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2 p.m.—Ready for sea. "All Aboard! shove her off boys."
Southerly breeze and fine weather.   .   .   .
Thursday 24th.—Transferring cargo to tramway [at Adela Lake].   .   .   .
10 a.m.   Left wharf.
10.5. Stuck in the mud. Hauled her through it by superhuman exertions and
at 1 p.m. reached the mouth of the river.39 After dinner made another start, but
found things very crooked, the river being tied up in knots and the bottom mostly
on top, which made navigation very difficult. From 4 till 7 p.m. only about one
hundred yards were negotiated when fuel gave out, and all hands took a rest and
cut wood.
8 to 10.   Made two lengths and went to bed.
Friday 25th.—At it early and after numerous trials and vicissitudes reached
the bridge40 at 2:10 p.m. ... It is doubtful if ever a bridge was demolished
and a new one erected in less time than it was here accomplished under the able
hands of our intelligent chief officer and staff. It took but a few minutes to clear
the way for the Gwen to pass through and then the work of reconstruction commenced and at 8 p.m. we left it completed and almost before the last blow of the
hammer was struck the Gwen sprang forward on the path of duty as if impatient
even at the short delay. . . . We now neared the Upper Lake rapidly where
a rock is known to exist in about midchannel, so a careful look out was kept and
every endeavor made to go safely around or through it. However, notwithstanding
all our nautical skill it nearly went through us, and the shock of discovery shot our
energetic chief far through space ahead of the boat and he disappeared from
(38) Information given to the writer by C. M. Edwards, Wasa.
(39) The outlet of Columbia River into Adela Lake.
(40) Bridge across the Columbia River near Dutch Creek. 1952 Steamboat Days 23
Having discovered the rock, the lake was entered, and under a full head of
steam we proceeded to the store at the tramway and re-shipped cargo, leaving
there at 11 p.m. and tied up at Oasis shortly after midnight.
Saturday 26th.—A little before 8 a.m. arrived at Canal Flats store where cargo
had again to be discharged to allow Gwen to get over some more stones before
reaching the Canal, which she ultimately did and passed through the lock at 9 p.m.
that night.
The Kootenay had commenced to rise and the canal being somewhat over
supplied with water had opened one or two safety valves on the west side above
the lock, and by the following morning the level country westward of the canal
was flooded from the Kootenay, rendering it a task of some difficulty to reship the
cargo. It was, however, successfully accomplished by 3 p.m. on Sunday, the 27th,
when the Gwen started to pass the canal and it was left behind at 5:15 p.m. and
the Kootenay entered.
Here there was no difficulty about getting along. It was a case of " Go you
must," the river being in real earnest; and two hours and three quarter's running
brought us to Hanson's landing where it was decided to remain for the night.
At daylight on Monday the 28th found the country there flooded. Started at
6:48 and arrived at Fort [Steele] soon after 8, having accomplished the passage
from Golden in the one steamer, the first time such a thing has been attempted.
Found all the low country about Fort Steele under water and that most of the
bridges in the neighborhood were impassable or destroyed.
Nothing had been heard of the Str. "Annerly " since her first trip this season
and it was presumed that she was unable to face the furious current in the canyon.41
The arrival of the Gwendoline at Fort Steele coincided with the great
flood of 1894, which did millions of dollars worth of damage in the
Province. All the Kootenay and Columbia River bridges, including
Fort Steele, Canal Flats, and Dutch Creek, were swept away, and the
canal was so badly washed out that it was henceforth considered useless,
although Captain Armstrong was to make another memorable passage
from south to north in 1902. Because of the extreme high water, little
use was made of either the Annerly or Gwendoline on the Kootenay
during the 1894 season, the former being laid up at Jennings at the end
of August after only a few trips.42
The navigation season was reopened in April, 1895, by a new low-
water screw steamer, the 77.5-foot Libby, built for Captain Tom Flowers
at Libby, Montana. Concerning her antecedents, W. E. Doak provides
the following amusing information:—
The next steamboat to make its appearance on the river was the Fool Hen,
built by Tom Flowers of Tobacco Plains. He must have built it in the dark of the
moon, for a decidedly able-bodied Jinx followed it from its launching. He built
the hull at Hansen's Landing, eight miles above Fort Steele, B.C., in 1894, floated
(41) Golden Era, June 9, 1894.
(42) Ibid., September 15, 1894. 24 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
it down to Libby43 where he installed an equipment of light steamboat machinery
which he had procured from a Bonners Ferry man in exchange for fifteen cayuses.
The machinery was too large for the hull, leaving no room for freight, but it surely
could travel.   .   .  .
The hull having been built on the British side of the line it transgressed the
U.S. navigation laws. Tom had to make a new deal, for Mr. Jones had reported
to Washington, D.C. authorities; the Fool Hen gave up the ghost. The machinery
was taken out and cached on the river bank at Tobacco Landing to await the
building of a new hull.
The new hull was built at Libby and named the steamer Libby. The next move
was to get the hull to the machinery. Accordingly he loaded a cayuse on the boat
with the necessary harness to hitch on a tow-line to help over the rapids, and with
the assistance of two or three men he managed after a very strenuous trip to
connect up and install the machinery. This time the hull was too large for the
machinery. . . . The Libby proved a failure, and was dismantled on the old
Hoodoo ranch two miles above Libby.**
Actually the Libby did make a trial run to Fort Steele late in October,
1894,45 and again in January, 1895, reached Tobacco Plains,46 but she
does not seem to have proved a success, for there is no record of her
reappearance after the 1895 season. Screw steamers were seldom
successful in river navigation.
During 1895 a 21-mile trail, known as the McGinty Trail, was built
from the North Star mine to a point on the Kootenay River 8 miles above
Fort Steele, known as North Star Landing. The first trial shipment of
50 tons of ore was taken to Jennings by steamer and shipped by rail
to the smelter at Everett, and during the winter of 1895 hundreds of tons
of ore were rawhided from the North Star mine to the landing. Storage-
sheds with a capacity of 6,000 tons of ore were built, and all indications
were that 1896 would be a bumper year for freight.
Since neither the Annerly nor the Gwendoline had much freight
capacity, plans were made by the rival companies to build new steamboats capable of handling the North Star cargoes. Contracts were signed
by the mining company for the shipment of 5,000 tons of ore in 1896,
(43) This probably explains the news item in the Golden Era, September 15,
1894: "The 'Kootenay Belle,' a light draught boat with Capt. Flowers will take
her [the Annerly's] place. She is having first class machinery put in her at Libby
(44) Olga W. Johnson, op. cit., p. 80.
(45) " The ' Lilly' [sic] a little steamer that is to run between Jennings and
this place [Fort Steele], came up to prospect the river. She brought no passengers
or freight and came thro' without any difficulty, after inspection she will run
regularly.   She draws very little water."   Golden Era, November 3, 1894.
(46) Ibid., January 12, 1895. 1952 Steamboat Days 25
of which the Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company was
to carry 2,000 tons and B. W. Jones's Upper Kootenay Navigation
Company was to handle 3,000 tons.47
Captain Armstrong, on behalf of the Upper Columbia Navigation
and Tramway Company, made a contract with Captain J. D. Miller to
superintend the building of a new steamer at Libby, Montana. Louis
Paquet of Portland, Oregon, one of the best-known shipbuilders of the
era, was brought to Libby to handle the job. This vessel, christened the
Ruth, after Captain Armstrong's daughter,48 was launched on April 23,
1896,49 and equipped with engines and boilers from the Idaho steamer
Metaline. She was 131 feet long, bigger than any vessel yet built in
East Kootenay, with a capacity of 100 tons of ore. The Ruth was
placed under American registry, so a new company was formed, called
the International Transportation Company, managed by Captain Armstrong and jointly owned by the Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company, Captain J. D. Miller, and Jim Wardner, who was then
building a new townsite at Wardner, south of Fort Steele.50
The Gwendoline was also rebuilt in 1896, her length being increased
to 98 feet.51 The Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company
thus had a continuous service 300 miles long, from Golden to Jennings—
from Golden to Adela Lake by the Duchess and Hyak; from Adela
Lake to Columbia Lake by tramway; across Columbia Lake by the
Pert; portage across Canal Flats; from Canal Flats to Fort Steele by
the Gwendoline; and from Fort Steele to Jennings by the Ruth. It
was hoped that some of the North Star ore might be shipped north to
Golden and thence by the Canadian Pacific Railway to the Trail smelter,
but the problems of navigation and transhipment were so great that the
American route was always preferred.
When the Annerly arrived at Fort Steele on May 25, 1896, under
the command of Captain I. B. Sanborn, on her maiden trip of the season
(47) Ibid., March 7, 1896; Fort Steele Prospector, January 4, 1896.
(48) Now Mrs. Ruth Horsey, of Victoria, B.C.
(49) The ceremony was witnessed by the superintendent and several officials
of the Great Northern Railway Company. The christening was performed by
Miss Schultz. Ibid., May 16, 1896. For information concerning the progress of
the building of the Ruth, see ibid., January 25, 1896; March 14, 1896; and Golden
Era, March 7, 1896.
(50) Fort Steele Prospector, March 14, 1896. For Wardner's account of his
association with this venture, see Jim Wardner, Jim Wardner of Wardner, Idaho,
New York, 1900, pp. 135-136.
(51) Fort Steele Prospector, March 14, 1896 26 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
from Jennings, she was greeted in rapturous western style by the citizens.
Said the Fort Steele Prospector:—
On Monday last, the whistle of the steamer Annerly was heard as she rounded
the Wild Horse bar, and almost everybody in town went to the river to see, and
welcome the first boat of the season. As the boat steamed up to the landing she
was welcomed by a noisy demonstration, a salute was fired from a 12 bore by
Tom Rae, and many others emptied their revolvers, in honor of the first arrival.52
Two days later the Ruth, commanded by Captain Miller, arrived on
her maiden trip and proceeded to North Star Landing to load 70 tons
of ore.53 In June the first church bell to be heard in Fort Steele arrived
aboard the Gwendoline, ringing merrily as the steamer came down-river
from Canal Flats.
" The sound of the church going bell these rocks and valleys never heard,"
until the arrival of the new bell on the steamer Gwendoline, Capt Armstrong had
the bell placed in position so that it would ring, and as the steamer approached
Fort Steele its silver tone announced its presence.54
Meanwhile the new 124-foot steamer Rustler had been completed
at Jennings for the Upper Kootenay Navigation Company and arrived
at Fort Steele in June under command of Captain H. S. DePuy.55 She
had capacity for 125 tons of freight, but her career was short, for on
July 12 she was totally wrecked in Jennings Canyon. A graphic account
of the shipwreck is given in a letter written by one of the passengers,
Sister Cassilda of St. Mary's Mission, dated at Jennings, July 12,
Today at about half-past-one ... the Rustler started through the canyon, the
water was too swift, the captain lost control of the boat and it went down full
speed and struck on a large rock in the middle of the canyon. Almost half of the
bottom was knocked out and the water was coming in fast. ... It was such
a terrible sight to be in that canyon on the rocks and the water rushing by so
furiously that really I cannot begin to describe it. The Annerly passed before us
and was about a mile below the canyon when we were wrecked, the captain gave
the cry of distress and the Annerly turned and came to our help at once which was
not a minute too soon. Our boat was already filled up with water down stairs and
turning over. We went down a ladder and were not more than five minutes in the
Annerly when the Rustler was in pieces and five more minutes and it was all under
water. We had to get away as fast as we could the pieces of the broken boat came
down so fast that they would upset our boat.   Mr. Jones was the first to meet me
(52) Ibid., May 30, 1896.
(53) Ibid.
(54) Ibid., June 27, 1896.
(55) Ibid., June 6 and 27, 1896. B. W. Jones announced his intention of
building a new steamboat early in the year. See ibid., January 4, 11, and February
8, 1896. The Duchess, second of that name. i 'frflfl-l        - - -> -
3 fev^ j
1      1
i*^T ...
" "^Kpv
The Annerley near Fort Steele, B.C. 1952 Steamboat Days 27
at the ladder and put me on his boat. I will never forget how he looked at me
when he saw me standing on the wrecked boat.S6
After throwing out her boiler and 60 tons of ore, the Rustler lodged on
an island three-quarters of a mile down-stream, where she remained
until late October, when Captain I. B. Sanborn of the Ruth removed
her machinery. Following this disaster, the Upper Kootenay Navigation Company sold out its interests to Armstrong's International Transportation Company, who dismantled the Annerly and removed her
The latter company now had the monopoly of the river, and extensive plans were made to take advantage of the expected boom year of
1897. A contract was signed with the North Star Company to handle
5,000 tons of high-grade ore during the season, so a new steamer, the
North Star, was ordered to be built at Jennings by Louis Paquet with
more ore capacity than the Ruth. The 1897 season of navigation opened
at Fort Steele with the arrival of the Gwendoline from Jennings on
April 27, to be greeted by the customary noisy salute:—
Tuesday was a day of excitement and bustle in town and every inhabitant who
could was either on the bluff overlooking the river or at the bridge to welcome the
" Gwendolyn " [sic], the first steamer of the season. Gaily she came up the river
decked with flags floating in the bright sunshine, and as she neared the town she
was fittingly received by a voluntary salute of twenty-one guns.58
Despite the fact that on her next trip the entire crew of ten of the
Gwendoline caught the gold fever and deserted for the mines,59 she and
the Ruth, which made her first appearance for the season on May 3,
were kept running to capacity and were coining a fortune for their
owners when disaster suddenly struck. On May 7 both vessels, laden
down with ore, were wrecked below Jennings Canyon, about 100 yards
from the scene of the Rustler's doom. First to strike was the Ruth,
commanded by Captain I. B. Sanborn, with 80 tons of ore and sixteen
passengers aboard.   A log caught in her wheel and she became uncon-
(56) Ibid., July 25, 1896. The story of this disaster as related by the wife of
Captain Sanborn to W. E. Doak is reproduced in Olga W. Johnson, op. cit.,
pp. 87-88.
(57) James D. Miller, MS. " Life and Travels." The Fort Steele Prospector,
November 14, 1896, reported the sale of the Annerly and the wharf at Jennings to
N. M. Curran, manager of the North Star mine, for $1,000, and of the engines
and boilers and hull of the Rustler for $400. Early in 1897 Captain Armstrong
acquired the mining company's interests in the steamboat.    Ibid., January 23, 1897.
(58) Ibid., May 1, 1897.
(59) Ibid., May 8, 1897. 28 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
(Tollable. Swung around by the current, she crashed against the rocks
and was rent asunder. Passengers and crew were able to scramble
aboard the rocks. Captain Armstrong's own description of the wreck
of the Gwendoline, which piled up on top of the Ruth, gives a most
graphic description of the perils of steamboating in inland waters:—
Arrived at the head of the canyon, there was no Ruth in sight although the
water was at a dangerous stage, as shown by a rock, over which it was breaking
white—my own danger signal. Still if he could do it with the larger boat, I could,
and down we went. I must explain that the canyon forms an elbow seventy feet
wide at the narrowest point. About 400 feet below were two big rocks, since
removed. The water follows the left bank, but is so piled up against it that a large
vessel cannot follow it, her own gravity making her slide off to the right and so
onto the rocks.
Our way to negotiate the place was to stop the engines before we got to the
elbow, and start backing as soon as we were abreast of it. That would throw the
stern into the eddy under the point, her bow would sweep away from the right
bank, and by giving " full speed ahead " while still heading for the rocks, the
current would take us past them into smooth water. We carried on according to
program, until we reached the elbow, when Slade, who was at my side, cried:
" There's the Ruth! " She surely was there! Her nose was on one of the rocks,
and her wheel near the right bank; she blocked the channel as completely as did
the Vindictive at Zeebrugge.
There was nothing for it but go full speed ahead and try to make the channel
on the left of the rocks—where the bit of water was going. I gave the signal to
the engineer, adding a private one of my own that meant " Give her all you've
got"—but she didn't make it quite. Her head swung past, but she struck amidships, partly on the rocks and partly on the foredeck, with a great portion of her
starboard side torn away. What with the crashing of timber, hissing of broken
steam pipes, roar of the water, the din was tremendous.
My first thought was naturally for the boat, and I got all hands dumping over
the cargo, thus relieving her of a great deal of the strain. The current held us
tightly on the rock, so that there was no chance of sliding into deep water. To
make a long story short, we were able a couple of days afterward, thanks to a
drop in the water, to bulkhead between the sides and solid keelson and so float her
to a nearby beach.
The Ruth's finish must have been equally exciting. It appears that when the
engines were stopped above the elbow and they began to back the boat into the
eddy, the wheel picked up a log which jammed the wheel dead. As it takes only
eleven seconds to drift from the elbow to the rocks, there was no time to do anything, and she went straight to her doom. The passengers and crew were gathered
forward, but the engineer had a lively run for it. She struck head on. Her stem
was smashed in, and the foredeck climbed the rock, making a landing stage, as it
were, for the passengers. There seems to have been a good deal of panic, and for
a time, danger that some of them would be crowded off the rock which was not
big enough to hold the whole crowd—some seventy all told.   After the boat struck, 1952 Steamboat Days 29
she swung across the stream and no wonder those standing on the foredeck sought
something more stable.6"
Less than a month after the disaster the Gwendoline was patched up
and ready for service again,61 and she was soon joined by the new North
Star, 130 feet long.62 It was none too soon, for Fort Steele was now
at the peak of its boom, with 2,000 prospectors in the hills, supplies
could not be delivered fast enough. The town of Jennings was full of
miners camped in tents awaiting transportation, the hotels were packed,
and there were twelve or more cars of merchandise awaiting shipment
to Fort Steele. The North Star arrived at Fort Steele on her maiden
trip on June 27, making the remarkably fast time of thirty-one hours,
under command of Captain J. D. Miller. She was described as " a beautiful specimen of the swift water craft" and " a model of light steamboats."63
With the Gwendoline and North Star making four trips a week, the
profits rolled up and consequently attracted the inevitable opposition.
A new company, called the Kootenay River Transportation Company,
was formed by Captain M. L. McCormack, who had held commands
on the Mississippi, Minnesota, St. Croix, and Red River of the North.
Capital was raised among Spokane mining-men and skilled shipwrights
were brought from Stillwater, Minnesota, to build a new steamer just
above Jennings, which was launched in November as the /. D. Farrell,64
after one of the backers, a Spokane mining magnate.
(60) This account was written by Captain Armstrong many years after the
event first appeared in the Nelson Daily News and is reprinted in Olga W. Johnson,
op. cit., pp. 81-82. A variant of the story appeared in the Spokane Spokesman-
Review, January 2, 1949, in an article entitled " Steamboating on the Kootenai,"
by Mrs. Guy Brock. An eye-witness account by J. F. Harris, one of those aboard
the Ruth, was published in the Spokesman-Review and reproduced in Jim Wardner,
op. cit., pp. 137-139. The Fort Steele Prospector, May 15, 1897, carried an eyewitness account by Peter Desormeau, a crew member of the Gwendoline. See also
account in Victoria Colonist, May 12, 1897.
(61) Fort Steele Prospector, June 5, 1897. Shortly after the disaster it was
rumoured that Captain Armstrong planned to put the Annerly back into commission.   Ibid., May 15, 1897.
(62) For reminiscences concerning the North Star by one of its builders, Lon
McGill, see Olga W. Johnson, op. cit., pp. 84-87. The machinery for this steamer
came from the old City of Salem.
(63) Fort Steele Prospector, July 3, 1897.
(64) See J. D. Miller MS., " Life and Travels "; also Olga W. Johnson, op. cit.,
p. 88. 30 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
On western rivers it was the ideal of every steamboat-owner to
create and maintain a monopoly, always, of course, at the expense of
the public. When a rival appeared, it was the custom to try to buy
him off the river or else to make some sort of a " deal" to mutual
advantage. With big profits foreseen for the year 1898, the rival
steamboat companies on the Kootenay decided to pool their freight
earnings rather than indulge in ruinous competition. Under a deal
made in April, 1898, the North Star and Gwendoline were to get three-
fifths of the gross earnings, while the /. D. Farrell was to get two-fifths,
each company to pay its own running expenses. Passenger fares were
not to be divided, and if a boat was disabled, she was not to receive
any share of the business done by either of the other boats.
So eager was Captain McCormack to get the cream of the passenger
trade for the /. D. Farrell, in advance of his rivals, that he set out from
Jennings on April 16, heavily loaded with freight, before the river had
risen sufficiently high to float the steamer across the bars. As a consequence, she took twelve wearisome days to reach Fort Steele. It was
said of the trip that the /. D. Farrell was on every bar between Jennings
and Fort Steele, and the bar on the boat was the first to give out. She
was aground on one bar 5 miles below Elk River for five days. Supplies
(notably whisky) ran out, and these had to be packed to the boat by
horses from Tobacco Plains.65 On her arrival at Fort Steele on April
28, which opened navigation for the season, the paddle-wheels of the
/. D. Farrell were worn out from threshing the bottom of the Kootenay
River. She was a handsome vessel and introduced such luxuries to
the river as electric light and bathrooms. She was greeted by a salute
of dynamite sticks from the joyous populace while the Fort Steele Brass
Band played lively airs from the bridge over the river and later from
the steamer's deck.66
Another steamboat was launched in East Kootenay water on April
27, 1898, at Moyie City on Moyie Lake, where no steamer had yet
appeared. She was a screw steamer, 50 feet long, called the Echo.61
Projected in the summer of 1897 by Captains Armstrong and Sanborn,68
construction of her had been started by Captain Sanborn during the
winter.69   Both of these skippers, however, went to the Yukon, lured
(65) See J. D. Miller MS.
(66) Fort Steele Prospector, April 30, 1898.
(67) Moyie City Leader, April 30, 1898.
(68) Fort Steele Prospector, July 31, 1897.
(69) Ibid., October 16 and December 4, 1897. 1952 Steamboat Days 31
by the Klondike excitement,70 so the vessel was sold to Moyie merchants,
who completed her.71 Moyie was booming from the rich St. Eugene
mine and construction of the Crowsnest branch of the Canadian Pacific
Railway, which was being rapidly pushed through from Crowsnest Pass
to Kootenay Lake. The Echo, under command of Captain Edward
Ward, plied Moyie Lake for two seasons between the now-extinct village of Swansea and Moyie City. She ran profitably carrying supplies
and railway equipment until the completion of the Crowsnest line ended
her usefulness.
The year 1898 marked the end of the prosperity of the Kootenay
River steamboat trade and the end of the Fort Steele boom. The
expected fabulous wealth of the Fort Steele goldfields proved a myth,
and thousands of disappointed prospectors drifted away to the Klondike72 or other eldorados. The new Crowsnest Pass railway by-passed
Fort Steele entirely, so no longer was it the mercantile capital of East
Kootenay. With the construction of a branch railway from Kimberley
to Cranbrook, North Star ore was henceforth taken to the smelter at
Trail by train, and no longer were there cargoes for the river-boats
running south to Jennings. Eventually Fort Steele even lost its Government offices to Cranbrook, and to-day it is a western ghost town.
The sad tale of accidents on the Kootenay River continued during
the 1898 season. In April the North Star, bound north under command
of Captain J. D. Miller, with $30,000 worth of whisky and supplies for
the Fort Steele Mercantile Company, struck the rocks in Jennings Canyon
and knocked a hole in her starboard side big enough to put a wagon
through. Captain Miller beached her on a sand-bar, got the cargo off,
repaired her as she lay, and had her back on the run in a week.73 The
7. D. Farrell was less fortunate.    On June 4, on her seventh trip down,
(70) Ibid., January 15 and March 5, 1898.
(71) These were G. Campbell and A. T. Clark, of Moyie City, and Charles
Theis, of Fort Steele, who had also acquired Armstrong's interests in the North
Star and J. D. Farrell when Captain Armstrong went to the Klondike. Ibid.,
May 7, 1898, and J. D. Miller MS.
(72) This exodus and the optimism of the Kootenay country is reflected in
the following lines of doggerel published in the Fort Steele Prospector, February
26, 1898:—
Kootenay was Kootenay
When Yukon was a pup,
And Kootenay will be Kootenay still
When Yukon's busted up.
(73) Ibid., May 7, 1898. 32 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
she ran into a hurricane in the canyon. The wind caught the boat aft
and veered her enough to bring her stern against the rocks, stoving a hole
in the side. Captain McCormack had barely time to bring her below the
canyon to the shallows, where the passengers landed, when she sank out
of sight, except for her pilot-house. There she lay for most of the rest
of the season, until she could be salvaged at low water.74 She made
three trips after she was raised, but she hardly paid expenses. Laid up
at Jennings, she never turned a wheel again until 1901, so she was a
heavy loss to her owners. The Gwendoline and North Star ran profitably
until October, by which time the Crowsnest trains were running to
Wardner on the Kootenay River and the boom days of steamboating on
the river were ended. They were laid up at Jennings and did not operate
the next season.
In 1899 there was a report that Captain Miller had been examining
the Canal Flats region with a view to bringing the Gwendoline over the
land between the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers in order to permit
operating her on the Columbia River.75 There was also a proposal that
the Gwendoline should be taken to Kootenay Lake and operated on the
Lardeau River. C. M. Edwards states that she was loaded on flat cars
at Jennings and launched in the Kootenay again below Kootenay Falls,76
from which point the river is navigable to Kootenay Lake. This is substantiated by the following news item in the Golden Era:—
The Gwendoline was wrecked a few days ago by running on a rock in the
Kootenay River near Bonner's Ferry. ... At the time of the disaster the
Gwendoline was on the way to Kootenay Lake where it was intended she should
join the trading fleet.7?
Meanwhile business continued on a fairly profitable basis on the
Upper Columbia, where the Duchess and Hyak plied with fair regularity.
The Hyak was an extremely narrow shallow-draught vessel, 81 feet long,
built in 1892 at Golden for operation at low water in the spring and
autumn when the Duchess was unable to run. So narrow was the
Hyak—only 11.2 feet amidships—that crew members working the capstans on the forecastle often found themselves suspended over the river
while they hung on to the capstan bars for dear life.
(74) Ibid., June 11, 1898.
(75) Golden Era, April 14, 1899.
(76) Letter from C. M. Edwards to the writer, dated July 9, 1948.
(77) Golden Era, June 30, 1899. This tends to substantiate, at least partially,
the story given by Mrs. Guy Brock that the Gwendoline rolled off the flat cars a
few miles below Libby and was hopelessly broken in the canyon as she was being
transported to the Kootenay Lake.    Olga W. Johnson, op. cit., p. 89. 1952 Steamboat Days 33
Navigation was much improved by the launching in April, 1893,
of a new Government steam dredge from the Upper Columbia Navigation Company's yard at Golden. This vessel did much to deepen the
dangerous sand-bars, build wing-dams at strategic points along the river,
and remove snags and other perils to navigation. As a consequence,
not only was it made possible for larger vessels to operate on the river,
but freight capacity was increased and it became possible to push barges
as well. After the river improvements the boats loaded as a rule to a
depth of 2 feet, or 2V_ feet in high water, pushing barges to a depth of
2 feet. In later years, side-channels were closed and the water further
confined, so it became possible for steamers to push three or four barges
at a time, up to a total length of 250 feet.
During the season of 1897 the Upper Columbia Navigation and
Tramway Company indulged in an enterprise which has won it some
fame in philatelic annals—the issue of its own private postage stamps.
