British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Jan 31, 1947

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JANUARY,  1947 We
Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in cooperation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
Willard E. Ireland.
Provincial Archives, Victoria, B.C.
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. T. A. Rickard, Victoria.
W. N. Sage, Vancouver.
Editorial communications should be addressed to the Editor.
Subscriptions should be sent to the Provincial Archives, Parliament
Buildings, Victoria, B.C. Price, 50c. the copy, or $2 the year. Members
of the British Columbia Historical Association in good standing receive the
Quarterly without further charge.
Neither the Provincial Archives nor the British Columbia Historical
Association assumes any responsibility for statements made by contributors
to the magazine.
The Quarterly is indexed in Faxon's Annual Magazine Subject-Index. We
"Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past."
Vol. XI. Victoria, B.C., January, 1947. No. 1
'Dear Sir Matthew ": A Glimpse of Judge Begbie.
By Sydney G. Pettit	
The Sea-otter in History.
By T. A. Rickard  15
Lieutenant-Colonel Israel Wood Powell, M.D., CM.
By B. A. McKelvie  33
Notes and Comments:
British Columbia Historical Association  55
Memorial to Sir James Douglas, K.C.B  59
Memorial Cairns Unveiled at Langley .„  59
Memorial to Judge Howay  60
Augustus Schubert:   1855-1946  61
Contributors to this Issue  61
The Northwest Bookshelf:
Carr:   Growing Pains.
By Madge Wolfenden  63
Mirsky:   The Westward Crossings.
By T. A. Rickard  64
Seaman:  Indian Relics of the Pacific Northwest.
By A. E. Pickford  67
Shorter Notices:
Stanwell-Fletcher:   Driftwood Valley  68
Hood:   Ballads of the Pacific Northwest  68 Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie shortly after his arrival in British Columbia. "DEAR SIR MATTHEW":  A GLIMPSE
No record of the formative years of British Columbia can
"be complete without an account of the work and personality of
Matthew Baillie Begbie. As Judge of the mainland colony it
was his task to establish and maintain the law in the turbulent
days of the gold-rush. At first there were no roads, no towns
or villages, no court-houses, and no jails. He was obliged to
travel as best he could, on horse-back or by wagon, sometimes
on foot, passing along precipices and toiling through mountain
gorges. At night he was fortunate to find shelter in a Magistrate's cabin. More often than not he slept in a small Hudson's
Bay Company tent that by day had to serve as chambers. His
was a vast circuit and one that grew in length, as in the successive seasons the miners pushed up the canyons to fabulous
Cariboo. There were between twenty-five and thirty thousand
of these adventurers in the first rush in the spring of 1858, and
among them a lawless element of gamblers, claim-jumpers, and
gunmen who were accustomed to scoff at the law and deride its
officers. From April, through the long summer, James Douglas,
Governor of the Colony of Vancouver Island, held white man
and Indian alike under the rule of law. After the territory had
become a colony on November 19, he was able to delegate these
duties to Judge Begbie, who had arrived from England on the
sixteenth of the same month. It was not long before the miners
came to entertain a healthy respect for the giant Judge and for
the redcoats and bluejackets whom he could call to his aid if the
need should arise. Fearless and incorruptible, he made his name
a terror to evil-doers who, rather than face his stern and impartial justice in the Queen's court, abstained from violence or
fled the country, never to return.
A talented man, Judge Begbie served the colony in many
capacities beyond the line of his official duties, becoming, as it
were, Governor Douglas' first lieutenant in the field.   In addi-
* This is the first of a series of four articles dealing with the career of
Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XI., No. 1.
1 2 Sydney G. Pettit. January
tion to the part he played in framing the law, he drew maps,
supervised the sale of town lots, and wrote reports on any subject the Governor asked him to investigate. When the colony
became more peaceable and settled, and more government servants were at the Governor's disposal, the Judge was relieved
of these duties and was able to devote his time to the civil litigation that began to increase in volume as the miners reached
Cariboo. In the early days he had been law-maker and lawgiver, and not infrequently served as counsel for the defence and
prosecution at the same time. Such conditions were peculiarly
suited to his disposition, which was autocratic, and to his
methods, which, to say the least, were highly personal in nature.
But when barristers appeared in the colony and began to plead
in complicated cases, the Judge continued to act as a law unto
himself and, as there was no Court of Appeal nearer than London, he generally had his way. As a result, the colony was in an
uproar during the assizes; mass meetings of protest were held,
and on one occasion a petition was sent to the Governor demanding the Judge's dismissal.1 But Judge Begbie was as tough and
tenacious as his bitterest enemies. When they annoyed him, he
gave them a tongue-lashing they never forgot. If they went too
far, and he considered that his contemptuous disregard would be
taken as an acknowledgment of guilt or serious error, he would
clap them in jail for contempt of court. He survived storm after
storm, saw governors and governments come and go, and died
in 1894 at the age of seventy-five, Chief Justice of the Province
of British Columbia.
It is not unnatural that a legend should survive a man of
such unusual qualities. The Begbie legend, which is still to be
encountered in most parts of the Province, has many rich facets.
In the Interior older residents point to trees from which they
say Judge Begbie hanged a California gunman with his own
hands. Such stories form the basis of the legend of the Hanging Judge. Those who have grown up in the native-son tradition denounce him as an arrogant Englishman, a bully and an
ignoramus unfit to administer the law to the peaceful, respectable miners from California. Anecdotes of his grim humour
and sharp repartee are still related in clubs and offices, and
(1) Victoria Colonist, June 28, 1866. 1947 " Dear Sir Matthew." 3
elderly newspapermen mimic his shrill denunciation, for, like
Bismarck, his great stature was offset by a high-pitched voice.2
In such wise the legends of the Tyrant Judge and the Eccentric
Judge have come into being. In the older and still stately homes
of Victoria are the survivors of a generation that knew him in
his later years. He lingers in their memory as a dear friend
and a great gentleman. They point with, pride to the chair in
which he always sat or the piano where he sang for their entertainment. As their cultivated voices take up the story of " dear
Sir Matthew," it is almost possible to see him striding down the
drive in his great black hat and cape, with half a dozen spaniels
frisking at his heels.
As Judge Begbie sometimes remarked to his friend, Peter
O'Reilly,3 it is impossible to find people who are all of a piece.
The most incongruous traits exist in the same person. We have
all been surprised to find at one time or another that a person
whom we know to be unbearably proud is also capable of genuine humility. The stern and ruthless are sometimes kind and
generous. The intellectually gifted sometimes make colossal
blunders. The Judge himself possessed many qualities that were
seemingly irreconcilable. In the courts he was an autocrat of
autocrats, harsh, irascible, and given to handing down the most
extraordinary judgments. Yet those who knew him well all
agree that he was modest, kindly, generous, and a man of rare
intellect. It is small wonder then that a series of legends has
grown about his memory. It is also no matter for surprise that
the Begbie legends give a distorted picture of the man, for in
each case they are exaggerations of one of his many contradictory
(2) There is some difference of opinion about Judge Begbie's voice. Of
those who knew him, a majority agrees that he had a high tenor voice.
Another opinion is that the Judge, when excited or animated, was rather
shrill, but normally spoke in rather deep tones. He is said to have sung
bass in the choir of St. John's Church, Victoria, B.C.
(3) Peter O'Reilly, born in Ince, Lancashire, England, and educated in
Ireland, came to British Columbia in 1859, where he resided until his death
.at Victoria, September 3, 1905, at the age of 77 years. In April, 1859, he
was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and subsequently he served for many
years as Stipendiary Magistrate and Gold Commissioner in the Cariboo and
elsewhere in the Province. His friendship with Judge Begbie dates from
Cariboo days. 4 Sydney G. Pettit. January
When it came to appointing a man to act as Judge in the new
colony, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton recognized at once that his
choice must be governed by the special circumstances prevailing
in that remote possession.4 From Douglas' dispatches it was
apparent that courage, integrity, and great powers of endurance
would be highly necessary qualifications. To control the Indians
and keep order among the miners would demand the fortitude
and physical presence of a McLoughlin or a Douglas. In the
gold-fields, where threats and bribes were a common resort, and
where there were unusual opportunities to use official information for gain, the Judge must be a man of impeccable character.
As the country was a wilderness, travel meant long journeys
under the most trying conditions of climate and terrain. Professional qualifications alone, no matter how high, would not
suffice to carry a man over these immense distances in the face
of every hardship and danger, nor would they dissuade California
toughs from resorting to gun and bowie. As Lytton said, the
Judge must be a man who could, if necessary, truss a murderer
up and hang him from the nearest tree.5 In order to find a man
in the legal profession would could meet these requirements, and
who would be willing to take up a life of hardship and danger
on the other side of the world, Lytton sought the advice of Sir
Hugh Cairns, the Solicitor-General. He recommended a struggling young barrister with whom he had read law at Lincoln's
Inn fifteen years before, a Mr. Begbie, whose unusual personal
qualities and love of travel and adventure admirably fitted him
for the position.
There can be no doubt that Begbie created a favourable
impression at his first interview. He was over 6 feet, well proportioned, and courtly in manner. A photograph taken at the
time shows him wearing a jaunty, low-crowned black hat and a
black jacket. Although he was only thirty-nine, his hair was
white at the temples and his Van Dyke was shot with grey. His
moustache was black and waxed to sharp points at the ends. His
eyes were luminous.    Certainly in Begbie's case looks do not
(4) Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton was Secretary of State for the Colonies
in the second Derby administration.
(5) Lindley Crease, " Sir Matthew Begbie," Victoria Colonist, June 19,
1938. Mr. Crease points out that Begbie referred to this statement of
Lytton's and so created the legend of the " Hanging Judge." 1947 " Dear Sir Matthew."  ■ 5
belie character. All of the vitality and intelligence of the man,
his strength and arrogance, illuminate his features. There are,
too, clearly to be seen, the contradictory qualities of the churchman and the devil-may-care adventurer.
Born in the Tropics in 1819, he was the son of Colonel Thomas
Stirling Begbie, 44th Foot, a veteran of the Peninsular War.6
His mother was the daughter of General Baillie, an officer who
served with distinction in the Napoleonic campaigns. On this
side of the family he was related to the celebrated physician Dr.
Matthew Baillie, after whom he was probably named. The Stir-
lings, with whom the Begbies appear to have intermarried, were
also a military family. The best-known member of the Begbie
family is the late Harold Begbie, widely known as the " Gentleman with a Duster." Before winning notoriety as a political
writer, Begbie wrote, in addition to a large number of novels,
several religious works and a biography of General Booth. The
son of a Suffolk parson, Harold Begbie reminds us of the Judge,
who was a good churchman and a devout Christian. It seems
that most of the Begbie family were either soldiers or clergymen,
a fact that brings them within the tradition that has produced
its Gordons, Havelocks, and Montgomeries.
"In later years Judge Begbie said that he had accepted his
position gladly, and that he had never regretted doing so. Its
chief attraction appears to have been the opportunities for travel
and adventure that it afforded him. He once told an audience
at Richfield that he could scarcely remember a time when he had
not been travelling from one place to another, and that his earliest recollection of childhood was of being on board a Dutch vessel
bound for Antwerp.7 From early manhood he made it a practice
to travel abroad every year, his rambles taking him to most of
the countries of Europe and even to Turkey. According to Canon
Arthur Beanlands, the Judge, an extremely modest man, was
(6) " A Lecture in Cariboo," Victoria Colonist, October 5, 1863. This
lecture on " Reminiscences of European Travel" was delivered by Judge
Begbie at Richfield on September 12th. He is reported to have stated that
he had been born in the Tropics. There is no further evidence to support
the alleged statement or to show in what part of the Tropics his birthplace
was located. As a rule he is said to have been born in Edinburgh or
(7) Ibid., October 5, 1863. 6 Sydney G. Pettit. January
inclined to depreciate his experiences, but on occasion regaled his
friends with tales that were worthy of publication.8 There were,
in addition, monetary considerations that made the offer attractive to a man in Begbie's position. He had not succeeded in
gaining a footing in his profession and had secured employment
as a reporter for the Law Times, and later, because of his efficiency, as special shorthand clerk to the Lord Chancellor.9 To a
man doing work of this kind, a judgeship at £800 per annum
must have been highly attractive. If it is true that his brother,
Thomas Stirling Begbie, had supplanted him in a lady's affections,
sentiment as well as interest played a part in his acceptance.
He had gone into law, not because it attracted him greatly,
but because it seemed about the best thing to do when he failed
to win a lucrative appointment in his college, Peterhouse, Cambridge. For reasons for which he was entirely to blame, he
disappointed and surprised his tutors by taking what was considered for him a mediocre degree when he graduated in 1841.10
A marked aversion for taking life ruled out the services, and a
letter written to Colonel Moody years later gives the impression
that he held such strong views about doctrine and ritual that
it might not have been possible for him to have entered the
church.11 It seems that he never cared for the law. His aptitude
and preference was for mathematics, a discipline that called for
abstract speculation and analysis. Law, on the other hand, was
founded on statutes and precedents. It teemed with quids and
quiddities that seemed to Begbie to be little more than a hopeless
jumble of nonsense. He always insisted that it was a waste of
time to read statutes and precedents, as they were both confusing
(8) A. B., " Some Recollections of Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, late Chief
Justice of British Columbia," Victoria The Province, December 22, 1894.
" A. B." was Canon Arthur Beanlands, a close friend of Begbie. His
article has been reprinted in British Columbia Historical Quarterly, V.
(1941), pp. 127-130.
(9) D. W. Higgins, " The Giant Judge—A Court Scene," Victoria Colonist, November 8, 1908.
(10) A. B., loc cit. Begbie read law after graduation at Lincoln's Inn
between 1841 and 1844. He took his M.A. and was called to the Bar in 1844.
He is said to have taken a special interest in chancery law.
(11) Begbie to Moody, November 4, 1862, MS., Archives of B.C. 1947 " Dear Sir Matthew." 7
and confused.12 He may, of course, have been rationalizing his
own personal distaste for the subject.
He was, none the less, an extremely able man. Indeed, it
may be said that he was brilliant. His friend, Canon Beanlands,
describes him as something of a genius, relating that at the age
of three young Begbie neglected his toys to sit in a corner poring
over Sanford and Merton. He was naturally the despair of his
first teacher, a sergeant in his father's regiment, who was soon
obliged to inform Colonel Begbie that he could teach the young
prodigy no more. At this time the Colonel inherited a comfortable estate from a maternal relative which enabled him to settle
his-wife and family on the Island of Guernsey. The boy's mathematical ability was already so apparent that he was sent to study
under a brilliant eccentric who had been senior wrangler at
Cambridge. The lad's progress was so rapid that at the age of
fourteen he competed for and won a senior scholarship at Elizabeth College. As he was too young to avail himself of this
opportunity, he attended Guernsey College, where he won a
scholarship for Peterhouse, Cambridge. He had not been long
at the university before he was marked as a coming man who
would emerge as senior wrangler and win a life fellowship.