It was customary for the river-boats to make calls on the Columbia
wherever a signal was hoisted on the bank. The bow would be run up
on the shore and a dozen eggs collected or a message delivered. Prior
to 1897 the company had the mail contract for the route, but in that
year the stage-coaches took over the mail run. Settlers persisted in then-
old habit of signalling the boats to stop in order to hand over a letter
for posting at Golden or points en route. This practice soon became
a nuisance to the company, and, as a remedy, C. H. Parson, then secretary of the company, arranged for the transportation of letters by the
company's steamers for a fixed fee, with prepayment required. In 1897
he ordered a lot of a thousand stamps to be printed, valued at 5 cents
each or $1 a sheet. These stamps were about the size and shape of an
ordinary postage stamp, with the letters " U.C.Co 5c." printed in red,
outlined by a wreath of leaves in red. A few of these were sold to settlers
and were actually used on mail. However, the Dominion postal authorities soon became aware that the company was violating the Government
monopoly on the issue of postage stamps, and the practice ceased. A few
of the rare Upper Columbia postal covers still exist and are among the
most prized philatelic curiosities. The only other private letter post
known to have existed in Canada was also in British Columbia, where
Barnard's famous Cariboo Express issued their own franks during the
Cariboo gold-rush days.78
(78) For details on this stamp issue see H. Warren K. Hale, " Canadian
Locals," BNA Topics (official publication of the British North America Philatelic
Society) III (1946). 34 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
During the seasons of 1898 and 1899 the lure of adventure far afield
called away from the Upper Columbia many of the experienced
steamboat-men and shipwrights. Mackenzie and Mann (Sir William
Mackenzie and Sir Donald Mann), who were largely interested in the
Columbia River Lumber Company and the North Star mine, in 1897
received a Federal charter to build the Cassiar Central Railway, linking
Telegraph Creek on the Stikine River with Teslin Lake and the Hoota-
linqua River in Northern British Columbia. It was planned that an
all-Canadian rail and steamboat route to the Klondike goldfields would
thus be provided. To handle the steamboat portion of the route, Mackenzie and Mann formed the Teslin Transportation Company, with
Captain F. P. Armstrong as manager. In February, 1898, he left for
Wrangell with an expedition of fifty men and 60 tons of machinery and
supplies, which were packed into the Stikine River, where the 120-foot
steamer Mono was launched in the spring. The majority of the men in
this expedition came from Golden and had connection with either the
Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company or the Columbia
River Lumber Company. Unfortunately, the Cassiar Central Railway
scheme came to a sudden end when the Mackenzie and Mann charter
was revoked by the Senate.79 The Mono was wrecked near Wrangell,
while bound for St. Michael's, at the mouth of the Yukon River, and the
Golden party found themselves jobless. Captain Armstrong, however,
joined forces with Captain John Irving, most famous of West Coast
steamboat-men, and for two seasons commanded steamers on Tagish
Lake, on the Lake Bennett-Atlin route, for the John Irving Navigation
On the Upper Columbia River a new steamer arrived in 1899—the
Utile 62-foot sternwheeler Selkirk—brought overland from the Thompson
River on two flat cars and launched into the Columbia at Golden. This
vessel had been built in 1895 at Kamloops by Alexander Watson for
H. E. Forster, who used her privately on Kamloops Lake and Shuswap
Lake. Subsequently, he acquired mining property in the Upper
Columbia Valley and built a home at Firlands, opposite Sinclair Canyon.
The Selkirk was brought over in April80 and repairs undertaken by
E. Fletcher, which were completed in time for her launching on May 26.81
(79) Details on the Cassiar Central Railway are to be found in John W. Dafoe,
Clifford Sifton in Relation to His Times, Toronto, 1931, pp. 151-188.
(80) Golden Era, April 14, 1899.
(81) Ibid., April 28 and June 2, 1899. 1952 Steamboat Days 35
She made her first run on July 6,82 and was used thereafter for many
years carrying ore and as a private pleasure boat. From 1912 to 1917
Mr. Forster was the district's representative in the Provincial Legislature.
In later years he was brutally murdered, along with a friend, when shot
by an Indian at his home at Number Five Creek.83
After the completion of the Crowsnest Pass branch line in 1898,
the Upper Columbia steamers no longer ran south of Lake Windermere,
for south-east Kootenay traffic was now handled by the railway. The
tramway-line at Adela Lake was abandoned, and the little Pert withdrawn
from service on Columbia Lake. Her hull was purchased by Captain
Alexander Blakley, who constructed a new screw-propelled Pert, also
known as the City of Windermere, at Golden in 1899.84 He operated her
until 1903, chiefly towing logs across Lake Windermere and as a low-water
boat on the river in opposition to the Hyak. Captain Blakley, who began
his steamboating career on Lake Huron, remained a prominent Columbia
River pilot and shipbuilder until his death in 1913.85
A revival of mining in 1901 in the Columbia Valley gave a new
impetus to the declining fortunes of the steamboats. Several silver-lead-
zinc properties went into production, notably the Silver Giant at Spilla-
macheen and the Paradise at Spring Creek, a tributary of Toby Creek.
During the winter months, ore was sacked at the mines, rawhided down
the mountain trails, and taken by sleigh to the riverside, usually by
Captain Armstrong, under contract. When navigation opened in the
spring, the ore was shipped by steamboat to rail-head at Golden and
then delivered at the Trail smelter. The Paradise mine, most prosperous
of Columbia Valley properties, made its first shipment of ore in 1901,
following the building of a wagon-road from the town of Peterborough
(now Wilmer) up Toby Creek 11 miles to Jackpine at the mouth of
Spring Creek. During the winter of 1900-01 the first 1,000 tons of ore
were delivered at Peterborough Landing, to be picked up by the Duchess
in the spring.86
There was also a temporary revival of steamboating on the Upper
Kootenay River in 1901.   In June the Great Northern Railway began
(82) Ibid., July 8, 1899.   The Selkirk opened the navigation season of 1900.
Ibid., April 13, 1900.
(83) Vancouver Sun, October 4, 1940.
(84) Golden Era, June 30, 1899.
(85) Golden Star, October 25, 1913.
(86) Cranbrook Herald, July 4, 1901. 36 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
a new branch line to tap the coal wealth of Fernie,87 which followed the
Kootenay River north from the main fine to the boundary. In order to
carry men and supplies to construction camps along the river, the contractors, A. Guthrie & Company, purchased the /. D. Farrell for $6,000
and took the North Star on charter. Captain J. D. Miller took command
of the /. D. Farrell and Captain G. I. Evans of the North Star. After
the latter had run the North Star aground on White's Bar and knocked
some holes in her, Captain Miller took over the command, and his son,
Captain Charles S. Miller, assumed command of the /. D. Farrell.88
On the completion of the railway the contractors had no further use for
the steamers, so the /. D. Farrell was laid up89 and the Millers sold their
minority interest in the North Star to Captain Armstrong on behalf of
the Upper Columbia Navigation Company.
In the early summer of 1902 Captain Armstrong brought the North
Star up from her winter quarters at White's Landing to Fort Steele,90 and
decided to attempt to take her through the old Grohman canal into the
Upper Columbia River, where he hoped to put her in the ore trade.
This project was one to tax the ingenuity of even the most optimistic of
steamboat-men, for the canal was in a deplorable state, having been
partly filled in and abandoned since the flood of 1894. In addition, the
stretch of water between Columbia Lake and Lake Windermere had not
been kept open for navigation. It was full of snags and riffles, and the
low-level bridge near Dutch Creek had no lift-span. The size of the
North Star seemed an even more insurmountable difficulty. She was
130 feet long, nearly twice the size of the little Gwendoline, which passed
through the canal in 1894, yet the lock itself was only 100 feet long.
No steamer the size of the North Star had yet attempted to navigate the
narrow twisting Upper Columbia River.
Captain Armstrong was equal to the difficulties as they arose. Early
in the spring he took a crew of men to Canal Flats to clear away obstructions in preparation for high water.91 At last, when he considered the
river at the right level for the voyage, on June 4, 1902, he cleared the
North Star from Fort Steele to Golden.92  Passage of the steamboat
(87) Fort Steele Prospector, June 29, 1901.
(88) Details from the J. D. Miller MS.
(89) Later she was taken apart, shipped west, and rebuilt on Lake Pend
d'Oreille.   Olga W. Johnson, op. cit., p. 89.
(90) Wilmer Outcrop, May 15 and 22, 1902.
(91) Canterbury Outcrop, April 3, 1902.
(92) Fort Steele Prospector, June 7, 1902. 1952 Steamboat Days 37
through the Grohman canal took two weeks of toil and completed for all
time the destruction of that unhappy public work. The vessel proved
9 inches too wide, as well as too long, for the lock, so Captain Armstrong
cut off the guard-rails of the steamer. Then he tried hacking down the
lock gates, and eventually burned them. In their place he built two
dams fore and aft of the North Star, made with ore sacks filled with
sand. An artificial lock was thus created, long enough to float the
steamer, and at the same time strong enough to keep the Kootenay from
running wild into the Columbia. His next step was to blow up the
forward dam with dynamite, and the North Star passed triumphantly
through on the flood, battered and scarred, but hooting and tooting and
waking the echoes from the mountains as she steamed down Columbia
Lake.93 The difficulties were not over, for the vessel had to be squeezed
down the rapid and shallow stretch of the Columbia between Columbia
Lake and Lake Windermere, and many new scrapes and scars were
added to the North Star's battered hull. In the course of the passage
a tree crashed through the cabin, narrowly missing the captain's little
daughter, Ruth. As for the low-level bridge near Dutch Creek, Captain
Armstrong met this obstruction with his usual ingenuity. He built a
" sheer-legs " on the bank, lifted the span up bodily with power from
the ship's steam capstan, passed under the span, and then replaced it.
It was like lifting oneself by one's own boot-straps.
At Adela Lake (Mud Lake) the North Star halted while her crew
pulled up the abandoned tramway rails, which were loaded on the
steamer and later shipped to the Paradise mine, where they still do duty.
Finally, on July 1, 1902, the steamer sailed down Lake Windermere to
be greeted enthusiastically on all sides.
There was a ring of harmony and melody and it might well be said enterprise
in the great voice of the steamer North Star as it sailed down from the head of
Windermere lake Tuesday evening, calling at Windermere, Canterbury, Athalmer
and Wilmer—her deep bass whistle echoing over hill and dale and re-echoing from
peak to peak of the Rocky and Selkirk mountains. The difficulties of bringing
the North Star through from Kootenay river have been referred to before in these
columns. While many said it could not be done today it is accomplished and the
steamer is little the worse of the trip, in fact considering the route the damage is
nothing as only a little work is necessary to put her in good repair.'*
(93) Wilmer Outcrop, June 26, 1902.
(94) Ibid., July 3, 1902. Canterbury, on the west side of Lake Windermere,
is now the village of Invermere. On May 1, 1902, the name Peterborough was
officially changed to Wilmer, and the newspaper formerly published at Canterbury
was moved to Wilmer.   Ibid., May 1, 1902. 38 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
Of Captain Armstrong, the paper said: " he is the most enterprising
man we know of in this Province and there is nothing too big for him to
undertake—more, he accomplishes every time."95 The steamer reached
Golden on July 2, where she was greeted with equal pleasure. Shortly
afterwards the citizens of the valley gave a lavish banquet in honour of
the captain, in which course followed course, and wines and spirits
flowed almost as freely as the Columbia River. For this sumptuous
affair a programme was printed, entitled:—
Complimentary dinner tendered Capt. F. P. Armstrong by a Few of
His Friends in token of their appreciation of his indomitable energy
in bringing the steamer ' North Star' to the Columbia River. Hotel
Delphine, Wilmer, B.C., July 19th, 1902.96
The North Star made a few trips during the season of 1902 with
Paradise ore to Golden, but she was not a success, being too large for
the many twists in the river and a very heavy fuel-consumer, so that she
could run economically only in favourable high-water conditions.
Steamboat navigation usually closed on the Upper Columbia in mid-
October, but in the autumn of 1902, because of mild weather, low-water
boats ran much later than usual. As a consequence, when winter suddenly struck in November, three of the steamers were caught in the ice.
The Hyak was frozen in near Wilmer; the Selkirk ran on a bar 12 miles
south of Golden and was seized in the grip of the ice before she could
get off; and Captain Blakley's City of Windermere was frozen in with a
heavy load of freight at Canyon Creek. " The air must have been nearly
warm enough to melt all the ice in Columbia River when the captains
of the different boats and their crews discovered the fact that they were
icebound," commented the Wilmer Outcrop.91
The old Duchess had seen the end of her days, and that winter she
was dismantled and her venerable engines and boilers placed into a new
steamer, a little longer but of more shallow draught, with a shovel-nosed
bow, which made it more convenient for river-bank landings. The
Columbia River trip was now being widely advertised as a tourist attraction, particularly as a side-trip from Golden for Canadian Pacific Railway passengers, so the new vessel was provided with improved stateroom accommodation.   Launched in March, 1903,98 she was named the
(95) Ibid., July 10, 1902.
(96) Ibid., July 24, 1902.
(97) Ibid., November 13, 1902.
(98) Ibid., March 19, 1903.   She opened the navigation season of 1903 in
mid-April, arriving at Wilmer.   Ibid., April 23, 1903. 1952 Steamboat Days 39
Ptarmigan, after a mining property at Red Line Creek, about 28 miles
from Wilmer, which had commenced ore shipments in 1902. Principal
owner of the mine was Paulding Farnham, a member of the New York
jewellery firm of Tiffany's, who presented the new steamer with an elaborately designed eagle.
The steamer North Star, after only one season on the Columbia, was
seized by the Canadian Customs at Golden and impounded. She was
an American-registered vessel, built at Jennings, and Captain Armstrong
had neglected the formalities of changing her registry or paying duty.
Since his brother, J. F. Armstrong, was Government Agent at Cranbrook
in 1902, no embarrassing questions were asked at first, but later the
authorities were less obliging and seized the steamer. Captain Armstrong was not greatly upset, for the North Star had proved impracticable for the river. She lay for many years at Golden, and at intervals
Captain Armstrong appropriated parts of her machinery and equipment,
which reappeared under a new guise in other steamers. About 1912
her hull was cut in half and used thereafter as a freight-barge.
Early in 1903 the old Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway
Company sold its assets, including the steamers Hyak and Ptarmigan,
to the Columbia River Lumber Company. Most of the original shareholders had left the valley. T. B. H. Cochrane had returned to England
in 1899, there to accept a royal appointment as Deputy Governor of the
Isle of Wight. Lord Norbury had also returned to England. The Honourable Frank Lascelles had climaxed his many eccentricities, in 1901,
by shooting and killing his Chinese servant at his home at Columbia
Lake,99 and thereafter the valley knew him no more.
For a short time the new company was known as the Upper Columbia Navigation Company, but this was soon changed to Upper Columbia
Transportation Company. Captain Armstrong remained as manager,
although he no longer held any financial interest. An important addition to the company's trade was the growth of the logging industry on
the tributary creeks of the Columbia, such as Toby, Horsethief, and
Dutch Creeks. A steady stream of men and supplies poured into the
logging camps, all of which meant business for the river-boats. Logging
commenced on a large scale from Dutch and Toby Creeks in 1905, the
logs being run down the Columbia River to the sawmill at Golden, in
the spectacular fashion employed on the Ottawa and other Eastern Canadian rivers.   The loggers were a hard lot, recruited in Eastern Canada,
(99) Cranbrook Herald, June 6, 1901. 40 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
and Captain E. N. Russell recalls that more than once he was forced to
turn his steamboat's fire-hose on a hundred or more drunken lumberjacks in order to quench their high spirits.100
The little City of Windermere changed hands in 1903, being purchased from Captain Blakley by Captain E. N. Russell, who had arrived
in the Columbia Valley from England in 1894. The little steamer resumed her old name of Pert,101 and ran for a couple of years in opposition to the Upper Columbia Transportation Company until Captain
Russell sold out and joined the employ of the older company. The
Pert was abandoned on Lake Windermere, but Captain Russell continued in command of steamers on the river until 1914. Later he became
park superintendent at Yoho, Glacier, Kootenay, and Revelstoke National Parks.
The period between 1905 and 1914 marked the land and railway
booms in the Columbia Valley. Many investors, particularly from England, were persuaded to sink money in land projects, but unfortunately
the valley did not flow with milk and honey, as might have been expected
from the prospectuses. The soil is very shallow, extensive irrigation
was necessary, and crops, with a few exceptions, failed to five up to
expectations. It is a good country for raising horses, and the valley
south of Golden has some fertile alluvial land, but the district is far
away from markets, and there were more heart-breaks than fortunes in
those days of booming optimism.
One of the projects which was expected to bring prosperity to the
valley was the construction of the Kootenay Central Railway,102 Unking
the main line of the Canadian Pacific Railway at Golden with the
Crowsnest branch line. Surveys began in 1904, and construction started
the next year, but the rails got no farther south from Golden than Spilli-
macheen, and there they remained for several years. Work was not
resumed until 1913, and at last in 1915 the Kootenay Central made the
link with the Crowsnest line. Alas, for expectations, the railway brought
little profit, either for the valley or the investors.   The First World War
(100) Conversation with Captain E. N. Russell by the writer.
(101) Wilmer Outcrop, April 30, 1903. She became the first steamer in 1903
to reach Lake Windermere.
(102) The projectors of this railway were R. L. T. Galbraith, J. A. Harvey,
Hugh Watt, J. B. Langley, W. R. Ross, of Fort Steele, and Dr. J. H. King, of
Cranbrook. See chapter 79, "An Act to Incorporate the Kootenay Central Railway Company," British Columbia, Statutes . . . 1901, Victoria, 1901, pp.
403-407. 1952 Steamboat Days 41
struck a blow at the prosperity of the valley, from which it never recovered. The Kootenay Central Railway killed steamboat traffic on the
river, but it, too, has fallen victim to road competition, so now there is
very little traffic, even for the infrequent trains.
Yet between 1905 and 1914 business on the river boomed as it had
never done before, as tourists poured into the valley by the thousands
to view the beauties of the Windermere country and the Lake of the
Hanging Glaciers, at the head of Horsethief Creek. Navigation was
further improved by a new sternwheel dredge and pile-driver called the
Muskrat, built by the Dominion Government in 1904 to replace the old
dredge of 1893. In charge of the Muskrat was the veteran engineer, the
Honourable Fred Aylmer, after whom the town of Athalmer is named.103
A new vessel to arrive on the river in 1905104 was the gasoline-launch
Gian, owned by Captain Northcote Cantlie, a nephew of Lord Mount
Stephen. This eccentric Scotsman was one of a long succession of
" characters " for which the Columbia Valley was famous. He preferred
champagne for breakfast and always kept with him as a personal attendant a piper in full Highland regalia. In the summer of 1906 Captain
Cantlie, always a sportsman, made a proposition to Captain Armstrong,
also a sportsman of the first order. He offered to stake $100, payable
to the Golden Hospital, that the Gian could outrace the Ptarmigan
between Wilmer and Golden. The race started bright and early one
Sunday morning, although there were a few false starts, perhaps due to
Cantlie's propensity for breakfast champagne. However, the Gian finally managed to get away, and flew down the river in fine style, the
Ptarmigan threshing and blowing some distance behind. But Captain
Armstrong knew the river far better than did his adversary, and after
two hours the Ptarmigan drew alongside the Gian. Cantlie's piper piped
as he had never piped before, but to no avail, and Armstrong drew ahead.
Then came the crowning indignity. As the Ptarmigan passed the Gian's
stern, two of the daring young men aboard the sternwheeler reached
across and plucked the piper bodily from off the Gian and lifted him
aboard the Ptarmigan, which crossed the boom at Golden in triumph.105
In 1907 the Ptarmigan, after having hit a snag and sunk near Red-
rock, just above the " S " on the river near Spillimacheen, caught fire
and her upper works were destroyed.106   However, she was soon raised
(103) Athalmer is the ancient Saxon spelling of the noble Aylmer family.
(104) Wilmer Outcrop, August 24, 1905; Golden Star, July 25, 1905.
(105) Ibid., August 30, 1906.
(106) Golden Star, July 13 and 20, 1907. 42 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
and brought to Golden, where repairs were effected, and in a few weeks
she was back on the river107 and operated during the 1908 season.108
Her place was taken next year by the Isabella McCormack, a powerful
95-foot vessel built at Golden for the Columbia River Lumber Company
by Captain Alex. Blakley and named after the daughter of J. D. McCormack, then manager of the company's mill at Golden.109 The new
steamer proved herself the fastest steamboat yet to operate on the river,
making the run from Golden to Athalmer in thirteen hours and the
down-river run in six hours, averaging nearly 17 miles an hour. She
proved too unwieldy for the river, and after operating for only two seasons she was dismantled and replaced by the Klahowya in 1910, which
soon became a favourite tourist vessel.
The Isabella McCormack, renamed Isabell, was taken to Athalmer
and converted into a floating hotel and house-boat, where the Upper
Columbia Transportation Company entertained tourists in generous
style. Typical of the gay period is the invitation issued for a house-
warming party aboard the Isabell, held on July 16, 1910, at Athalmer.
The card of admittance read: " Dancing will commence at 9:30, Mountain Time, and continue till midnight, Honolulu Time. U.C. Trans. Co.,
per F. P. Armstrong." Then was added the cheerful foot-note, " This
entitles you to grub on the ' Klahowya.' Hold on to it." The report in
the Golden Star of this great social event is particularly fulsome but did
include the following pertinent details concerning the two steamers:—
As this boat [the Klahowya] is intended to be used by the tourists during the
day it is not fitted with cabins (though two are to be constructed) but contains
two large well furnished saloons, a promenade deck, and a buffet, where a colored
waiter is in constant attendance to serve hot tea and coffee or a dainty luncheon.
The house boat " Isabel" beautifully fitted with staterooms, lounging rooms,
a large dining room and kitchen accommodation, receives the passengers from the
" Klahowya " and this break in the 100 mile journey is a most pleasant
The Isabell served as a hotel until 1914, when the hull was sold to Burns
and Jordan, the railway contractors for the Kootenay Central. They
occupied it for a year, and then R. Randolph Bruce, later Lieutenant-
Governor of the Province, purchased the house-boat, and it was here he
(107) Ibid., July 27 and August 3, 1907.
(108) Ibid., April 28, May 2, and July 11, 1908.
(109) The Golden Star, December 24, 1908, announced that another steamboat was being built, which presumably was the Isabella McCormack. She is
mentioned for the first time as arriving at Golden, May 12, 1909. Ibid., May 15,
(110) Ibid., July 23, 1910. The /. D. Farrell and North Star in winter quarters, Jennings, Montana.
The Klahowya leaving Golden. (Courtesy of Bruce Ramsay, Vancouver, B.C.)
An Upper Columbia Navigation and Tramway "cover," 1898. 1952 Steamboat Days 43
brought his bride, Lady Elizabeth, to live until his new home was built
at Invermere. The Isabell was then allowed to sink into the mud of the
lake, where she remains to-day.
The decision to build the Klahowya was announced early in January,
1910,111 and her framework was constructed at the Fraser River Lumber
Company at Millside, New Westminster.
A unique method is being employed in the construction of the new boat. When
the frame is completed here [New Westminster] she will be shipped on to the
Columbia river country, where she will be finished on the ice. The ice is pretty
thick during the winter on most of the lakes and rivers in the Kootenay and Captain
Armstrong, and later other builders in that part of the province, hit upon the
ingenious device of building blocks and platform on the ice and constructing the
boat thereupon. When the boat is completed, the square of ice upon which the
boat and its support rests, is cut away from the rest of the ice and the weight of
the vessel gradually depresses the ice, the boat gliding smoothly into the water.112
By February construction had been resumed near Golden,113 and by
June the vessel was in operation.114
In 1911 the Nowitka was built at Golden by George Rury for the
Upper Columbia Transportation Company to run as a freight-boat in
conjunction with the Klahowya.115 She was a shallow-draught shovel-
nosed steam-scow, equipped with the ancient engines from the first
Duchess, vintage of 1840, a boiler resurrected from a defunct sawmill,
pilot-house and capstan from the North Star, steering-wheel from the
City of Salem, an old Lower Columbia River veteran, and bits and pieces
from various other long-forgotten steamboats. She had a draught of
only 16 inches, but by pushing barges ahead of her could handle heavy
freight cargoes.116
Meanwhile, in 1911, Captain Alex. Blakley resumed competition on
the river against Armstrong with the old Selkirk111 which he purchased
(111) Ibid., January 15, 1910.
(112) Ibid., January 22, 1910.
(113) Ibid., February 26, 1910.
(114) Ibid., June 16, 1910. In April, 1910, it was announced by the Upper
Columbia Transportation Company, that the Windermere would open navigation
on May 3 (ibid., April 16, 1910) and there is a report that she did operate (ibid.,
May 14, 1910).
(115) "Navigation opens on the Columbia early next week when the well-
equipped passenger steamer ' Klahowya' will commence tri-weekly service between
Golden and Windermere and the new up-to-date passenger and freighter ' Nowitka'
will maintain a semi-weekly schedule between those points."   Ibid., April 15, 1911.
(116) Letter to the editor by Captain Armstrong, Nelson Daily News, May 12,
(117) Golden Star, March 25 and April 1, 1911.
s 44 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
from H. E. Forster. This Utile vessel had been equipped with new
Wolverine gas-engines in 1906, which were considered a wonderful innovation for a sternwheeler in those days. Business on the river boomed
merrily, so in 1912 Captain Blakley built at Golden the new 75-foot
passenger-steamer Invermere to compete with the Klahowya for the
flourishing tourist trade. She was a twin-screw half-tunnel vessel with
Kahlenberg reversing gas-engines.118 Captain Blakley, with his son,
Captain John Blakley, ran the Selkirk and Invermere until 1913, when
they sold out to Captain E. N. Russell.119
Another passenger-vessel appeared on the river in 1913. This was
the twin-screw gasoline-launch Colvalli, originally built on the coast as
the Little Willie and brought overland to the Columbia by the Columbia
Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Limited,120 who used her to bring prospective land-purchasers up from Golden. She was equipped with two
Clifton gas-engines, which gave her a speed of 18 knots and made her
the fastest vessel ever to appear on the river. While taking the Colvalli
to winter quarters in October, 1913, Captain Alex. Blakley had a heart
attack and fell out of a canoe and was drowned 10 miles south of
In the winter of 1913 Captain Armstrong built a new steamer at
Spillimacheen for Burns and Jordan, the railway contractors, then constructing the Kootenay Central Railway.122 She was christened the
F. P. Armstrong and, under the command of Captain John Blakley, was
employed during the season of 1914 carrying workmen and railway
supplies, moving scows and steam-shovels, between Spillimacheen and
Columbia Lake.
The First World War brought a sudden end to prosperity in the
Columbia Valley. Every able-bodied man joined the forces, and farms
and mines were allowed to revert to nature. Steamboats were redundant
after 1914, for the Kootenay Central Railway was completed the next
year,123 so the romantic era of steamboating came to a sudden close.
(118) Ibid., February 17, 1912.
(119) Ibid., October 17, 1914.
(120) Ibid., July 12, 1913.
(121) Ibid., October 25, 1913.
(122) In the spring of 1913 it was announced that Captain Armstrong would
build two new steamers for the railway contractors (ibid., April 26, 1913), but
evidently only one was built that winter.
(123) The last spike on this railway was driven on December 3, 1914, at a
point a little to the south of Athalmer.   Ibid., December 5, 1914. 1952 Steamboat Days 45
The F. P. Armstrong was abandoned near Fairmont, north of Columbia
Lake, where her bones he to-day. The Klahowya was dismantled and
her equipment shipped to The Pas, Manitoba. The Nowitka lingered
for a few years alongside the sawmill wharf at Golden, where her paddle-
wheel remains to-day.
Captain F. P. Armstrong and Captain John Blakley both rendered
distinguished service in the First World War. Captain Armstrong was
commissioned in the Inland Water Transport branch of the Royal Engineers and was first sent to the Tigris River to assemble and operate river-
steamers carrying men and supplies for the Mesopotamia campaign.
En route to Basra, he was twice torpedoed but saved his own life and
those of several shipmates. He was later sent to the River Nile, where
his superb specialized knowledge led to his appointment as superintendent in charge of all military vessels on the river. Captain Blakley also
served on the Tigris River with the Inland Water Transport, was engaged
in cross-Channel supply transport with the Royal Engineers, and later
transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. After the war he secured a
civilian pilot's licence and flew one of the first privately owned aeroplanes
in the Kootenays. In the Second World War his experience as a river
steamboat-man was again put to use, and he acted as a river pilot for
the United States Army boats on the Mackenzie River.
After the war Captain Armstrong joined the Dominion Public Works
Department and was in charge of river improvement in the East and
West Kootenays, his intimate knowledge of river work rendering him
particularly valuable in this work. As a swift-water man he had few
equals, and he knew the Columbia River intimately from its source to
its mouth. He made two canoe trips from the headwaters of the Columbia to Astoria, one of which is described in Down the Columbia, by
Lewis R. Freeman.124
Appropriately enough, Captain Armstrong piloted the last commercial voyage made by a steamboat on the Upper Columbia. In May,
1920, he took over temporary command of the Nowitka for a solitary
trip up-river. It was a melancholy voyage, for its purpose was to drive
piles for a bridge at Brisco, half-way between Golden and Windermere,
thus closing commercial navigation forever. Captain Armstrong took
the opportunity offered by the trip to load a barge with ore that he had
left on the river-bank twenty-four years earlier.125   Thus for the last
(124) Lewis R. Freeman, Down the Columbia, New York, 1921, passim.
(125) Golden Star, May 6, 1920. 46 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
time did he tackle the Canyon Creek rapids, the familiar twists and turns
of the " S " and the many other hazards of that inland waterway. A few
days later he wrote of his experience:—
Having been in charge of the first boat, as well as the last, memories naturally
crowded on me as I stood at the wheel of the " Nowitka." . . . With the barges
we had ahead last Saturday we made up a craft 246 feet long and 23 feet beam.