Although he had set his heart on this honour, Begbie failed
to come near the high place everybody expected him to take. In
mathematics he came out a wrangler, it is true, but he stood too
far down the list to be given the scholarship. In classics he took
a second, narrowly missing a first. His undoing, of course, had
been his versatility and love of life. He was an all-round athlete,
a singer and musician, he drew well, and, above all, he was a
bon vivant who became the life of many a charmed circle. He
rowed for his college, and is said to have stroked the university
eight. He played tennis, boxed, and went in for dramatics. He
belonged to a number of clubs and societies. Of these he often
spoke with pleasure, especially of a small club he founded himself.
(12) A. E. Beck, a Registrar of the Supreme Court, quotes Mr. Justice
McCreight as saying that Begbie never consulted authorities. See A. E.
Beck, " Sir Matthew Begbie: Terror of Lawbreakers of B.C. Fifty Years
Ago," Vancouver Province, July 5, 1925; reprinted in British Columbia
Historical Quarterly, V. (1941), pp. 131-134. Colleagues of the late Mr.
Justice McCreight say that he always insisted that Begbie did not know
the law. 8 Sydney G. Pettit. January
To qualify, all members had to be taller than he. On one occasion
Begbie and his friends went to London and carried off a giant
advertising sign and installed it in their rooms as an emblem of
the club. In the summers, when more serious students were
doing their reading, Begbie was off to the continent, where he
travelled through France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and Italy. On these journeys he spent a great
deal of time in picking up languages and in making sketches of
people and places that caught his fancy.
It was at Cambridge that he learned shorthand, probably for
amusement, for he loved to beguile his time with puzzles, chess
problems, cards, and tricks in mental arithmetic. The late Miss
Kathleen O'Reilly liked to relate how the Judge would astonish
bystanders on the Hudson's Bay Company wharf in Victoria by
making rapid and accurate mental computations of the weight of
the coal heaps there. Perhaps it was his love of the complex that
led him to choose the particular system of shorthand that he used
in his note-books and court records. He could not have selected
a more difficult or a more cumbersome one. The first Pitman
system had been published in 1835, when Begbie was a lad
of sixteen, and though it was by modern standards extremely
clumsy, it was simplicity itself in comparison with the Gurney
system which the Judge used. Two battered note-books which
he apparently carried with him on his journeys through Cariboo
are preserved in the Provincial Archives. They are written
entirely in shorthand. Sample transcriptions taken from separate pages contain nothing of significance. This and Beanland's
comment that " he was no diarist" lead one to conclude that they
will not reveal much of the Judge's inner life.
Apart from the note-books, the only personal document that
has survived Begbie is his will. It is long, highly technical, and
carefully designed to save his beneficiaries inconvenience and
expense in obtaining their legacies. It has often been said that
he was extremely considerate, and there could be no better
evidence of this than the fact that on his death-bed—for his
last illness was long and very painful—he should remember the
misfortunes of others and make a few half-humorous, delicate
gestures in memory of old friendships. Two of his bequests
throw some light on a side of his life that he never allowed to 1947 " Dear Sir Matthew." 9
become public. It is still said of him that he was a secret giver,
often helping the unfortunate with gifts of money,, or, when
anonymity was not possible, by other devious ways. He made
one bequest to a C. F. Moore, an obscure person, it seems, who
had suffered a great deal from ill fortune. The Judge left him
an interest on $4,000 and the use of one of his houses, rent free;
for life. Another clause made provision for a distant relative
who had been residing in James Bay for some years. It is said
that he supported this woman, Mary Helen Baillie, and the
phrase "according to my previous arrangement with her"
suggests that he had assumed some responsibility for her in the
past. He willed her $25 a month for life. The will was made
on March 14, 1894, but as the long Victoria spring passed into
summer, it became apparent to the dying man that he had overestimated the value of his estate and that it was necessary to
make certain adjustments. Accordingly, he drew up a codicil on
June 9 which modified some of his bequests and included a number
of small legacies for friendship's sake. To the clergymen with
whom he had been accustomed to dine on Saturday nights, he
left $100 each and a case of claret or sauterne " at their choice."
To Peter O'Reilly, he left two cases " at his choice." He did not
forget his housekeeper and gardener, each of whom received
$300. Another phrase, " to Ben Evans, my old friend, I give
$100," underlines a long and peculiar friendship that caused
amusement in Victoria. Evans was officially the court usher,
but is remembered to-day as an unofficial philosopher and friend
of the Judge. An ex-poacher from the west of England, he
frequently accompanied him on his rambles over the Saanich
Peninsula, carrying his gun and encouraging him to break
regulations and to poach at will.
After the manner of many bachelors, Begbie formed lasting
friendships with the wives and daughters of his friends. He
was the best host in colonial Victoria and the most sought-after
guest, partly for his wit, but chiefly for a natural bonte that is
remembered to this day. One lady has said, " He was always
kind, most considerate, and had the most charming way of doing
little things for us." It was this that prompted him to set down
at the end of the codicil to his will: " I wish Mrs. Crease and
Mrs. Drake a dozen potted plants and a dozen roses of their
choice." 10 Sydney G. Pettit. January
In religious matters, as in the case of his generosity, the
Judge was very reticent. He was a good churchman, and seemed
to have favoured the evangelical movement in the Church of
England. There are hints about him here and there to suggest
that he was not many generations removed from the more
moderate of Cromwell's followers. While he took wine in
moderation, he rarely drank spirits. He wore black a great deal,
was able to quote Scripture at great length, and chose many of
his friends among the clergy. His bitter denunciations of excess
and crime at the end of criminal trials had a puritan twang.
Though autocratic and sometimes arrogant in manner, he had the
inner uncertainty that is not uncommon in the puritan type.
It is thus not surprising that his careful instructions for hi3
funeral, both in the will and the codicil, bespeak a certain
humility of spirit. He allowed only $200 for expenses, and
directed that his grave be marked by a wooden cross bearing
his name, dates, and the inscription " Lord, be merciful to me
a sinner." A devoted gardener and lover of flowers, he requested
that no wreaths of any kind be put on his grave.
The Judge's religious convictions did not permit him to view
the world as a vale of tears and life as a period of sober preparation for another existence. As an Anglican, he saw no harm in
pleasure and had no fear of happiness. It is true, of course, that
his social life in Victoria seems artificial at times, that his
pleasures were too carefully arranged, but that is not uncommon
with those who have no home-life and must choose between long
grey evenings alone and the synthetic pleasures of society.
When the long and tiresome circuits were over, Begbie went
home to Victoria for a well-deserved rest. Of his first home,
nothing is known to-day. It is the house in which he died in
1894 which lingers happily in the memory of the older Victorians.
In those days it was located on the north-eastern limits of the
city, a district which became fashionable at the turn of the
century. It was a bungalow of moderate proportions, standing
in spacious grounds on the slight elevation where Collinson and
Cook Streets now intersect. In the distance were the sea and
the Olympic Mountains, of which he had an unimpeded view
across the Fairfield marshes. It was here that he and Ben Evans
shot duck in violation of the city by-laws.   The Judge was an 1947 " Dear Sir Matthew." 11
enthusiastic gardener and employed a man full time to attend
to his lawns and flower-beds. There were two grass tennis-
courts, and a stretch of lawn planted with seeds that he had
collected in the Interior. There were fruit-trees, holly for
Christmas, as he said, and the finest display of roses in the city.
Best remembered are the tennis parties. Clad in spotless
white and wearing a black velvet jacket, Sir Matthew conducted
the ritual of what came to be known as " Tuesday Tennis."
With decorum and considerable tact he appointed partners and
arranged the games. As a rule he partnered the weakest player
in the first set and then, having found an equally chivalrous
substitute, conducted his guests about the garden on little conversational tours to the various points of interest. When cherries
were in season, he arranged with his Chinese servant to pick a
quantity and arrange them on the branches of a near-by bush so
that they would be within the reach of all that wanted them.
There were, also, social occasions in which the ladies had no
part. These were the Saturday night dinner parties. As a rule
the Judge invited a number of clergymen for early dinner and a
couple of hours' conversation over the port.13 He appears to
have controlled the conversation much as he directed the tennis,
drawing out each of the guests at the right time and on the
proper subject. Jenns was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer,
and all of them appear to have been interested in literature and
history. The Judge, having a good memory, quoted at length
and without error from his favourite poets, Horace, Milton, and
Shakespeare. He had no use for contemporary poetry, saying
that it had no depth, and passed scathing remarks about Charles
Dickens, whom he considered to represent the worst features of
At nine, or thereabouts, the clergymen departed to their
sermons, making way for lay friends and old companions of the
upper country like Peter O'Reilly. The rest of the evening was
spent at cards. The Judge excelled at whist, which was then as
popular as bridge to-day. According to Lady Dufferin, who met
him on her visit to the West, he was the best player in British
(13) Canon Arthur Beanlands, Archdeacon Austin Scriven, and the
Reverend P. Jenns.
(14) A. B., loc. cit. 12 Sydney G. Pettit. January
Columbia.    She gave a charming sketch of Begbie in her journal,
describing an occasion when he played very poorly indeed:—
Chief Justice Sir Matthew Begbie dined with us. He is a very big man,
very amusing, and the whist-player of British Columbia; however on this
occasion D. and I beat him thoroughly. His mind was, I suppose, distracted,
for I found afterwards that he had planned to serenade us, and had
arranged for some young ladies to come up at 9:30 to sing with him at our
windows; so he was all the time listening for the sound of wheels, while he
was attending to the trumps with his eyes. At last D., who had just gone
away to do some business, heard voices in the garden, and with well feigned
astonishment rushed in to tell me. We brought the singers in, and gave
them tea. is
As the country grew and prospered, his tasks became less
arduous, and he was able to spend more time in his Victoria,
which he declared to friends to be the most beautiful town in the
world. Rumours of his secret giving began to spread abroad.
Oscar Bass, who used to distribute the Judge's anonymous gifts
forgot his pledges to secrecy and related acts of generosity that
an earlier generation would not have believed of the Hanging
Judge. He never quite lost his faculty for rendering decisions
unacceptable to the entire community. In 1885, when there was
a great deal of opposition to the influx of Chinese labour into
the Victoria district, he was perhaps the only resident who did
not object to them. He extolled their virtues and proved to his
own satisfaction, at least, by the most devious arguments, that
they would not affect the local labour market, and refused to hear
a word against them.16 But the pioneers, remembering that the
Judge had shared their hardships and adventures, had come to
regard him as one of themselves. Such associations led them to
take a pride in the eccentric giant, and stories of his courage and
wit grew slowly into legend. Like Mr. Chips, he had become a
member of a very large family. At dances and picnics and at
more intimate family gatherings he was the presiding spirit. In
the Provincial Archives there is a photograph of a wedding
group, taken after the marriage of James Douglas' daughter
Martha.    Sir Matthew, clad in his customary black, looms head
(15) Harlot Georgina, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava, My Canadian
Journal 1872-78 . . . , New York, 1891, p. 276. The entry was for
Thursday, August 17, 1876.
(16) Victoria Colonist, March 15, 1882. 1947 " Dear Sir Matthew." 13
and shoulders above the rest of the party, and with his white
hair and beard looks like Zeus himself on a friendly visit.
On Sunday mornings Sir Matthew attended service at St.
John's Church, then located on the present site of the Hudson's
Bay store. As his legs were too long to afford him comfort in
the choir stalls, he sat in a special chair at the end nearest the
lectern, and when he rose to read the lesson, people wondered
whether his body would ever stop going up. He read beautifully, without accent or affectation. In singing, however, he was
not so successful. He had been trained in Italy, and as he grew
older it became his conceit that choir and congregation depended
on him for leadership. But the organist, whom the others followed, poured forth his praise at a more rapid tempo, with the
result that the Judge's song followed the rest in delayed obbligato.
After morning service it was part of his social ritual to go to
the O'Reillys for lunch, where he talked at great length about the
latest novels, Ireland, horses, and the old days of the gold-rush.
A connoisseur of food and cooking, the Judge always complained
that his Chinese cook could never make rice pudding to his taste
and showed Mrs. O'Reilly just how it should be done. For
eleven years he never failed to enjoy this Sunday dessert, and
generally had a second helping. But as he approached his seventy-fifth year, he grew thinner and his appetite waned. He could
no longer take dessert at all, and his increasing absence from
social gatherings confirmed the report that he had cancer. He
refused an operation and rejected drugs, saying that he could
not endure the thought of dulling his mind. But it was hard to
keep his mind clear as the cancer spread. The pain became very
severe, and, as he told Miss Agnes McKay, it blotted out the
present and all memory of the past. As the summer of 1894
drew on, he took to his bed. In June friends began to sit with
him at night. On the night of June 10 he said to Peter O'Reilly,
" You must leave me alone to-night, O'Reilly. I must make my
peace with God."
His memory lives on to this day at Pentrelew, the residence
of the Crease family.17    Pentrelew is a long, two-storied build-
(17) Sir Henry Pering Pellew Crease was born near Plymouth, England,
August 20, 1823. He received his B.A. degree from Cambridge in 1846, and
while Begbie was at that time also in attendance at the University, the two 14 Sydney G. Pettit.
ing set in spacious grounds on Fort Street, at the southern
boundary of the old Dunsmuir estate. It is one of the last outposts of the colonial period. It is English in atmosphere and
suggests the world that Trollope described and Tennyson knew.
The drawing-room is not much changed since Sir Matthew's day,
and a fire burns in the same grate where he stretched and
warmed his long legs on winter evenings. He sometimes
announced his arrival by beating on the door with his fists and
calling out in a torrent of Chinook. For many years, says Miss
Crease, he spoke of England " as if it were just outside the door,"
but toward the end of his life spoke of British Columbia as home.
Though he would never have admitted it, Judge Begbie had
become a Canadian.
Sydney G. Pettit.
Victoria, B.C.
were not acquainted. For a time Sir Henry lived in Upper Canada. He
arrived at Victoria, December 15, 1858, and three days later was called to
the Bar of both Vancouver Island and British Columbia, thus becoming the
first qualified barrister in British Columbia. In October, 1861, he became
Attorney-General of the mainland colony. He became a Judge of the
Supreme Court on May 13, 1870, and upon his retirement in 1896 he was
knighted.    He died in Victoria, February 27, 1905. THE SEA-OTTER IN HISTORY.*
The sea-otter placed Vancouver Island on the map of the
world. The coast of what is now British Columbia was a
no-man's land until the sailors under Captain James Cook's command took otter skins from Nootka to Canton in 1779, and
thereby made known the fact that such valuable fur could be
obtained in these parts. The publication, in 1784, of the book
giving an account of Cook's last voyage advertised that fact in
Europe and America. This brought numerous traders to the
coast, and led shortly afterward to the maritime survey of the
region by Captain George Vancouver.
The most valuable of all fur-bearing animals is known to
scientists as Enhydra lutris. The name is suggestive of Lutra
canadensis, the land-otter. Indeed, they resemble each other.
The land-otter is 40 to 45 inches long, it is a lithe-bodied carnivore of weasel-like form with completely webbed feet and a long
tail. It has a small head like a cat. The fur is glossy brown.
The pelt of the land-otter is worth a mere fraction of that of the
sea-otter; however, it was one of the staple furs of the Russians
in Alaska.
. To zoologists the southern sea-otter is known as Enhydra
lutris nereis, while the northern variety is named Enhydra lutris
lutris. The range of these two varieties has never been determined. The sea-otter measures from 4 to 5 feet in length, and
weighs as much as 80 pounds. The head is round, with small
ears; the eyes are black and beady; the whiskers are white like
those of a cat, but stiffer. The teeth are strong. The tail is
flattish, 12 inches long, 2% inches wide, and an inch thick; it is
rigid, and is used as a rudder when the otter is swimming.
The fur consists of hairs an inch to an inch and a half long
that are dense, soft, and silky. This fur has to be felt to be
appreciated.    The Makah Indians, near Cape Flattery, use the
* The substance of an address delivered before the Victoria Section of
the British Columbia Historical Association, September 23, 1946.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Vol. XL. No. 1.
2 15 16 T. A. Rickard. January
word titcak for velvet and for otter skin.1 The best skins are
obtained in northern waters; their colour is dark brown to black.
Silvery hairs are distributed evenly about three-quarters of an
inch apart. The skin is loose, like that on the neck of a young
dog, so that it stretches to a foot more than the length of the
live animal.2
The limbs, fore and aft, are remarkably different in structure.
The front feet are short and thick, with toes that are short but
prehensile. The otter is skilful in using these paws, which serve, •
like hands, to hold the young and to break shell-fish for food.
The hind limbs are longer; at the extremities they are flattened
and expanded like flippers. The toes lack muscular power, and
the animal can not place its webbed hind feet flat on the ground
because, when it tries to walk, the toes are doubled under so that
it seems to be moving on its knees.3 When on shore the otter
moves its feet alternately, but when in a hurry it draws the hind
limbs under the body and makes quick short jumps. At such
times the flippers suffer hurt and abrasion. The otter therefore
is essentially a marine animal. Its home is amid the floating
kelp. It loves the rocks and a rocky bottom, avoiding both mud
and sand.
The cry of the otter is like that of a cat, but harsher. When
a mother otter is being chased, her position is betrayed by the
mewing of the pup. The female has only one pup at a time, and
she does not produce one every year. This slow rate of reproduction has hastened the extermination of the animal. The flesh
of the otter has been eaten by savages, such as the Ainu and
Aleuts, but most people find it decidedly unpalatable.
The colour of the sea-otter's fur is described variously; in the
northern waters it is undoubtedly darker than in the south.
Probably when wet the fur looks darker than it really is, but one
can not ignore the testimony of several competent observers that
.(1) Erna Gunther, " A Preliminary Report on the Zoological Knowledge
of the Makah," in Robert H. Lowie, (ed.), Essays in Anthropology in Honour
of Alfred Louis Kroebler, Berkeley, 1936, p. 114.
(2) Adele Ogden, The California Sea Otter Trade, 1784-1848, Berkeley
and Los Angeles, 1941, p. 4.
. (3) H. J. Snow, In Forbidden Seas: Recollections of Sea-Otter Hunting
in the Kurils, London, 1910, p. 275. 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 17
sometimes it is jet black. Meares says so,4 and Jewitt likewise.6
The best authority is H. J. Snow, who spent twenty years in
hunting the otter. He says that " near the roots the fur is of
a lustrous pearly whitish colour, darkening towards the outside
to black in the best skins." Again, he says, " the finest skins
are black."6 He mentions one that was " perfectly white,"7 probably an albino. Captain Cook described a typical specimen the
fur of which was " glossy black," but the face, throat, and breast
were of " a yellowish white, or very light brown colour."8 The
hair of the head and neck is always of lighter tint than that of
the body; this gives the otter a queer appearance. An otter was
killed by an Indian at Kyuquot, on the west coast of Vancouver
Island, in 1930. The skin was confiscated and is now in the
Provincial Museum.    This fur is light brown.
The habitat of the sea-otter extended originally from Northern Japan to Lower California in a sweeping curve along the
Kuril Islands, the Commander group, the Aleutian archipelago,
and southward along the Alaskan and British Columbian coasts.
(4) " The young cubs of a few months old, are covered with a long,
coarse, white hair, which protects the fine down that lies beneath it.—The
natives often pluck off this coarse hair, when the lower fur appears of a
beautiful brown colour and velvet appearance. As they increase in age this
long hair falls off, and the fur becomes blackish, but still remains short.—
When the animal is full grown, it becomes of a jet black, and increases in
beauty; the fur then thickens, and is thinly sprinkled with white hairs.—
When they are past their state of perfection, and verge towards old age,
their skin changes into a dark-brown, dingy colour, and, of course, proportionately diminishes in value." John Meares, Voyages made in the Years
1788 and 1789, from China to the North West Coast of America, London,
1790, p. 242.
(5) " The sea-otter is nearly five feet in length, exclusive of the tail,
which is about twelve inches, and is very thick and broad where it joins the
body, but gradually tapers to the end, which is tipped with white. The
colour of the rest is a shining silky black, with the exception of a broad
white stripe on the top of the head." John R. Jewitt, A Narrative of the
Adventures and Sufferings of  .   .   .    , Middletown, 1815, p. 80.
(6) Snow, op. cit., p. 273.
(7) Ibid., p. 49.
(8) The Three Voyages of Captain James Cook Round the World, London, 1821, VI., p. 270. The drawing of an otter, by Webber, appearing in
the written account of Cook's voyages, is thoroughly bad. The front feet
can hardly be seen. It looks like a seal, and evidently was drawn from a
dead animal. 18 T. A. Rickard. January
The total distance was 6,000 miles. The beautiful fur became
so much in demand that the otter was hunted relentlessly, with
the result that the animal became almost extinct. Some survive
on Copper Island, one of the Commander group, where they are
closely preserved and carefully guarded by the Russian government. Only a catch of about 200 is permitted each season.9
A few survive along the coast of the Kuril Islands. In California
three herds, or pods as the Russians say, have appeared along the
coast near Carmel during recent years. Together they number
about 350.
The otters like a rocky coast where kelp is plentiful. There
they find abundant food and can float on their backs comfortably
in the smooth waters of a quiet inlet no matter how the sea is
breaking outside.
During the winter of 1938 while in California the writer had
the opportunity of watching, by aid of a binocular, a herd of
ninety-six sea-otters that had appeared unexpectedly on March
19 off the coast 14 miles south of Carmel. They seemed good
natured and playful as they swam amid the kelp 50 yards offshore. Many of them were floating on their backs, and that was
why their colour appeared to resemble the brown of an Irish
water-spaniel. The under-part of the otter's body is usually of
a decidedly lighter tint than that of the back. These otters near
Carmel were unmistakably brown. They rolled in the water and
occasionally raised themselves so as to look around. They
appeared to be made restless by parasites, and were busily
engaged in scratching. Frequently they rose from the water
and shook themselves vigorously like a wet dog. Others dived
to the bottom in search of food, usually the red abalone, Haliotis
rufescens.10 Then, lying on his back, the otter held the shell-fish
between his paws while he broke it, sometimes with the aid of
a stone. Sea-urchins, clams, and crabs are also enjoyed by them.
An old hunter is recorded as saying:—
Why, I really believe that them otters has human sense. I've seen 'em dive
down, catch a crab, come up to the surface and fasten themselves to a piece
(9) Snow, op. cit., p. 272.
(10) Edna M. Fisher, " Habits of the Southern Sea Otter," Journal of
Mammalogy, XX. (1939), p. 26. 1947       The Sea-otter in History. 19
of kelp, then take the crab in their paws and leisurely eat it, giving the
best part to the pup.ii
The otter rarely leaves the water; all his food is obtained
from the sea. He prefers the protection of a rocky shore and
the shelter of the kelp-beds. That may explain why the coast
from Grays Harbor to San Francisco afforded poor hunting.
The sandy beaches of Oregon did not suit the otter. On the
coast of Washington the otters were restricted largely to the
stretch between Point Grenville and Grays Harbor,12 where a
large bed of kelp made them comfortable. It was at Point Grenville that Bruno Heceta landed in 1775 and obtained some skins
from the Indians.13
The Russians discovered the sea-otters on the coast of Kamchatka at the end of the seventeenth century and named them
bobri morski, or sea-beavers.14 Japanese records show that the
animal was hunted a century earlier by the primitive Ainu on
the island of Yezo (Hokkaido), now the most northern of the
Japanese islands. Later the Ainu migrated from Japan to the
Kuril Islands for the same purpose. They used the bow and
arrow when hunting in summer, while in winter they clubbed
the otters when found on the ice. In 1765 the Ainu people came
into collision with the Russians, who had first invaded the Kuril
Islands from Kamchatka in 1711. They failed, however, to
establish a permanent outpost. The trade in the skins obtained
by the Ainu became a monopoly in the hands of the Daimyo of
Matsumaye. This Japanese overlord dealt death to any one selling them elsewhere. With the collapse of the feudal system,
after 1869, the control of the otter trade passed to the Japanese
When Vitus Bering returned from his voyage of exploration
along the Alaskan coast in 1741, his crew on the St. Peter was
(11) A. W. Chase, "The Sea-Lion at Home," The Overland Monthly,
III. (1869), p. 353.
(12) Victor B. Scheffer, "The Sea Otter on the Washington Coast,"
Pacific Northwest Quarterly, XXXI.  (1940), p. 372.
(13) H. H. Bancroft, History of the Northwest Coast, San Francisco,
1890, I., p. 160.
(14) William Coxe, Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia
and America, London, 1787, p. 12.
(15) Snow, op. cit, p. 287. 20 T. A. Rickard. January
incapacitated by scurvy. Therefore he sought shelter on one of
the Commander Islands, only 120 miles north-east of Kamchatka.
The island is now known by his name, because he died there.
His ship was driven on the rocks by a heavy gale and wrecked.
The island was found to be uninhabited, but it was occupied
by numerous fur-bearing animals, notably blue foxes and sea-
otters. A German, named George W. Steller, was a member of
Bering's expedition, of which he wrote an account. He was a
scientist, and that makes his record valuable. When the St.
Peter was approaching the island " a number of sea otters came
toward us in the sea,"16 he says. Later, when the invalids from
the ships were laid on the beach, they were pestered by the blue
foxes, which came " in countless numbers." The castaways built
a boat out of the timbers of their wrecked ship, and sailed from
the island to Petropavlovsk, in Kamchatka, where their arrival
created a sensation, due partly to the fact that all of them were
clad in valuable furs.
This fact proved of historic importance, because it caused the
adventurous traders in Kamchatka to go to Bering Island as soon
as possible. They returned laden with furs, chiefly otter. That
was in 1743. During the next year Mikhail Novodchikov, one
of Bering's crew, reached one of the westernmost Aleutian
Islands. Others followed. From island to island of the Aleutian chain the Russian promyshlenniki, or Cossack frontiersmen,
went in search of furs, until they reached the Alaskan mainland.
There an outpost was established in 1783 by Grigor Shelekhov.
This was the beginning of the Russian American Company,
which enjoyed a highly profitable fur business until 1863. To
indicate the destructive character of the early hunting, it is
recorded that Andrew Tolstyk made three voyages, in 1749,
1756, and 1760, during which he collected 9,397 adult skins and
821 cubs, a total of 10,218 otters. Later two Russian sailors,
Lukannow and Karekov, killed 5,000 otters in their first year at
St. Paul's Island, and a thousand more during the second year.
Six years afterward not a single otter appeared there, nor has
one been seen since.17    The Russians employed the Indians in
(16) F. W. Golder, Bering's Voyages, New York, 1925, II., p. 137.
(17) Alexander Allan, Hunting the Sea Otter, London, 1910, p. 2. 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 21
their hunting of the otters and their fleets of canoes ranged
down the coast as far as Southern California.
In California the Spaniards had become aware of the sea-
otter as early as 1733, for Father Sigismundo Taraval had seen
them on his trip to Cerros Island on the west coast of Lower
California.    It is recorded by Miguel Venegas:—
They found such numbers of them together, that the seamen killed about
twenty of them, following them only with sticks. Some of the skins of
these creatures the father sent to Mexico.18
The Spanish missionaries and soldiers in California encouraged the natives to hunt the otters by purchasing the skins,
cheaply, for three or four reales apiece. Some of the skins
found their way to the Chinese market by means of the galleons
that sailed from the Mexican ports to Manila. In 1783 the
Princessa left Acapulco with 700 pelts. The Indians in California had not developed any successful technique for hunting
the otters, probably because in their own warm climate there
was no need for wearing such furs. When they learned that
they could sell them profitably to the Spaniards, they developed
better methods of hunting. Nets and snares were used, supplemented by clubs.
The Spaniards began to trade for sea-otter pelts when they
made their first voyage to the Northwest. In 1774 Juan Perez
on the Santiago reached Prince of Wales Island, in latitude 55°
north, where he and his men exchanged beads and pieces of cloth
for " beavers," as they named the otters. The Indians were clad
in the skins of these animals.19 The Spaniards had brought with
them a number of the pretty abalone shells to be found on the
beaches of Carmel and Monterey. Much to their surprise, the
natives in the North were glad to barter their finest furs for
these iridescent cunchi, or conchs. During the succeeding Spanish voyages of 1775 and 1779 the crews gathered otter skins in
exchange for beads and bits of iron.
The French explorer La Perouse quotes a description of the
Indian method of hunting the otter that he took from Antonio
(18) Miguel Venegas, A Natural and Civil History of California, London, 1759, I., p. 38.
(19) H. E. Bolton, Fray Juan Crispi, Berkeley, 1927, p. 331. 22 T. A. Rickard. January
Maurelle's journal of the voyage of Juan de la Bodega on the
Sonora in 1775:—
Their fishing implements consist of arrows made with extreme nicety, as if
by a lathe, a large pole, a bladder blown-up, a harpoon pointed with bone,
and a long line made of gut and suitably twisted. They throw the harpoon
at the lutra, or sea wolf; the animal when struck tries to dive, but the
bladder prevents it;   and the Indian soon drags him within reach.20
When Captain James Cook anchored in Nootka Sound on the
western coast of Vancouver Island in 1778, his sailors found the
Indians in possession of fine furs, such as fox, racoon, wolf,
marten, and sea-otter.21 These furs were used by the natives
for clothing. The Englishmen had been away from home for
more than two years, and their clothes therefore were in need of
repair; so they replaced or patched their jackets and breeches
with the furs, and used them likewise for bed-clothes. They
obtained them from the Indians in exchange for small pieces of
metal or cheap trinkets. For example, a dozen glass beads were
bartered for six of the finest sea-otter skins.22
John Ledyard, an American, who was a corporal of marines
on Cook's ship, has recorded these transactions.
We purchased while here [Nootka Sound] about 1500 beaver, besides other
skins, but took none but the best, having no thoughts at that time of using
them to any other advantage than converting them to the purpose of cloath-
ing [sic], but it afterwards happened that skins which did not cost the purchaser sixpence sterling sold in China for 100 dollars.23
It will be noted that he used the name " beaver " instead of
" otter."    The Russians made the same mistake at first.
Ledyard, an enterprising fellow, deserted from the British
service, and on his return to Connecticut in 1782 did his best to
(20) My own translation, as that in the English volume describing the
voyage of La Perouse, is defective. " Leurs instrument de peche sont des
fleches travaillees comme au tour avec une extreme delicatesse, une grande
perche, une vessie enflee, un harpon dont la pointe est d'os, et une longue
eorde fait de bayaux d'animaux et convenablement tordue. lis lancent le
harpon contre la loutre ou le loup marin: l'animal perce veut s'enfoncer, la
vessie ne le lui permit pas; PIndien l'a bientot attire a lui." J. F. G. de la
Perouse, Voyage   .   .   .   autour de Monde, Paris, 1797, p. 338.