The water is as low as has ever been known, so navigation may be considered to
have gone out with a flourish. It shows really, what has been done for the
improvement of the river. Besides the clearing of sweepers and snags, side channels have been closed and the water confined. It would have been quite impossible to navigate such a craft in the early days.
The trip was made without incident except for the clearing away of a big
cottonwood or two that were laying over the river, and the dodging of others that
had been thrown into the stream by beavers. Oh, yes. An enterprising, but mistaken rancher had put a telephone line across the river since my day, and we,
of course, carried it away. I did hear some wire rattling about the windows of
the pilot house, but I supposed some of the farmers who had been using the pile
driver lately had been using hay wire for a trip line and it had got adrift somehow.
Afterwards, I heard we had put the whole rural telephone system on the blink
for a couple of days.   .   .   .
Then the object of our trip was unique—that of the steamboat and pile driver
to put the quietus on navigation—an object I hated to be connected with, even
indirectly—and mine to get a barge up to some ore I left on the bank of the river
24 years ago.   It was the last chance and I took it.126
Late in 1922 Captain Armstrong was badly hurt in an accident at Nelson
and subsequently died of his injuries at the Vancouver General Hospital
on January 26, 1923, less than twenty-four hours after his old friend
and fellow Upper Columbia River pilot, Captain F. H. Bacon, had died
in the same ward in the same hospital.127
Sternwheel steamboating is not entirely dead on the Upper Columbia
River. Captain John Blakley, who operates a hotel at Radium Hot
Springs, has a love for the river deeply bred into his system, and in 1948
he and his three sons built a modern 54-foot sternwheeler on the river-
bank at Radium, north of Athalmer. Launched by Mrs. Blakley, it was
christened the Radium Queen. Built on strictly utilitarian lines, uncompromisingly rectangular, she is no thing of beauty, but Captain Blakley,
who knows every inch of the river, can turn her on a dime. She is
equipped with a 100-horsepower Chrysler gas-engine and is used by her
owner for hunting and pleasure parties on the river. Low-level bridges
at Brisco, Athalmer, and other points on the river are now the principal
(126) Nelson Daily News, May 12, 1920.
(127) Vancouver Province, February 2, 1923. 1952 Steamboat Days 47
obstacles to navigation, but in building the Radium Queen, Captain
Blakley kept this problem in mind. He equipped his vessel with a pilothouse on hinges, so that she is able to slip safely under the obstructions,
except at extreme high water.
It is a far cry from the glad old days of the Duchess and the Klahowya
and the Invermere, but at least the thrash of the paddle-wheel is again
ploughing up the muddy bottom of the Upper Columbia.128
Norman Hacking.
Vancouver, B.C.
(128) The writer wishes to make grateful acknowledgment of the generous
assistance given by many of the pioneers of East Kootenay in the preparation of
this article. Particular mention should be made of Captain E. N. Russell and
Captain John Blakley, last of the river captains. 48 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
Dimensions, etc., as given by even the best authorities frequently vary by a few
inches (or, in some instances, a few feet). The principal sources upon which
the following table is based are indicated as follows:—
[R] List of Vessels on the Registry Books of the Dominion of Canada,
[U.S.] List of Merchant Vessels of the United States, 1893-98.
[S] Note-books of the Steamboat Inspectors for British Columbia, 1886-
[N] Contemporary newspaper records.
1. Cline.
Sternwheeler;  launched at Golden, 1887, by and for Jack C. Hayes.
Dimensions:   31' x 9.3' x 4' [S].
Engines:   5V4" x 8" [S].
Gross tonnage:   20 [S].
2. Colvalli (ex. Little Willie).
Twin-screw tunnel boat; launched at Seattle, 1909, and removed to the
Columbia River, 1913, by the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands
Dimensions:  54.7' x 10.3' x 3.5' [R].
Engines:  Twin gas-engines, 6 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:   17.12 [R].
3. Duchess.
Sternwheeler; launched at Golden, 1886, by and for F. P. Armstrong.
Dimensions:  60' x 17' x 4' [S].    Loaded draught, 14 inches.
Engines:   8" x 30" [S].
Gross tonnage:   32 [S].
4. Duchess.
Sternwheeler;  launched at Golden, 1888, by Alexander Watson for F. P.
Dimensions:   81.6' x 17.3' x 4.6' [R].
Engines:  8" x 30" [Sj.
Gross tonnage:   145.48 [S].
5. F. P. Armstrong.
Sternwheeler;   launched at Spillimacheen,  1913, by F. P. Armstrong for
Burns and Jordan.
Dimensions:  81' x 20' x 4' [R].
Engines:   4 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:   126 [R],
6. Gian.
Screw gasoline-launch; owned by Northcote Cantlie, 1905.
Engines:   14 h.p. [N]. 1952 Steamboat Days 49
7. Hyak.
Sternwheeler;  launched at Golden, 1892, by F. P. Armstrong for Upper
Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company.
Dimensions:  81' x 11.2' x 3.9' [R].
Engines:   2 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:   39 [R].
8. Invermere.
Twin-screw tunnel boat; launched at Golden, 1912, by and for Alexander
Dimensions:  75' x 13' x 3.7' [R].
Engines:  Twin gas-engines, Wi h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:  66 [R].
9. Isabella McCormack (renamed Isabell).
Sternwheeler;   launched at Golden,  1908, by Alexander Blakley for the
Columbia River Lumber Company.
Dimensions:  94.9' x 18.8' x 3.5' [R].
Engines:  3 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:   178 [R].
10. Klahowya.
Sternwheeler; launched at Golden, 1910, by George Rury for the Columbia
River Company.
Dimensions:  92' x 19' x 3.5' [R].
Engines:   3 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:   175 [R].
11. Marion.
Sternwheeler;  launched at Golden, 1888, by Alexander Watson for F. P.
Dimensions:   61' x 10.3' x 3.6' [S].
Engines:   5W x 8" [S].
Gross tonnage:   14.78 [S].
12. Nowitka.
Sternwheeler; launched at Golden, 1911, by George Rury for the Columbia
River Lumber Company.
Dimensions:  80.5' x 19' x 3.5' [R].
Engines:   8" x 30" [S] 4 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:   113 [R].
13. Pert (ex Alert).
Sidewheeler; hull originally built at Golden, 1887, by Fred Wells; rebuilt
as paddle steamer at Golden, 1890, for F. P. Armstrong; and in 1899
rebuilt as a screw steamer by Alexander Blakley. Also known as
City of Windermere.
Dimensions:  49.8' x 10' x 2.6' [R].
Engines:   1 h.p. [R],
Gross tonnage:  6 [R]. 50 Norman Hacking Jan.-Apr.
14. Ptarmigan.
Sternwheeler; launched at Golden, 1903, by F. P. Armstrong for the Upper
Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company.
Dimensions:   110' x 21' x 4' [S].
Engines:  8" x 30" [S].
Gross tonnage:  246 [R].
15. Selkirk.
Sternwheeler;   launched at Kamloops,   1895, by Alexander Watson for
H. E. Forster; and removed to the Upper Columbia River, 1899.
Dimensions:  62' x 11.2' x 3.6' [R].
Engines:   2 h.p. [R].   Converted to gas-engines, 1906.
Gross tonnage:  58 [R],
1. Annerly.
Sternwheeler; launched at Jennings, Montana, by B. W. Jones and H. S.
DePuy for the Upper Kootenay Navigation Company.
Dimensions:  92.5' x 16' x 4.4' [U.S.].
Gross tonnage:   128.08 [U.S.].
2. Gwendoline.
Sternwheeler; launched at Wasa, 1893, by F. P. Armstrong for the Upper
Columbia Navigation and Tramway Company. Rebuilt at Golden,
Dimensions:  63.5' x 19' x 3.2' [R].   Lengthened, 1896, to 98' [R].
Engines:  4 h.p. [R].
Gross tonnage:  90.59 [S].
3. J. D. Farrell.
Sternwheeler; launched at Jennings, Montana, 1897, for the Kootenay River
Navigation Company.
Dimensions:   130' x 26' x 4.5' [U.S.].
Gross tonnage:   359 [U.S.].
4. Libby.
Screw steamer; launched at Libby, Montana, 1894 by Tom Flowers.
Dimensions:  77.5' x 10.2' x 5.4' [U.S.].
Engines:   20 n.h.p. [U.S.].
Gross tonnage:   39.86 [U.S.].
5. North Star.
Sternwheeler;  launched at Jennings, Montana, 1897, by Louis Paquet for
the International Transportation Company.
Dimensions:   130'x 26'x 4'[U.S.].
Engines:  200 n.h.p. [U.S.].
Gross tonnage:  265.39 [U.S.]. 1952 Steamboat Days 51
6. Rustler.
Sternwheeler; launched at Jennings, Montana, 1896, for the Upper Kootenay Navigation Company.
Dimensions:   124' x 22' x 4' [U.S.].
Engines:  317 nh.p. [U.S.]. .
Gross tonnage:  258.09 [U-S.].
7. Ruth.
Sternwheeler; launched at Libby, Montana, 1896, by Louis Paquet for the
International Transportation Company.
Dimensions:   131' x 22' x 4.5' [U.S.].   Loaded draught 22".
Engines:   10" x 24" [N].
Gross tonnage:  315.02 [U.S.].
1. Echo.
Screw steamer;  launched at Moyie, 1898, by F. P. Armstrong and I. B.
Sanborn; completed by Messrs. Campbell, Clark, and Theis.
Dimensions: length, 50' [N].
The title of this paper would naturally lead one to expect that it would
consist mainly, as well it might, of long columns of drab figures, incomprehensible and often unrelated, or of a maze of statistics calculated to be
of interest only to the domed heads of members of a statistical society.
Perhaps it will be agreed, and with relief, that long series of figures cannot
find a comfortable home in a short paper, consequently only a bare
minimum of facts will be quoted—a few Ughthouses for guidance rather
than a detailed chart of a long and intricate course. As a Provincial
historical association, objection might be taken to presenting a paper
which deals only with some 3 per cent of the area of this Province.
There are, however, many reasons for so doing and thus risking the
wrath of its readers.
In the first place, while Vancouver Island is a very small part of the
365,000 square miles of British Columbia, its area of 12,400 square
miles is in fact nearly as large as that of several nations which have long
been powers in this world. It is actually larger than other countries
which have been and are to-day counted of importance in the comity of
nations. In that category will be found Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg,
and Switzerland, and also Holland which has long been mistress of a vast
and rich empire and sailed her ships of war to the very heart of Britain.
In the next place, the natural riches of this Island are such that had
it been placed in either the orbit of Europe or even adjacent to the east
coast of the United States of America, it would almost certainly have
been to-day the home of some millions of people and an area of world
Then one could justify a paper on the Island merely on account of its
remarkable, and mostly neglected, harbours and inlets. In what other
area, from Alaska to Cape Horn, can berthing be provided for so many
ships at such a small cost? A striking feature of this immense Pacific
coast-line is its lack of safe anchorages, let alone harbours. Yet as long
as goods are carried across the seas in ships, good anchorage and
harbours will be desirable and valuable.   Our fine hydrographic charts
* The presidential address delivered before the annual meeting of the British
Columbia Historical Association, held in Victoria, B.C., January 18, 1952.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XVI, Nos. 1 and 2.
53 54 H. Cuthbert Holmes Jan.-Apr.
give abundant proof this Island has available scores of harbours. An
outline is now submitted of the uses to which these harbours and riches
have and may yet be put.
Vancouver Island was opened for colonization just a century ago, so
this seems a fitting moment to review briefly what was expected of that
step, what has actually taken place, and what the near future may
promise. Who can reasonably predict the far future in these times of
rapid and deep changes?
There is ample proof that the Island's geographical position and
natural resources had struck Britons forcibly and favourably. Several
authors of early books and pamphlets describe it as the " England of the
Pacific."1 They pointed to its island situation, facing the teeming millions
of Asia, as similar to that of Britain in relation to the Americas. They
prophesied that as Britain owed much of its growth because it stood at
the gates of trade across the Atlantic so would Vancouver Island prosper
because it stood at the gates of the trade across the Pacific. Even cautious
statesmen spoke in high terms of the advantages and prospects of this
Island. Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, who, as Colonial Secretary, was in
an excellent position to form a true opinion of Vancouver Island
resources, gave it high praise. He crystallized his view in seven striking
words: "A magnificent abode for the human race."2 Few would not
agree with Lytton's view, but some might wish to look deeper and to ask
to what extent the human race has been attracted to this "magnificent
(1) " We shall now proceed briefly to survey these several districts of British
North America . . . and we begin with Vancouver Island. This ' England of
the Pacific'—as this island . . . has been called. . . ." In " British North
America," Edinburgh Review, CXTX (1864), p. 452. Matthew Macfie, in his
Vancouver Island and British Columbia, London, 1865, p. 39, wrote: " So that
Vancouver Island has been not inaptly designated the England of the Great
Western Ocean. . . ." James Edward Fitzgerald, in Vancouver's Island, London, 1848, p. 4, wrote: ". . . it occupies very much the same position with
respect to the Pacific which Great Britain does with respect to the Atlantic
Ocean." In this Gilbert Malcolm Sproat concurred: "The country is on the
highway of civilized nations; it stands to America on the Pacific Ocean, as Great
Britain stands to Europe on the Atlantic." G. M. Sproat, British Columbia,
London, 1873, p. 26.
(2) "Already, by the Pacific, Vancouver's Island has been added to the social
communities of mankind. Already, in the large territory which extends west of
the Rocky Mountains, from the American frontier up to the skirts of the Russian
domain, we are laying the foundations of what may become hereafter a magnificent
abode of the human race. . . ." Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton, Speeches of
Edward, Lord Lytton, London, 1874, Vol. ii, p. 91. 1952 Some Notes on Vancouver Island 55
abode," how wide these " gates of the Pacific " have actually been opened
to allow for the passage of trade. To many the result would be sadly
disappointing. J. D. Pemberton, a man of wide experience and sound
judgment, in 1860, compared Vancouver Island and British Columbia
to California, very much to the latter's disadvantage.3 Yet ninety years
later that thin, sand State supports a population little short of that of the
whole of Canada and does so in unparalleled affluence. As for this
"England of the Pacific," this "magnificent abode for the human race,"
after two generations its population was barely that of an English county
town, and now, after three generations, it is an " abode " for far fewer
than a single one of London's twenty-eight boroughs. It might well be
asked: What has been the growth of Vancouver Island's population?
In 1853, ten years after Fort Victoria was established, the white
population of Vancouver Island was given as 450.4 Apart from a census
as of December 31, 1854,5 no reliable figures seem available from then
until 1881, when the population had grown to 17.000,6 a rate of growth
of a little less than 600 a year. The next decade was, however, a period
of rapid gain, as by 18917 there were nearly 36,000 inhabitants. The
annual rate of growth had more than trebled, to 1,900 a year.   Probably
(3) "And if it can be at the same time shown, as I think it can, that our natural
advantages are in many respects, in point of situation and products, superior to
those of California, this consideration may tend to increase exertion, and may
prompt us to enter into friendly and not unsuccessful competition, to share the
commerce which San Francisco now monopolises." J. D. Pemberton, Facts and
Figures relating to Vancouver Island and British Columbia, London, 1860, pp. 5-6.
(4) " The population of the Island in the end of the year 1853 was about 450
souls, men, women and children; of these 300 are at Victoria, and between it
and Soke; about 125 at Nanaimo; and the remainder at Fort Rupert." W. Col-
quhoun Grant, " Description of Vancouver Island," Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, XXVII (1857), p. 273.
(5) W. Kaye Lamb (ed.), "The Census of Vancouver Island, 1855," British
Columbia Historical Quarterly, JV (1940), pp. 51-58. Dr. Lamb commented
(p. 52): "It will be seen that the population of Victoria decreased slightly and
totalled only 232 at the end of 1854, but the population of the Island as a whole
had increased to as much as 774 by that date."
(6) Canada, Bureau of Statistics, Census of Canada, 1880-81, Ottawa, 1882,
Vol. I, p. 94, gives the population of District 190 (Victoria) as 7,301, and of District 191 (Vancouver Island) as 9,991, for a total of 17,292.
(7) Canada, Bureau of Statistics, Eighth Census of Canada, 1941, Ottawa,
1950, Vol. I, p. 565, gives the following tabulation of Census District No. 5,
Vancouver Island: 1881, 17,292; 1891, 35,744; 1901, 50,886; 1911, 81,241;
1921, 108,792; 1931,120,933; 1941, 150,407. 56 H. Cuthbert Holmes Jan.-Apr.
the prospect of a Canadian Pacific Railway and the building of the
Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway had had a good deal to do with this
strikingly faster growth. Then for the next ten years, 1891 to 1901, the
gain slowed down, and at the turn of the century we told off 50,866
persons.8 The growth rate for the first half-century was therefore nearly
1,000 a year, but there had been violent fluctuations.
The first decade of the twentieth century saw a sudden surge forward
throughout Canada. The population of the Province more than doubled,
rising from 179,000 to 392,000.9 That of Vancouver Island grew from
51,000 to 81,000,10 or at the rate of 3,000 a year. Yet it is significant
that Vancouver Island's rate of growth in this decade, in spite of
immensely greater facilities for travel, only exceeded that of the 1880's
by approximately 50 per cent. The pull of the great body of the Mainland was beginning to be felt; the natural law of the greater attracting
the lesser had come into play—or work. This force continued to be
effective. From 1911 to 1921 the annual growth of Vancouver Island
slowed to 2,800 a year, from 81,000 to 109,000," and in the next decade,
1921 to 1931, when most of the continent was bursting with activity,
Vancouver Island's growth shrank to a sluggish 1,200 a year. In these
twenty years, 1911 to 1931, Vancouver Island only added some 2,000
souls a year, about the same rate of growth of the 1880's. In the same
period the Mainland had rushed forward at the rate of 26,000 a year, or
thirteen times as fast as the Island.
The "tragic thirties" saw a change. The Island added nearly
30,000, the Mainland 93,000. This strange but notable change in pace
continued through the 1940's and was indeed even more marked. Vancouver Island added 63,000 people, the Mainland 172,000, so the
population acceleration of the Mainland versus the Island had decreased
from thirteen times to less than three times.12
Population figures, of course, mean little unless comparisons are made
between one period and another and between one area and another area.
Copious comparisons will not be made, and it is to be hoped that they
will not seem odious comparisons.   One would like to deal with the
(8) Ibid.
(9) Ibid.    The total Provincial population is given as:   1901, 178,657;  1911,
392,480; 1921,524,482; 1931,694,263.
(10) Ibid.
(11) Ibid.
(12) Ibid.   The Ninth Census of Canada, 1951, Ottawa, 1951, Vol. I, pp.
83-86, gives the total for that year for Division No. 5 as 215,003. 1952 Some Notes on Vancouver Island 57
amazing difference in population growths of similar areas, such as
Canada and the United States of America, discovered and colonized at
the same time, by much the same stock, with many similar resources,
though each possessing some resources the other had not got. Yet in the
course of a few generations the smaller area grew to eleven times the
population and twenty times the wealth of the larger area.
Similarly, the far greater growth of the three Pacific Coast States
as compared with the Pacific Coast Province is startling and, surely,
significant. But to deal with Vancouver Island. It is natural to say,
off-hand, that so small an area as 12,400 square miles cannot possibly
support more than a few hundred thousand people at the outside. The
error in such an argument is easily demonstrated.
Belgium is 1,000 square miles smaller than Vancouver Island. Its
population of 8Vi millions is more than half that of all Canada! Luxembourg, with an area of only 1,000 square miles, has a population double
ours of ten years ago. Denmark is little bigger in area than Vancouver
Island, is very largely agricultural, and yet has more milhons than we
have hundreds of thousands. Holland is almost exactly the size of
Vancouver Island. Its population is large enough and vigorous enough
to govern an empire. Lastly, for this purpose, Switzerland. There is
a land with no seaboard to bring it trade and wealth and people, a land
of steep and high mountains with difficult farming conditions because of
its precipitous terrain and high average altitude. Yet, though little
larger in size, its people, sturdy, vigorous, splendidly educated, well fed
and clothed, number more than twenty times ours. That they have
achieved without forests or fisheries to speak of, with unimportant minerals, and without ships or coast-fine. Scenery and climate they have,
and put it to good use. But the wealth and happiness of the Swiss comes
from the skill and industry of its millions of craftsmen. Almost all then-
raw materials have to be imported, but what splendid use they make of
those materials that they have to buy all over the world. This Island has
so much natural wealth which Switzerland has not. When that wealth
is allied in the same measure to the skill and industry typified by the
Swiss, then this will be in fact " a magnificent abode " for great numbers
of the human race and will have gone a long way to being an " England
of the Pacific."
There is one other factor in this population question to be dealt with
here. When considering the numbers in the countries of Europe and
those here, it is not unreasonable to point out that Europe has been 58 H. Cuthbert Holmes Jan.-Apr.
populated by whites for many, many centuries. They have only been on
Vancouver Island for a single century. But one of the astonishing
changes in world conditions is the terrific population growth in this last
century. After all, Britain, only a single lifetime before Fort Victoria
was built, counted fewer people by far than California alone numbers
to-day. No one actually knows what the world's population has been
through the centuries or even now. What is certain is that more people
have been added in the last century than in many previous centuries put
It is interesting to examine what have been some of the decisive
factors of the last century of time, at least those which affect the everyday
life of the ordinary person, which are in large part responsible for the
growth of population.
The whole era can rightly be termed the age of invention and
machinery. One man to-day, with machinery, can do what all the men
in the world, working together, could not have done a few generations
ago. Two or three men to-day, with one machine, can do what it took
scores and sometimes hundreds of men to do without machinery. An
inspection of any great manufacturing plant to-day gives ample proof of
this. Two years ago the writer of this paper visited one of England's
great steelworks. In one building a score of men were sweating around
a mass of metal. In the next building two men were effortlessly operating
a machine. According to information provided by the official guide, the
two men would produce the same result as the score and with vastly less
physical effort. As machines became available, they would be installed
if capital were also available. This replacement of men by machinery
often causes a shudder of fear and a storm of protest. Yet perhaps the
answer to the problem of displaced labour is now being found. Certainly
the search for the remedy to that tragedy is one of the greatest tasks
facing governments.
For centuries we have believed in the law of " supply and demand."
When supply has exceeded demand, we have experienced crises and too
often crashes with all their tragedy of broken homes and lives, starvation
and death. Yet, so far, in the history of the world, surely true demand
has always immeasurably exceeded supply. Surely there can never have
been a crash simply because demand has been satisfied. Is not the real
trouble the fact that it is only the financial ability and flexibility to satisfy
human demands which has been less than supply. Demand is practically
inexhaustible; it is financial ability to satisfy that demand which fails. 1952 Some Notes on Vancouver Island 59
This financial question is a vital part of the problem of developing
Vancouver Island because so many of its resources lie deeply hidden
under a dense cover of forest and rock. To find these hidden riches is
often costly. To develop them involves immense capital sums for the
provision of power and for access, whether roads, rail, or docks, or all
of these, and, of course, for machinery. In the neighbourhood of a billion
dollars is now being spent in this Province for industrial development.
Excluding the vast Alcan project, a large part of that sum is for developing industry on Vancouver Island.
What are the principal resources of Vancouver Island and how have
they been used? They can be easily remembered as the five " f's "—furs,
farms, fisheries, forests, factories. Besides these are minerals, climate,
and scenery.
Our earliest economy was a fur economy. Its first period was neither
long nor large. But, as sometimes happens, a decadent industry revives.
The fur trade, as the Hudson's Bay Company of the 1850's knew it, has
practically vanished. But it has been far more than replaced by the
modern fur-farm, where captive animals take the place of the wild. It is
a matter of experience that our relatively damp Island climate produces
a more valuable fur than does the cold, dry climate prevalent in most of
Canada. The fur trade has long ceased to be a matter of trap-lines and
traps. The growing of fur animals in captivity is a highly scientific
branch of farming and one of real importance. Fur-farms are found at
very many places on the Island, and the pelts produced here bring high
prices in world markets, and while there are ladies in a prosperous world,
they are likely to go on doing so.
One of the main determining factors for the selection of Fort Victoria
as the Hudson's Bay Company centre in 1843 was the fine arable farm
lands available close to the harbour of "Camosack."
From the very superficial examination that has been made, it is ascertained there
are several good harbours in that neighbourhood no place however has as yet
been found combining all the advantages required, the most important of which
are, a safe and accessible harbour, well situated for defence, with Water power
for Grist and Saw Mills, abundance of Timber for home consumption and Exportation and the adjacent Country well adapted for tillage and pasture Farms on an
extensive scale.13
... I made choice of a site for the proposed new Establishment in the Port of
Camosack which appears to me decidedly the most advantageous situation. . . .
As a harbour it is equally safe and accessible and abundance of timber grows
(13) Simpson to the Governor and Committee, March 1, 1842, Transcript,
Archives of B.C. 60 H. Cuthbert Holmes Jan.-Apr.
near it for home consumption and exportation. ... at Camosack there is a range
of plains nearly 6 miles square containing a great extent of valuable tillage and
pasture land equally well adapted for the plough or for feeding stock. It was
this advantage and distinguishing feature of Camosack, which no other part of
the coast possesses, combined with the water privilege on the canal, the security
of the harbour and abundance of timber around it, which led me to chase [choose]
a site for the establishment at that place, in preference to all others met with on
the Island. 14
J. D. Pemberton, a trained surveyor, estimated the area of " open and
connected " arable lands near Victoria at 100,000 acres. He also stated
that somewhat similar areas occurred in the Cowichan, Nanaimo, and
Puntledge Valleys. He claimed the Island's farm lands were "able to
supply in affluence a large population," and that " exploration had led to
finding ' open land' where least expected." An acre of apples at that
time, 1860, could be planted for £30 to £40 and would yield £200 at
"its lowest selling price." He went on to say that hops, hemp, and hay
would all pay well; that potatoes were excellent; that wheat yielded 20
to 40 bushels an acre.15   The British fleet then provided a good market.
But farming everywhere is subject to serious ups and downs. On
Vancouver Island the attraction of high wages in industry and especially
forestry has drawn away people from farming. The late Dr. S. F. Tolmie
recounted in the 1920's that he thought there was less land farmed in
Saanich then than when he was a boy. Of the known arable land in the
south-east quarter of the Island, only some 15 per cent is now used. The
Island is a heavy importer of farm produce, and the rattle of milk-cans
from the Fraser Valley coming off the Vancouver boat is a formidable
obstacle to late-sleeping passengers.
Owing partly to the relatively high cost of clearing much of our
Island land, only crops which yield a high dollar-per-acre sum can be
profitably grown. Fortunately the climate of much of the Island is such
as enables farmers to grow such crops. The satisfactory marketing of
these crops in large quantities is a problem for solution. But, intrinsically,
high-value crops, yielding up to $2,000 an acre, such as seeds, both
vegetable and flower, medicinal herbs, bulbs, flowers, foundation nursery
stock, choice vegetables such as asparagus, are grown here to equal and
usually surpass in quality those grown almost anywhere else. In brief,
this Island is suited by nature to become one of the most important seed,
bulb, flower, and nursery gardens of the world. In this field it has a
golden future.
(14) Douglas to McLoughlin, July 12, 1842, MS., Archives of B.C.
(15) J. D. Pemberton, op. cit., pp. 18, 21, 23, 50. 1952 Some Notes on Vancouver Island 61
The sea-otter was the earliest form of wealth yielded by the sea off
this Island, but ruthless slaughter soon killed them off.16 Whales, while
not fish, can be put into " fisheries " without much strain. The Island
has long been the home of some whaling industry, but it is not of first
importance in point of dollar yield. Sealing was for nearly forty years
a major factor in our economy. Close to a hundred sealing-schooners
wintered in Victoria, and the industry long gave a good living to whites
and Indians.17 Perhaps rapacity became too much; in any case, in the
late 1890's, by treaty, sealing was abandoned.
Fish, of course, are the historic and main food of Island Indians.
But it has been very far from even an important item of food for white
Canadians, who consume less fish per capita than almost any nation.
The Honourable R. W. Mayhew, Federal Minister of Fisheries, has
brought his great business acumen to the bettering of that position with
excellent results. The value of British Columbia's fisheries has grown
from $14,000,000 in 1921 to an estimated $90,000,000 in 1951.18
Refrigeration has had much to do with that, and it is a far cry from the
barrelled fish of early days to the fine cold-storage plants and trains of
to-day. Salmon, halibut, and herring are all of immense and growing
importance. National and international steps have been taken to conserve and improve the supply of this splendid food. One of the great
fish-banks in the world lies just off the south-west coast of Vancouver
Island. To it repair scores of sturdy fish-craft, equipped with ingenious
instruments and fishing-gear.