(21) Cook, Voyages, VI., p. 248
(22) F. W. Howay, " Early Days of the Maritime Fur-Trade on the
Northwest Coast," Canadian Historical Review, IV. (1923), p. 26.
(23) John Ledyard, A Journal of Captain Cook's Last Voyage to the
•Pacific Ocean, Hartford, 1783, p. 70. Sea-otter (from H. J. Snow, In Forbidden Seas, London, 1910).
—Courtesy, Edward Arnold, publisher. —Courteay, Horace Cox, publisher.
A bieachine sea otter (from Alexander Allan, Hunting the Sea Otter, London, 1910).
Aleuts hunting sea otter in a baidarka (from C M. Seammon, Marine Mammalia
of the North-western Coast of North America. San Francisco, 1874). 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 23
organize a ship expedition to sail to the Northwest Coast for the
purpose of trading in otter skins. He did not succeed, and tried
again in Spain and France, in vain.24 In Paris in 1784 he met
Thomas Jefferson, the United States Minister to France. Jefferson suggested that he go by land from Paris to Kamchatka and
across the sea to Nootka Sound. Ledyard was aided by Sir
Joseph Banks, the scientist that had accompanied Captain Cook,
and was able to reach Yakutsk, in Siberia, where he was arrested
by Russian officials and sent back to Moscow, probably at the
instigation of the Russian American Company.
After Captain Cook's death on one of the Hawaiian Islands
in 1779, the two ships, under the command of Captain Charles
Clerke, turned homeward. When they called at Petropavlovsk,
the crews received an inkling of the value of their furs from the
Russians, who bought some of them; and when they reached
Canton they discovered that the sea-otter and other furs could
be turned into money forthwith, because they were in demand
for trimming the robes of the mandarins. Such use of furs
in China was traditional. Marco Polo, when there in 1275,
remarked that the clothes of the wealthy Tartars were " for the
most part of gold and silk stuffs, lined with costly furs, such as
sable and ermine, vair and fox-skin, in the richest fashion."26
The English sailors made the most of their opportunity. The
few unblemished sea-otter skins from the North American coast
fetched $120 each at Canton. One seaman sold his stock for
$800. Altogether $10,000 was obtained for the skins in the possession of the crews. They became greatly excited and insisted
on a return to the coast where such valuable furs were plentiful.
Discipline prevented mutiny. The two ships were not trading-
vessels, but units of the British Navy, and therefore their commanders could not do otherwise than continue the voyage home.
Captain Cook's finding of the otters at Nootka was " as if
a new gold coast had been discovered."26 So says Washington
Irving; he had in mind the historic Gold Coast of West Africa.
Indeed, the news that Cook's book of voyages gave to the world
(24) Bancroft, op. cit., I., p. 349.
(25) Henry Yule, The Book of Sir Marco Polo, London, 1871, I., p. 224.
" Vair " was the fur obtained from a species of squirrel.
(26) Washington Irving, Astoria, Philadelphia, 1836, p. 32. 24 T. A. Rickard. January
did induce a rush, which was restricted only by the remoteness
of the region.
The Spanish, English, and American traders that exploited
the sea-otter industry obtained the skins by barter with the
Indians. They did very little hunting on their own account. The
Russians did otherwise. After they had established themselves
on Kodiak Island they set to work systematically, under the
direction of Alexander Baranov, to organize otter hunts on a
large scale with the aid of the Indians—the Aleuts, whom they
had brought with them from the islands, and the Kenaitze tribes
of the Cook Inlet region. To confirm his contract with these
natives, Baranov took to wife the daughter of the Kenaitze
chief.27 By payment of small pieces of iron, he persuaded the
Indians to assemble in their skin-boats and penetrate the inlets
of the rock-bound coast in search of the otters.
They used the same methods of hunting as did the natives of
the Aleutian Islands. In their canoes, named baidarkas by the
Russians and known as kayaks among the Eskimos, they scoured
the northern coast in quest of their game. Their canoe was made
of wood strips or of pieces of whalebone held together tightly by
sinews. Over the frame were stretched the skins of seals or of
sea-lions. Every seam was sewn carefully, and further to make
it water-proof the canoe was smeared all over with oil. It had
one, two, or even three hatches, each of which provided a seat
for a hunter equipped with paddle and spear. The paddle was
double, 7 to 8 feet long. The baidarka was long, narrow, and
pointed at each end, varying in length from 12 to 20 feet depending upon the number of hatches. The width was 20 to 24 inches
and the depth only 20 inches, so that the craft could be propelled
swiftly in shallow water. Martin Sauer, who was with the
Billings expedition in 1790, testified that in fair weather the
baidarkas could be made to travel with ease at a speed of 10
miles per hour.28 Meares describes similar methods of hunting
by the Indians on the Alaskan coast and mentioned the speed of
the baidarkas.™
(27) Hector Chevigny, Lord of Alaska, New York, 1942, p. 95.
(28) Martin Sauer, An Account of a Geographical and Astronomical
Expedition to the Northern Parts of Russia, London, 1802, p. 159.
(29) Meares, op. cit, p. 260. 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 25
The hunter was clad in water-proof skins. He sat or knelt
in the hatch, the edge of which was fastened to the bottom of his
jacket so as to make a water-tight connection. Alongside the
canoe were lashed the darts or spears, pointed with bone, that
he used in hunting. The dart was propelled from a fluted board,
and a line of sinew was attached to it, so that when it pierced
the otter the animal's escape was impeded. The otter could
remain under water only two minutes, so it was chased until it
rose to the surface.
The Russians were able to assemble flotillas of 400 to 450
Indian canoes, including the larger, slower, and more seaworthy
skin-boats known as baidars, which resembled the oomiaks of
the Eskimos. Such hunting expeditions were shepherded by
Baranov's men and accompanied sometimes by one of the small
schooners in possession of the Russians. As it proceeded southward in search of otters, the flotilla looked like a flock of
Baranov found it profitable to lend his Indian hunters to
enterprising Americans. For example, on October 2, 1803,
Joseph O'Cain and Jonathan Winship brought a cargo of supplies
from Boston to St. Paul, on Kodiak Island, in the expectation of
taking furs in exchange. Unfortunately Baranov's stock of furs
was low. O'Cain then proposed that the Russian governor give
him fifty or sixty Aleuts in canoes to go with him on an otter
hunt along the Californian coast. The catch was to be shared
equally by him and Baranov. It was stipulated that the Aleuts
were to be paid $2.50 Spanish for each otter skin, and if any
Aleut was hurt, a compensation of $250 would be paid to his
family. The ship's cargo could remain at St. Paul as security,
and a Russian officer would command the Aleut flotilla. On
March 12, 1804, O'Cain returned with the Aleuts all safe and
2,000 skins, half of which came to Baranov. This represented a
profit of $80,000 Spanish.80 The Russians did not scruple, with
their Aleuts, to enter the Bay of San Francisco in pursuit of the.
otters, which were tame and plentiful. The Spaniards lacked
boats wherewith to patrol their own waters. Later the Russians
established themselves at Fort Ross, 66 miles north-west of San
Francisco.   To avoid trouble, they made an agreement with the
(30)  Chevigny, op. cit., pp. 211, 212. 26 T. A. Rickard. January
Governor of California whereby they were permitted to hunt the
otter along the Californian coast on condition of giving half of
the catch to the Spaniards. This agreement lasted for three
years only. The Spaniards were never keen on otter-hunting; it
was too arduous to suit their taste.
In later days, 1875-1895, it was the custom to go on an otter
hunt in a small schooner, and to pursue the game by aid of three
boats, in each of which was a man with a rifle in hand. At first
when the hunters penetrated the rocky inlets where the otters
made their home it was easy to kill them, because, inquisitive,
they would swim toward the boats; they would raise their heads
and forefeet to look around, and therefore presented an easy
mark. Later, when the otter learned by a cruel experience what
the approach of a canoe or a boat might portend, he developed
tricks to aid his escape. He would dive, usually to windward,
so that the boatmen would have less advantage of speed. He
would hide behind rocks. He would make a series of short dives,
causing the boats to close up, and then make an exceedingly long
dive in the hope of getting out of range. After that he would be
exhausted. Sometimes he would start to " breach "—jumping
clear of the water like a salmon or a fur-seal—but usually the
hunters would succeed in turning him back within the triangle
of the three boats. An hour might be spent in the pursuit of an
otter, and forty or fifty rounds of ammunition might be expended.
Snow says that he himself has spent three hours in the chase of
a single otter, and expended 300 rifle shots in the effort to get
him.31 When chased the otter never seeks refuge on land, he
makes for the open sea.
Shortly after the publication, in 1784, of Cook's account of
his last voyage, as previously stated, the English traders began
to come to Vancouver Island in search of the valuable furs he had
described. Captain James Hanna arrived in 1785. He gathered
560 skins, which he sold at Canton for $20,600. Next year he
sailed again from Macao, but this time he was less successful,
returning with only 100 skins, valued at $8,000. In 1785 James
Strange organized an expedition of two ships commanded by
Captains Laurie and Guise. They sailed from Bombay to Nootka
and cruised in Prince William Sound during 1786.    Their catch
(31)  Snow, op. cit, p. 46. 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 27
was only 604 skins, worth $24,000. Captain John Meares came
in the Nootka in 1786 from Calcutta to Prince William Sound.
He obtained 50 otter skins that sold for $91 each, as well as 267
other furs worth from $5 to $70 apiece. Captain Charles William
Barkley, in the Imperial Eagle, arrived on the coast at about the
same time and collected 800 skins of superior quality. His cargo
brought $30,000 at Canton. In 1787 Captain George Dixon in
the Queen Charlotte and Captain Nathaniel Portlock in the King
George, working together, did a good business in furs with the
Indians along the coast, as is recorded in several books. They
collected 2,552 otter skins, which were sold for $54,857.
Then came the Boston traders, for most of the American
ships that voyaged to the Northwest Coast in those days sailed
from Boston. In 1801 fifteen such ships arrived; and in 1802
more than 15,000 otter skins were obtained and taken to Canton.
It is probable that the Russians collected 10,000 similar skins in
the same year, so that the aggregate for the season was at least
25,000. Captain John Suter in the Pearl in two seasons, 1808
and 1809, obtained 6,000 skins. Obviously this portended the
extermination of the sea-otter.
In 1804 William Sturgis, of Boston, in the Caroline, cruised
along the coast from the Columbia River to Kaigahnee, a small
island south of Prince of Wales Island, in Alaska. He collected
2,500 sea-otter skins and netted $73,034 from his voyage. Sturgis
stated, in 1846, when giving a lecture at Boston, that the skins
most highly esteemed were those that had " some white hairs
interspersed and scattered over the whole surface, and a perfectly white head." In the course of his lecture he further
remarked that " excepting a beautiful woman and a lovely infant,
he regarded them [the sea-otter skins] as among the most attractive natural objects than can be placed before him."32
The keen competition for furs between the Hudson's Bay
Company and the Russian American Company continued until
1839, when it was brought to an end by an agreement between
them. Thereafter they ceased to compete for furs, and the
Hudson's Bay Company undertook to provide the supplies needed
(32) William Sturgis, " The Northwest Fur Trade," Hunt's Merchant's
Magazine, XIV. (1846), pp. 532-38, reprinted in British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VIII. (1944), p. 16 ff. 28 T. A. Rickard. January
by the Russians, who previously had obtained them from the
Boston ships. Thus the Americans lost their trading advantage,
and soon disappeared from the Northwest Coast.33
A curious feature of the trade with the Indians was their
eagerness to obtain iron in any form. This desire for the useful
metal was shown by all savage or backward peoples when they
first came in contact with Europeans, especially if they had made
the acquaintance of iron previously by trade or, frequently, by
accident in the form of drift-iron—that is to say, the iron in
wreckage and refuse from ships, such as nails in pieces of timber
and iron hoops around empty barrels.34 Once they discovered
that they could shape iron by hammering it with stone, they were
avid for it, because out of it they could make useful tools and
When the Spaniards first came up the coast from Mexico, they
obtained furs by trading with iron. It is recorded that during
Bruno Heceta's voyage in 1775: " . . . the Indians trafficked
with us for various skins of animals, for which they expected
some peices [sic] of iron in exchange, which they manifested by
putting their hands upon the rudder irons.   .   .   ."3B
" Gold is not more desired in Europe than is iron in this part
of America." So remarked La Perouse in 1786. Five years
later Joseph Ingraham met this demand for iron by making iron
collars out of rods half an inch thick that were twisted around
each other. The collars weighed from five to seven pounds. He
also made bracelets in the same manner. These collars and
bracelets became fashionable articles of adornment among the
Indian women, and, by using them in his trade, Ingraham, in
forty-nine days, obtained no less than 1,400 prime otter skins,
the rate of exchange being three skins for one collar.36
(33) Henry D. Dee, (ed.), The Journal of John Work, January to
October, 18S5, Victoria, 1945, p. 8.
(34) T. A. Rickard, " Drift Iron, a fortuitous factor in primitive culture," The Geographical Review, XXIV. (1934), pp. 525-43.
(35) Antonio Maurelle, " Journal of a Voyage in 1775 to explore the
coast of America, Northward of California," in Daines Barrington, Miscellanies, London, 1781, p. 496.
(36) F. W. Howay, " The Voyage of the Hope, 1790-1792," Washington
Historical Quarterly, XI. (1920), pp. 10, 17. 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 29
Meares, when in Prince William Sound, in 1786, says: " It
has often been observed when the head of a nail either in the
ship or boats stood a little without the wood, that they [the
natives] would apply their teeth in order to pull it out."37 When
trading with them, and letting them see the articles that Meares
offered in exchange for the sea-otter skins, they shouted with
joy and " such as were dressed in furs, instantly stripped themselves, and in return for a moderate quantity of large spike nails,
we received sixty fine sea-otter skins."38
The Indians on Vancouver Island and along the Northwest
Coast were eager to exchange sea-otter skins for pieces of iron.
So the English traders gave them adze-blades, which were highly
appreciated. These adze-blades, known as toSs, had a curious
history. In 1768 Captain Samuel Wallis returned to London
from Tahiti and brought with him some of the stone adzes used
by the islanders. He told Captain Cook how eager the Tahitians
were to obtain pieces of iron, whereupon the Secretary to the
Admiralty caused one of the stone adzes to be copied in that
metal.39 In 1769 when Captain Cook first went to Tahiti, he
showed this replica to a chief, who was delighted to accept it.
This fact was made known by Cook in his book, and, in consequence, the fur-traders that came after him took a stock of iron
adze-blades on their voyages to this coast. The Tahitian word
for the stone adze is toe, therefore the same name was given to
the iron imitation.
The toe proved to be the best article of trade with the South
Sea Islanders and likewise with the Indians on the North American coast. For example, when in Cook Inlet, the recorder of the
voyage of Portlock and Dixon, only known as C.L. (from his
signature to the preface of the book published in 1789), says:—
Toes [as he and the two captains spoke and wrote the Tahitian word] were
an article they much delighted in, one of a middling size being thought a
valuable consideration for a large otter's skin.4"
On the Alaskan coast, in 1787 several canoes full of Indians
came to his ship.    " Some of them being clad in rich beaver
(37) Meares, op. cit, p. xiii.
(38) Ibid., p. xv.
.   (39)  Cook, op. cit, I., p. 111.
(40)  C. L., A Voyage Round the World in the years 1785, 1786, 1787,
and 1788, London, 1789, p. 29. 30 T. A. Rickard. January
[otter] cloaks, we tempted them with hatchets, adzes, toes, pans,
and tin kettles."41 In an adjacent bay, near Norfolk Sound, a
flotilla of canoes came alongside.
They were indeed so anxious about the disposal of their commodities [beaver
wraps and skins] that there were several quarrels and contentions among
them about the priority of their coming along side the vessel, and their
claims of being entitled to be served first. Perhaps they were apprehensive
that we had not a sufficient quantity of toes to pay for all the articles they
had brought us, for hardly any thing else was taken in barter for them, and
those [the toes] were eagerly demanded. About three hundred and ten
beaver [otter] skins were purchased of these people in less than forty
Captain Dixon, when off the coast of Graham Island (one of
the Queen Charlotte archipelago), in July, 1787, says:—
Toes were almost the only article we bartered with on this occasion, and
indeed they were taken so very eagerly, there was not the least occasion to
offer anything else. In less than half an hour we purchased near 300 beaver
[otter] skins, of excellent quality; a circumstance which greatly raised our
spirits, and the more, as both the plenty of fine furs, and the avidity of the
natives in parting with them, were convincing proofs, that no traffic whatever had recently been carried on near this place, and consequently we
might expect a continuation of this plentiful commerce.^
When this expedition arrived at Canton, the skins (2,552 otter,
434 cub, and 34 fox) were sold for $54,857 to the East India
Company, and the ship's crew sold 1,000 tails for $2 each, the
fur-seals for $5 each, and received $50 additional for remnants.
The exclusive right to trade with China claimed by the East
India Company had the effect of closing the Chinese ports to all
English ships not belonging to that company. Concurrently the
South Sea Company claimed a monopoly of trading rights in the
Pacific. So the traders coming to this coast sailed under other
flags, such as the Portuguese. The use of that flag by Meares
and Colnett in 1789 led to the Nootka Controversy, which nearly
caused a great war.
In settling the controversy, Britain and Spain entered into
a treaty, one of the conditions of which was that British subjects
were forbidden to hunt the sea-otter within 30 miles of any part
of the American coast occupied by the Spaniards.    This meant
(41) Ibid., p. 99.
(42) Ibid., pp. 100, 101.
(43) Captain George Dixon, A Voyage Round the World performed in
1785, 1786, 1787, and 1788, London, 1789, p. 201. 1947 The Sea-otter in History. 31
all the waters from San Francisco Bay southward as far as any
otters lived. The consequence was that the American traders,
who had already been appearing on the coast in large numbers,
gained an advantage. Therefore from 1790 onwards the British
trade in otters diminished greatly. The establishment of the
Hudson's Bay Company at the mouth of the Columbia River and
later on Vancouver Island enabled that company to trade successfully with the Indians, but by that time the sea-otters on this
coast had been very nearly exhausted.
The sailors on Captain Cook's ship received as much as $120
for an otter skin, but statements have been made that a price of
$3,000 or even $3,500 had been paid in later days. Of these sales
we have no authentic record, but in 1920 the official price rose to
$2,500. The fur pelts that now come to the market at long intervals do not fetch big prices, only from $125 to $410.44 No
organized effort to protect the sea-otter was made until 1911;
they are now protected by every government on whose coast the
few of them survive. A slow increase in their number seems
T. A. Rickard.
Victoria, B.C.
(44)  Edna M. Fisher, " Prices of Sea Otter Pelts," California Fish and
Few men have made a greater contribution to the development of British Columbia or served the public more consistently
than did Lieutenant-Colonel Israel Wood Powell, M.D., CM.
He was the first graduate in medicine of McGill University
to practise on the Pacific Coast. In the field of his profession he
distinguished himself as a capable practitioner, a fact that was
recognized by his colleagues when he was selected as the first
President of the Medical Council of British Columbia. But
it was in other activities that his leadership, patriotism, and
unselfish service helped to shape the destinies of this country.
He was foremost in his time as an educator; he was a protagonist
of Confederation when to be such was an unpopular position;
he was the first Grand Master of the British Columbia Grand
Lodge of the Masonic order; he took part in organizing the first
militia recognized by the colonial government; he was a member
of the House of Assembly of Vancouver Island; the first Superintendent of Indian Affairs in British Columbia; and a benefactor
of the infant city of Vancouver.
His contemporaries acknowledged the debt that the Province
owed him by naming Powell river and lake, and streets in Victoria and Vancouver in his honour. Unfortunately, however,
to-day the works of this illustrious man are but little known outside of Masonic circles, in which his services for that great craft
are recalled with gratitude. He is better remembered by his
medical rather than by his military title, for he himself preferred
to be designated by his profession rather than by his rank.
Dr. Powell was born at Port Colbourne, Upper Canada, on
April 27, 1836.1 He was the fourth child in a family of seven
boys and one girl born to the union of Israel W. Powell and his
wife, Melinda Boss.    Israel Powell, Senior, was the son of Abra-
*The substance of an address delivered before the Victoria Section of
the British Columbia Historical Association, October 21, 1946.
(1) This birth date and place are from a notation made by Dr. Powell
himself and included in his personal papers in the possession of the family.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Vol. XI., No. 1.
33 34 B. A. McKelvie. January
ham Powell, a United Empire Loyalist who had settled in the
vicinity of Port Dover, Ontario, following the American Revolution. Dr. Powell's father located at Simcoe and became interested in shipping on Lake Erie and other of the Great Lakes.
He was parliamentary representative of that vicinity for twenty-
eight years prior to his death in 1852.
The Powell family originated in Wales; one branch still occupies the ancestral estate at Nanteos, near Aberystwith. Among
the many distinguished figures in the long history of the Powells
was Sir Thomas, who was one of the justices that defied the
wrath of King James II. in 1688 and liberated the seven bishops
who refused to obey the King's dictates in spiritual affairs. It
was a son of Sir Thomas, who followed his Puritan tutor, Roger
Williams, to America, who established the family on this continent.2
After receiving his early education in the schools of Port
Dover and Simcoe, young Israel, having displayed a liking for
the profession of medicine, was placed with Dr. Charleston
Covernton, of Simcoe, to study anatomy. After three years
with Dr. Covernton, the youth was entered at McGill in his
twentieth year.3 It was while a student at McGill that he was
admitted to the mysteries of Masonry, being accepted into Elgin
Lodge No. 348, G.R. Scotland. He graduated with the degree
of M.D. in 1860 and for a short time practised at Port Dover.
Here he assisted in organizing Erie Lodge No. 149 in 1861 and
became the first Worshipful Master of that lodge.4
The young doctor left his native Upper Canada in 1862. At
that time he was described as a young man 5 feet 10 inches in
height, of slight build, with medium-dark complexion. He was
a good speaker, devoted to sports, and a good horseman. He
was a member of the Church of England. His intention was to
go to New Zealand. The Cariboo gold excitement was at its
height in that year, and he decided to visit the coast before going
to the South Pacific colony.   He came by way of Panama.
(2) From documents in the possession of the family.
(3) Ibid.
(4) F. J. Bayfield, " Hon. Israel Wood Powell, M.D., P.G.M., Our First
Grand Master," Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of
Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of British Columbia   .   .   .  1938, p. 190. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 35
Dr. Powell arrived at Victoria on May 13, 1862, on board the
steamship Pacific5 and took lodgings at the Anglo-American
Hotel at the corner of Yates and Douglas Streets. Two weeks
later he had decided to defer his trip to New Zealand and set
up in practice, and to this end he announced that he had taken
offices in the hotel.6 The Victoria British Colonist of May 30,
in welcoming him to the professional circles of the community,
observed: " This gentleman brings very high testimonials with
him from Canada, which speak in the most favorable terms of
him."7 One of these testimonials was from a friend and old colleague of his father, whose name was already in the forefront of
Canadian affairs, Hon. John A. Macdonald.
The young doctor was welcomed by his fellow Masons, and
entered at once into the activities of the order. He assisted in
the formation of Vancouver Lodge No. 421, now Vancouver and
Quadra Lodge No. 2, G.R.B.C.8
Victoria was an active and crowded city in 1862. The rush
to Cariboo was on in earnest, and Victoria on Vancouver Island
was the chief outfitting place for the Interior gold mines of the
sister colony of British .Columbia. Supply-houses were open day
and night. Governor James Douglas presided over both colonies
and was busy laying the foundations of the future Province of
the Dominion of Canada. The road to Cariboo was under construction—a most difficult and ambitious undertaking; plans
were being made for a road from Hope to the Similkameen
country; settlement was starting at Cowichan and Comox; free
traders were roaming up and down the coast trading for furs
and trafficking in liquor.
It was no wonder that the twenty-six-year-old doctor, with
his fluffy brown beard adding but slightly to the coveted appearance of maturity, should see opportunity in this new land.    His
(5) Victoria Colonist, May 14, 1862.
(6) Ibid., May 30, 1862. Dr. Powell listed himself as a member of the
College of Physicians and Surgeons, Lower Canada, and licentiate of the
Medical Board, Upper Canada.
(7) Ibid., May 30, 1862.
(8) F. F. Fatt, " Victoria, B.C., in 1862, and the founding of Vancouver
Lodge, F. & A.M., No. 421, G.R. Scotland, with historical notes taken from
the first minute book of the lodge," Proceed'ngs of the . . . Grand Lodge
.   .   .   1933, pp. 165-6. 36 B. A. McKelvie. January
decision to make it his home was never regretted. Dr. Powell's
practice grew from the outset. There were many Canadians
among the newcomers. It was the year in which the great overland trek was made from Fort Garry to British Columbia.9
Hundreds of other adventurers came by sea from the Canadas
and the Maritime colonies. To these immigrants the modest
card appearing in the British Colonist stating that there was a
graduate of McGill practising medicine made an appeal. There
were other doctors in Victoria—good doctors—but Powell was
soon getting a generous share of the practice.
Brought up in an atmosphere of politics, Dr. Powell's interest
was stirred by public affairs in the colony. Politically the place
was in a ferment. The strong rule of Governor Douglas that
had irked many was drawing to a close. Conscious of his own
integrity and high purpose, the old Governor did not make confidants of either officials or legislators. He gave no explanations
of his actions, except to the Colonial Office in London. His intention of retiring was greeted with acclaim. Then the British
Government issued a series of blue books containing his dispatches, and the critics were silenced.
Arthur Edward Kennedy was appointed to succeed Douglas
as Governor of Vancouver Island, and Frederick Seymour -to
preside as chief executive over the younger Mainland colony of
British Columbia. Kennedy was greeted with public rejoicing—
a new order had been set up. But scarcely had the welcome been
extended than the recipient of compliments ran foul of the House
of Assembly. He wanted to know where he was to live. This
came as a shock, for Sir James (Douglas had been knighted) had
always provided his own residence and secretaries. When the
Assembly hesitated, Kennedy purchased, on a Governor's warrant, Cary Castle, the former home of George Hunter Cary,
erstwhile Attorney-General. Such was but one of the differences
that developed between the new Governor and the House.
Within six months of the change of regime those who had been
foremost in criticizing Douglas were anxious for his return to
(9)  M. S. Wade, The Overlanders of '62 (Archives of British Columbia,
Memoir No. IX.), Victoria, 1931, passim. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 37
It was during this interesting period of change that Dr.
Powell entered public life. He responded to a petition of a group
of electors by announcing his candidature for one of the Victoria
seats in the House of Assembly.10 On July 15, 1863, he issued
his manifesto. Already the shadow of hard times was extending
over the colony. Disappointed gold-seekers were making their
painful way back to the Coast. Great fortunes had come to a
few—a very few—for only a very small percentage of those who
had toiled up the long, hard way to the diggings had won success.
This depression was intensified when in September, 1864, Mac-
donald's Bank failed, following a robbery and a subsequent run
on the institution by anxious depositors. The blow was a severe
one, for Macdonald's Bank had issued its own currency, and the
paper was worthless when the bank's doors were closed. The
colony never recovered.
In accepting nomination for office, Dr. Powell raised the cry
of " responsible government," which was to be a continuous
objective for him in the years that followed, and the attainment
of which was reached only with the entry of British Columbia
into Confederation. He would work, he said, for " the introduction of a system of responsible government, whereby the government of the country may be made more subservient to the voice
of the people " and he would also " recognize the vital importance
of the House of Assembly controlling the revenue and expenditures of the colony."11 Here was a direct challenge to the Governor and to the powerful Legislative Council, or appointive upper
chamber of the Legislature. In Dr. Powell's opinion the need
was real, and that was all that was necessary for him to advocate
the constitutional change.
There were many planks to the platform that he presented
to the electors, including the maintenance of the free port, harbour improvements, a pilotage system, improved postal laws,
encouragement of immigration, and the revision of the Act of
incorporation of the city of Victoria. But there was one other
that was close to his heart, for which he was to battle for its
adoption and later for its maintenance—a system of free education.    On this subject he stated his views boldly:—
(10) Victoria Colonist, July 15, 1863.
(11) Ibid. 38 B. A. McKelvie. January
I shall give my earnest support to the adoption of a measure to promote
the educational interests of the country, and shall be a firm adherent to a
system of common schools free from any sectarian influence whatever.12
It took courage to advocate such a change—to demand the
education of every child at the public expense—in those days,
particularly at a time when idle men were flocking into the city
from the mining camps. It was a period when in the United
Kingdom practically the only system of education for children of
the masses was in the hands of churches.
Dr. Powell was endorsed at the polls13 and, in consequence,
soon became an active member of the Legislature, serving as a
member of a committee on education, as well as in other ways.
It was not until the following year, however, that real progress
was made in the matter of an educational system. In September,
1864, it was reported by the press:—
Dr. Powell introduced his motion for a Committee of Education. He
urged the importance of the subject, and alluded to the inaction of the late
committee, of which he acknowledged himself a member. There were 250
children in the city alone who required common school education. He therefore moved an application for the appointment of a committee.14
The committee this time had Dr. Powell as its chairman, with
Dr. William F. Tolmie and Mr. Charles Street as members. It
was the appointment of this committee that in a real sense
marked the start of free education in the colony.15
In May, 1865, the Legislature passed "An Act respecting
Common Schools," based on the recommendations of this committee, which made provision for a system of general education.
Dr. Powell was appointed a member of the General Board of
Education.    In accepting this appointment he wrote:—
(12) Ibid.
(13) Ibid., July 20, 1863. Dr. Powell received 203 votes; the other
successful candidates were W. A. G. Young and Amor de Cosmos with 229
and 211 votes respectively.
(14) Ibid., September 29, 1864.