The most marked feature of Vancouver Island is its luxuriant and
magnificent mantle of forest, reaching from far up the shoulders of its
mountains down to their feet, in the sea. Yet in the beginning the timber
for Island houses was imported, often from California—redwood-built
homes still stand in Victoria—and the spars this British colony sent to
(16) T. A. Rickard, "The Sea-otter in History," British Columbia Historical
Quarterly, XI (1947), pp. 15-31.
(17) " The importance of the industry may be judged by the following particulars: There are sixty-five schooners of a net tonnage of 4,292 registered, valued
at $614,500. Eight hundred and seven whites and nine hundred and three Indians
are employed . . . some $350,000 is paid in wages. The value of the skins
has averaged $750,000 per annum for the past three years." R. E. Gosnell, The
Yearbook of British Columbia, Victoria, 1897, p. 265.
(18) British Columbia, Bureau of Economics and Statistics, British Columbia,
Facts and Statistics, 1951, Victoria, 1952, p. 17. 62 H. Cuthbert Holmes Jan.-Apr.
Britain were brought in from America's Puget Sound.19 However, soon
the infant colony began to take advantage of the resources immediately
at hand.20 " Enterprising British merchants " began cutting timber for
export in Barkley Sound in 1860. W. Colquhoun Grant, the Island's
first independent settler, set up a sawmill at Sooke which was taken over
by the Muir family. Logging—with oxen—went on for years in the
Alberni Valley until it ceased for lack of logs.21 It is interesting to
compare this " lack of logs " with the present annual cut.
It is heartening to know that a high proportion of the construction
timber of Canada—some put it at 25 per cent—grows on Vancouver
Island. For years dark clouds hung over this greatest of Island industries.
Only a small part of each log was used. Worse still, vast areas were
denuded of trees and stayed denuded. The timber industry faced extinction, but, fortunately for those who seek to five here, this calamity was
avoided, largely by man's determination and ingenuity. Improved
machinery made trees available which had previously been untouchable.
New uses for timber were found, amongst them lamination. Immense
demands for pulp and paper arose and new markets were found. As its
own timber stands dwindled, the United States became an avid buyer of
Canadian forest products, both for construction and paper. British
Columbia timber, and most of that from Vancouver Island, began going
to scores of countries, now able to buy because of the tremendous
expansion of world wealth during the last fifty years.
The wealth we ourselves derived from each tree almost doubled as
new methods, introduced by such companies as those headed by H. R.
MacMillan, made it feasible to turn to value not 50 per cent of a tree
but no less than 95 per cent. The superb quality of our forests, the
insatiable and growing world demand for such quality product with
consequent rapidly rising prices, renewed the grave danger of exhaustion.
This danger the Government faced with courage.   The brilliant report
(19) "The spars sent to England in 1859, had to be procured on the American side; as ... no business of the kind had up to that time been established
either on the island or the mainland."   J. D. Pemberton, op. cit., p. 66.
(20) For an account of the development of the early lumbering industry on
Vancouver Island see W. Kaye Lamb, " Early Lumbering on Vancouver Island,"
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, II (1938), pp. 30-53, 95-121.
(21) G. M. Sproat, one of the promoters of this venture, made it clear that this
mill was closed because it did not yield a profit and because the supply of available
logs had been exhausted.    Ibid., p. 110. 1952 Some Notes on Vancouver Island 63
of the Royal Commission headed by Chief Justice Gordon McG. Sloan22
laid bare the facts and suggested the cure. The forestry department
under the Honourable E. T. Kenney and the Chief Forester, Dr. C. D.
Orchard, acted with vigour and vision. Forest-management plans were
introduced which restricted annual cuts so as to ensure a steady perpetual
yield. No more important step or measure has been taken for the material
well-being of this Island.
What a giant stride it has been from the minute mill of the 1850's
to the vast, acre-covering plants of the 1950's; from the few dollars paid
out in 1851 for wages and salaries to the $125,000,000 and more of the
Island payroll for business and industry in 1951.23 Yet the past has been
very chequered. In the early fur-trade days the Island made nothing.
It even imported from the United States timber for its houses, bricks for
its buildings, and spars for the British market. Naturally its economy
was unstable, but this did not long continue. The earliest Victoria
directories24 soon showed a surprising number of industries being carried
on. Wood and metal works of many types, boat-yards, breweries, rice-
mills, clothing-mills, and the like began, and many did well. Their
detailed story would be worth telling, but it is a long one. Some of them
have lasted till to-day; others were bought up by Mainland or eastern
interests and the local branch closed. Soap is an instance and, in recent
times, matches. The Island exports considerably over $2,000,000
annually from each of four ports,25 though largely, it is true, primary
products. However, the share taken by manufactured or semi-manufactured articles is growing again.
This may be a good place to deal very shortly with the problem of
manufacturing wages. There are few things which could not be made
here as well as anywhere else; in some cases our natural conditions are
exceptionally favourable, particularly in textiles because of the water
(22) Report of the Commissioner . . . relating to the Forest Resources of
British Columbia, Victoria, 1945, passim.
(23) British Columbia, Department of Labour, Annual Report. . . 1950,
Victoria, 1951, p. 10, gave the Vancouver Island payroll as $127,741,000.
(24) Edward Mallandaine, First Victoria Directory, Victoria, 1860; second
issue, Victoria, 1868; third issue, Victoria, 1869; fourth issue, Victoria, 1871;
also F. P. Howard and G. Barnett, British Columbian and Victoria Guide and
Directory for 1863, Victoria, 1863, passim.
(25) British Columbia, Bureau of Economics and Statistics, Monthly Bulletin, Vol. V, No. 2 (May, 1951), gives the following figures for exports in the year
1950 from Vancouver Island ports: Victoria, $18,361,248; Nanaimo, $24,553,019;
Port Alberni, $5,575,249. 64 H. Cuthbert Holmes Jan.-Apr.
and climatic factors. But the manufacturer has to compete for his labour
with the workers in those primary industries to which nature has given
us great advantages over all rivals. Our stands of immense first-growth
timber and some of our fisheries are instances of this. Those industries
can, and do, pay very high wages. How is the employer who has not
similar advantages to compete, especially when public and semi-public
bodies have, almost perforce, to pay wages which appear to be the
highest in Canada in their lines? Yet an economy based on primary
and service employments alone is bound to be unstable and therefore
It must be emphasized that the great industries begun in the last
decade on this Island owe their existence to a bold policy of developing
electrical power, apparently far ahead of needs. No great industry can
live without great blocks of power, but the credit for looking so shrewdly
and boldly ahead belongs in large part to the Honourable John Hart,
for many years Premier of this Province. In the past five years the
installed electric power on Vancouver Island has more than trebled,
rising from 47,000,000 to nearly 155,000,000 kwh.,26 and an additional
50,000,000 kwh. is now being developed.
Without means of transportation, any country, at best, remains
fallow. The relatively slow growth of Vancouver Island, and indeed of
British Columbia, is due primarily to the lack of available communications. As early as 1860, Pemberton drew attention to this when he
pointed out the rapid growth of California, Oregon, and Washington
and ascribed it very largely to the 8,000 miles of post road which tied
those areas to the East.27 He strongly advocated a land and water link
from here, via Hope, Vermilion Pass, the South Saskatchewan River as
far as Elbow, thence overland to Fort Garry, and on by way of the
Red River to join the eastern railways. The route could be opened,
he claimed, for £200,000, and he was confident that it would rapidly
pay for itself. He contrasted our roadless policy with that of the United
States, which not only built four main routes to the West, one involving
crossing 75 miles of waterless desert, but, on the plea of subsidizing
(26) British Columbia Power Commission, Power Means Progress, Victoria,
1951, p. 4, gives the Vancouver Island hydro-electric installations as 154,469,000
(27)". . . America has already connected her possessions on the Pacific with
the Eastern States, by 8131 miles of mail-coach road. . . ." J. D. Pemberton,
op cit., p. 94. 1952 Some Notes on Vancouver Island 65
mail contracts, also spent £550,000 annually on what was really for
the development of the colonies. With the opening of the British route,
emigrants from Great Britain landing at Portland, Maine, could reach
Vancouver Island as cheaply as those from the Atlantic Coast could
reach the Pacific, except for the then Atlantic passage of 50 shillings.28
Have we, north of the 49th parallel, even yet quite learned the value of
good communications? When will our one Trans-Canada highway be
Few, if any, areas as rich as Vancouver Island can have been so
starved for communications. To-day, after a century of settlement, in
spite of the immense riches the Island has produced, it has not got one
single road from end to end or from side to side. The building of
the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway in the 1880's saved the Island
from utter backwardness. But the need to-day in an area such as this
is for roads. The 1951 Census showed that in the last decade the rich
but roadless Clayoquot-Tofino area, with a payroll of over $2,000,000
per annum,29 has actually lost people30 while the rest of the Island has
gained 44 per cent.   Surely the reason is lack of a road.
We began as a very promising infant. Our British godparents
thought very well of us. Actually our infancy was troubled with a number of ailments, and so our early growth was puny. Then, it was in
1860, James Douglas proclaimed Victoria a free port. Rapidly its trade
and wealth increased. The Island began to overtake those infants to
the south, which had grown so much taller and were so much sturdier.
But in 1866 this rich and strong food of free port was taken away, and
the Island became a sort of increasingly minor Siamese twin of the vast
colony of British Columbia. Our young, and often flourishing, industries
were swallowed up by our larger twin, and then later by Eastern Canada.
The gains made during the 1880's were not kept. A great Eastern
magnate vowed he would make the grass grow in the streets of Victoria.
Fortunately for this Island it possessed in R. P. Rithet a rugged and
thrusting pioneer citizen, who built the Outer Wharves, from which so
(28) Ibid., pp. 90-101 passim.
(29) British Columbia, Department of Trade and Industry, Regional Industrial Index of British Columbia, Victoria, 1952, p. 264, gives the 1950 payroll of
this area as $2,275,090.
(30) Canada, Dominion Bureau of Statistics, Ninth Census of Canada, 1951,
Ottawa, 1952, Bulletin 1-2, Vol. I, Table 5, p. 83, gives the following comparative figures for Census Subdivision E (Clayoquot-Barkley Sound): 1941, 3,250;
1951, 2,786. 66 H. Cuthbert Holmes
much of Victoria's progress has sprung. He is reputed to have told the
Easterner: "And I am here to see that you do not succeed." King
Coal, with which industry Dunsmuir is the historic name, also kept the
Island going and growing for several decades. Now we are 100 years
old. We begin to hold our own. Our Island-based fishermen again
sail the seas; our farm products reach distant and rich markets; our
factories again begin to throb. Most of all, our vast and dense forests
ring with giant machines and strokes of powerful men. So as we come
striding strongly down the straight, past the grandstand of history, in
the first-century lap of our long race through time, there is bright promise that we may yet become a " magnificent abode for millions of the
human race," a young " England of the Pacific."
H. Cuthbert Holmes.
Victoria, B.C. "RECORD OF A TRIP TO DAWSON, 1898":
" The Trail of '98 " is slowly being obliterated by time. It has, none
the less, taken its place in the " epic of the North." Of the many thousands who hopefully set out, by diverse routes, to reach the golden
Klondike, a few became wealthy, some died on the trail, and many
turned back in disgust before they ever reached the Yukon. The
majority of the gold-seekers, apparently, did finally reach the diggings,
made a little money on the creeks, " blew it in " in Dawson City, and
many of them came " outside " again with barely enough money to pay
their passage home. A few of those who arrived in the Klondike in the
eventful summer of 1898 seem to have carefully studied the situation on
the creeks, found it not to their liking, and returned home before the
freeze-up. Among them was the author of this diary, the late John
Smith, of Coquitlam, B.C.
Smith recorded that " every likely spot within 50 miles of Dawson is
staked out, tho' all the claims are by no means working, only a very small
per cent of them." One day in Dawson City he waited seven hours
outside the post-office " & then got no letter." At the Land Recorder's
office he waited from Monday until Friday afternoon " to ask one or two
questions." In disgust he then decided to take a river-boat down the
Yukon to St. Michael, where he obtained a passage to Seattle. He had
seen enough of the Klondike.
John Smith was an Englishman, an East Anglian by birth. According to information most kindly and generously furnished by his daughter,
Mrs. S. P. Jones, of Whonnock, B.C., he was born on May 28, 1859, at
Crownthorpe, Norfolk. He was a graduate chemist and for five years
had his own shop in Liverpool. On April 9, 1887, at Kentish Town,
Middlesex, he married Frances Rose Middleton. In 1892 he decided
to emigrate to Canada, and on July 16 of that year he and his family
embarked on the Beaver Line S.S. Lake Ontario at Liverpool for
Montreal. His destination was Vancouver, where he arrived on August
2, 1892. Except for his brief sojourn in the Yukon and Alaska in 1898,
he lived in British Columbia for the remainder of his long and useful life.
* The original manuscript diary was presented to the Provincial Archives by
Mrs. S. P. Jones, of Whonnock, B.C., a daughter of John Smith.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XVI, Nos. 1 and 2.
67 68 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
Shortly after his arrival in this Province, Smith purchased a farm at
Coquitlam and worked on it until he left for the North on March 15,
1898. He was back home again late in August. The following year he
became Municipal Clerk of the Municipality of Coquitlam. When the
City of Port Coquitlam was incorporated in the boom days of 1913,
John Smith was appointed City Clerk, and this position he held until his
retirement in 1937. On April 21, 1900, he was appointed a Justice of
the Peace, and on March 31, 1913, he became Police Magistrate for the
City of Port Coquitlam. The latter office he held for many years. From
April 10, 1933, until his resignation on July 25, 1945, he was a Stipendiary Magistrate in and for the Counties of Vancouver and Westminster. He lived quietly in retirement at Port Coquitlam until his death
on January 23, 19501
The most significant fact about John Smith's diary is that it is one of
the very few which have come to light which describe the Stikine River
route to the Klondike—a route by way of Telegraph Creek, Teslin Lake,
Teslin River, Lewes River, and the Yukon River. The Stikine trail was
much longer than the more usual routes from Skagway and Dyea over
the Chilkoot and White Passes. Its chief title to fame was that it was
widely advertised as the " best all-Canadian route." Before describing
this route in detail, it will be best to list and discuss other well-known,
and some less well-known, routes to the Yukon and Alaskan goldfields.
The Alaskan and Yukon gold-rushes were the last of the great series
that commenced in California and spread through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, to Colorado, and even to South Dakota and north to Oregon,
Washington, Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia. The Alaskan rush
had its faint beginnings in the early 1880's, and gold was discovered on
the Yukon in 1883. The next gold strike in the Klondike was in 1896,
and the rush which began in 1897 was at its height in 1898. Transportation was the greatest problem, and coupled with it was the so-called
" battle of the trails."
What was often termed the "earliest route" was by way of St.
Michael on the Alaskan coast and up the Yukon River to Dawson. The
distance from Seattle to St. Michael is about 2,700 miles. At St.
Michael, which is situated on Norton Sound and not at the mouth of the
Yukon River, the gold-seekers were transferred to flat-bottomed river-
(1) Port Coquitlam Herald, January 27, 1950; Maple Ridge Gazette, February
3, 1950; Vancouver News Herald, January 26, 1950. See also New Westminster
British Columbian, February 15, 1945. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 69
steamers for their journey up the Yukon. From St. Michael to Dawson
the distance is variously given from 1,600 to 1,700 miles; practically the
whole journey was up the Yukon, often against a very swift current.
The chief drawback to this route was that it was only open to navigation
from June to September.
The two best-known routes were up Lynn Canal to Skagway and
Dyea and over the Chilkoot and White Passes. The Chilkoot Pass route
started from Dyea. The road up to the summit was long and hard, and
many fell by the wayside, especially the " tenderfeet" who had no experience of either mountaineering or prospecting. From the top of Chilkoot
Pass the trail led 27 miles to Lake Lindeman, the head of navigation on
the Lewes River, one of the chief tributaries of the Yukon. The distance
from Lake Lindeman to Dawson is, approximately, 575 miles. Horses
were employed on this trail from Dyea to the foot of the pass, 18 miles,
but all freight had to be packed by the miners up the steep ascent of the
pass. The Chilkoot Pass trail had been used, according to Tappan
Adney in 1898, "for the past sixteen years by miners entering the
The White Pass route was discovered by Captain William Moore in
1888. It started 4 miles from Dyea and ascended the Skagway River.
The top of the pass is 2,800 feet above sea-level and 20 miles from salt
water. This route was slightly longer than that over the Chilkoot Pass,
and both trails lead to the headwaters of the Lewes River. Dr. T. A.
Rickard states that during the winter of 1897 "not less than 33,000 men
and women passed through Skagway on their way to Dawson over the
trails of Dyea and the White Pass."3 Thousands of them were stalled at
Skagway, Dyea, and White Pass City " owing to their inability to transfer
their outfit across the range after the snow had fallen."4
A third route up Lynn Canal was the so-called "Dalton Trail,"
named after its discoverer, John Dalton, a trader. It has been described
by E. Jerome Dyer, as follows:—
From Chilkat Pass to the mouth of the Nordenskiold River on the Lewes;
distance about 170 miles.   Though this distance is taken from the Pass, Dalton's
(2) Tappan Adney, The Klondike Stampede, New York, 1900, p. 17. The first
party seems to have crossed in 1880. Cf. F. W. Howay, W. N. Sage, and H. F.
Angus, British Columbia and the United States, Toronto, 1942, p. 334. The Lewes
River was named for John Lee Lewes of the Hudson's Bay Company.
(3) T. A. Rickard, Through the Yukon and Alaska, San Francisco, 1909,
p. 145.
(4) Ibid. 70 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
actual trail begins at Chilkat Inlet, passes to the west of Chilkat Pass, and while
occasionally touching the river at the point above-mentioned, it passes at no great
distance from the Lewes right on to Fort Selkirk. Dalton will not permit anyone
to accompany him on this route.5
The so-called " Edmonton Route " is a good example of the propaganda which was at work in Eastern Canada to acquaint gold-seekers
with the desirability of taking an overland route entirely through Canadian territory. There were many variants of this route, but in the main
they narrow down to two—the Mackenzie River route and the Liard
River route. In either case the trail was long and hard; in fact, the
Liard River route was extremely dangerous. Tappan Adney waxes
sarcastic on the subject of the "Edmonton Route," but it should be
remembered that attempts were made, some of them successfully, to
reach the Klondike via the Mackenzie and via the Liard.
Via Edmonton. By courtesy designated a "trail." The insane desire of
Canada to find an all-Canadian route to her new possessions has led to the suggestion as possible routes those used by the Hudson's Bay Company to reach the
Yukon. From Edmonton a wagon-road of 96 miles to Athabasca Landing; thence
by small boat, 430 miles, to Lake Athabasca; thence down the Slave River, across
Great Slave Lake, and down the Mackenzie River, 1376 miles, to the neighborhood
of Fort McPherson, near the mouth of the Mackenzie; thence up Rat River and
over an all-water connection at McDougall's Pass into the Porcupine; and thence
down the Porcupine to the Yukon, 496 miles—a total distance from Edmonton
of 2398 miles (Mr. William Ogilvie's figures). There the would-be Klondiker,
303 miles below Dawson and against a hard current, is practically farther away
from his destination than if at Dyea or Skagway.
The other " route " from Edmonton ascends the Athabasca River to Little Slave
Lake; thence by portage to Peace River; ascends that river to a point towards its
source; thence overland by a ramification of " routes " to the Liard; up that river
and thence by another portage to the head of the Pelly, and down that river to
Fort Selkirk; an exceedingly difficult trail, abandoned forty years ago by the
company that first discovered its existence.
The above briefly describes the " trails " by which the Canadians, the merchants
of Edmonton, and the Canadian Pacific Railway propose to start human beings for
the Yukon. It has been termed " the Athabasca back-door route." By the same
token there are as many other " routes " to the Yukon as there are water-ways
in the northwest of Canada between Montreal and the Rocky Mountains.6
(5) E. Jerome Dyer, The Routes and Mineral Resources of North Western
Canada, London, 1898, p. 196. Dyer carefully separates Dalton's overland route
from Bound's overland route which crossed Chilkoot Pass and reached the Lewes
River at Five Finger Rapids. It was to the east of Dalton's trail and was about 180
miles long. Tappan Adney, The Klondike Stampede, p. 17, confuses Dalton's and
Bound's trails.   Chilkoot Inlet runs into Lynn Canal near Pyramid Harbour.
(6) Tappan Adney, op. cit., pp. 17-18. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 71
The Stikine trail was probably the most feasible of any of the " all-
Canadian routes." It started at Wrangell, Alaska, situated on Wrangell
Island near the mouth of the Stikine River. The first 30 or 40 miles
were in American territory. The exact location of the International
Boundary was in dispute until 1903, but Smith states that the line was
32 miles from the Cottonwood Islands at the mouth of the Stikine.7
After the "break-up," when the ice had gone out of the river, sternwheelers plied between Wrangell and Telegraph Creek, but Smith and
his companions went over the ice. The chief hazard on the lower Stikine
was the Little Canyon, situated about 25 or 30 miles within Canadian
territory. This canyon has been described as " a gorge three-fifths of a
mile long and a few hundred yards wide."8 Above the canyon the river
is navigable as far as Glenora, 125 miles from its mouth and to Telegraph Creek, 12 miles above Glenora. The Grand Canyon of the
Stikine blocks navigation on the main stream for 45 miles. The trail to
the north left the river at Telegraph Creek. The Dease Lake trail skirts
the Grand Canyon to the confluence of the Tanzilla River and then
follows the course of that river up-stream to Dease Lake.
Gold was first discovered in the Stikine country in 1861 by Alexander "Buck" Choquette, a French-Canadian.9 A rush at once took
place, followed by another smaller one in 1862. Choquette explored the
river and its tributaries to Dease Lake and then on by Dease River to the
Liard. He also went up the Tahltan River as far as Egnell. The Collins
Overland Telegraph line was planned to extend north from California
and Oregon to Alaska, where it was to cross Bering Strait and to join up
with a proposed Russian telegraph-line across Siberia. The telegraph
was actually completed in 1866 for use as far as Fort Stager, a supply
depot at the confluence of the Kispiox and Skeena Rivers. It never
reached Telegraph Creek.10
In 1897 and 1898 there were many proposals for constructing a trail
and even building a railroad up the Stikine to Telegraph Creek and
(7) See entries for March 23 and 26, 1898.
(8) Arthur J. Beanlands, British Columbia, Its Present Resources and Future
Possibilities, Victoria, 1893, p. 27. This publication was issued by the Government
of British Columbia.
(9) A. S. Trueman, Placer Gold Mining in Northern British Columbia, 1860-
1880, 1935, a M.A. thesis in the library of the University of British Columbia.
(10) Corday Mackay, "The Collins Overland Telegraph," British Columbia
Historical Quarterly, X (1946), pp. 187-215. The line was eventually completed
to the Yukon during the gold-rush. 72 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
overland to Teslin Lake.   The Vancouver News-Advertiser of May 22,
1897, contained the following news-item:—
Mr. John C. Calbreath, for many years resident at Telegraph Creek, on the
Stickeen River, B.C., has been directed by the Provincial Government to explore
the new route suggested for a trail to Teslin Lake the source of the Holalinqua
River, a tributary of the Lewis [sic] branch of the Yukon. . . . When this trail
is opened, an easy route to the Yukon gold fields will be provided.   .   .   . H
Later in July, quoting from the Victoria Colonist, the News-Advertiser
stated that Calbreath was building the trail and that A. E. Mills, one of
his party who had just arrived in Victoria, reported that the party left
Telegraph Creek on May 26 and got the trail through to the lake on
June 28. The route apparently followed an old Hudson's Bay Company
trail and is thus described: "The route was found on the whole level,
with clumps of scrubby woods or some swamp lands to encounter in
places, but is pronounced by Mr. Mills to be a very good trail and a very
feasible way into the Yukon."12 A scow was built at Teslin Lake and
sixteen miners set off for the Klondike. On their return they reported
that they had come back in nine days and " could have done so in six."
These glowing reports led to a rush of miners to the Stikine by way
of Wrangell, Alaska. As usual, the gold-seekers underestimated the
difficulties. Inspector P. C. H. Primrose, of the Royal Canadian Northwest Mounted Police, in his report for 1898, dealt with the subject at
some length.13 During the summer of 1898 there were fourteen to sixteen steamers operating between Wrangell and Telegraph Creek. Most
of them were "finely appointed boats, with electric light, etc." The
Inspector thus commented on the unfavourable reports which had come
back from the gold-seekers who had travelled the Stikine-Teslin Lake
Quite a lot has been written and said as to the hardships, sufferings, etc., of
those who attempted to get to the Klondyke by this route, and doubtless there
were some of both, but I wish to point out that quite a large number of these
people were totally unaccustomed to work of this discription [sic], in my opinion,
knowing little of camp life or cooking, handling an axe or pick, etc., working of
animals or properly taking care of themselves.14
Many of the miners were burdened with non-essentials. Usually
they planned to get up to Glenora on the ice, but many were too late and
(11) Vancouver News-Advertiser, May 22, 1897.
(12) lb id., July 18, 1897.
(13) Annual Report of the Royal Canadian Northwest Mounted Police for
1898, Part III, Yukon Territory, pp. 57-63, Canada Sessional Papers, 1899, No. 15.
(14) Ibid., p. 62. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 73
had to wait for the steamers. As a result, they arrived at Glenora short
of funds and then were confronted by a packing charge from that point
to Teslin Lake of $800 per ton. Wild stories were circulated that 3,000
miners were destitute.   This Inspector Primrose categorically denied.
. . . there was no destitution, as there was plenty of food, and of the 2,500 who
went in by this route, I have records of about 1,300 having come out, so that when
you take into consideration those in business, and settled at Glenora, Telegraph
Creek, Dease Lake and Teslin, and those who got through to Teslin and down the
river, the ones remaining who are prospecting cannot be very many. 15
According to the map in E. Jerome Dyer's volume The Routes and
Mineral Resources of North Western Canada, there were at least two
routes from the Stikine River to Teslin Lake. The first went north-west
from Telegraph Creek and then crossed the Tahltan River not far from
Tahltan Lake. It then struck northwards, overland, to Chees-mina
[Chismaina] Lake and north by an unnamed river to Teslin Lake. The
other route, which led overland from the Skeena River, did not touch
Telegraph Creek, but crossed the Stikine just above the mouth of the
Tahltan. It followed the course of the Tahltan and crossed the same
height of land used by the trail from Telegraph Creek. It then followed
the Kaketz River to Egnell, where there was a Hudson's Bay Company
post. From Egnell the trail went down the Sheslay River to its junction
with the Inklin River. At this point it went overland, skirting Chees-lina
and Chees-mina Lakes to the river, already mentioned, that flows north
from the latter lake to Lake Teslin. From John Smith's diary it is not
certain that his party exactly followed either of these routes, but it would
appear that they more closely approximated the first than the second
None of the 1898 maps can be taken too seriously. In most cases
the map-makers had no personal acquaintance with the country, and
they set down as well-marked routes what probably were little more than
blazed trails. Tappan Adney shrewdly wrote as follows regarding the
Stikine route:—
None of the new maps agree where the trail is, but the route is being pushed by
the Canadian government as an all-Canadian route to the Klondike. A company
has chartered the only steamer available at Wrangell and is taking over saw-mill
machinery, building steamers, and preparing for the spring " rush " that way.16
(15) Ibid.
(16) Tappan Adney, op. cit., p. 17.   Adney was evidently describing conditions
prevailing on the Stikine during the winter of 1897-98. 74 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
The Evening Standard of London, England, for October 7, 1897,
contained a lengthy report from a special correspondent on the subject
of the Stikine route, from which the following excerpt has been quoted
by Dyer:—
Another route which is growing in favour, owing to the difficulties of the
mountain passes this Fall is the Sticheen [sic] River route, also known as the "All
Canadian," because it is confined to Canadian territory. It has the additional
recommendation of having being approved by Dr. Dawson, Director of the Geological Survey, who travelled by way of Teslin Lake ten years ago, and advocated
the building of a road in this direction. The head of navigation is still called
Telegraph Creek, and this route is signified on the map with the name of " Government Trail." Whether it exists anywhere but on the maps may be doubted, and
the Government, of course, have accepted no responsibility beyond having the
country explored. Still, people who have travelled by different routes claim that
this is the best. An old prospector reports that the trail from Telegraph Creek to
Teslin Lake cannot be more than 115 to 120 miles long, and he describes the
country as comparatively easy of travel. The trail is fairly level, and though some
parts are swampy, there is plenty of timber to make corduroy, i.e., to make a solid
road over the bog by putting down brushwood and laying logs across it, a safe if
not a very comfortable mode of travelling. Dr. Dawson says of this route:—
" The river is navigable for the ordinary flat bottom boats from Salt Water to
Telegraph Creek, a distance of 150 miles, from Telegraph Creek to Teslin Lake
is about another 150 miles through what is believed to be a flat and not very
difficult country, but very little is known about it. Mr. St. Cyr, a surveyor on the
staff of the Department of the Interior, is making a survey of the country at the
present time. He is expected to come out this Autumn, and when he does the
practicability of the route will probably be settled. From Teslin Lake there is no
difficulty whatever, there being navigation for stern-wheelers right down to the
mouth of the Yukon. If this route proves practicable it will greatly facilitate
ingress and egress to and from the Yukon country."