(15) Actually the first free school in the colony had been organized in
Esquimalt on January 31, 1863. See ibid., February 2, 1863. The most
detailed account of the history of the educational system of the Province is
to be found in a thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
to the University of Washington, Seattle, Wash., in 1936 by D. L. MacLaurin,
entitled The History of Education in the Crown Colonies of Vancouver Island
and British Columbia and in the Province of British Columbia. Lieutenant-Colonel Israel Wood Powell, M.D., CM., 1874. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 39
While I regret that the Act is not all that I could desire for the purpose
of initiating a perfect school system, yet if in His Excellency's opinion I can
be instrumental in promoting the Educational interests of the Colony by
becoming a member of the Board I shall esteem it an honor to reciprocate
Alfred Waddington was appointed Superintendent of Education on June 7, 1865. His was a difficult position, for the
Government did not have sufficient money to give adequate support to the school system. The two colonies of Vancouver Island
and British Columbia were united on November 19, 1866, but
instead of an improvement in the financial position of the Government the multiplied demands upon the Treasury far exceeded the
ability of the Governor to meet them. The free school system of
Vancouver Island was continued, but without sufficient funds.
Expenses were pared to the utmost limit, but it was impossible
to meet them from the amount of money available. Teachers'
salaries were months in arrears.
Dr. Powell could have resigned his position, but he did not.
He knew that were he to stop fighting for the maintenance of the
free school system, it was likely that the schools would close.
Instead of relinquishing the task, he accepted reappointment to
the Board on June 3, 1867,17 and subsequently, at a meeting of
the Board held on June 22, he became its chairman.18 At that
time the total indebtedness amounted to $8,192.26, and it was
estimated that an additional $3,379.80 would be needed to meet
expenses to the end of the year. Governor Seymour gave him
assurances that more funds would be available and that the
modest budget of $6,000 prepared by the Board would be met.
Actually only half this sum was provided.
Waddington resigned as Superintendent of Education on September 18, 1867, principally because he could not get his salary
regularly. Dr. Powell thereafter assumed the duties of the office
himself. He fought, begged, and threatened the Government in
an effort to obtain funds. Some idea of the intolerable position
in which he found himself may be glimpsed from a letter he wrote
to the Colonial Secretary in November, 1867:—
(16) I. W. Powell to Henry Wakefield, May 29, 1865, MS., Archives
of B.C.
(17) I. W. Powell to A. N. Birch, June 17, 1867, MS., Archives of B.C.
(18) Victoria Colonist', June 24, 1867.
4 40 B. A. McKelvie. January
The Board of Education had made arrangements upon the good faith of
His Excellency's letter of the 7th of June, wherein the sum of $6000 was
placed under its control, and which cannot now be carried out without the
proposed assistance. I would further most respectfully represent on behalf
of the Board, the almost destitute condition of the teachers who have performed their services from December of last year, until the present time
without receiving any remuneration and without any other means of
Dr. Powell continued his fight to uphold the educational
system for another year and a half. When at last in April, 1869,
he retired and the Board was abolished, he was able to announce
that the salaries had been paid to the preceding December 3120
and were then only three months in arrears.
In addition to attending to his professional and legislative
duties, the young doctor found time also to interest himself in
military matters. He took the lead in organizing the first official
militia unit in the colony—the Victoria Volunteer Rifles. He
was enthusiastic over the project, as is reflected in a letter he
wrote as Chairman of the Committee of Management to the
Colonial Secretary on April 2, 1864:—
The Volunteers are disposed to make great exertion in order to turn out
with credit on the Queen's Birthday; and many, who, in their enthusiasm,
have already purchased material and placed it in the hands of their tailor,
are anxiously awaiting to be informed that their uniforms may be gone
on with.21
Not only was he surgeon for the Volunteers, but he acted
gratuitously in a similar capacity for the volunteer fire brigade.22
His private practice was enlarging, and in April, 1864, he was
appointed physician to the French Hospital in place of Dr.
Nicolet Michel Clerjon who had recently died.23
(19) I. W. Powell to W. A. G. Young, November 4, 1867, MS., Archives
of B.C.
(20) I. W. Powell to P. Hankin, April 9, 1869, MS., Archives of B.C.
There appears to be some confusion as to the date of the final meeting of
the Board of Education, for in this letter Powell implies that it was written
at the conclusion of the meeting; whereas according to the Minute Book,
Board of Education, MS., Archives of B.C., the final meeting was held on
March 9, 1869.
(21) I. W. Powell to W. A. G. Young, April 2, 1864, MS., Archives
of B.C.
(22) Victoria Colonist, August 24, 1863.
(23) Ibid., April 29, 1864. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 41
His public activities, however, did not interfere with a most
important and very personal matter, his marriage. Miss Jane
Branks was a beautiful and very accomplished young lady. She
was born at Port Nicholson, New Zealand, in 1845, the daughter
of Robert Branks, of Kelvingrove, Lanarkshire, Scotland. She
accompanied her parents to California when six years of age, and
there went to school. Her older sister had married Alexander D.
Macdonald, the unfortunate banker, and in 1861 Miss Branks
first came to Victoria on a visit to her sister. Following the
death of her mother in 1863, she returned to reside in Victoria.24
The young couple were admirably suited for each other. It was a
happy marriage that increased in affection throughout the years.
The ceremony was a quiet one, performed on January 25,
1865, at the home of Alexander Munro, an official of the Hudson's
Bay Company and a close friend of the young couple and of
the Macdonald family.25 Rev. James Nimmo, of the Church of
Scotland, officiated, for while Dr. Powell was an adherent of the
Church of England his bride had been brought up as a Presbyterian, in fact her paternal uncle was one of the early missionaries to New Zealand. Scarcely had the ceremony concluded
than the brass band of the Victoria Volunteer Rifles arrived to
serenade the young couple.26 Dr. and Mrs. Powell occupied a
comfortable residence at the corner of Douglas and Broughton
Streets, and there eight of their nine children were born, the
youngest being born at " Oakdene," the beautiful home that was
later constructed on Vancouver Street at Burdett, and which is
now the residence of the Bishop of British Columbia.
The doctor was too busy to take time off for a wedding trip,
but years later he wrote that his honeymoon was a continuing
one that would endure as long as his wife lived. He absented
himself from the House of Assembly the day after the wedding,
but the next he was in his place. It was at this sitting that the
House in its desperation and despair at the future of the colony
passed a resolution that eventuated in the annexation of the
(24) From documents in the possession of the family.
(25) Victoria Colonist, January 27, 1865.
(26) Ibid., Jaftuary 26, 1865. The following evening they were again
serenaded, this time by the various fire companies and the Volunteer Rifles
band.   Ibid., January 27, 1865. 42 B. A. McKelvie. January
colony to British Columbia the following year. It urged the
immediate union of the colonies " under such constitution as Her
Majesty's Government may be pleased to grant."27 Dr. Powell
joined four other members in seeking to modify the sweeping and
all-inclusive scope of this resolution by means of an amendment
that would preserve for Victoria and Esquimalt the free port
system that was in existence. They were not successful.28 The
result was that when union did come, with startling suddenness,
the free ports were wiped out. Eventually business and industry
moved from the Island to the Mainland when the Canadian
Pacific Railroad reached the sea.
Even before the two colonies were united, Dr. Powell and
Amor De Cosmos, Canadians both, were fighting to have the
Pacific colonies included in the original scheme of Confederation.
They brought the question before the House in July, 1866,29 but
officialdom viewed the proposal with disfavour. Instead of
pressing their motion to a decision upon this occasion, they once
more made a demand for responsible government by moving
that a " Ministerial Council" composed of members from the
elective and appointive chambers should be set up. In this, too,
they were defeated.30 Powell, De Cosmos, and others favouring
a union of all the British colonies in North America now carried
the fight to the people. In the struggle that followed, Dr. Powell
played an important part. He is credited with having made the
first public address in favour of Confederation. He attended
every meeting called to discuss the subject; he wrote letters to
the press; he argued on the street and wherever opportunity
At a public meeting called to support the Confederation on
March 18,1867, he moved the main resolution: " That the Colony
of British Columbia would be greatly benefitted, its progress and
permanent prosperity secured by its admission into the proposed
(27) Vancouver Island, House of Assembly, Minute Book,  September
12, 1864, to August 31, 1866, MS., Archives of B.C., p. 126.
(28) Ibid., p. 127.
(29) Ibid., p. 474.    A notice of motion by Amor De Cosmos on July
23, 1866.
(30) Ibid., p. 494 (July 31, 1866), p. 498 (August 3, 1866). 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 43
confederacy of British North America upon equitable terms."31
In reporting the meeting the Victoria Colonist said, in part:—
Dr. Powell pointed out that the terms under which we would consent to
join in the Confederation must be fair and equitable and explicitly stated.
He denied that this was an attempt to alienate the Colonies from the Mother
Country, and read the draft of the first Confederation Bill prepared by the
North American delegates to prove that the object of Confederation was to
cement and perpetuate the connection with the Mother Country. Was it not
better if we could ally ourselves with 4,000,000 people, obtain responsible
government, and have taxation reduced than to remain as we are—a petty,
oppressed, tax-paying colony, with our destinies in the hands of a capricious
stranger. "32
He opened contacts with friends and relatives in the East,
learning by mail and telegraph the latest developments in the
project. These he made known in Victoria. His brother, Walker
Powell, wired him the day following the meeting at which he had
spoken that the mechanics necessary for the entry of British
Columbia into Confederation were simple. " British Columbia
may be admitted by Order in Council upon address from Parliaments of Canada and Columbia."33 Walker Powell was close to
the heart of things. He was Assistant Adjutant-General and
was one of the founders of the Royal Military College at
This telegram simplified matters, as it clarified the situation.
All that was now necessary was to get the endorsement of the
Government at Victoria, but this was a most difficult thing to dp.
It could only be secured by hard work and continued agitation.
Governor Seymour was definitely opposed to the union, and officials in the Government service for the most part reflected his
views. They were nervous as well as to their own positions in the
advent of a consolidation of governments. Others were honest
in their belief that it would not be a wise move, that it was premature; and still others favoured annexation with the United
States as preferable to uniting with a Dominion separated by
2,000 miles of waste lands.
The doctor was tremendously active. His practice had grown
to large proportions.    His old medical note-books show that he
(31) Victoria Colonist, March 19, 1867.
(32) Ibid.
(33) Ibid., March 21, 1867. 44 B. A. McKelvie. January
was busily engaged in his profession. One note of the period,
January 25, 1867, is of more than passing interest. It shows
that on that day he drove out to Cloverdale, in Saanich, and presided at the birth of a 10-pound baby who became, as the Hon.
Simon Fraser Tolmie, Premier of British Columbia.
A story is told of Dr. Powell using psychology as well as pills
in his practice. Richard Lewis, a former Mayor of Victoria, and
prominent as an undertaker, was ill. He was positive that he
was going to die. Nothing that Dr. Powell could do or say would
convince him that he was not on his death-bed. Actually there
was little wrong with him. One day Dr. Powell came into Lewis'
sick-room and greeted him jovially. The patient groaned and
moaned and bewailed the near approach of his end. " Well,"
exclaimed the now exasperated medico, " if you are going to die,
hurry up about it. I just met Phillip Swiggert (a competitor
in the burial business) outside, and he says he's getting tired
waiting for you." " What," shouted Lewis as he sprang from
his bed and reached for his clothes, " that man bury me! I'll
live to bury him."    He did.
With the annexation of Vancouver Island to the Mainland
colony and the abolition of the House of Assembly, Dr. Powell
lost his seat in the Legislature. He now assumed heavier
Masonic responsibilities. In 1867 he was appointed by the
Grand Lodge of Scotland to the high office of Provincial Grand
Master of lodges of that registry in British Columbia. He continued in that capacity until 1871, when the Grand Lodge of
British Columbia was formed, taking in all lodges of both Scottish and English registries. His great services to the order were
recognized when he was made the first Grand Master of the
Grand Lodge of British Columbia.34
From his admission to the ancient craft while still a student
at McGill University he had been an earnest and enthusiastic
member of the order. On his arrival at Victoria he found that
the two colonies were open territory. The Grand Lodge of England was the first to establish a lodge, granting a warrant for the
formation of Victoria Lodge No. 1085 (later No. 783). The
Grand Lodge of Scotland soon followed by authorizing the establishment of Vancouver Lodge No. 421.    As other lodges were
(34)  F. J. Bayfield, loc. cit, p. 191. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 45
organized under the separate jurisdictions, two minor Grand
Lodges were eventually created. Robert Burnaby was named
District Grand Master of the District Grand Lodge (English)
and Dr. Powell was Provincial Grand Master of the Provincial
Grand Lodge (Scottish). With the entry of British Columbia
into the Canadian Confederation the possibility of Eastern Canadian and United States registries entering the field hastened the
creation of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia.85
The doctor agreed to offer himself again for political office
at the elections for the British Columbia Legislative Council
in 1868. This was a less democratic body than had been the
Vancouver Island House of Assembly. Only a portion of its
members were elective, the others being appointed by the Governor. Dr. Powell very frankly told those who were insisting that
he should contest a Victoria seat that he would prefer that some
other person be nominated and that he would support any man
who would fight for responsible government and for the eventual
entry of British Columbia into Confederation. His friends
insisted that he must champion those causes himself, and he
He threw himself into the campaign with energy. He urged
that the people should not be disheartened but should "agitate,
agitate until their rights, as became freemen, were obtained."37
In referring to Confederation he declared:—
Wiser heads than mine, eminent statesmen who have stood by the
Imperial helm of State, have not, and do not hesitate to declare it to be the
ultimate destiny of all the colonies of Her Majesty's North American possessions. Colonial statesmen . . . have devised it, and made a beginning,
and the question now with us is, are we not to form a portion of the grand
Dominion? I presume there is no one here present who for one moment
doubts that it is our manifest and ultimate destiny, though I for one candidly
confess that until the Hudson Bay Company have received their price and
(35) "Address delivered by R.W. Bro. DeWolf Smith on the occasion of
the Celebration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the introduction of Freemasonry into the Province of British Columbia," published as appendix No.
2 in Proceedings of the . . . Grand Lodge . . . 1911, pp. i.-xv., passim.
See also R. L. Reid, " The Formation of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia," Proceedings of the . . . Grand Lodge . . . 1938, pp. 165-85j
(36) Victoria Colonist, October 21, 1868.
(37) Ibid., October 31, 1868. 46 B. A. McKelvie. January
settlement and the North West Territory held by them is ceded to the
Dominion, that our Confederation would most decidedly be impolitic and
premature. ... I believe that Confederation after the cession of the
North West territory will be beneficial, provided we get terms and conditions
in every way advantageous to this Colony.3*
In the heat of the campaign the doctor did not forget his
attachment to the cause of education; and he could hardly do
so, for he was working day and night in order to obtain enough
money for the payment of the teachers' wages. The educational
system was going " to rack and ruin," he told the electors; not
because it was bad of itself but simply because, while apparently
supported by the Government, it was " being literally starved to
death for want of funds."39
It was a hard election campaign. The forces in opposition
to progress were strong, and many of the citizens, disappointed
that conditions had not improved but had, in fact, grown worse
since the union of the colonies, were not prepared to adventure
into a new union with a country several thousand miles distant.
Both Dr. Powell and Amor De Cosmos were defeated in November.
An amusing sidelight on the election and one that was eloquent of the manner in which political contests were conducted
in those days came a few months later when a saloon-keeper
named Orr brought action against Dr. Powell for recovery of
$15, which, he claimed, was the cost of liquor supplied to voters.
The doctor declared that he had not ordered the liquor nor had
he authorized any person to do so on his behalf. The court was
sympathetic, but asserted that someone had ordered the liquor
and the saloon proprietor had provided it, and consequently the
difference was split and the doctor was ordered to pay half the
amount and the costs of the case.40
Governor Seymour died suddenly in June, 1869, and Anthony
Musgrave, Governor of Newfoundland, was sent to British
Columbia to succeed him. Musgrave was an ardent Conf edera-
tionist and had, in fact, been appointed at the suggestion of Sir
John A. Macdonald in order to bring British Columbia into the
Dominion.    On New Year's Day, 1870, Governor Musgrave fell
(38) Ibid., October 24, 1868.
(39) Ibid. -
(40) Ibid., February 25, 1869. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 47
from his horse and broke his leg. Dr. Powell was one of several
doctors called in to attend him, and was retained by him. Daily
for months the doctor visited his patient, and the Governor
consulted with him on all aspects of union with Canada, asking
his advice as to what terms the colony should seek from the
With the death of Governor Seymour the opposition to Confederation lessened. Officials who reflected the opinions of those
in authority changed their attitudes with the arrival of Governor
Musgrave and became advocates of the inclusion of British
.Columbia within the Canadian federation. There was still some
well-grounded opposition, hut it was no longer effective. After
a lengthy debate in the Legislative Council the Hon. Joseph
Trutch, Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, the Hon.
R. W. W. Carrall and the Hon. J. S. Helmcken, M.D., elected
members for Cariboo and Victoria City respectively, were sent to
Ottawa to discuss the terms of union. The Dominion was even
more generous in its acceptance of the colony's programme than
could have been anticipated, promising a railroad in place of the
wagon-road that was demanded as an essential to any bargain.
Dr. Powell was jubilant when, in 1870, the terms were accepted.
His dream of a Canada extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific
was about to be realized.
He now prepared to visit his old home. Early in 1871 he left
for the East and went on to Great Britain, where he succeeded
in financing a coal mine that was to start at Baynes Sound. It
was his first trip away from British Columbia since his arrival
at Victoria in 1862. He had come as an unknown young doctor,
and now, on the eve of leaving for his first vacation, the press
paid tribute to the services he had rendered to the community.
Commenting editorially upon his departure the Victoria Standard
Dr. Powell leaves on the steamer to-day, for Canada. He came here
eight years ago,—a stranger. He leaves to-day, with a host of friends. As
a practitioner, he holds a first-class position. Medically speaking, there is
nothing second-rate about him. As a doctor, he is a success. . . . Socially,
Dr. Powell fills the full measure of a man; and but few men in British
Columbia are able to measure themselves with him.    It is, however, as a
(41)  Personal medical note-book in the possession of the family. 48 B. A. McKelvie. January
'public man that he deserves to be considered. Amid good and evil report,
he never deserted the Confederate standard. He always kept the Confederate flag flying; and we must say, assisted in making that great movement a success. . . . Had it not been for Dr. Powell and others, the great
scheme of Confederation would never have been a success.42
The Victoria Colonist was equally congratulatory:—
For some time a member of the Legislature, at all times the friend of
the needy and the suffering, and the willing and liberal promoter of every
good cause and patriotic enterprise, the consistent and constant friend and
advocate of Confederation from first to last, Dr. Powell ranks amongst our
most valued and esteemed citizens, and we do but give form to the sentiment'
in this community when we wish him, and those who go with him., a pleasant
journey and safe return.43
He was accompanied by Mrs. Powell and her sister, Miss
Katie Branks, as far as San Francisco, where they remained to
visit while he went on to complete his hurried trip to London,
England, and Canada.44 On June 16,1871, the little party arrived
back in Victoria. The doctor brought with him a new Canadian
ensign, which he proudly flew on July 1 and again on July 20
when the colony officially entered Confederation. It was the first
emblem of the Dominion to be flown in Victoria.
While at Ottawa his old friend Sir John A. Macdonald offered
Dr. Powell the high distinction of being the first Lieutenant-
Governor of the newly formed Province in recognition of the
services that he had rendered to Canada. When this was
declined, a seat in the Dominion Senate was proferred. He
explained that he could accept neither office and continue his professional practice, and while his growing family required his
care and guidance, he could not abandon it-45
The following year, however, Ottawa approached him once
more with a request that his services be given to Canada. Under
the terms of the " British North America Act" the superintendence of Indian Affairs was under the control of the Federal
Government. Colonial Governments had made little effort to
improve the condition of the native tribes in British Columbia.
Now that they had become wards of the Dominion, it was deter-
(42) Victoria Standard, March 11, 1871.
(43) Victoria Colonist, March 11, 1871.
(44) From documents in the possession of the family.
(45) Ibid.   See   also   reminiscences   of   Mrs.   I.   W.   Powell,   Victoria
Colonist, May 18, 1924. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 49
mined that a real endeavour should be made to civilize them.
A strong and humane man was required to direct the work in
the Province.    Such a man was Dr. Powell.
The natives were, for the most part, in a savage state. They
were steeped in ignorance and dominated by superstition. Missionaries were fighting valiantly against the evil influences of
degraded white men who trafficked in liquor up and down the
coast. Murder was almost a daily occurrence amongst the tribesmen, while the killing of white settlers and traders was not
uncommon. There was no more discouraging work in the Province than that which was offered to Dr. Powell. But it was an
opportunity of service to the lowest and most neglected class of
humans in the country, and so he accepted the office of Superintendent of Indian Affairs. Co-incident with his appointment he
was given rank as lieutenant-colonel in the militia. It was
necessary that he should be clothed with military authority, for
he must appear as a great chief in the eyes of the Indians. It
was an appropriate appointment, for Dr. Powell had continued
actively interested in the first official militia in British Columbia
that he had assisted in organizing.
He lost no time in entering upon his new duties and visited
the tribes on Vancouver Island. The policy of the department
in respect of the Indians had not been fully determined. So it
was that he examined and reported upon the possibility of
establishing military posts at points strategically placed to control the Indian tribes which were still warring upon each other
when the opportunity offered. In his first report he recommended that in the event of it being decided to establish such
posts, one be located at Alberni.46
He was • interested in everything that concerned his new
charges. The languages of the natives intrigued him. He found
that the Comox Indians spoke a language similar to that of the
Umpquas of California. Before he had been a year in office he
started a fight for better medical services for the Indians and
for educational facilities for the children. He continued pressing these needs upon Ottawa, until when he retired seventeen
years later, he was able to boast that there were seventeen
(46) Report   of   the   Superintendent   of   Indian   Affairs   for   British
Columbia for 1372 and 1873, Ottawa, 1873, p. 5. 50 B. A. McKelvie. January
Indian schools—one for each year of his term of office—and that
medical attention was available to natives wherever possible.
In fact, he had, in 1876, taken over the medical superintendency
for Indians as well as his other duties in order to help them.
The increase of $400 annually in his salary did not compensate
for the added burden.
His work took him to all parts of British Columbia—by gunboat, by canoe, on horse-back, and afoot. In 1874 he visited
tribes as far east as the Kootenays and in the valleys of the
Similkameen, Fraser, Thompson, Bonaparte, and Okanagan, as
well as along the east coast of Vancouver Island. He taught the
natives to obey the Queen's law, to permit the education of their
children, to trust in white doctors rather than in the medicine
men of the tribes, and he warred continuously against the
demoralizing influences of the white whisky-peddlers. In 1881
he made a trip of inspection all along the coast as far north as
the Alaskan border, travelling aboard H.M.S. Rocket," commanded by Lieutenant-Commander Vere Bernard Orlebar. The
commander and his passenger became fast friends, and it was
in compliment to the doctor that his name was given to Powell
River and Powell Lake.48 It was indeed a fitting tribute to a man
who had done so much and would continue to do more for the
development of British Columbia. Typical of the times was the
fact that on this particular trip a murderer had to be tracked
down and witnesses located in another killing.
The work of Dr. Powell for the betterment of conditions
amongst the Indians is worthy of a book. Suffice it to say that
wherever there was need for his presence, whether combating
an epidemic in a squalid native village or arguing with the
Government at Ottawa, there he would be found. He played an
important part in the settlement in 1887 of the troubles with the
Indians in the vicinity of Galbraith's Landing—later named Fort
Steele—and he had gone to the Kootenays and composed affairs
(47) Personal diary in the possession of the family.
(48) Captain John T. Walbran, British Columbia Coast Names, 1592-
1906, Ottawa, 1909, p. 40O. Captain Walbran places the date of the naming
as 1880, but it is more probably the following year when he was in the
vicinity on board the Rocket. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 51
with Chief Isadore before Major Sam Steele and his mounted
police detachment arrived to do garrison duty there.49
As a business-man and investor Dr. Powell was shrewd. He
early saw that a large city must eventually arise on the shores of
Burrard Inlet, so in 1877 he bought District Lots 182 and 183
from the Hon. H. P. P. Crease for $3,500. These lots are included
in the present-day Vancouver. This was his first, but by no
means his last, investment in Vancouver real estate. He was
one of the members of the syndicate that purchased the holdings
of the Hastings Mill and gave one-third of their property to the
Canadian Pacific Railroad as an inducement to extend the rails
from Port Moody to Vancouver.50 Following the incorporation
of the city in the spring of 1886 and its destruction by fire two
months later, Dr. Powell gave four lots on Powell Street (named
for him) as a site for a permanent city hall. A rude building
was erected and was occupied by the city for eleven years, after
which time the city hall was moved to Westminster Avenue, now
Main Street, and the Powell Street site became a junk-yard.
In 1889, in an effort to regain his health that had become
impaired by his heavy responsibilities, Dr. Powell, accompanied
by Major C. T. Dupont, visited Europe. Mrs. Powell and their
daughter Mary, who had come to Europe to finish her education,
remained in London while the two friends went ahead to Italy,
spending considerable time in Rome. Dr. Powell kept a diary,
in which he noted in detail the interesting works of art, historic
places, and cultural relics he inspected. But amidst such absorbing wonders he had time to think of Vancouver, for sandwiched
in between impressions of Roman art and his amazement at
finding that the brain of Thomas a Becket was preserved in the
Vatican museum appears a transaction between himself and
Major Dupont by which he purchased a lot on Hastings Street
and another in New Westminster for $12,500.51
British Columbia was constantly in his thoughts, and he filled
columns in English newspapers with his descriptions of the
opportunities that were to be found in the Province.    He pre-
(49) Annual Report of the Department of Indian Affairs   .   .   .   1887,
Ottawa, 1888, pp. 131-3.    See also Victoria Times, July 7, 1887.
(50) From documents in the possession of the family.
(51) Ibid. 52 B. A. McKelvie. January
dieted that it would become a great fruit-growing country, and
he enthused over its mining possibilities. He told of remembering that £80,000 worth of gold—including many nuggets, one
being worth £20—was produced in a season on Leech River, only
about 20 air-line miles distant from Victoria.52 After visiting
Rome he went on to Cairo, where he was stricken by typhoid
fever and almost died. He returned to Venice to convalesce, and
there he was joined by his wife and daughter. It was at this
time that he resigned his position as Superintendent of Indian
On his return from Europe he turned his attention to agriculture. He acquired a property, which he called " Broadmead,"
in the Fraser Valley, south of New Westminster. He often
visited it, taking a keen interest in discussing problems of the
soil with Mr. Palmer who operated it for him. Later he bought
farms in Saanich and Cowichan Districts.53 But in his dealings
in real estate and his work of directing the improvement of the
Indians, he did not neglect public activities. He was one of the
central figures in the agitation to have the British Columbia
Medical Act passed in 1886, and when this was accomplished, he
was honoured by his colleagues by being chosen first president
of the British Columbia Medical Council.54
Nor did his interest in education lapse. He was in frequent
consultation with the Provincial Government, cabinet ministers
and officials alike, and was assiduous in pressing the need for
improving educational opportunities. He was an advocate of
higher education, and was one of those responsible for the passing of the Act establishing the University of British Columbia
in 1890.55 When the first convocation was held in October of
that year, Dr. Powell was named the first Chancellor of the
University.56    His memorandum books show him in frequent
(52) Many of these articles are to be found in a scrap-book in the
possession of the family.
(53) From documents in the possession of the family.
(54) A. S. Munro, M.D., " The Medical History of British Columbia,"
reprinted from The Canadian Medical Association Journal, 1931-32, p. 26.
(55) " British Columbia University Act, 1890," Statutes of British
Columbia, 1890, Victoria, 1890, chap. 48, pp. 281-7.
(56) Victoria Colonist, October 21, 1890. See also correspondence
between the. Hon. John Robson and Dr. Powell in the possession of the
family. 1947 Israel Wood Powell. 53
consultation with the Hon. John Robson. They were trying to
arrange for the University to become a reality, but when the
depression of 1893 struck the Province, it was realized that the
construction of buildings would have to be deferred indefinitely.57 Eventually an arrangement was made with McGill
University by which the first two years of the Arts course could
be taken in British Columbia, students going East to complete
their courses. It was appropriate—and typical of the romance
of British Columbia's development—that the young doctor who
took the initiative in establishing British Columbia's first system
of free education should live to become the chancellor of a
university created by legislative enactment.
It was about this time that his eyesight showed the first signs
of failing. Twice in succeeding years he visited Europe in an
effort to save his sight. Temporary improvement was made as
a result of operations, but gradually his vision declined, and the
last few years of his life were passed in semi-darkness. He maintained his brightness of mind and keenness of intellect. He
followed public events closely and sought to continue his life of
public usefulness. Thus, in 1914, a few months before his death,
he presented to the Provincial Archives a priceless treasure—
the Journal of John Stuart, the companion of Simon Fraser in
the exploration of the wilderness west of the Rockies. It had
been in his possession for half a century.
On January 25, 1915, friends crowded into hospitable " Oak-
dene "; newspapers were filled with congratulations, public
organizations and societies sent their felicitations, for it was the
golden wedding anniversary of Dr. and Mrs. Powell. It was a
happy day that the lovers spent amid their children and friends.
But the honeymoon that had started in those busy, difficult days
when Vancouver Island was a separate colony and he was fighting so hard to give its children a chance in life was drawing to a
(57) The original Act of 1890 was amended in 1891 (" British Columbia
University Amendment Act, 1891/' chap. 46, Statutes of British Columbia,
1891, Victoria, 1891, pp. 383-91), and a date fixed prior to which it was
necessary for the Senate to have met. At the date fixed by Dr. Powell, a
quorum did not assemble and consequently the Act became inoperative. 54 B. A. McKelvie.
close.58    It was just one month later, February 25, 1915, that
the good doctor slept away into eternity.59
To-day the busy industrial community of Powell River recalls
his name, as do streets in the great cities of Vancouver and
Victoria. British Columbia's membership in Confederation is
a testimonial to his efforts in the field of active politics. Every
public school in the Province and the great university at Point
Grey are monuments to his work as a pioneer in the realms of
education. The medical services remember his efforts in earlier
times with affection, and the great Masonic brotherhood recalls
with gratitude his activities in that ancient craft. The Indians
have not forgotten that he was their first champion. Truly few
men have left such a splendid record of unselfish devotion and
achievement for the public good than has Lieutenant-Colonel
Israel Wood Powell, M.D., CM.