There is a very general opinion as to the value of this route, and, besides the
Government Surveyor, the chief engineer of the Kootenay division of the Canadian
Pacific Railway is investigating the locality with a view to the construction of a
railway. . . . The Sticheen [sic] route involves a stretch of uncertain river navigation from Wrangell to Telegraph Creek, while the Taku Inlet has the advantage
of a deep water terminus open all the year round. 17
It is not to be wondered that speculation in railway construction
ran wild. Numerous petitions were presented to the British Columbia
Legislature for charters for railway companies, and at its session in 1897
no less than three companies were incorporated.    The Stickeen and
(17) E. J. Dyer, op. cit., pp. 151-152. Dr. George M. Dawson (1849-1901)
was one of Canada's greatest geologists. Much of his best work was done in
Northern British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. His report for 1887 is
still often quoted. The Taku Inlet route is marked on Dyer's map as leading from
this inlet up Taku and Nakina Rivers and overland to Teslin Lake. John Smith. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 75
Teslin Railway, Navigation and Colonization Company was chartered
"for the purpose of constructing a railway from a point at or near
Glenora, on the north-westerly bank of Stickeen River, to a point at or
near the Southern end of Teslin Lake, and also for the purpose of building, equipping and maintaining a line of steamers on Stickeen River and
on Teslin Lake."18 The British Columbia and Yukon Railway Company
was authorized to build a railway from a point " at or near the head of
Lynn Canal, and thence by the most feasible route to the North boundary
line of British Columbia."19 In addition, the American firm, the Yukon
Mining, Trading and Transportation Company, was given permission to
build a line of railway from the head of steamboat navigation on Taku
Inlet to Teslin Lake.20 All three companies were eligible for land subsidies from the Provincial Government to the extent of 5,120 acres per
mile under the provisions of the Northern Railways Aid Act.21 However,
nothing came of any of these proposals, and in 1899 their land subsidies
were cancelled.
Of much greater importance was a proposal brought forward by
Messrs. Mackenzie and Mann,22 which project had the active support of
(18) "An Act to Incorporate the Stickeen and Teslin Railway, Navigation and
Colonization Company," British Columbia Statutes, 1898, Victoria, 1898, chap. 71.
The incorporators were Alexander Begg, Alexander L. W. Begg, Roderick Begg,
and Ralph Begg, all of Orillia, Ontario.   Capitalization was set at $2,500,000.
(19) "An Act to Incorporate the British Columbia and Yukon Railway Company," ibid., chap. 49. The incorporators were H. C. Beeton, A. Drucker, and
C. H. Wilkinson, of London, England, and E. E. Billingshurst, of Victoria, B.C.
(20) "An Act to authorize the Yukon Mining, Trading and Transportation Co.
(Foreign) to construct a line of railway from the head of steamboat navigation on
Taku Inlet to Teslin Lake," ibid., chap. 77.
(21) "An Act to authorize the Grants of Land Subsidies for and in aid of
Certain Lines of Railway in Cassiar District," ibid., chap. 38.
(22) Sir William Mackenzie (1849-1923) and Sir Donald Mann (1853-1934),
both natives of Ontario, had first got their start in the business and financial world
as contractors during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. They
entered partnership in 1886, but it was not until 1895 that, with the assistance of
two fellow contractors, James Ross and H. S. Holt, they seriously began to promote
the planning and building of railways by buying up the charter of the Lake
Manitoba Railway and Canal Company. The first railway Mackenzie and Mann
actually built was from Gladstone to Dauphin, Manitoba, and on to Lake Winni-
pegosis. Then the partners looked eastward and sought to establish a new line of
railway between Winnipeg and Port Arthur, Ontario. In 1899 the Canadian
Northern Railway Company came into existence. With the assistance of Z. A.
Lash, K.C, in 1902 they incorporated as Mackenzie, Mann and Company, and
they built the third Canadian transcontinental railway with rather dire results. The
Stikine railway venture was typical of the men and their methods.
7 76 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
the Honourable Clifford Sifton, Minister of the Interior, who, after an
on-the-spot investigation in the fall of 1897, determined to open an all-
Canadian route. On January 27, 1898, Sifton wrote to Major J. M.
Walsh, Commissioner of Yukon Territory:—
We signed a contract yesterday for the construction of a railroad from the Stikine
River to Teslin Lake. The contract is in the hands of Messrs Mackenzie and
Mann, and they are to build a wagon road in six weeks, with stopping places every
twenty-five miles, and have a railroad in operation by September 1st. You will be
able to take a steamboat on the river next September and come out like a
To facilitate the construction of this line the Government was prepared
to make a land grant of 25,000 acres per mile in the Yukon Territory24
—the last land grant to be undertaken by the Federal Government.
Mining rights were handed over to the company in these lands, on which
they were to pay a royalty on any gold extracted. No competitive charter
was to be granted for five years, and the regulative provisions of the
Railway Act were waived for ten years. Although the legislation passed
the House of Commons, some months later it was defeated in the Senate,
and the scheme came to naught.25
Mackenzie and Mann sent out survey parties and even began some
preliminary work. Tappan Adney recorded that railway " tickets were
sold in the principal cities of Europe and the United States for through
passage to Dawson," but when the unfortunate gold-seekers arrived at
Telegraph Creek, they found no railway in existence, only a horse-trail
of 150 miles on which there was insufficient forage for their animals.
The steamer Anglian was constructed on Teslin Lake to ply to Dawson.
It was Adney's opinion that a deputation of Yukon miners that had left
Dawson in the autumn of 1897 for Ottawa was at least partially responsible for the defeat of the proposed Railway Bill. They opposed the
granting of the franchise on the grounds that Mackenzie and Mann were
expecting to make a profit of $34,000,000 on the deal; that the narrow-
(23) Quoted in John W. Dafoe, Clifford Sifton in relation to His Times,
Toronto, 1931, p. 163. This was reported in the Victoria Colonist, January 27,
(24) In so far as construction in British Columbia was concerned, this was
provided for in "An Act to Incorporate the Canadian Yukon Railway Company,"
British Columbia Statutes, 1898, chap. 50, and the railway was made eligible for
the land-grant subsidies provided in the Northern Railways Aid Act.
(25) On this subject in addition to John W- Dafoe, op. cit., pp. 151-188 passim,
see also S. J. McLean, "National Highways Overland," in A. Shortt and A. G.
Doughty, Canada and its Provinces, Edinburgh, 1914, X, p. 453. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 77
gauge railway would be useless for seven months of the year. It was
estimated that 3,750,000 acres of mineral lands in the Yukon would be
handed over.26 Other authorities gave much lower figures and, doubtless, political factors entered into the decision in the Canadian Senate.
But the entire incident is a good example of the psychology of the gold-
Still another proposal to utilize the Stikine route must be mentioned.
One of the principal opponents of the Mackenzie and Mann venture was
Sir Charles Tupper, veteran leader of the Conservative Party. At the
time he was chairman of the London board of directors of an English
company which, on December 11, 1897, had been registered in Victoria
as The Klondyke Mining, Trading and Transportation Company of
London, with capitalization of £250,000. Its mining department was
under the management of G. A. Strickland, and its trading and transportation department was headed by the Honourable Edgar Dewdney,
recently retired as Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia. Associated with him in a local board of directors were J. T. Bethune, C. H.
Lugrin, and Caldwell Ashworth. The Victoria Colonist gave the following summary of its plans:—
Already one ocean steamer has been purchased and will reach Victoria in January.
River steamers for the Stickeen and Yukon will be constructed or purchased.
Trading stations will be established at suitable points. An interesting feature of the
company's business will be the maintenance of a line of transportation during the
present winter from Wrangell to Teslin Lake, using two-horse sleighs. When the
ice breaks up passengers taken there by the line will be carried by the company to
Dawson City. The company will at the earliest possible day forward supplies up
the Stickeen on the ice, and expects by having a strong force of teams constantly at
work to be able to keep a good snow road open. The plan is to take care of the
men from the day they leave Victoria until they reach Dawson City, providing
them with food, shelter and transportation.2?
Later in December the company began advertising " The Klondyke
—a great Through Water Route from Victoria to Dawson City." An
expedition " accompanied by eighty teams of horses, sleighs and three
trains of dogs " was to be led over the route by Dewdney and Ashworth.
They were to leave Victoria on the steamer Amur28 which they had
(26) Tappan Adney, op. cit., p. 384.
(27) Victoria Colonist, December 11, 1897.
(28) The steamer Amur was a three-masted steel screw steamer built at Sunderland, England, in 1890, of 907 tons, with the following dimensions: Length,
216 feet; breadth, 28.1 feet; and depth, 11.2 feet. Lloyds Register of British and
Foreign Shipping, 1902-3, London, 1902.   She was brought out to this coast by the 78 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
brought out from England for the run to Wrangell, about February 15,
and from thence the party was to proceed over the ice on the Stikine
River to Glenora or Telegraph Creek and follow a snow road to Teslin
At Teslin Lake boats and scows will be built to convey the party and their outfits
to Dawson City as soon as the Hootalinqua opens; that is the expedition will follow
the ice down that fine navigable stream, thereby avoiding the dangerous White
Horse rapids, and arrive at Dawson City at the earliest possible date thereafter in
the spring.29
For a fee of $500 the company thus undertook to provide transportation,
food, and shelter from the time of leaving Victoria until arrival at Dawson, and free carriage of 400 pounds of luggage. Actually the Amur did
not sail until March 3.30 Dewdney was in charge of the expedition, but
he went no farther than Wrangell, for by March 12 he was back in Victoria with a report from C. J. McLennan, in charge of the company's
river operations, that 15 miles of road had already been opened.31 As
might be expected, the original plans were impossible of completion, but
it is to this organization that Smith makes reference in his diary as the
" Dewdney outfit."32
Such were the conditions when John Smith and his party set out for
the Klondike in 1898. He was indeed fortunate that one of his partners
was a carpenter, and that he was himself accustomed to hard manual
labour and to dealing with emergencies as they arose. John Smith's
diary sheds new fight on the Stikine-Teslin-Dawson trail.33
Walter N. Sage.
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C.
Klondyke Mining, Trading and Transportation Company in 1898, and after the
collapse of this venture she was sold to the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company
in 1899.
(29) Victoria Colonist, December 21, 1897.
(30) Ibid., March 4, 1898.
(31) Ibid., March 13, 1898.
(32) See entry in the diary under date April 6. Other writers sometimes
referred to this expedition as the " Tupper outfit."
(33) An interesting short account of this route was written by Alexander Begg,
"The Stickeen-Teslin Route," B.C. Mining Record, III (December, 1897), pp.
26-27. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 79
March 15th 1898. Left home for Vancouver, in company of Jack McLean,1
en route to Dawson City, N.W.T. We drove into Westminster with Tim-
lick's2 wagon & went on from there to Vancouver by train. G. Alderson3
took our two horses over for us by road, & put them in a livery stable to
await the departure of the steamer " Islander "4 for Wrangel.5
16. The steamer was to have left today, but owing to an accident she was
detained in Victoria, and as we could get no definite information as to
when she was likely to arrive we dare not leave the town. We spent the
day in getting our outfit together and having it taken down to the wharf.
We also made an arrangement with a Carpenter, Joseph Bennett6 of Sapperton, to go with us, we to give him his grub, etc, & he to assist us in
any way possible.
17 & 18. Waiting about in Vancouver. It was very wearisome, as we were so
near home & yet we could not leave the town. We also had to exercise
the horses every day.   There was no room on the " Islander " for Bennett
* In the preparation of the introduction and foot-notes to this diary the writer
wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to Mrs. S. P. Jones, of Whonnock, B.C.;
to Mr. Willard E. Ireland, Miss Madge Wolfenden, and Mr. A. F. Flucke, of the
staff of the Provincial Archives; and to Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, Dominion Archivist,
who, years ago, made a study of the Klondike gold-rush.
(1) Presumably John Beeton McLean, a farmer at Coquitlam, according to
Henderson's British Columbia Gazeteer and Directory . . . for 1898, Victoria
and Vancouver, 1898, p. 152.
(2) R. Timlick is also listed as a farmer at Coquitlam.   Ibid., p. 152.
(3) George Alderson was another farmer from Coquitlam.   Ibid., p. 152.
(4) S.S. Islander, built in Glasgow, Scotland, arrived at Victoria December 9,
1888, for service with the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company. She was a twin-
screw steel steamer, 240 feet long, 42 feet beam, and 14.8 feet hold, and cost over
$200,000. Her original captain was George W. Robertson, and John T. Walbran
was chief officer. A contemporary account described her as possessing "great
speed, has elegant accommodations for several hundred passengers, and a large
freight capacity. She ranks at the head of the modern-built steamers in the Northwest." E. W. Wright (ed.), Lewis & Dry den's Marine History of the Pacific
Northwest, Portland, Oregon, 1895, pp. 351-352. In the early morning of August
15, 1901, she struck an iceberg off Douglas Island near Juneau, Alaska, and
foundered with a loss of forty-four passengers. Vancouver News-Advertiser,
August 20, 1901.
(5) Wrangel, or, as it is more frequently spelled, Wrangell, is situated on the
north end of Wrangell Island, a few miles south of the mouth of the Stikine River.
(6) " Mr. J. Bennett, a carpenter at the Brunette Mills, left for the Klondike,
on the steamer Centennial, on her last trip. Bennett did not say a word to anyone
about going, until he had everything ready, and then bade the ' boys' goodbye, and
left for Dawson." New Westminster British Columbian, March 21, 1898. The
newspaper was in error as to the boat that Bennett took for his trip. 80
Walter N. Sage
Jan.-Apr. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 81
so he sailed ahead of us on a small & very cranky steamer the " Thistie,"7
leaving at 10 p.m. on March 18th.
19. The " Islander " came in today at 6 p.m. & immediately commenced to
load up. There was a big crowd & only those who got on first at Victoria
could get berths to sleep in. We were glad to get some bales of hay to lie
on. We had some trouble in getting the horses on board, but when once
they were on, we got a very good stall for them. There were also on
board 20 oxen, 6 other horses & about 100 dogs.
March 20 (Sunday). A lovely morning. We started at 6 a.m.8 & watching
Vancouver receding from our view, wondered, when we should see it
again. The passengers, all of whom are bound for the Klondyke,9 via
either Wrangel or Skagway, seem a very decent & steady lot of men. The
scenery is very beautiful only we are a little to early for it, to see it at its
best, as where are now snow & ice will soon be lovely waterfalls. The
whole way up to Wrangel, except just crossing Queen Charlotte Sound,
the land is quite close on both sides. It is very mountainous & is much
like sailing up some long narrow mountain lake. We saw quantities of
ducks of various kinds, & some of the passengers amused themselves by
shooting at them with their rifles. It is getting colder & we find out that
our thick mackinaw clothes are not wind proof by any means.
22. Arrived at Wrangel at 2 p.m. today, thus making a very fast trip. The
tide was out so the steamer was so far below the pier that we could not
get the horses off until 2 a.m. on the 23rd & as the Pier is long, rotten,
very narrow & no rails on the sides, it was not a very pleasant job to do
in the darkness. However we got them safely ashore & finding it impossible to move about the town in the dark we tied them to a rail fence and
patiently waited until morning. We then found that we had to move
them to the other side of the bay, and as there are no streets in Wrangel
passable for a horse, we led them across the mud at low water, to the
other side to what is called " The Government bonded stables." This we
found to consist of a small patch of boggy land, covered with snow, with
no shelter of any kind whatever, & only one or two trees big enough to
tie the horses to.
(7) S.S. Thistle was a wooden screw steamer built in 1890 by McAlpine &
Allen, of Vancouver, for her owner, Captain William Manson. She was 116 feet
in length, 26 feet beam, and 9.4 feet in depth, with a registered tonnage of 222.
Lloyds Register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1892-93, London, 1892. She
made her trial run on September 28, 1890, and was subsequently used in the halibut
trade, and during the Klondike gold-rush was pressed into service on the Skagway
run.   Lewis & Dryden, pp. 377, 421.
(8) "The str. Islander called at Vancouver, Saturday, on her way north, and
left, about midnight, with over 350 Klondikers and their outfits, 20 oxen, horses,
&. The str. Thistle left on Friday night, with 90 passengers and a full load of
freight."   New Westminster British Columbian, March 21, 1898.
(9) Smith uses this spelling consistently throughout his diary. The more common form of spelling is Klondike. 82 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
23. After making our horses as comfortable as possible we went back to the
town & made arrangements with a small steamer called the " Louise "10
to take our outfit & ourselves to " Cottonwood " Island,11 which is about
6 miles distant & is just at the mouth of the Stickine River. Jack was to
go with the horses at night and I was to follow with the outfit the next
day. Wrangel is a dreadful place. It is built on a boggy hill side & is
more an Indian settlement than anything else. There are several very
fine " Totem " Poles in the town, most grotesquely & wonderfully carved,
& as high as 60 feet. The indians choose a nice straight tree, cut off the
top & peel it and then proceed to carve on it figures of men & animals &
birds, & paint them. There are lots of toughs & gamblers in town & only
one U.S. Marshall to act as police. We had some difficulty in getting all
our outfit cleared thro the customs, & in looking it over found several
things missing including our stove, so we bought another in Wrangel.
24. Jack left last night with the horses & I left today at noon. Bennett came
in on the " Thistle " early this a.m. & we were very pleased to see him, as
the steamer had been so slow coming up that we began to fear that she
was lost. On our arrival at the Island we found everyone very busy getting ready to start up river, as it was freesing [sic] very sharp & the ice
was firm & in good shape, whereas for four weeks previously it had been
all water & slush. There was a large tent belonging to the company who
brought us from Wrangel & we slept in that.
25. A lovely morning. Packed all our outfit onto the two sleighs we bought
in Vancouver and another one 12 feet long which we got this a.m. & tied
behind one of the other sleighs. Then at 12 o'clock we started on our
150 miles trip up the Stickine to Telegraph Creek.12 Our horses " Star "
& " Pete " were very fresh & the ice was good so we made good time &
got to the 15 mile camp at night. As this had been several times previously used, we found places dug out in the deep snow for our horses &
plenty of green fir boughs all ready cut for ourselves to sleep on. The
Stickine is a very wide & rapid river, running between huge mountains &
the scenery is very fine indeed & must be still more beautiful when the
snow melts.
26. Fine & frosty. Arrived at the boundary line (32 miles from the Island)
between Alaska & B.C. about noontime.   There is a mounted police sta-
(10) S.S. Louise was a small steamer of 328 tons registry, 165 feet in length,
36.5 feet in beam, and 5 feet in depth. She had been built at Unalaska in 1898.
1912 Record of American and Foreign Shipping, New York, 1912, p. 709.
(11) This was a small group of low wooded islands at the mouth of the Stikine.
They were named in 1887 by Lieutenant-Commander C. M. Thomas, U.S.N. See
M. Baker, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, Washington, D.C, p. 198.
(12) Telegraph Creek was so named because supplies for the Collins Overland
Telegraph Company were brought up the Stikine to that point in preparation for
the construction of the line north from Fort Stager. Because of the successful
completion of the Atlantic cable, this portion of the telegraph-line was abandoned. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 83
tion here & goods are examined & if bought in the states, duty must be
paid. Ours being all bought in B.C. we had no trouble at all. At this
point, and every day after this, we met men going back. They had been
strugling [sic] all winter on the ice & there had been nothing but snow &
cold rains, making the ice quite unfit to travel on, & they were disheartened & tired out. We were exceedingly fortunate in getting hard frosts &
fine weather all the way up. After leaving the boundary,13 we could only
make about seven miles, as a blizzard of small snow was blinding us, Jack
walked in front, & I drove " Star " & Bennett drove " Pete," but at last we
could no longer see the traill [sic] so had to stop in an exposed place with
no shelter whatever. We fed the horses, put up the tent & were having
supper when I failed to hear the horses eating. We rushed out & sure
enough, both were gone. A nice plight to be in. It was still snowing
heavily & was almost dark. We started out opposite ways after them, but
I had not gone far before I met a man leading them, to our great relief.
We made sure of them this time, but it is not easy to secure a horse, if
there are no trees, as you can't drive a stake into the ice & if you tie them
to the sleighs they pull everything about. It is very tiring for the horses,
as they won't lie down on the snow & ours never laid down until many
days after this when we got onto some bare ground. We did not have
any trouble with the cold ourselves. The tent soon warmed up & we
found our sleeping bags very cosy. Of course early in the mornings it
was cold & if our clothes happened to get wet the night before they were
always frozen quite stiff & had to be thawed out.
27 (Sunday). Started at 6 a.m. We traveled just behind McKenzie & Mann's
railway outfit14 & they broke the traill [sic] for us. We had very good
going for some time, & then we got into a bad place where the ice was
rotten & we had to take the horses out & haul the sleighs with block &
tackle. Two of the railway teams went thro' the ice but were pulled out
again. We had 2 or 3 miles of bad going over a deep snow drift, when
the snow was full of holes, so that you just plunged up & down, making
it bad for the horses & breaking the sleighs. The mountains on both sides
of the river are magnificent & we passed a big glacier which looks lovely
in the sunshine, the deep crevasses in it, being of a bright green tint.
28. Very fine a.m. Had 4Vi hours of very good going until dinnertime &
then it got soft again & the river shews signs of breaking up. There is
almost always, running water on one side or the other & occasionally on
(13) The International Boundary had not yet been definitely settled, but a
provisional boundary-line had been established. The island in question was probably Wrangell Island, but may have been the Cottonwood Islands.
(14) Even although the fate of their bill in the Canadian Parliament had not
been finally decided, Mackenzie and Mann had gone ahead with preliminary work.
A correspondent to the Victoria Colonist, April 15, 1898, reported ". . . one
section of the Mann & Mackenzie party with about thirty-five light teams had
reached Glenora before he left [about April 1st or 2nd] and other sections were to
be found at intervals of about thirty miles along the route." 84 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
both sides of us. It began to snow about 4 p.m. & snowed all night. We
are catching up & passing all the teams on the river. Our horses are
fresh, while most of the others have been struggling for a month thro'
the snow & slush which was all over the river until this frost set in. The
men with handsleighs have a hard time of it, always having to make
relays, so that even if they can take half their outfit at once they must
travel 30 miles in order to make 10. We saw a flock of Ptarmigan today.
They are very pretty looking birds in their white plumage. We also see
large flocks of little snow birds, & a great number of ravens.
29. Did not get off until 7:30 a.m. A team went thro' the ice just ahead of
us, but we managed to get round the hole safely. The ice is getting rotten
and the going is bad & very unsafe. We were very nearly in the water
once, one end of the sleigh swinging quite over the edge of the ice.
30. There is quite a lot of water on the ice today. At noon we passed thro'
the canyon,15 where the river is quite narrow & runs between high rocks.
The ice & snow were piled up in great masses at the other end, & we had
to double our teams (put both horses onto one sleigh) in order to get
through. It is now raining & is very mild. Some of the teams with poor
horses make very slow progress, & the unfortunate dogs too have a
wretched time of it whenever the going is bad.
31. We had a bad time of it last night. We were just going to camp, being all
very tired, when we came to a place where about 16 or 20 teams were
camped. The men said, " You may as well unhitch, boys, you can get
no further tonight." We found a team had just gone thro' the ice, the
water was rushing furiously & there was a bridge of ice not more than 7
feet wide to cross over. While for some distance beyond it, the ice was
all big cracks. We saw at once that our only chance to get over was to
do it at once, as the ice was going fast, great pieces continually breaking
off. So we took the horses out & led them over very carefully, partly
unloaded the sleighs & drew them over with the blocks. Then we could
find no place to camp until we had gone IVi miles further & then we
came to an outfit whose horses had played quite out. So we decided to
stop there altho it was wet & slushy, but it was almost dark, & the horses
(& ourselves too) were very tired. It is snowing heavily this a.m. & the
ice is getting worse & worse. It has been raining almost all day, since 10
a.m. & there is 6 inches of water & slush on the top of the ice. It makes
it very hard work walking, as we have to wear gum boots. I shall be very
thankful to see the last of this river. We have passed hundreds of hand
sleigh men & dog teams since we started & the great majority of them will
never reach Telegraph Creek.
April 1. Fine again this morning. Had some fairly good going today & some
very rough. We saw a man taking a photo of about 10 or 12 dog teams
all stretched out in a line. Whenever the ice is good the dogs get along
famously, but when it is bad or the snow is soft, they can hardly do any-
(15) Presumably the Lower Stikine Canyon, a truly formidable obstacle. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 85
thing & they get thrashed unmercifully all day long. We reached Glenora16 this evening. It is a wretched place of six or eight houses, & the
men who live [in] them are all indian traders. The railway outfit have
many tons of horse feed & supplies here & are putting up a huge tent.
2. Arrived at Telegraph Creek at noon today, & here I am thankful to say
we leave the Stickine. It is 12 miles from Glenora & all the way was
good except about 300 yards where the water was running over the ice
rapidly & was a foot deep, & everything on the sleighs got very wet. We
passed by one hole where McQuean of Vancouver, lost two horses & his
sleigh only a few hours before we came up. Also one man went down
under the ice in one hole & was carried down by the current & managed
to get out at another hole some yards down. There are a number of very
neatly built log cabins here, mostly inhabited by indians, & there are also
2 large stores, but they are almost sold out of everything. The country
here is not nearly so mountainous & there seems to be lots of very good
land fit for grazing stock & for farming, but the winters are long & very
cold, going as low as —70° F. There are quite a number of outfits here,
most of them bound for Teslin, but some are going to Dease Lake in the
Cassiar Country.
3 (Sunday). We decided to stay here all today to give the horses a rest.17
We walked a mile or two up the traill [sic] to see what it was like & found
it very bad going. There is about 2 miles of very steep climbing to do, &
the trail is only about 3 feet wide, in some places very rocky & in others
all mud, & under the mud is ice. Our sleighs were rather too wide so we
made a narrow wooden sleigh, but could only take up about 400 lbs at
each trip. I wrote home from here, leaving my letter at one of the stores
& it will be sent down the Stickine to Wrangel in a day or two, by dog
team.   Cost 50 cts. each letter.18
4. Moving up the hill all day. We pitched our tent about 3 miles up on a
very uncomfortable place, there being about 3 feet of deep snow. While
Jack was driving " Star " up on one trip, both horse & sleigh fell over into
the ravine about 30 feet, but alighting in very deep snow no damage was
done & we soon had everything hauled up again. I made the acquaintance today of Mr. Fripps, of Mission, B.C. who is going thro' to Dawson
& is sketching & taking photos for the London Graphic.19
(16) This little community had sprung into existence during the 1862-63 gold-
rush to the Stikine country.
(17) From Telegraph Creek the party began its trek overland to Teslin Lake.
(18) The cost of sending a letter from Telegraph Creek to Wrangell is fairly
typical of the expenses incurred on the Stikine route.
(19) Charles E. Fripp was born September 4, 1854, and was the son of George
A. Fripp, a well-known landscape artist. He was frequently commissioned by the
London Graphic to undertake assignments for them all over the world. Who Was
Who, 1890-1916, London, 1920, p. 261. According to a letter from Mrs. T. W.
Fripp, of Victoria, B.C., " The Fripp you ask about was the elder brother ' Charles 86 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
5. Jack & Joe went on with the sleighs this a.m. with half loads, & I stayed
behind at the tent, baking bread & getting our things into shape. It is
snowing now & is wet & uncomfortable. There has been a long procession passing all day long of horse & dog teams & hand sleighs. Jack &
Joe were not back until late. They report a bad trail in between high
banks of snow so that it is impossible to pass one another, & on the return
journey they were kept in one place for 3 hours, waiting for a chance to
pass. Our horse " Pete " has a great dislike of the dog teams, & today he
ran away but soon brought up against a stirrup & did not do much damage. As soon as the leading dog is passed, they all try & crowd into the
trail again quite up against the horses legs.
6. A fine & frosty morning, so we started at 4 a.m. in order to take advantage
of the frost. We were a few minutes too late in getting off as we were
just behind the " Dewdney " outfit,20 who have about 8 or ten horses &
sleighs, & they are also taking 3 passengers, one of whom is Mr. Fripps
the artist. Their horses did not keep to the trail very well, and were continually stepping off the frozen crust of the trail & getting down into the
deep snow, so that we were kept for 2 or 3 hours behind them. If either
horse or man goes only 1 foot off the trail, he is instantly floundering in
E. Fripp' of both my husband and R. Mackay Fripp. He was the artist for the
Graphic paper of London, England and travelled in many parts of the world
sketching for that paper. He did live in Mission for a time and before that he and
my husband lived together on our ranch at Hatzic. Later when he married he
made his headquarters in England where he died." His death occurred on September 20, 1906. Cf. D. A. McGregor, "Fripp Painted B.C.'s Beauty," Vancouver
Province, July 24, 1952. The Victoria Colonist, March 4, 1898, when reporting
the departure of the "Dewdney outfit" stated: "One of the saloon passengers who
will make Dawson his destination is Chas. E. Fripp, a correspondent and sketch
artist of the London Graphic." Fripp's reports were published in the London
Daily Graphic, but several of his sketches appeared in the weekly London Graphic,
August 27 and September 3 and 10, 1898. One of these is reproduced in this
Quarterly. Fripp's reports were none too complimentary to the Canadian route,
judging by his account in the Graphic of September 3, 1898. "After the delays I
myself had experienced on the Stikine river, and the accounts of the unsuccessful
efforts by parties who attempted the journey between January and March . . .
after delays from changes of temperature softening the snow and forming foot-deep
slush, which heavy sleighs could only pass by laboriously making a trail ... it
is only possible for me to conclude that information such as that is not worth the
snap of the fingers. ... It seems as if the Canadian, instead of opening up the
route only wishes to get people to spend their money in the country, and thus to
kill the golden egg without delay." The editor of the journal commented: "At any
rate the route is a failure this year."
(20) The Victoria Colonist, April 15, 1898, gave the following information
regarding the progress of this undertaking: "Mr. Saunders also heard of the
Dewdney party, one half of which has landed at Glenora. The other half, according to the progress they were making, ought also to be there soon." 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 87
4 feet or more of wet soft snow & it is very difficult to keep the horses just
in the middle, indeed some of them, when tired, step off purposely & lie
there in the snow & it takes quite a long time & a lot of hard work to get
them back on the solid part again. I saw a big flock of Ptarmigan today.
Tonight we camp about 3 miles over the summit & about 13 miles from
Telegraph Creek, on a swampy flat, where the snow is not very deep & a
small clump of Spruce trees give both shelter & firewood.
7. Our difficulties are increasing.   The trail is blocked & owing to the deep
soft snow on each side, we can't pass, & if anything happens to those in
front of us, we just have to wait. We can only take half loads now. We
have camped tonight on the top of a tremendous hill which runs down to
the Talntan21 river. We shall have to let our sleighs down with a rope
for Vz a mile as it is almost a sheer descent & is all solid ice. The horses
we lead down by the pack traill.
8. Got everything safely down the hill today, after some very hard work.   We
crossed the river & camped just on the other side, making about 1 mile
travelled today.
9. Moved up the mountain today, making six trips with each horse.   The hill
was about as steep as Telegraph, but not nearly so rough or so dangerous.
After getting up we went on about 3 miles further, over fairly good
sleighing & taking half loads, then another big hill to go down to another
river. Going down this hill we fastened big fir trees with all the limbs
left on behind the sleighs to act as brakes. We had about Wz miles over
a lake of very good going.
10 (Sunday). The teams are gone forward with half loads & I am staying
behind at the tent, baking bread, etc. There was a sharp frost last night
& it is a lovely day. There are some very nice fellows from Missouri,
U.S.A. camped close to us. The south side of the hills are mostly bare
of snow, but it is very deep & soft on the North side. We came up today,
with the first lady we have seen on the traill. She is from New Zealand
& [is] on her honeymoon.
11. We came today about 14 miles, & now have to make narrow sleighs, 21
in. wide, as the traill is so narrow. The route was thro' a very narrow
valley with high mountains on each side. Some places were quite open
& in summer would be swamps, others had very small timber growing in
them. After dinner we could only make 2 miles over the worst piece we
have yet come. We camped on a steep hill side & had considerable difficulty in staying in the tent all night, as we kept slipping down the hill
side all the time.
12. Only came 1V4 miles today, as the trail is thro' the brush & it all has to
be cut out. The[re] are quite a number of us working at it. Lost my
pocket knife today.
(21) " Talntan " is Smith's spelling of Tahltan.   This river is a tributary of the
Stikine, which joins it some 12 to 15 miles above Telegraph Creek. 88 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
13. Came five miles today over a terrible traill. The ice in the river22 was
very rotten & every now & again we would have to take to the banks &
cut our way along. The last half mile was thro' a lovely piece of country,
just like a park with beautiful clumps of trees. We camped at the foot
of a tremendous hill where there is an old, deserted, Hudson Bay Post.23
We are now 50 miles from Telegraph. There are a lot of Indians here,
who are earning big money by packing up the big hill. We are making
very narrow wooden sleighs to get up this hill with. It is a terrible climb
of almost 4 miles & is all bare ground & in some places it is very sticky
mud, with ice under it.
14. Have been working with a lot of men all day on the hill, widening out the
worst places. In some places the ground is frozen like iron & we can do
nothing with it. Two men came in to supper with us, just in from Teslin
Lake & they will carry mail to Telegraph for us.
15. Moving stuff up the hill today. We can only make 2 trips a day, & take
250 lbs to each horse.
16. Moving stuff up the hill today. The horses & men are all getting played
out on this terrible hill. Owing to our having good horses, we are getting
along better than anyone else. Those who left Telegraph with us, are
now behind & we catch up new people every day.
17 (Sunday). Rested all a.m. In aft: Jack & I went up the hill to tramp the
snow & make some sort of a road for the teams. There were 16 more
men, but we could only do about 2 miles. It was very hard work. We
walked in 2 & 2s, & the two in front went on their hands & knees, & then
when they were tired they fell back & the next two took their place, &
18. The weather keep[s] lovely. We are still at the foot of the hill. It is
crowded at the top & no good place to camp in. Nothing but soft snow
4 feet deep. Went out with my rifle in aftn. but saw nothing. The country is very beautiful here. A great many men from Westminster & Vancouver are here.
19. Moved tent & everything up to the summit.
20. Moving on thro' deep snow, awfully hard going, except where we crossed
four very small lakes were [sic] it was pretty good.
21. Came about 6 miles with ¥i loads on.
22. Travelling very slowly. The country is more rolling since leaving the
summit & the nights are much colder, but the days are lovely & bright.
(22) The river here mentioned is probably a tributary of the Sheslay River.
On Dyer's map it is termed " Kakets River."
(23) On Dyer's map there is a Hudson's Bay Company post located approximately 50 miles north-west of Telegraph Creek which is called Egnell. At the
present time there is a telegraph-station on the Dominion Government telegraph-
line at this point called Egnell. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 89
After dinner we travelled 8 miles over 2 small lakes & a river, which was
splendid going.
23. Started about 5:30 a.m. & came 4 miles over a river & then 4 miles of
rough bare ground. The country is now flat & swampy & covered with
small bushes. We got some fresh Caribou meat today & found it very
24 (Sunday). Came about 10 miles. Some bare ground & some wading
thro' 12 inches of water on top of the ice.
25. Did 7 or 8 miles, some very rough & part over lakes, which was mostly
26. Did about 10 miles down a narrow creek, full of willow bushes & covered
with Moose tracks at the bottom it ran into the Nyaline River.24 Crossing this river was very risky. It was running furiously, & we had to follow it for about 1 mile, crossing & recrossing it, as the ice was best
sometimes on one side, sometimes on the other. It had high, rocky
banks, about 150 ft. high & was very pretty. At the other side is the
Nyaline Hill, which has only a very narrow pack traill,25 so that we must
pack our stuff up on our backs for % mile & then it gets better.
27. Packing up the hill all day long. There was a litde grass here, & we gave
the horses a rest.
28. The ice on the river gave way today, & those behind us, will be delayed
for some time, until the river falls a little. We got everything up the hill
today & camped on the shore of a small lake. The road to this lake was
all thro' swamps & bogs.
29. Did 3 miles over a most villainous trail. Swampy bogs & water 6 to 12
inches deep.
30. Did about 7 or 8 miles. Passed over 4 lakes when it was good, but rather
soft & wet near their edges. We saw 3 Caribou on one of the lakes.
Joe went after them, but after floundering thro' deep snow for 2 or 3
hours, gave up the chase in disgust.
May 1 (Sunday). A lovely day very hot. Came to a lake 4 miles long26
where we camped for the aftn & night & we also sold our horses, but had
the use of them to haul our outfit to the other end of the lake. This lake
was only passable early in the morning, as over the thick ice was a foot
of water & then thin ice which was soft & rotten after the sun got up.
There is a large outfit here (part being ahead at Teslin Lake) who have
machinery to build a steamer with on Teslin lake.   They are building
(24) The Nyaline River would appear to be the Nahlin River, a tributary of
the Inklin River, which joins the Taku River flowing into Taku Inlet.
(25) This refers to an old Hudson's Bay Company trail.
(26) This lake would seem to be Chismaina Lake. The river is not named on
most modern maps. Presumably the Smith party built its boat at this lake, which,
in the entry for May 25, is named Long Lake. 90 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
scows & will move all their stuff to Teslin as soon as the ice goes out, &
the river raises a little. At the end of this lake is a river 45 miles long,
which flows into Teslin Lake.
2. Moved to the end of the lake, very early this a.m. where we found quite a
small town of tents & everyone busy whipsawing lumber to build their
boats with. The ice is almost out of the river but the river is not high
enough yet to go down it.
3. Jack started to walk into Teslin today, with the engineer of the steamboat
company. It is very pretty where we are camped. The lake in front &
high hills all round, covered with green timber. The snow still being
about 2 feet deep. The weather is hot, just like July, & the camp looks
very picturesque & animated.
4. Shot a duck this a.m.   The rivers are now beginning to open & the country
is full of ducks & geese. We are getting some logs today to whipsaw into
boards to build our boat with.
5. Cloudy, with one or two showers.   Saw a lot of swallows today.
6 & 7. Washing & mending clothes, etc. Jack is not yet back from Teslin so
we can't get on with the boat building, as he & I do the whipsawing, but
it does not matter as the ice is not out of the lake yet & the river is very
low, tho' rising a little every day.
8 (Sunday). A very windy & rather cold day. There are no "Sundays"
work going on for the whole seven days in the week.
9. Shot 3 grouse with my rifle.   Got out a lot of natural " knees " for the
10. Making boat knees all day.
11. Jack got back from Teslin today. It will be 2 weeks yet before the ice
goes out of Teslin Lake. Two boats left today for Teslin & had only gone
2 miles when one was swamped in the rapids. They were loaded with
steamboat machinery.
12. Whipsawing lumber all day.   It is very hard & rather difficult work.
13. Whipsawing lumber all day.   It is very hard & rather difficult work.
14. Whipsawing lumber all day. Joe Bennett started laying out the boat.
All this time people have been straggling in every morning. The ice on
the lake is now too rotten for teams, but men & dogs cross it early in the
15 (Sunday). Had some hymn singing in camp tonight.
16. Whipsawing all day.   Sent a letter home by 2 men who were going back.
17. Working on boat all day. She is flatbottom, sharp at boat [both] ends,
21 ft. 9 in. long, 3 ft. 6 in. wide in bottom, & 5 feet on top. Everyone in
camp is boat building, there must be about 40 boats now being built, &
good timber is getting scarce.   The snow is almost gone, & the ice is The Thistle. Telegraph Creek, painted by Charles E. Fripp and published
in the weekly London Graphic.
Dawson City, showing Klondike City. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 91
slowly breaking up, but otherwise there is not the slightest sign of spring
18. Working on boat all day.
19. Caulking boat. One small boat started yesterday & capsized, & the two
men in her lost everything they had. This is a terrible river, all rocks,
snags & rapids.
20. Very windy.   Finished boat.
21. Started this a.m. for Teslin & made 38 miles to a waterfall 30 feet high.
We had some exceedingly narrow escapes in the rapids, but only struck
one rock & managed to get along all right. We crossed 2 small lakes, &
in places, the river itself, was deep & smooth, but for some 20 miles, we
just flew along, in & out of rocks & whirlpools & snags.
22 (Sunday). Stayed in camp all day. The falls are very beautiful & to pass
them we haul[ed] the boat overland about Vi mile. Some indians shot
a moose yesterday & caught a little moose calf about 2 days old. It is a
queer looking little thing & has a very long & ugly upper lip. Walked a
little way down the river today. It looks rather worse than better & is
running like a mill race.
23. Portaged all our outfit & our boat over by noon time, & went down the
river for six miles. The first mile & a half was very bad, nothing but
sharp turns & huge rocks, but the rest of the way the river was lovely,
with a nice steady current. We camped at night at a spot where we must
make a 3 mile portage, as there are rapids & falls that no boat could get
through. These portages take up no end of time & make lots of hard
work as everything has to be packed on our backs.
24. Packing all day Vz way across the portage. The traill is thro' woods &
is covered with wet spongy moss, but it is not as hard as the big hill was.
The river & scenery here is lovely. The banks are about 200 feet high &
quite straight up & down, & the rapids look beautiful from the top of the
25. Took all our outfit half way across & 2 loads quite across. We have only
to take the boat Wz miles & then we can take her down empty to where
all the stuff is cached. We took the boat a short distance today with
blocks, but is [it] was awfully hard work. Joe is building a boat below the
rapids for some Californians & one of them " Mr. Mason " is working
with us in Joe's place. Out of 15 boats that left our last camp on Long
Lake, no less than 6 have been completely smashed up.
26. Finished packing our outfit over the portage & got the boat a little further,
but it was such terribly hard work that we gave it up until tomorrow.
The mosquitoes are now getting troublesome, & the trees & bushes are
getting a green tinge on them.
27. Got our boat over & took her down to the lower portage where our outfit
was cached.   It was the worst piece of water I have ever seen a boat go
8 92 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
down. It was 2Vz miles & we ran it in 10 minutes, then to make a landing
we had to throw a long rope ashore & men caught it & twisted it quickly
round a stump. Just as we were starting our boat another boat set out &
almost immediately it had a huge hole knocked in it & the 4 men in her
jumped ashore as she was swept past by the water. The river is about 40
yds. wide & except that it is wider, it reminds me very much of the
" Stride " at Bolton Abbey.27 I was not at all afraid as there was no time,
once you are fairly started it is all you can do to keep clear of rocks that
you think of nothing else & in a few minutes it is all over. Joe finished
building the Californians boat today. It is built below this portage so
that they saved this trouble & danger.   It is lovely weather.
May 28 (My birthday). We left our camp this a.m. & arrived at Teslin Lake
about 9 a.m. Teslin town site is on a hill side overlooking the lake, &
on the opposite side of the lake to the saw mill. It is covered with a
dense growth of small timber, over part of which the fire has run this
spring. There are numerous tents & about six log stores & saloons going
up, but only 2 houses finished so far, and as the Stickine-Teslin route has
proved a complete failure (being much longer and much more expensive
than the Skagway traill) the town is not likely to be much of a place.
The lake itself is about 100 miles long28 & about 7 miles wide. It has
low mountains on each side of it & three or four quite small islands. We
rowed over to the saw mill this aft. It is only one small circular saw.
They are building a steamboat 75 ft. long for Dawson trade. Food here
is very scarce, flour & bacon being $1 per lb. & hardly to be had at that
price. We shall stay here some days as the lower end of the Lake is still
blocked with ice.
29 (Sunday). Stayed in camp all day. The little saw mill has a steam whistle
which blows at 7 a.m. 12 noon & 6 p.m. so we are quite civilized here.
30. Walked back on the pack trail to the Canyon, to see if the mail has come
in, as we hear it is on the way from Telegraph Creek. Two more boats
have been upset & everything lost & 9 dogs drowned.
31. Still waiting for the ice to go out. Crossed the lake today & walked into
the country on the other side. It is hilly & swampy with hardly any open
land or any grass. The timber is mostly small spruce & cottonwoods, &
there is quite a dense growth of berry bushes of various kinds, & everywhere are tracks of moose & caribou. The country must be a hunter's
paradise at the proper season.
June 1. Rowed down the lake a couple of miles to a small rocky island which
was completely covered with blue flowers.   Coming back we had a taste
(27) Bolton Abbey is situated in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 22 miles northwest of Leeds.
(28) Smith exaggerates the length of Teslin Lake. It is 75 to 80 miles long.
The modern town of Teslin on the Alaska Highway is on the east side of the lake
at the mouth of the Nisutline River. The Teslin townsite referred to here was
evidently nearer the head of the lake. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 93
of what the lake can do when a sudden wind gets up.   Jack has gone
back a few miles today, hoping to get news of some sort.
June 6th. Started off in our boat for Dawson. On the lake we were delayed
Vz day by headwinds, but we reached the end of the lake by 10:30 p.m.
of the 9th. In many places the lake has a sandy beach like the sea shore
& is fine for bathing. The mosquitoes being particularly troublesome on
the shore where there were any bushes, we always endeavoured to camp
for meals or sleeping on some sandy spit where they were not so numerous, as soon as we were out of the lake we got the benefit of the swift
current, first of the Hootalinqua,29 then the Lewes,30 & finally the Yukon
River. The river scenery all the way down is very fine. On the Hootalinqua especially the benches are wonderful. They vary from a few feet
in some places to 200 ft. in others above the river. On the top & their
steep sides also, are as smooth as the finest tennis lawn, they are covered
with grass & clumps of trees making a most lovely & park-like country.
In other places the banks would be 200 to 300 ft. high, & would be cut
into deep ravines every few yards, making the banks look like castle battlements. Everywhere we saw millions & millions of " sand martins," &
in one place we saw six whiteheaded eagles nests, all in about V* mile of
each other, & they all had the old birds on them. We also saw a few
ducks & geese. Here & there we would come across traces of early prospectors, some of the old camps being apparently 1 dozen years old, judging by the tree stumps left. We saw no other boats until we reached the
foot of the Hootalinqua, where the Lewes River begins, & here is a police
station & all the travel via " Skagway " & " Dyea " enters the river. From
this point on, all the way to Dawson there were never less than a dozen
boats in sight & at some points, such as the Big & Little Salmon & Pelly
Rivers, there were hundreds. At the mouth of the " Pelly " especially,
(which is a big river 850 miles long) were hundreds of men, building
" Caches " up on the trees, to store their outfits while they went up river
prospecting. These caches are usually built by selecting 4 trees growing
fairly close together, cutting them off about 12 feet from the ground, &
then building a little house on top. This keep[s] them out of the way of
bears, especially if something is left hanging loose, & also somewhat
lessens the danger from fires. It was always, at the points, a most animated & busy scene. Some men would be building caches others small
boats to pole up stream with, while the ground would be covered with
dried fruit & rice & all kinds of eatables spread out to dry, after, maybe,
(29) The Hootalinqua River flowing out of Teslin Lake is now called the
Teslin River.
(30) The Lewes River takes its rise in a series of lakes on the boundary
between British Columbia and Yukon Territory. Lake Labarge may be considered
to be a widening of this river. On modern maps the name " Lewes River " appears
north of its confluence with the Teslin River. Smith's statement is, therefore,
possibly correct. This river was named by Robert Campbell for John Lee Lewes
of the Hudson's Bay Company. 94 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
some upset in the rapids. There is no trouble at all from Lewes River to
Dawson, altho' the current is exceedingly swift, except the Five Fingers
& Rink Rapids. There a [are] numerous sandbars, which don't hurt anything, but if a big heavy scow or raft runs on one it is hard work to get
it off & sometimes they are stuck for good. The " Five Fingers " are
caused by 4 huge rocks, some 100 ft. or more high, which standing in the
bed of the river, breaking it up into five narrow channels, & also backing
the water up. The right hand channel is the only available one; it is not
dangerous if the boat is kept well in the middle, & allowed to take the
dip, which is quite 3 feet, as slowly as possible. Then after dropping
down this dip, you encounter about 10 or 12 huge ripples & then it is all
over. Of course the pace you go through is tremendous. Three miles
further on, a line of small rocks stretching almost across the river form
the " Rink Rapids," but the right hand channel here is quite easy. There
are also numerous log jams to be avoided, but careful steering & a good
look out will carry you safely on. The principal stopping place on the
river is " Fort Selkirk "31 which is an old Hudsons Bay post. The
N.W.M. Police have large barracks here. It is just where the Pelly joins
the Yukon, but on the opposite side. Teslin Lake, Hootalinqua, Lewes
& Yukon River are practically in one straight line & it is hard to say
when you leave one & enter the other. All the other rivers enter on more
or less of an angle.
June 17. Dawson City at last. We stayed first at " Klondyke City "32 (better
known locally as " Louse-town) thinking it was Dawson, but found that
Dawson was on the other side of the Klondyke.
The town is built on a flat of some 600 or 700 acres, the entire centre
of which is a dreadful & evil smelling swamp. It is surrounded on all
sides (& opposite, across the Yukon) by high hills. All along the Yukon
the bank is sufficiently high & firm for the main street (it is flooded for
a day or two when the ice goes out). This street is knee deep in mud (or
was) but is gradually being made passable by putting down boards &
piling sawdust on top. At the far end of the main street, farthest from
the Klondyke, are some huge warehouses belonging to the big Alaska
trading companys. The rest of the street is made up of saloons & gambling rooms, except on the river side which is lined with small stores of
all kinds, mostly temporary ones of boards, for summer use only.   The
(31) Fort Selkirk was originally founded by Robert Campbell in 1848 on a
point between the Yukon and Pelly Rivers, but because of flooding caused by ice-
jams in 1852 the post was moved across the river and a short distance below the
mouth of the river, where its remains are still visible. It was burned by the Indians
on August 1, 1852. It was used by the Royal Northwest Mounted Police during
the Klondike excitement and was reoccupied by the Hudson's Bay Company in
June, 1938. See C. Parnall, "Campbell of the Yukon," The Beaver, June, 1942,
pp. 4-7; September, 1942, pp. 16-18; and December, 1942, pp. 23-27.
(32) For a description of Klondike City see Tappan Adney, op. cit., pp.
176-178. 1952 Record of a Trip to Dawson 95
saloons, & all permanent buildings are of logs, chinked with moss & with
6 in. of soil on the roofs which are almost flat, there being hardly any
rain here. The hill at the back, which is being rapidly stripped of timber,
is covered with log cabins & tents. There are literally thousands & thousands of tents, so crowded together that it is quite a job to find your own.
There are three hospitals several chapels & an English Church. The
streets are thronged by crowds of men walking backwards & forwards
with apparently nothing to do. The police have large barracks & offices
here, all well built of logs sawed flat on three sides the fourth side having
the bark left on, being the outside. There is a very nice English C.M.S.
clergyman here,33 who, with his wife, has been about six years, at various
missions on the Yukon. The Klondyke River is a broad, shallow, rushing
stream of very clear water, the Yukon being an exceedingly muddy river,
& the two run side by side & do not mix until almost past Dawson. To
get to the mines, which are all on the creeks running into the Klondyke
(not on the Klondyke itself), you have to cross the Klondyke by a narrow foot bridge (a kind of suspension bridge) which costs the modest
sum of 50 cts. each way. Three miles up the river is another bridge &
ferry, the charge being the same. The largest Creek is Bonanza & fifteen
miles up it, over a villainous trail, is Eldorado, which is probably the
richest Creek in the world. At the junction of these two creeks, called
" The Forks " there is quite a town of almost 100 log cabins & two hotels.
On Eldorado Creek I have seen from No. 36 over 100 lbs., (no mistake,
not oz) of gold, washed out in 24 hours. Of course this does not go on
the year thro', it takes months of very expensive labour to get ready for
the " Wash-up ". All the creeks, almost, head from one central mountain
called " The Dome," which is something over 3000 ft. high, & from its
top the whole country for miles & miles may be seen, & in the distance
the Rocky Mountains. Everywhere, (even on remote creeks) you meet
men prospecting, or toiling along with their packs on their back, & always
in " indian file " as the trails are seldom wide enough to walk two abreast.
There are a large number of pack animals (horses, mules, & donkeys)
packing up the principal creeks, the charge varying from 20 cents per lb.
to " The Forks " (15 miles) to 60 cents per lb. to " Dominion Creek "
(45 miles), but you never see a man without his pack. The nights being
in June & July, just as light as the day, is the best time for travelling, as it
is then cool & pleasant, but the days are very hot. There is frost on
almost every night throughout the summer. Our time in Dawson was
mostly spent out in the country, travelling up & down the creeks, hunting
for a location, but every likely spot within 50 miles of Dawson is staked
out, tho' all the claims are by no means working, only a very small per
(33) In the Church Missionary Intelligencer, n.s. XXII (1897), pp. 848-849,
Bishop Bompas wrote from Fort Yukon on July 30, 1897, that the Rev. F. F.
Flewelling of the Canadian Church Missionary Association, who was ordained on
March 28, 1896, had been placed in charge of the mission to the Indians in the
Klondike, and that the Rev. R. J. Bowen had been placed in charge of the mission
to the miners. 96 Walter N. Sage Jan.-Apr.
cent of them. There is always a crowd of men waiting outside the Post
Office & the Recorder's office. I waited 7 hours, for my turn at the P.O.
one day, & then got no letter, also having occasion to go to the Recorder's
Office to ask one or two questions, I waited from Monday until 3 p.m.
on Friday before my turn came.
Finding that there was apparently not the slightest chance to get anything I decided to return home, & took one of the river steamers " The
John Cudahy "34 to St. Michael's, 1800 miles downstream from Dawson,
on August 11th. We were only six days going down to St. Michaels,
though the up trip takes 15 to 20 days. There is nothing on [of] special
interest going down the Yukon except the Vz doz. or so, mining camps
" Circle City " " Rampart City " " Fort Yukon "35 etc., & the numerous
Indian villages where all kinds of curiosities in furs, fish skins & models
of canoes etc. can be bought. St. Michael's on Behring Sea is a terrible
place. Rains every day in Summer. There are no trees anywhere in
sight, but the Island is a hill covered with bright green moss & grass & is
so wet & spongy that you can scarcely walk in it anywhere. The water
too is so bad that the Alaska Commercial Compy. have a large plant for
distilling all their drinking water. The town consists of the A.C. Co.
stores & warehouses & the U.S. barracks & lA mile away another store &
large buildings belonging to the North American Trading & Transportation Co. & which they call " Fort Get There " by way of distinction from
the other company's place. There is a very large hotel at " Fort Get
There " as St. Michaels is a busy place in summer, with a large trade in
Furs, Seal skins & whale oil & also for all supplies going up the Yukon.
Two days after arriving at St. Michaels, we took the S.S. Roanoke36 for
Seattle & after an eight days voyage (a record trip) got safely to Seattle,
& thence home by train. The Roanoke having accommodation for 200
passengers & carrying almost 600, the sea voyage, particularly the eating
department, was not all bliss, but when a man is returning home from the
Klondyke he is not over particular.
(34) The John Cudahy was built at Unalaska in 1898 by the North American
Trading and Transportation Company and arrived at Dawson on August 10, 1898.
She was of 819 tons registry and could make the round trip between St. Michael
and Dawson in seventeen days, being the fastest ship in this company's fleet of
river-boats. W. D. McBride, "Saga of Famed Packet and Other Steamboats of
the Mighty Yukon River," Cariboo Digest, Winter, 1948, p. 111.
(35) For descriptions of these towns see Tappan Adney, op. cit., pp. 455-460.
(36) S.S. Roanoke was an iron screw steamer of 2,354 tons registry, 267 feet
long, 40.5 feet in beam, and 21.9 feet in depth. She was built in 1882 at Chester,
Pennsylvania, for the North American Trading and Transportation Company.
Lloyds Register of British and Foreign Shipping, 1902-3. 1952
Record of a Trip to Dawson
My trip may be briefly summed up as follows,
17 miles train to Vancouver
Vancouver to Wrangel in S.S. Islander
Wrangel to Telegraph Creek, by horse sleighs on ice of
Stickine River.
Telegraph to Teslin by sleighs & boat
Teslin to Dawson in row boat
Dawson to St. Michael's in River Steamer " John Cudahy'
St. Michaels to Seattle in S.S. Roanoke
Seattle to West. Junction
West. Junct. home
6110 miles
more or less, probably more. NOTES AND COMMENTS
The annual meeting of the Association was held in the reading-room of the
Provincial Library on Friday evening, January 18, with the President, Major
H. C. Holmes, in the chair. Greetings and reports of activity were presented by
Captain C. W. Cates, Chairman of the Vancouver Section, and Mr. F. H. Johnson,
Chairman of the Victoria Section, which gave ample evidence of the continuing
interest in the affairs of the Association. The President gave a brief resum6 of
general activity throughout the year. Owing to the unfortunate illness of the
Honorary Secretary, Miss Madge Wolfenden, no report was available, and her
duties during the meeting were assumed by Mr. F. H. Johnson.
The Honorary Treasurer, Mr. H. C. Gilliland, presented a creditable report,
showing a balance of $303.65. In the previous year there had been a marked drop
in the membership, but thanks to intensive work by membership committees the
figure rose this year to 434, an increase of 51 over the previous year, and in every
instance membership had been placed in good standing for the year 1950 as well.
Membership is distributed as follows: Victoria Section, 169; Vancouver Section,
147; members-at-large, 118. The Editor of the Quarterly presented his annual
report, which indicated that the circulation was in excess of 500. It was regretted
that delays in publication had been serious but unavoidable and made more
difficult the collection of membership dues. It was hoped that by the publication
of combined issues it would be possible to bring the Quarterly once again on to a
regular schedule. The problem was definitely not a lack of suitable material, but
essentially one of lack of time for the editorial work involved. It was the Editor's
firm conviction that the present standard of editorial work should be maintained,
and in this the meeting heartily concurred.
Major F. V. Longstaff presented the twenty-ninth annual report of the Marine
Committee, which was approved, and the recommendation made that the Honorary Secretary should gather together all of this Committee's reports to have them
accessible for general reference.
The presidential address, entitled Some Notes on the Economic Past, Present,
and Future of Vancouver Island, was read by Major H. C. Holmes. The text of
this address is printed in this Quarterly.
The report of the scrutineers was then presented. The new Council met
immediately after the adjournment of the annual meeting, when the following
officers were elected:—
Honorary President -       -       - -   Hon. W. T. Straith, Q.C.
President Mr. D. A. McGregor.
First Vice-President -       -       - -   Rev. J. C. Goodfellow, D.D.
Second Vice-President   -       -       -        Mr. H. C. Gilliland.
Honorary Secretary -       -       - -    Miss Helen R. Boutilier.
Honorary Treasurer      ...        Mr. J. K. Nesbitt.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XVI, Nos. 1 and 2.
99 100 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
Members of the Council—
Burt R. Campbell. Dr. M. A. Ormsby.
Captain C. W. Cates. Dr. W. N. Sage.
Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Councillors ex officio—
Major H. C. Holmes, Past President.
Mr. F. H. Johnson, Chairman, Victoria Section.
Mr. John Gibbard, Chairman, Vancouver Section.
Mr. Willard E. Ireland, Editor, Quarterly.
Victoria Section
A regular meeting of the Victoria Section was held in the Provincial Library
on Thursday evening, November 22, with the Chairman, Mr. H. C. Gilliland,
presiding. Miss Madge Wolfenden, Assistant Provincial Archivist, read a paper
entitled The Early History of Saltspring Island that had been prepared by Mr. A. F.
Flucke, formerly on the staff of the Provincial Archives and at the moment attending a course in librarianship at the University of Toronto. In a very comprehensive
manner the history of the island was traced from the arrival of its first inhabitants
in the wake of the gold-rush of 1858 to its establishment as a municipality in 1873
and the final annulment of the articles of incorporation ten years later. The
Chairman expressed the appreciation of the meeting to Miss M. Wolfenden for her
assistance in the presentation of the paper.
The annual meeting of the Victoria Section was held in the Provincial Library
on Tuesday, December 18, with the Chairman, Mr. H. C. Gilliland, presiding.
The Honorary Secretary, Mr. R. E. Potter, gave a verbal report of the year's
activity, and the Chairman took the occasion to express the thanks of the Section
to those who had given so much of their time in the preparation of the excellent
series of addresses that had been presented. The Honorary Treasurer's report
showed a membership of 166, with a creditable bank balance. The work of the
special membership committee was noted with special appreciation. The report of
the ballot for the election of the Council was received and accepted. The speaker
of the evening was the Chairman, who selected for his subject Captain Arthur
Edward Kennedy and the Irish Famine. Anyone wishing to understand the character of Arthur Edward Kennedy, Vancouver Island's third Governor, would have
to know the story of his part in the Irish famine in order to appreciate the
unfaltering courage and devotion of the man. Kennedy was assigned to one of the
most difficult administrative regions, County Clare, at a time when the conditions
in Ireland had reached the point that the people had become completely disheartened, were willing to accept relief, and even to resort to mob violence to resist
any attempt to place themselves on a self-supporting basis. By force of character,
Kennedy succeeded where force of any other kind would have failed completely.
The Provincial Archivist, Mr. Willard E. Ireland, in moving a vote of thanks to the
speaker, pointed out that as Kennedy was Governor here such a short time, he has
remained relatively unknown, but that, as a result of Mr. Gilliland's studies, the
enigma was in process of being solved. 1952 Notes and Comments 101
The new Council met immediately following the adjournment of the annual
meeting, at which time the following officers were elected:—
Chairman -   Mr. F. Henry Johnson.
Vice-Chairman Mr. R. E. Potter.
Honorary Secretary        ...       -   Mrs. K. C. Drury.
Honorary Treasurer    -       -       -       -        Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Members of the Council—
Miss Kathleen Agnew. Dr. D. L. McLaurin.
Mr. R. P. Bishop. Major H. T. Nation.
Mrs. K. C. Drury. Mr. G. H. Stevens.
Miss W. Copeland (co-opt.).      Miss K. Graham (co-opt.).
Mrs. J. E. Godman (co-opt.). Mr. Willard E. Ireland (ex officio.).
The first regular meeting of the new year was held in the Provincial Library
on Thursday evening, February 21, there having been no January meeting as the
Section had acted as host for the Association's annual meeting. Mr. F. Henry
Johnson presided, and over forty members were in attendance. The programme
for the evening was provided by Mr. Wilson Duff, Anthropologist of the Provincial
Museum, who showed a film The Alberni Indian Dances and provided a running
commentary. The film had been produced by Dr. Clifford Carl, Director of the
Provincial Museum, and Mr. Duff and was shot on the Alberni Indian Reserve.
It is a record of the native dances and ceremonials of the Indians of the West
Coast of Vancouver Island. The Nootka Indians, the hunters of sea-mammals,
were noted for their love of ceremony and ritual, and the dances filmed were a
revival and reinterpretation of their tribal heritage. Original masks were used,
many representing supernatural beings, from whom the Indians received their
powers. The costumes were of cedar-bark. The dances in the film included the
Men's Head-dress Dance, Sea Serpent Dance, Humming Bird Dance, Haida
Victory Dance, Women's Head-dress Dance, and the Cannibal Dance. Mr. Duff
pointed out that British Columbia's culture is distinctive in that it stems directly
from Indian culture and art. This film is an important step toward the preservation of the old and the enrichment of our present culture. The appreciation of
the meeting was tendered by Mrs. J. E. Godman.
At the regular meeting of the Section held on Thursday evening, April 24, in
the Provincial Library, Captain C. W. Cates, Past Chairman of the Vancouver
Section, was the speaker. Member of a pioneer family with ready contacts with
the Indians of the coastal region and a member of the British Columbia Advisory
Committee on Indian Affairs, Captain Cates was eminently qualified to speak on
Folk Lore of Our Coast Indians. The facility with which he dealt with Indian
names and his sympathetic approach were ample evidence of his warm and deep
interest in their welfare. Of particular interest was the thread of similarity that
ran through many of the legends as preserved by oral tradition from tribal groups
widely separated geographically. Mr. G. H. Stevens expressed the appreciation
of the meeting to the speaker for his interesting lecture.
Vancouver Section
A regular meeting of the Section was held in the Grosvenor Hotel on Tuesday
evening, November 13.   The Chairman, Captain C. W. Cates, took the opportunity 102 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
of paying a tribute to Captain F. W. Pamphlet, a native son, pioneer, and recorder
of pioneering, who passed away on Saturday, November 9, at the age of 80. The
speaker of the evening was Mr. B. A. McKelvie, popular journalist and long-time
student of the history of this Province. Speaking on Brother Twelve, in his
inimitable fashion, Mr. McKelvie reconstructed for his audience one of the most
fantastic incidents in the colourful past of this Province. The founder of this
movement, James Arthur Wilson, came to Victoria from Calgary in 1901 as an
employee of the Dominion Express Company. The son of a missionary to India
and of an Indian princess, he was a telegrapher and master mariner as well as
theosophist and mystic. In 1924 he was at Nanaimo, jobless, sick, and broke.
A year later from Genoa, Italy, he commenced a letter campaign depicting himself
as one who had been visited by the " Higher Powers " and inducted into their
mysteries. From the proceeds of this activity he published the Aquarian Foundation, describing his association with the great spirits of all time and claiming that
he had been chosen to round out their number, hence Brother Twelve. To him
had been revealed the spot chosen for the " ninth coming of man "—a reincarnation
not preceded by death. This spot was Cedar-by-the-sea, near Nanaimo, and later
extended to DeCourcy Island as the flock grew. The venture was a financial success
from the start. The first convert, Alfred Barber, a retired London chemist, and his
wife, Annie, turned over their entire life savings. O. H. Hess, from Carthage, Virginia, cabled $20,000 immediately, "as a start." Brother Twelve banked at Nanaimo
twice weekly, and weekly at Ladysmith and Chemainus, and monthly at Victoria
and Vancouver, and the man handling the Chemainus account informed the
speaker that in five years he had deposited more than $200,000. Roger Painter,
a wholesale poultry-dealer from Florida, gave up a million-dollar-a-year business
to serve the brotherhood and recalled on one occasion he handed over $90,000 in
cash. When the cult finally broke up, the damage suits against Wilson averaged
more than $25,000 per claimant. The disciples were generally of better than
average education and financial circumstances, and were sincere and good-living
people. The secret of Brother Twelve's power was fear. In 1927 he had installed
the finest recording system west of the Rockies, completely covering his property
and registering the slightest aside. He was thus able to play one man against
another, building up mutual distrust, which only complete faith in himself could
resolve. The beginning of the break-up in the affairs of the group occurred when,
on a trip to the East to collect funds, Wilson met the wife of an American doctor
whom he later installed in the " House of Mystery "—a sanctum sanctorum serving
as a recording-room and love-nest—as Isis. Bob England and William L. Comfort
thereupon instituted proceedings at Nanaimo charging misuse of funds. Mrs.
Wilson objected to Isis and departed. The case collapsed when the fainting of
counsel for the claimants in the hot, stuffy courtroom was interpreted as a visitation from the supernatural. Isis went insane after the birth of Horus. In 1930
Brother Twelve recovered his prestige, bought DeCourcy Island and became
"Amos de Valdez." A former wife, whom he had married in 1916, became
"Zuro de Valdez " as Madame Z in charge of women. In this year Wilson went to
England to procure a yacht and left as deputy spiritual head of the colony Roger
Painter, with orders to destroy the Honourable Joshua Hinchcliffe, Minister of
Education, and the Honourable Harry Pooley, Attorney-General, by " ectoplastic
attack."   Both survived the attack, and in 1932 Brother Twelve expelled twelve 1952 Notes and Comments 103
men from the sect as a consequence. For five years the speaker and Mr. Victor
Harrison, Nanaimo lawyer, tried to persuade these exiles to file charges, but to
no avail. Finally Mr. McKelvie produced a charm from a great Haida medicine-
woman; this dispelled the power of ancient Egypt, so the witnesses, testified, and
Brother Twelve departed, vanishing in his yacht after destroying the settlement
and taking with him 43 quarts of gold. He died in Switzerland in 1939. The
Provincial Police were called into the case at the instance of Karl Rudy, of
Chicago, whose young wife had been lured away by Brother Twelve, and to
this day her disappearance remains an unsolved mystery. Mr. Noel Robinson
expressed the appreciation of the meeting to Mr. McKelvie for his enthralling
The annual meeting of the Section, which was to have been held on Tuesday,
December 18, through unforeseen circumstances had to be postponed until
Tuesday, January 15, when it convened in the Grosvenor Hotel with Captain
C. W. Cates in the chair. The Honorary Secretary's report indicated that six
informative lectures had been delivered throughout the past year, with good
attendance at all meetings. In addition, the Section had appointed Mr. George
Green as its representative on the " Friends of the Library" organization in
Vancouver. The Honorary Treasurer's report showed a satisfactory credit balance,
with Section membership standing at 147. The appreciation of the Section was
extended to the Honorary President, Mr. E. G. Baynes, for his unfailing interest,
as typified in making available meeting-space in the Grosvenor Hotel. The
Chairman's annual address, From Sail to Steam in Coastal Waters, recalled
the transition not only from sail to steam, but from steam to diesel, a subject on
which, by virtue of his life-long association with marine affairs on the Coast, the
speaker is a recognized authority. The protected waters of the coastal area
favoured the canoe, and canoe-building was an hereditary occupation amongst the
Indians. So skilful did the Indians become that the symmetry and design of then-
canoes have not been improved upon in modern ship-building practice. The old
square-riggers, unlike the schooner yacht, could not tack close to the wind, and
were consequently severely handicapped when approaching Victoria or Vancouver.
One hundred and seventy-five of these vessels were wrecked on the west coast of
Vancouver Island alone. By 1880 sea-going steam-tugs were meeting them off
Cape Flattery, towing them into harbour and later out to sea again. The Union
Gas Works of San Francisco in the 1880's developed the first gas-engine in the
world, and it was introduced into British Columbia by Andy Linton. The speaker
earned his engineer's certificate on their company tug Hammer, the first large gas
marine tug on the Coast. Other phases in the technical improvement of engines
as the result not only of the world wars but also of the era of prohibition in the
United States were recounted.
The results of the election were as follows:—
Honorary Chairman      ....    Mr. E. G. Baynes.
Honorary Vice-Chairmen   -       -       -      f Dr. W. N. Sage.
\ Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby.
Chairman Mr. J. E. Gibbard.
Vice-Chairman Mr. D. A. McGregor.
Honorary Secretary       ....   Mr. T. D. Buchanan.
Honorary Treasurer  ....       Rev. F. G. St. Denis. 104 Notes and Comments Jan.-Apr.
Members of the Council—
Mr. W. E. Blackburn. Mr. R. A. Hood.
Mr. J. A. Byron. Mr. Noel Robinson.
Miss Helen Boutilier. Mr. A. P. Woollacott.
Mr. George Green. Miss Kate McQueen.
Captain C. W. Cates (Past Chairman).
A regular meeting of the Section was held in the Grosvenor Hotel on Tuesday
evening, February 26, when the speaker was Mr. Arthur P. Woollacott, who had
chosen as his subject Mackenzie and His Voyageurs. Mr. Woollacott, the author
of a book by this same title as well as numerous other historical articles, is a Fellow
of the Royal Geographical Society and a " voyageur " in his own right, having
traced on foot and by canoe the route of Sir Alexander Mackenzie on his epic
crossing of the continent in 1793. With the passing of time, Mackenzie's outstanding contribution to the exploration of the Canadian West has tended to be forgotten;
consequently, the speaker's detailed recounting of this, the first, crossing of the
American Continent north of the Isthmus of Panama did much to restore the
explorer to his true significance in our history. By virtue of his personal familiarity
with the terrain covered, Mr. Woollacott was able to create a vivid impression of
the hazards and difficulties encountered and overcome by Mackenzie.
A meeting of the Section was held in the Grosvenor Hotel on Tuesday evening,
March 25. The speaker on that occasion was Dr. Charles E. Borden, lecturer in
archaeology at the University of British Columbia, on the subject Archaeological
Reconnaissance of Tweedsmuir Park. Progressive flooding of 300 square miles by
the creation of the Alcan power reservoir in Tweedsmuir Park constituted a grave
threat to our knowledge of the pre-history of a portion of the Pacific Northwest,
particularly in a region that was least known from an archaeological point of view.
In the summer of 1951 the Provincial Government sponsored a rapid reconnaissance of the park in order to determine its archaeological resources, with a view
to further investigation at a later date. Dr. Borden was in charge of this survey,
and his address constituted a report of his activity in seeking out the vestiges of
pre-historic Indian civilization. Only one more season remains to complete the
work, for, with the completion of the dam, some 500 miles of shore-line will be
flooded. This archaeological emergency had arisen along one of the great immigration routes to the Americas. Dr. Borden gave a brief description of the areas
to be affected: Eutsuk, Tetachuk, and other rivers, now flooded; Eutsuk Lake, not
yet flooded; and Tahtsa and Whitesail Lakes, just east of the Coast Range, to be
flooded. The entire flooded area was the hunting-ground of the Cheslatta Indians,
a branch of the Carriers, who apparently used the western section only in the
summer. The Cheslatta traded with the Kwakiutl and Bella Coola on the coast
at a later date, but it is not certain that the trade was carried on in pre-historic
times. Dr. Borden and his two companions explored 400 miles of river-margins
and lake-shores, made 600 investigations, and discovered 130 sites, half of which
were hunting-sites and thirty others were house-pits. Ootsa Lake yielded forty-two
sites, of which only two could be regarded as permanent. The artifacts discovered
suggested two different cultures: one using obsidian, basalt, and quartz implements,
and the other, much cruder, employing rhyolite for preparing hides, cutting meats, 1952 Notes and Comments 105
etc. At one site a great mussel from the coastal area was found, suggestive of the
coastal contact. The lecture was illustrated with an admirable series of slides.
Dr. M. Y. Williams, in proposing a vote of thanks, expressed the good wishes of
the Section to Dr. Borden for the continued success of his investigation during the
coming summer.
A meeting of unusual interest was held in the Grosvenor Hotel on Tuesday
evening, April 22, when the Vice-Chairman, Mr. D. A. McGregor, read a paper
prepared by Mr. Frank Kelley on Sealing on the North Pacific. The story of
pelagic sealing, an important industry in the early days of British Columbia, was
a subject with which Mr. Kelley was very familiar, for, as an old-time member of
the staff of the Victoria Colonist, he knew many of the sealing captains, was
privileged to read many of their log-books, and often met the schooners when they
came into Victoria with the season's catch. At the turn of the century, Victoria
was a port of call for the Pacific sealing fleet, which intercepted and slaughtered,
almost to extinction, the seal herds on their way to the breeding-grounds in the
Pribilov Islands. Mr. Kelley's paper goes a long way to record the story of
a vanished industry. By way of introduction, he outlined the habits of the seal.
Most of its life is spent at sea, save for the three or four months spent on the land
during the breeding season on the barren, rocky islands in Bering Sea. When this
season is over, the seals leave the islands, but where they go is still somewhat of
a mystery, but early in the new year they turn north again, and in February and
March are off the coast of Mexico and California. On their northward voyage
they never enter the inside passage but stay in the open sea, reaching the northern
islands in May and June. Pelagic sealing began in a small way before the coming
of the white man, for the Indians used to hunt the seals, not so much for their pelts
as for their meat and oil. When the Russians came to Alaska, they began the
commercial exploitation of the seal. British Columbia's interest began after the
acquisition of Alaska by the United States in 1867. At the height of its importance
as many as sixty schooners operated out of Victoria in this industry. They were,
for the most part, small vessels, ranging from 30 to 130 tons, and according to
size, carrying crews of up to thirty men—hunters, steerers, and boat-pullers. The
trade was profitable but dangerous, for storms often were encountered and
schooners were lost. The method of hunting was wasteful, for it was hardly
possible to distinguish whether seals were male or female, and, consequently, when
the latter were killed, the unborn pups were also lost. In 1911 Great Britain, the
United States, Russia, and Japan, by agreement, brought an end to pelagic
sealing. By treaty the United States agreed to pay the Canadian Government
a percentage of the yearly take on the Pribilov Islands. In 1867 the seal population
was estimated to be between two and three million, by 1911 it had been reduced to
200,000; thanks to rigorous control of slaughtering it has now been restored
to nearly its former strength. This industry caused considerable friction between
Canada and the United States, for the latter claimed that Bering Sea was closed
to Canadians, and many schooners were seized by revenue cutters. This action
was protested by Great Britain, and in the end an international tribunal which met
at Paris disallowed the American contention and awarded indemnities, which were
later valued in excess of $425,000.    With the signing of the 1911 treaty the 106 Notes and Comments
schooners were tied up in Victoria Harbour; for months they lay above Point
Ellice Bridge until eventually many of the better ones were sold at auction and
others burned.   The vote of appreciation was tendered by Mr. Noel Robinson.
The annual meeting of the Kamloops Museum Association was held in the City
Hall on Tuesday evening, February 12. Both the President and Vice-President
were unavoidably absent, consequently, the Secretary-Treasurer, Mrs. Earl Robinson, opened the meeting. Right Rev. Frederic Stanford, Bishop of Cariboo, offered
prayers in memory of His Late Majesty King George VI. Mr. J. J. Morse was
then elected to chair the meeting. One of the highlights of the evening was the
presentation to the Natural History Section of the Museum of a pair of mammoth-
tusks by Mr. W. E. Noble. Other reports made note of donations throughout the
year, giving ample evidence of the continued interest and support that the Association is receiving. Mr. B. R. Campbell's report noted that, through the kindness
of Mr. George Brown, of Vancouver, a considerable collection of books and
manuscripts had been made available to the Museum. The Secretary paid high
tribute to all those who had given of their time during the tourist season to be in
attendance at the Museum and also at the adjoining Fort Building. The following
officers were elected for the ensuing year:—
President       -----   Mr. R. G. Pinchbeck.
Vice-President    - Alderman Helen J. Millward.
Secretary-Treasurer ...   Mrs. David Arnott.
Committee Chairmen—
T. S. Keyes (Natural History). Burt R. Campbell (Photographs).
J. J. Morse (Indian Lore). R. B. A. Cragg (House).
Norman Hacking is a frequent contributor to this Quarterly on subjects relating to the marine history of this Province. He is the marine editor of the Vancouver
Daily Province.
H. Cuthbert Holmes, immediate Past President of the British Columbia Historical Association, has served in various capacities, including the presidency of
the Victoria Chamber of Commerce and is an ardent protagonist of Vancouver
Island development.
Dr. Walter N. Sage is Head of the Department of History at the University
of British Columbia and author of numerous books and articles relating to the
history of the Pacific Northwest in general and of British Columbia in particular.
Willard E. Ireland, Provincial Librarian and Archivist, is a Past President of
the British Columbia Historical Association.
W. W. Bilsland is attached to the staff of the Provincial Archives, doing special
research in connection with the British Columbia Heritage Series being produced
by that institution for the Department of Education.
A. F. Flucke served for a time on the staff of the Provincial Archives and is at
the moment attending the Library School of the University of Toronto. THE NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF
British Columbia: Its History, People and Industry. By Fred H. Goodchild. With
a foreword by Byron I. Johnson, Premier of British Columbia. London:
George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1951.    Pp. 219.    Map and ills.    $4.50.
This reviewer has very pleasant memories of a conversation with Sir Stanley
Unwin during the course of his visit to Western Canada in the spring of 1949.
On that occasion this well-known British publisher expressed the opinion that
considering the growing interest in British Columbia to be found in Great Britain
and elsewhere, the time would seem to be opportune for the publication of a book
that would serve as a guide to this Western Province. Such a book would have
to be more than a history and more than a travel narrative, and certainly something
less formidable than any official Government manual with its apparently inevitable
emphasis upon statistics.
Presumably it was hoped that Mr. Goodchild's book would meet this need.
In design, well it might, for within its covers have been amassed a wealth of
information about British Columbia arranged, generally speaking, in topical order.
The geography, geology, and climate of the region are described and its early
history recounted. This is followed by separate chapters devoted to the story of
the development of the great basic industries, and, in addition, such topics as
communication by land, sea, and air, law enforcement, the press and radio, and
provision for the health, welfare, and education of its inhabitants come under
survey. Certainly the text is not overburdened with statistics, the most important
of which are grouped in an appendix for easy reference. In addition, the book is
admirably illustrated with well-chosen and well-produced representative photographs. The index provided can only be described as moderately satisfactory.
In its plan, consequently, one can offer little by way of criticism, for a sincere
effort has been made to provide a comprehensive view of the innumerable facets of
British Columbia's past and present.
However, the execution of the plan leaves much to be desired, for the book is
seriously marred by inaccuracies. Admittedly some of them might be considered
of minor significance, but the frequency with which they recur will make the
serious reader mistrustful of the book as a whole.
Despite the fact that Mr. Goodchild has done "considerable Parliamentary
reporting," it is all too apparent that he is peculiarly unaware of the process of
evolution of government in this Province. Writing of the career of Richard
Blanshard, the first Royal Governor in what is now British Columbia, the statement
is made " On March 11, 1850, Blanshard . . . read the document setting up
responsible government in the new colony " (p. 30) and in the very next sentence
there is added "In 1856 a legislative assembly of seven members was granted."
Actually Blanshard had nothing whatsoever to do with the introduction of representative, let alone responsible, government, and the document he read on that
occasion was simply his commission as Royal Governor.   If responsible govem-
Brltish Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XVI, Nos. 1 and 2.
107 108 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
ment had been instituted in 1850, why then the necessity for the British Colonist
newspaper in 1858 to jump "into the fight . . . for responsible government"
(p. 195). Moreover, responsible government could never precede the establishment
of representative government, as is implied. It is a technique, rather than a form,
of government designed to deal with the intricate question of the relationships
between the executive and legislative branches of government. It was not "the'
centenary of responsible government" that the Legislature " duly noted " in 1950
(p. 42), but the centenary of the inauguration of British rule in the Pacific
Nor, for that matter, does the author appear to be any more conversant with
present-day governmental organization in the Province. While the British North
America Act of 1867 may rightly be considered "the source of power of the
provincial government," it is incorrect to consider it " the constitution of British
Columbia " (p. 44). Evidently Mr. Goodchild is unaware of the fact that British
Columbia is one of the few Provinces of Canada to have passed through its
own Legislature its own Constitution Act. To be even more precise, it must be
pointed out that at no time did the Honourable A. D. Turnbull hold the position
of "Provincial Secretary and Minister of Health" (p. 173), but he was Minister
of Health and Welfare, which fact is correctly reported in the appendix (p. 215).
The social and health services in this Province are not grouped under one authority,
with four divisions headed by Deputy Ministers (p. 173), for responsibility for the
administration of mental institutions is vested in the Department of the Provincial
Secretary, which, far from being a "third division" (p. 174) of a non-existent
"Department of Health " (p. 179), is one of the senior Cabinet posts.
It would serve no useful purpose to list the errors noted seriatum, but some, at
least, must be noted, as they illustrate what is perhaps the most serious weakness
of this book—the failure of its author to pursue his researches more carefully into
the antecedents of the many facets of the Province's growth that he is attempting
to describe. Had this been done, many of these errors, which are perhaps more
irritating than significant, would have been eliminated. The role of the Hudson's
Bay Company in the development of the area is not well presented. Credit is
quite properly given to the North West Company for having first penetrated into
the trans-montaine region, but it is wholly incorrect to state that it was soon
followed " by its rival, The Hudson's Bay Company " (p. 83), for that company's
activity west of the Rocky Mountains was its inheritance from the Canadian
company at the time of the union of the companies in 1821. The Hudson's Bay
Company's great royal charter never gave the company any proprietary rights in
British Columbia; indeed, such rights as it did secure for a limited period of time
on Vancouver Island were secured at a much later date and in return for its
undertaking the colonization of the Island. Consequently, it seems quite unfair to
criticize the company for failure to foster the development that might have altered
the present location of our southern boundary. Two of the great Nor'Westers are
given some consideration; but, unfortunately, one is misnamed, for it is Daniel
Williams Harmon, not William (p. 119), and it is regrettable that the myth of
David Thompson's " race to the Columbia " (p. 35) is repeated when that story
has been so thoroughly " debunked." 1952 The Northwest Bookshelf 109
Frederick Seymour did not succeed Douglas "as governor of the united
colonies" (p. 38), but became Governor of the Mainland colony in 1864 and
continued as Governor after the union of 1866—details which, curiously enough,
are reported correctly in the appendix (p. 213). The first capital of the united
colony was not Victoria, as is stated on page 37, but was New Westminster, the
transfer to the Island city not taking place until 1868. In passing it might also be
noted that Victoria was never named officially or unofficially by the fur-traders
Fort Camosun (p. 149), a fact which has been well proven. Moreover, the
Governor who brought the colony into Confederation was Anthony, not James,
Musgrave (p. 38), an error again that was eliminated in the appendix, and to be
strictly correct it is not proper to refer in 1853 to " Governor Sir James Douglas "
(p. 142) when his knighthood was conferred many years later. While the Act
establishing the Mainland colony of British Columbia was passed by the Imperial
Parliament in August, 1858, the date of the formal inauguration of the colony
is more properly November 19, 1858 (p. 37).
In dealing with each of the main industries of the Province Mr. Goodchild has
attempted to present something of their historic origin as well as their tremendous
expansion. It is unfortunate that in the chapter dealing with the lumber industry
no use was made of the careful researches done by Dr. W. Kaye Lamb into the
early history of that industry on Vancouver Island, where development antedates
that on the Mainland by many years. One cannot but remark that quite frequently
emphasis is placed upon developments in the Vancouver region, with which the
author was more conversant, to the unfortunate detriment of other portions of
the Province. One wonders, too, why so little consideration was paid to the rise
of the pulp and paper industry. In so far as the development of the coal resources
of the Province are concerned, while due recognition is given to the earliest
discoveries at " Suquash " (Fort Rupert) (p. 127), the author then apparently
confuses this incident with the Nanaimo workings. It is correct to say that " the
discovery of coal near Nanaimo on Vancouver Island remained unrevealed " until
after the signing of the boundary treaty (p. 36) simply because the deposits there
were unknown. The negotiations in the late 1840's between the Hudson's Bay
Company and William H. Aspinwall for his Pacific Mail steamers had reference
to the northern deposits in the neighbourhood of Fort Rupert, which post was
built in 1849 to facilitate their exploitation (p. 150). One can hardly expect
omniscience from any author, particularly when so many subjects are under
review, but it is a little disturbing to find him unaware of the historic background
of his own profession. " The first paper in the province " did not appear in 1851,
nor was it printed in French or published by Bishop Demers (p. 194). At that
date Demers was not a resident on Vancouver Island, and although admittedly in
the fall of 1858 he did co-operate in the publication of Le Courier de la Nouvelle
Caledonie, it was not devoted " solely to religion " and had been preceded by at
least two other newspapers, The Victoria Gazette (June 25, 1858) and the
Vancouver Island Gazette (July 28, 1858).
In the chapter on place-names—always a subject of great interest—it is
unfortunate that more specific reference had not been made to the greatest of the
researchers in this field, the late Captain J. T. Walbran.   Had this been done, an 110 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
error such as attributing the naming of Queen Charlotte Islands and Sound to the
consort of George HI (p. 67) would have been eliminated. In point of fact
the Islands were named in July, 1787, by Captain George Dixon after his vessel
Queen Charlotte, and the Sound by S. Wedgborough in 1786 after the Queen.
Surely it should be recognized that Prince George owes its origin to the old North
West Company post, Fort George, that had been founded in 1805. In addition,
it is a little surprising to find Manning Park named " in memory of Hon. E. C.
Manning, the minister of lands and forests " (p. 205), when actually it was named
after the highly respected Chief Forester, E. C. Manning. It must also be pointed
out that although popularly referred to as the emblem of British Columbia, the
dogwood, or for that matter any other bloom, has never been given official
It would perhaps be unfair to criticize this book for the omission of material
when doubtless limitations of space made extremely onerous the already difficult
problem of selection. However, the title of the volume definitely includes the
people of the Province, and it is to be regretted that only scant attention is paid
to the original Indian inhabitants of the region—a subject of curiosity, if not
genuine interest, elsewhere. Similarly, one might have expected some reference to
some of the minor ethnic groups and religious sects that have contributed to the
development of the country, particularly, for example, the Doukhobors and
the Mennonites.
British Columbia will, doubtless, achieve a wide circulation. It is a brave
attempt to fill a long-felt want, particularly since even the Provincial Government
has never seen fit to reissue its Manual of Provincial Information since 1930. It is
unfortunate that the execution of the undertaking did not keep pace with the
excellent objective in view.
Willard E. Ireland
Provincial Archives,
Victoria, B.C.
Steamboats in the Timber.   By Ruby El Hult.   Caldwell, Idaho:  Caxton Printers,
Ltd., 1952.   Pp. 209.   Map and ills.   $4.
Ships of the Inland Sea: The Story of the Puget Sound Steamboats.   By Gordon R.
Newell.   Portland, Oregon: Binfords & Mort, 1951.   Pp. xii, 241.   Ills.   $3.50.
Development of the Pacific Northwest depended largely upon transportation,
and in the early days steamboats loomed large in the life of the people. In recent
years steamboating in the West has greatly declined, due to the advent of faster
and more modern means of travel. But there are many who look back to the days
when the sternwheeler and paddle-steamer were in their prime, and enthusiasts are
responsible for such organizations as the Steamship Historical Society of America
and the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society.
Two members of the latter society have recently had books published on the
subject of steamboating days in the Pacific Northwest. Miss Hult's book is the
more specialized, as she writes of steamboating on Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho,
which lasted from 1880 to 1938. Mr. Newell attempts to cover a wider field, with
the story of Puget Sound steamships from the Hudson's Bay Company's pioneer
Beaver of 1835 to the present day. 1952 The Northwest Bookshelf 111
Although the history of steamboating on Lake Coeur d'Alene is specialized, it
is certainly not dull. The fabulously rich mining and timber country of Northern
Idaho provided much of the wealth that built the City of Spokane, and during its
heyday at the turn of the century this section of the " wild and woolly west" was
at its wildest. Miss Hult's book has recaptured the spirit of the times. The author
tells us that steamboats were used more extensively on Lake Coeur d'Alene than
on any lake west of the Great Lakes. Steamboating was an integral part of the
life of the country, and so without straying too far from her subject, Miss Hult
links it up with the fabulous Coeur d'Alene mining booms of the eighties, the
timber boom of the early years of this century, and the fantastic railway boom
caused by the building of the Chicago, Milwaukee and Pacific Railroad.
The author was born on the shores of the lake, and she knows the country
intimately and lovingly. Much of her material comes from the recollections of
old-timers. It must be granted that such information is not always too reliable,
but it gives the narrative vigour and colour, which would be lost by too dull a
reliance on strict historical research. The book ably recreates an almost forgotten
era of the West's development. Whether one is interested in steamboats or not,
it can hardly fail to be of interest. Steamboats in the Timber is well illustrated
by many good photographs of the lake steamers and their skippers. Since it is a
product of the Caxton Press, it is hardly necessary to say that the printing and
general format are excellent. It is only to be regretted that Miss Hult did not
produce in an appendix a list of the Coeur d'Alene steamboats with their
dimensions and other salient features, for the benefit of those who like their details
in easily accessible form.
Ships of the Inland Sea, by Gordon R. Newell, attempts a more ambitious
project—a survey of steamboating on Puget Sound. Unfortunately, Mr. Newell
has been swamped by the enormous amount of material at his disposal. As a
consequence, there are many gaps in the history, many interesting facts have been
omitted, and many incidents have not been sufficiently checked for historical
accuracy. For a good part of his book Mr. Newell relies for bis information on
the invaluable Lewis and Dryden's Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, which
was published in 1895. No one can write on our early marine history without
consulting Lewis and Dryden, but the compilers of that excellent source-book
were only human, and they were guilty of many errors, which Mr. Newell has
apparently not seen fit to check.
The author is apparently unaware of the numerous articles on maritime
matters published in the British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Had he read
Dr. W. Kaye Lamb's definitive article on the Beaver, he would not have
repeated the old legend that her launching was attended by King William IV and
150,000 people, nor would he have said that the " Beaver had been intended for
river trading" (p. 6), or that she was "a man-of-war first and a trading vessel
second" (p. 7). And surely he knows better than to say that the Beaver found
a deep-water grave " on the Vancouver Island rocks " (p. 114).
There is much other evidence of careless writing. On page 13 the author says
the steamer Traveler, which was lost in 1858, made "occasional trips to Victoria
and Vancouver," some twenty-eight years before the latter city existed. There
are numerous mistakes in spelling, such as Alexandria for the Canadian steamer 112 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
Alexandra, Wealleale for Waialeale, once well known on the Vancouver-Tacoma
run, and Cassair for Cassiar. The author does not seem to be aware of the fact
that the Canadian Pacific Navigation Company, which played such an important
role from 1883 to 1901 in Pacific Coast shipping, was in no way connected with
the Canadian Pacific Railway.
There are some curious omissions. No mention is made of the steamer
Premier, later so well known in British Columbia waters as the Charmer. She was
an American vessel, until her famous collision with the Willamette on Puget
Sound, but no mention is made of this incident. Many of the Princess liners
played a most important role in the history of Puget Sound steamboating, but they
are mentioned only once in rather cavalier fashion. The famous Princess Victoria,
surely the greatest Sound steamer of them all, is mentioned not at all, although
presumably she is the steamer referred to on page 149, when Mr. Newell writes
" The Whatcom raced the four-cylindered Canadian Pacific liner to Victoria in
1905, and beat her." There are no further details. If the Whatcom outraced the
Princess Victoria, it would be interesting to know when and where and how.
There are many details that Mr. Newell should have elucidated more fully. One
of the early steamers on the Vancouver-Tacoma run was the Mainlander. We are
told (p. 131) that she suffered a "fatal ramming from the hard-luck tug Bahada,"
but there is no " when, where, and how " this interesting event occurred. The
exciting rate war between the Chippewa and the Canadian Pacific Railway steamers
on the Seattle-Victoria run is dismissed with only a sentence.
Despite its faults, there is much in the book to commend it. Mr. Newell
writes with admirable verve, and occasionally he can be pungent, as when he
refers to the modern stream-lined Chinook, presently on the Seattle-Victoria run.
" No effort has been spared to make it look as little like an honest steamboat as
possible," he writes. " The Chinook is modern and luxurious and almost as fast
as the steamers launched in 1900." The book is notable for its handsome format
and many fine photographs. Appendices list most of the Puget Sound steamers,
steamboats still in operation, the names of many old-time captains and engineers,
and the present tow-boat fleet.
Norman Hacking.
North Vancouver, B.C.
The Fifteenth Report of the Okanagan Historical Society.   Vernon:  The Vernon
News, 1951.   Pp. 219.   Map and ills.   $2.50.
Although well-written, authoritative general histories of Canada have appeared
in recent years, adequate works covering the development of the various Provinces of Canada have been slow in coming. Like the other Provinces, British
Columbia has felt the want of competent, modern general treatises on the history
of the Province, not so much, admittedly, in the political as in the economic
and social fields of history. Before adequate general histories of the political,
economic, social, and cultural activities of the Province can be written, however,
the basis for such works—the collection of historical material on a local rather
than a Provincial level—must be accomplished. Fortunately, several local
historical associations in the Province have taken up the problem of collecting and
preserving the links with our past. 1952 The Northwest Bookshelf 113
The Okanagan Historical Society, since it was founded in September, 1925, has
been contributing valuable material on the past development, not only of the
Okanagan Valley, but also of the Province as a whole. The Fifteenth Report of
the Okanagan Historical Society, ably edited by Dr. Margaret A. Ormsby, of the
History Department of the University of British Columbia, maintains the pattern
of previous Reports. A member of the Society since 1929, and editor of the Report
in 1935, 1939, and from 1948 on, Dr. Ormsby again has done a fine job of
editing the material contained in the Report of 1951. As in previous volumes,
the edition of 1951 is devoted to many aspects of life in the Okanagan Valley,
dealing with topics as varied as local folk-lore, the possibility of Oriental, Jewish,
and Welsh arrivals in British Columbia before the coming of the commonly
accepted discoverers, co-operative marketing, pioneer schools and teachers, the
visit of a famous American general to Osoyoos Lake, and reminiscences and stories
of pioneers of the Okanagan Valley.
Rev. John C. Goodfellow, in " Our Unknown Ancestors," discusses the possibilities of " parallel cultures in widely separated areas," and the need for more
research before anthropologists and archaeologists can definitely relate, or discount,
the apparent similarities of races in regions widely separated, and in different
epochs. In the first of several sketches of Okanagan personalities, Dr. Ormsby has
edited the autobiography of the first settler in the North Okanagan, A. L. Fortune;
Jabez Kneller has written an account of his arrival in Armstrong on September 1,
1892, and of his first few years in the Okanagan Valley; J. P. Parrott describes
pioneer days in Peachland; H. J. Hewetson contributes an appreciation of Commander Thomas Willing Stirling, R.N., O.B.E., of Kelowna; Faith Norris has
written an account of the life of Mrs. Myles MacDonald, an Armstrong pioneer;
Mrs. M. Pidoborozny has outlined the life on an Enderby pioneer, Graham
Rosoman; Flora Cooper has described the life of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. R. B.
Bell, early arrivals in Vernon; and, lastly, Allan Davidson contributes more
material on the life of Tom Dominique, an Indian well known to the people of
In the realm of social history, Harry W. Hobbs, Allan H. Davidson, Georgina
Maisonville, H. D. Pritchard, and Clarence Fulton discuss the history of pioneer
education in the Okanagan Valley, including schools at Rutland, Westbank, Penticton, and Vernon, and give the details of the first teachers, pupils, and school
buildings in the various localities, as well as the subsequent development of the
educational facilities.
Communal rather than biographical material is represented by Charles LeDuc's
notes on the early settlement and settlers in the Spallumcheen area; by Jean
Webber's discussion of the Coldstream Ranch and the development of the Municipality of Coldstream after its incorporation in 1906; by Katie Lacey's article on the
record of the settlement at Kruger Mountain, west of Osoyoos, and by H. H.
Whitaker's account of the early history of Kaleden, dating back to 1909.
Harry D. Barnes' article on the development of the Nickel Plate mine from
1898 to 1932, reprinted from the British Columbia Historical Quarterly, is included
in the Fifteenth Report, as is F. M. Buckland's piece on co-operative marketing,
a discussion of the attempts of Okanagan—particularly Kelowna—farmers "to
solve, through co-operation, the problem of distribution of surplus products," and 114 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
including the minutes of the Kelowna Shippers' Union from 1896 to 1898.
C. Noel Higgin has produced a good account of the Summerland-Naramata ferry
service, which he and his partner originated in March, 1908, and which was
maintained by others for approximately ten years, until its need disappeared.
Hester E. White's story of the visit of General William Tecumseh Sherman to
British Columbia in 1883, and the reproduction of a portion of the official " Report
of Journey Made by General W. T. Sherman in the Northwest and Middle Parts
of the United States in 1883," prepared by J. C. Tidball, colonel, aide-de-camp,
brevet brigadier-general, as printed in the Report of the Secretary of War, 1883,
is certain to be of interest to residents not only of the Okanagan, but also of
British Columbia generally. The late B. R. Atkins contributes a brief note on the
first Federal election at Yale, in December, 1871, during which two voters were
responsible for the election of a member of Parliament to represent the vast Yale
riding. The Victoria British Colonist of October 24, 1871, indicates that Captain
(later Lieutenant-Colonel) C. F. Houghton had offered himself to the electors of
Yale constituency prior to the actual polling-date, but, according to B. R. Atkins's
account, reinforced by R. E. Gosnell's story in the Vancouver Daily Province of
March 11, 1928, Houghton's name, or any other name, had not been placed officially before the electors until the last day of the filing of nominations for the
election of 1871.
Some of the Okanagan Valley's place-names are outlined by Reginald N.
Atkinson, and the pioneers commemorated by the names of Penticton's streets and
avenues are the subject of an article by Miss D. K. Stewart, G. B. Latimer, and
H. H. Whitaker.
A customary feature of the Report, " Recent Books Mentioning Okanagan," is
again included in the edition of 1951. Poems, brief notes on pioneers, illustrations, and other features complete the volume. Dr. Ormsby, Mrs. R. L. Cawston
(the assistant editor), and the printers, the Vernon News Limited, are to be congratulated on producing another fine collection of material on the history of the
Okanagan Valley.
W. W. Bilsland.
Provincial Archives,
Victoria, B.C.
Pioneer Days of Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes.   By Kate Johnson.   Nakusp, B.C.,
1951.   Pp. 146.   Ills.   $2.50.
"... every week old timers go to their last reward, in many cases taking
with them precious information relative to the early days." So states the authoress
at the beginning of her book, and to the task of gathering as much of the information as remained she has evidently devoted herself with admirable enthusiasm and
energy. The result, produced to celebrate the diamond jubilee of Nakusp, is a
slim volume crammed with intimate local detail concerning the people and the
communities of the Arrow Lakes region. It is a personal little history, and Mrs.
Johnson is to be congratulated on assembling so many glimpses of the activities of
the pioneers of this area. 1952 The Northwest Bookshelf 115
The author begins with a brief geographical and historical description of the
region, dealing, perhaps rather disjointedly, with the Kootenay and Arrow Lakes
Indians. In recounting the so-called " Kootenay Indian Incident" on page 5, Mrs.
Johnson has confused A. W. Vowell, Stipendiary Magistrate for the Kootenay at
the time, with I. W. Powell, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for British Columbia.
This, however, is not surprising in view of the fact that Vowell was present at the
discussions with Chief Isadore, and two years later became Superintendent of
Indian Affairs for the Province, following Mr. Powell's retirement in 1889.
Under topical sections, some of which are almost ludicrously brief, the author
gives us a multitude of details concerning the growth and development of Nakusp.
Individuals, businesses, buildings, institutions, and social groups are expatiated on
with varying consistency. Other communities of the region—Arrowhead, Beaton,
Brooklyn, Deer Park, and many more—are handled similarly, although at shorter
length. Throughout these are interspersed anecdotes, odd items of local interest,
and biographical sketches of general regional interest. The final section, dealing
with the steamboats that plied the Columbia River and the persons associated with
them, is probably the best from a purely historical point of view.
On reading through this history, one is led to the conclusion that both time and
money were lacking. If this happens to be the case, it is much to be regretted.
Many repetitions of incidents, and of statements concerning the native people of
the area, confused spellings of Indian names, such as Kitanaqa, Kitonaqa, Kutenai,
Kitunaha, for the Kootenay people, could have been eliminated with more careful
editing. This reviewer has never heard of a native group called the " Marine
Indians," and doubts very much that the " Haidahs " (Queen Charlotte Islands
Indians) or the " coast tribes " ever " hunted along the lakes," as stated on page 11.
In the section on Columbia River steamers, the statement at the beginning that
" the Alpha was the first steamer to ply the waters of the Columbia and the Arrow
Lakes " is contradicted (and, to this reviewer's knowledge, rightly so) farther along
and in other places throughout the book. In these cases the credit is given to the
old Forty-Nine under Captain Leonard White.
Local colour is the strong point of Mrs. Johnson's work, and the wealth of
detail contained is at times startling. But the organization of the material leaves
much to be desired. This again seems largely due to haste in preparation. Sections
follow one another with no regard for continuity and little regard for proportion.
A section headed "Early Day Ball Games, 1897—(Sandon vs. Nakusp)" has
nothing at all to say about the game. A similar instance is the section headed
" Nakusp 1898," under which is briefly related the finding of the body of one Lottie
Davis, apparently a female of rather dubious character who had wandered into
the woods while under the influence and had died of exposure. This reviewer
feels sure that this incident was not the highlight of Nakusp's history in that year.
Again, presumably because of printing expenses, the value of the many extremely interesting pictures, which by themselves make this history worth while,
are marred by poor printing and page composition. These illustrations could have
been an outstanding consideration in reviewing this book, and it is too bad that
they have been so poorly reproduced. The book has no index, although the table
of contents in front is erroneously labelled so.  This, however, only partially covers 116 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
the headings in the book and, with a few exceptions, refers only to the various
communities discussed.
As mentioned before, this history of Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes is personal
in its emphasis—it might even be termed domestic since so many of the details are
of the homey, anecdotal type—of homes, enterprises, and the course of private
lives. One will find few references to the effects of political events or legislative
measures on the communities concerned. Even the subjects of roads, railways,
and mining, vitally important in the development of the region, are dealt with in
a very cursory manner. Mrs. Johnson has certainly made a contribution in gathering together so much local detail, and in substance she has produced something
valuable. It is all the more to be regretted that a little more time and money could
not have been spent in order to produce a more readable and historically attractive
A. F. Flucke.
Toronto, Ont.
David Thompson's Journals Relating to Montana and Adjacent Regions, 1808-
1812. Transcribed from a photostatic copy of the original manuscripts and
edited with an introduction by M. Catherine White. Missoula, Montana:
Montana State University Press, 1950.   Pp. clxi, 345.   Maps and ills.   $7.50.
Miss Catherine White, of the University of Montana Library, has done a
splendid piece of work in the preparation of this important volume. The preface
and introduction, along with the exhaustive foot-notes which are a feature of the
whole book, are a tribute to her sound scholarship and unflagging industry. She
acknowledges her debt to Dr. J. B. Tyrrell, T. C. Elliott, and Dr. Elliott Coues, and
she has built on their solid foundation. She has done more. For the first time she
has published important journals of David Thompson, which throw light not only
on his explorations in Montana, but also in Idaho, Eastern Washington, and British
Columbia. Her bibliography of over forty pages is almost a model. There are
few, if any, important omissions, and she lists both Canadian and American
To British Columbian readers the most important section of the book is Part
VI, which deals with Thompson's journey in 1811 from his winter encampment on
the Big Bend of the Columbia River to Clark's Fort (February 27 to June 3, 1811).
Thompson's journal and Miss White's illuminating foot-notes enable the reader, for
the first time, to trace this all-important journey in detail. It is regrettable that she
does not mention that Simon Fraser had in 1808 named the Thompson River after
the explorer who, he mistakenly thought, was encamped on its upper waters.
David Thompson never actually saw the Thompson River.
The appendices to the volumes are important. They provide valuable biographical information regarding fur-traders and map-makers. The second appendix
takes issue with the late Professor Arthur S. Morton on his conclusions regarding
"the Columbian Enterprise."
Miss White is to be congratulated for the valuable addition to the all too few
volumes which deal with the career of that great explorer and fur-trader whom Dr. 1952 The Northwest Bookshelf 117
J. B. Tyrrell has termed "the greatest practical land geographer that the world
has produced."
Walter N. Saob.
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C.
Papers Read before the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba. Series III,
No. 7. Edited by J. A. Jackson, Gordon W. Leekie, and W. L. Morton.
Winnipeg: Advocate Printers Ltd., 1952.   Pp. 39.
It is a matter of regret that the necessity to economize has forced the editors of
this, the seventh, number of the Third Series to publish only three of the papers
read before the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba during the seasons
1949-50 and 1950-51. If the unpublished papers are of the same calibre as those
that have already appeared in print, Western Canadian history is indeed the poorer
because of the sadly restricted publication policy that inadequate financial support
has forced upon an old and significant local history society.
This is the first time that a paper by J. L. Johnston, able and indefatigable
Provincial Librarian of Manitoba, has been published. Mr. Johnston's amazing
knowledge of Manitoba and, for that matter, Prairie history has made him an
invaluable assistant to researchers all across the country, and at long last some
of his own research appears over his signature. From information gathered from
hither and yon, he has pieced together the fantastic story of Lord Gordon Gordon,
confidence man and swindler par excellence of the period 1868-1874. Although
his actual identity still remains a mystery, Lord Gordon's activity is now most
carefully detailed and documented, commencing with his deceptions in Forfar,
Scotland, and ending with his suicide at Headingly, Manitoba. The full story of
his clash with Jay Gould is told, a story almost unbelievable at times that cannot
but leave with the reader a glimmer of admiration for a scoundrel who outsmarted,
at least temporarily, one of the giants of American racketeering. Perhaps even
more amazing than the financial intricacies that are revealed in this account are
the international complications that followed the abortive attempt at the arrest of
" his lordship " in Manitoba by Minnesota citizens. Mr. Johnston has done an
admirable piece of research on an incident that had far greater implications than
the sculduggery that gave rise to it would seem to suggest.
The second paper, Steamboating on the Red, written by Mrs. R. F. Basken (ne'e
Molly McFadden), is a short survey of steamboat traffic on the Red River, from
its inception on June 10, 1859, with the arrival of the Anson Northup at Fort
Garry to its conclusion on June 7, 1909, with the arrival at Winnipeg of the Grand
Forks. Naturally, within the limits of nine pages few details could be given,
although a fairly full account is given of the Anson Northup or Pioneer, as she
later was called, and also of the International and Selkirk. However, as a ready-
reference source for information on the steamers on the Red River, this article will
be of considerable value.
Roy P. Johnson, member of the editorial staff of the Fargo Forum and specialist in the history of the Red River valley, contributed the third paper, on The
Fenian "Invasion" of 1871.   This incident he considers "one of the most fabulous 118 The Northwest Bookshelf Jan.-Apr.
episodes in the history of our Canadian and American frontier," and when one
realizes all the elements that are brought together in this article, one is inclined to
agree. The invasion occurred at an extremely critical juncture in the history of
Manitoba, when the Province was slowly recovering from the effects of the
rebellion. Indeed, it was probably the result of the rift between Riel and W. B.
O'Donaghue. Much information is given on the prior and subsequent career of
the other leader in the foray—the impulsive General John J. O'Neill. Mr. Johnson
has produced an interesting and contemporaneous description of the invasion in the
form of two newspaper dispatches of October 5 and 16, 1871, by George I. Foster,
correspondent for the Yorkton Courier, who was also clerk of the Federal Court at
Pembina, and who later, in his capacity as Court Commissioner, was to try O'Neill
and his associates for violation of the Neutrality Act.
WnxARD E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives,
Victoria, B.C.
Towards the Last Spike.    By E. J. Pratt.   Toronto:   Macmillan Company of
Canada, 1952.   Pp. 53.   $2.
British Columbia should be thrilled by this poem. Professor E. J. Pratt, of
Victoria College, University of Toronto, a Newfoundlander by birth, has long
been recognized as one of the chief Canadian poets of this generation. Towards
the Last Spike should add to his reputation.
It was, no doubt, inevitable that a Canadian poet should put into verse the
well-known story of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but it is eminently fitting that a native of our newest Province should have accomplished the
task. His poem is outstanding. He calls it a "verse panorama," and so it is. In
a series of unforgettable word-pictures he has told the tale from the Terms of
Union in 1870 to the driving of the last spike at Craigellachie in Eagle Pass, British
Columbia, on November 7, 1885. As a historical narrative, the work is sound.
There are a few places where the author has sacrificed historical accuracy in order
to heighten the dramatic effect. He postpones, for example, British Columbia's
threats of secession till the railway is well under construction.
Professor Pratt has brooded long over his subject. He has recreated the years
from 1870 to 1885. Nothing of importance is omitted. His most important contribution is probably in the vivid portrayal of the men who planned and built the
railway; the lengthy list of Scots—"Oatmeal was in their blood and in their names";
the non-Scots, to coin a phrase, Onderdonk, J. J. Hill, Shaughnessy, and, above all,
William Cornelius Van Horne. He is not, however, unmindful of the political
figures—Sir John A. Macdonald, Alexander Mackenzie, and Edward Blake. He
praises Sir John A., is fairly kind to Alexander Mackenzie, but highly critical of
Edward Blake. The financiers also—George Stephen, Donald A. Smith (Lord
Strathcona), Richard B. Angus, to mention only a few—pass before us in stately
procession. The financing of the road and its political implications are well
The finest poetical passages deal with the building of the line across the Prairies,
the piercing of the north shore of Lake Superior, and the penetration of the almost 1952 The Northwest Bookshelf 119
insurmountable mountain barrier. At long last the work is accomplished. The
gap from Savona's Ferry to Craigellachie is at length closed, and the rails from
the east and from the west meet. Donald A. Smith drives the golden spike and the
work is done.
British Columbia is portrayed as a lady who has to decide between her sailor-
lover, California, and her long-distance wooer, Sir John A. Macdonald. She nearly
deserts Alexander Mackenzie but is faithful to Sir John A. Macdonald.
Towards the Last Spike must be read in full to be properly enjoyed and
understood.   Professor Pratt's achievement has been notable!
Walter N. Sage.
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, B.C.
victoria, B.C.
Printed by Don McDiasmid, Printer to the Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
Organized October 31st, 1922
His Honour Clarence Wallace, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
Hon. W. T. Straith, Q.C.   -       -       -       - Honorary President.
D. A. McGregor  President.
Major H. Cuthbert Holmes      ... Past President.
Rev. J. C. Goodfellow, D.D. -       -       - 1st Vice-President.
H. C. Gilliland  2nd Vice-President.
Miss Helen R. Boutilier       -       -       - Honorary Secretary.
J. K. Nesbitt  Honorary Treasurer.
Burt R. Campbell. Captain C. W. Cates. Dr. M. A. Ormsby.
Dr. W. N. Sage. Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Willard E. Ireland F. H. Johnson John Gibbard
(Editor, Quarterly). (Victoria Section). (Vancouver Section).
To encourage historical research and stimulate public interest in history; to
promote the preservation and marking of historic sites, buildings, relics, natural
features, and other objects and places of historical interest, and to publish historical
sketches, studies, and documents.
Ordinary members pay a fee of $2 annually in advance. The fiscal year
commences on the first day of January. All members in good standing receive the
British Columbia Historical Quarterly without further charge.
Correspondence and fees may be addressed to the Provincial Archives, Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.


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