B. A. McKelvie.
Victoria, B.C.
(58) Victoria Colonist, January 26, 1915.
(59) Ibid., February 26, 1915. NOTES AND COMMENTS.
The annual meeting of the Association was held in the Hotel Grosvenor,
Vancouver, on Friday, January 17, with over thirty members present. The
annual reports revealed that once again the Association had had a successful
as well as active year. Paid-up members at the end of the year totalled
505, as compared with 497 in 1945; and of these, 173 belonged to the
Victoria Section, 183 to the Vancouver Section, and there were 149 members-
at-large. Financially the Association was in a strong position, for the
balance carried forward into the new year was $235.74, despite the unusually
heavy charges arising from the Oregon Boundary Centenary Celebration.
Points touched upon in the Secretary's report included a brief resume' of
the arrangements made for the celebration of the centenary of the Oregon
Boundary Treaty (already reported upon in a previous issue of the_
Quarterly), results of the essay competition sponsored by the Association,
and the activity of the Historical Marker Committee headed by Mr. E. G.
Rowebottom, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry.
Dr. W. Kaye Lamb presented his tenth report as editor of the Quarterly.
Once again there had been an increase in the paid circulation: 536 for 1946,
in comparison with 524 the previous year. As intimated last year, the editor
wished to be relieved of his duties at the completion of Volume X., and the
announcement was made that Mr. Willard E. Ireland would continue as
editor. The meeting unanimously passed a motion expressing the deep
gratitude and abiding sense of appreciation of the service rendered to the
Association by Dr. W. Kaye Lamb in editing the Quarterly for the past ten
The twenty-fourth annual report of Major F .V. Longstaff, convenor
of the Marine Committee, was submitted, in which the main maritime events
of the past year were outlined and a report given of researches undertaken
during the year.
Miss Madge Wolfenden then delivered her presidential address, entitled
Books and Libraries in Fur Trading and Colonial Days. The history of
the genesis of one of the most important educational institutions in our
every-day life was detailed in a most informative manner. The text of the
address will be printed in a forthcoming issue of this Quarterly.
The Secretary then presented the report of the scrutineers.    The new
Council met immediately after the adjournment of the annual meeting, when
the following officers were elected for 1946:—
Honorary President     ....   Hon. G. M. Weir.
President ------        Mr. George B. White.
1st Vice-President ...       -    Miss Alma Russell.
2nd Vice-President   -       -       -       -        Rev. Wm. Stott.
Honorary Secretary      ...       -    Miss Helen Boutilier
Honorary Treasurer ... Mr. J. K. Nesbitt
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XI., No. 1.
55 56 Notes and Comments. January
Members of the Council—
Mr. Burt R. Campbell. Major H. C. Holmes.
Dr. W. Kaye Lamb. Mr. B. A. McKelvie.
Dr. T. A. Rickard. Dr. W. N. Sage.
Councillors ex officio—
Mrs. M. R. Cree, Chairman, Victoria Section.
Rev. Wm. Stott, Chairman, Vancouver Section.
Miss Madge Wolfenden, Past President.
Mr. Willard E. Ireland, Editor, Quarterly, and Provincial
The Council unanimously approved a recommendation from the Victoria
Section that a life membership be conferred upon Mrs. W. Curtis Sampson
in recognition of her untiring efforts on behalf of the Association.
Victoria Section.
The life of one of British Columbia's great pioneers was the subject of
an address before the Section at its regular meeting on October 21, held in
the Provincial Library. Mr. B. A. McKelvie had entitled his paper Lieutenant-Colonel Israel Wood Powell, M.D., CM. Drawing largely upon material kindly placed at his disposal by Mrs. David Doig, daughter of Dr.
Powell, Mr. McKelvie was able to present many interesting and new sidelights on the career of one who contributed greatly to the development of
this Province. The substance of this address appears in this issue of the
Quarterly. Two daughters of the late Dr. Powell, Mrs. David Doig, Victoria, and Mrs. John Fordham, Vancouver, were in attendance at the meeting. The vote of thanks was tendered by Mr. Justice Harold B. Robertson,
who, it was noted, had been ushered into the world by Dr. Powell.
The annual meeting of the Section was held in the Provincial Library in
conjunction with the unveiling of the plaque to the memory of Sir James
Douglas, K.C.B., on November 19—Douglas Day. Dr. W. N. Sage, Head of
the Department of History at the University of British Columbia, had been
invited to give the commemorative address and, in consequence, only the
report of the scrutineers was submitted, the remainder of the business of the
annual meeting being deferred until the December meeting. The subject of
Dr. Sage's address was Sir James Douglas, K.C.B.: The Father of British
Columbia. Few persons have as intimate a knowledge of the life and character of Douglas as fur-trader and colonial administrator alike as has Dr.
Sage. In a most interesting manner he sketched the career of the young
Scot who, coming to America in 1819 as a clerk in the service of the North
West Company, became one of the key-men of the Hudson's Bay Company's
organization west of the Rocky Mountains and eventually the trusted colonial governor in the hectic period when empire was replacing fur trade.
It is anticipated that this address will be published in a forthcoming issue
of this Quarterly. Many of Sir James' descendants had gathered for the
unique ceremony, and it was only fitting that the vote of appreciation should
be tendered to the speaker by Colonel Chester Harris, a grandson of Douglas. 1947 Notes and Comments. 57
The inaugural meeting of the new Council was held in the Provincial
Archives, November 25, when the executive for 1947 was elected:—
Chairman     ------    Mrs. Muriel R. Cree.
Vice-Chairman -----       Mr. J. A. Heritage.
Honorary Secretary      ...       -   Major Harold Nation.
Honorary Treasurer -       -       -       -       Mr. R. H. Hiscocks.
Members of the Council—
Miss Kathleen Agnew. Mr. John Goldie.
Mr. B. A. McKelvie. Mr. E. W. McMullen.
Dr. T. A. Rickard. Miss Alma Russell.
Mrs. Curtis Sampson. Mr. G. H. Stevens.
Miss Madge Wolfenden.
Major H. C. Holmes Mr. W. E. Ireland
(ex officio). (ex officio).
The adjourned annual meeting of the Section was held in the Provincial
Library on December 13 with the retiring Chairman presiding. Reports
were submitted by the Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer, and
Miss Madge Wolfenden presented a report from the Necrology Committee.
A unanimous vote of appreciation was tendered to Mrs. M. R. Cree for her
faithful services as Honorary Secretary for the past twelve years and the
good wishes of the Section extended to her upon assuming its chairmanship.
The speaker of the evening was Major A. D. Macdonald, son of the late
Senator W. J. Macdonald, who read selected extracts from the printed diary
of his father. J. W. Macdonald was a pioneer of 1851 whose active public
life in colonial days was given recognition in the honour of being named the
first senator after the accomplishment of Confederation.
Vancouver Section.
The speaker at the November meeting of the Section was the Rev. William Stott, of North Vancouver, who gave an account of his sojourn in the
Cariboo, in 1910-15. When he went into the north country the " B.X."
express, drawn by a four-horse team, was still the usual means of travel
on the Cariboo Road; the " leaders " were usually only half broken, and
could be depended upon to dance a jig when first released. Mr. Stott's talk
was illustrated with slides, many made from photographs he had taken himself. These pictured Quesnel as a boom town, in Grand Trunk Pacific Railway construction days, and such well-known neighbouring spots as the
Australian Ranch and Barkerville. The speaker next dealt with Tete Jaune
Cache, and described a journey down the Fraser, partly by raft and partly
by steamer, which brought the traveller first to Fort George and, in due
course, back to Quesnel. In conclusion Mr. Stott spoke of some of the best-
known characters of the time, including Pete Landry, and devoted the last
part of a most interesting address to the story of John McLean, and the
gold-rush of 1859. 58 Notes and Comments. January
The election of officers resulted in the return of the following slate for
Honorary Chairman -       -       -       -       Mr. E. G. Baynes.
Chairman     ------    Rev. Wm. Stott.
Vice-Chairman Mr. L. S. Grant.
Honorary Secretary      ...       -    Miss Edith Sturdy.
Honorary Treasurer - Mr. T. M. Stephen.
Members of the Council—
Miss Helen Boutilier. Mr. William Dalton.
Mr. J. W. Eastham. Mr. George Green.
Mr. A. G. Harvey. Dr. W. K. Lamb.
Miss Eleanor Mercer. Mr. Elmore Meredith.
Dr. W. N. Sage. Rev. F. G. St. Denis.
Mr. G. B. White (ex officio).
' The last meeting in 1946 was held in the Hotel Grosvenor on Tuesday,
December 10, when Mr. Stott, now Chairman of the Section, had the pleasure
of introducing as speaker of the evening his friend and neighbour Captain
Charles W. Cates. Captain Cates's father came to Burrard Inlet in January, 1886, and as his family had ever since been associated with the maritime activities of the Inlet, he was unusually well qualified to speak on The
Story of Vancouver's Waterfront. As a boy Captain Cates came to know
the Indians well, and he was able to preface the story of later days with
some interesting references to old Indian place-names, the raids of the
Haidas, the means whereby the local Indians finally learned to counter these,
and so on. For a time the speaker's father worked in the old Hastings Mill,
but the Cates family soon took to the sea, and in particular to tug-boating.
When tugs were small and sailing ships comparatively large, this could be
an adventurous occupation, and Captain Cates described, amongst other
things, the daring fashion in which a little tug, by taking advantage of a
strong outgoing tide, could drop a heavily laden sailing ship through the
First Narrows stern first, when the more orthodox plan of towing her out
would have been quite impracticable. About 1887-88 sailing ships frequenting the harbour became so large that it was evident that big sea-going
tugs were essential, and such famous and powerful old vessels as the Lome,
Pilot, and William Joliffe were brought into service. The Lome was the
most powerful of the lot, and could tow a ship at the remarkable speed of
10 knots.
The innumerable points of interest touched upon by Captain Cates can
only be suggested here. The Senator and other early ferries on the Inlet;
the arrival of the first Empresses in 1891; the first motorships, which
appeared about the time World War I. commenced; ship-building in the
days of the Great War; log exporting, the grain trade, and other developments of the '20's; the many adventures and accidents that tugboat-men
suffered when the Second Narrows Bridge was first erected; the story of
the Burrard Drydock; and, finally, the immense ship-building effort that
made Burrard Inlet a factor of importance in the war at sea so recently 1947 Notes and Comments. 59
concluded—all these and other topics were  dealt with competently and
humorously in a talk that those present found quite enthralling.
An impressive ceremony marked the unveiling of a bronze plaque, erected
by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, in the lobby of the
Legislative Chamber, Victoria, on November 19, to commemorate the career
of Sir James Douglas, K.C.B. Dr. W. N. Sage, British Columbia and Yukon
representative on the Historic Sites and Monuments Board presided, and in
a few fitting remarks explained that it had been the unanimous decision of
the Board that the achievements of Sir James Douglas had been such as to
merit his commemoration as a figure of national importance. The inscription reads:—
Sir James Douglas K.C.B.
" The Father of British Columbia "
Fur trader and statesman.    In his early life he was
associated first with the North West Company and
later with the Hudson's Bay Company.    He founded
Fort Victoria in 1843.    By his firm and wise rule as
Governor of Vancouver Island, 1851-1864, and Governor of British Columbia, 1858-1864, he laid the foundation of this province.
The Hon. G. M. Weir, Minister of Education, in accepting the plaque on
behalf of the Provincial Government, expressed appreciation of the decision
of the Board in so recognizing one of the great figures of our history.   The
actual unveiling was performed by Sir James's granddaughter, Mrs. Fitzherbert Bullen, who in a few well-chosen words expressed the gratitude of
the family for the high honour thus paid to her grandfather.   At the conclusion of the ceremony those present adjourned to the Provincial Library,
where Dr. W. N. Sage addressed the Victoria Section of the British Columbia Historical Association.
November 19, the anniversary of the formal establishment of the Crown
.Colony of British Columbia, has a special significance in Langley, for the
colony was proclaimed within the limits of the present municipality. This
year the day was declared a municipal holiday, and the unveiling of two
cairns, marking historic sites, made Tuesday, November 19, 1946, a memorable day for all interested in the history of the lower Fraser Valley.
The first cairn unveiled was erected at Jardine Station, on the Fraser
Valley line of the British Columbia Electric Railway. It marks the point
at which the celebrated James McMillan expedition, which the Hudson's
Bay Company sent north from the Columbia River late in 1824 to seek a site
for a trading-post on the lower Fraser, portaged from the Nicomekl River
to the Salmon River. Joseph J. Morrison, who was born in Langley in 1861,
unveiled the plaque, and Reeve Noel Booth of Langley Municipality recalled 60 Notes and Comments. January
the history and significance of the McMillan party's famous journey. Later
in the afternoon Alexander Houston, another old-timer, drew aside the
Union Jack that veiled the inscription on the second plaque which stands on
land donated by Mr. Houston and marks the site of the original Fort Langley, which was built on the banks of the Fraser in 1827. The bronze plaques
on both cairns were presented by the Provincial Department of Trade and
Industry. Readers of the Quarterly will recall that, thanks to the interest
and energy of Mr. E. G. Rowebottom, the Deputy Minister, many points of
historic interest in British Columbia have been marked by this Department
in recent years.
Following the two ceremonies, Alexander Hope, M.L.A., and Bruce A.
McKelvie, the well-known journalist and historian, spoke in the Fort Langley Community Hall, and recalled the highlights in the municipality's eventful history. Mr. Hope pointed out that Langley was the birthplace of the
Province's salmon industry, and mentioned other economic developments
that could be traced back to the old fort on the Fraser. Mr. McKelvie outlined the history of the various fort buildings that had succeeded one
another on several sites in the vicinity, and told the story of the 1858 gold-
rush and the establishment of the Crown colony in November of that year.
An interesting feature of the meeting was the presence of Chief Gabriel,
whose grandfather was amongst the Indians that met Simon Fraser when
the famous explorer descended the Fraser River in 1808.
The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recently placed a
plaque, dedicated to the memory of Judge F. W. Howay, in the Court-house,
New Westminster, and the memorial was unveiled at an interesting ceremony held on Monday, November 25, 1946, the seventy-ninth anniversary of
Judge Howay's birth.
Mr. G. R. McQuarrie, Secretary of the New Westminster Bar Association, acted as chairman, assisted by Mr. W. Carney Bell, Chief Factor of
the Native Sons, and Miss Anne Archibald, Past Grand Factor of the Native
Daughters. The actual unveiling was performed by Judge Harry J. Sullivan, Judge Howay's successor on the County Court bench. Recalling that
he had known him since boyhood, when Judge Howay had been the family
lawyer, Judge Sullivan concluded his few remarks with these words, adapted
from the inscription on the headstone that marks the grave of Judge
Chartres Brew in the old Barkerville cemetery: "A man imperturbable in
courage and temper, endowed with great and varied administrative capacity,
a most ready wit, a most pure integrity and a human heart—to the memory
of Judge Frederic William Howay, I dedicate this plaque."
Following the actual unveiling, the hundred or more persons who had
gathered for the occasion adjourned to Judge Howay's old court-room.
Here Magistrate H. L. Edmonds, K.C, President of the New Westminster
Bar Association, spoke of Judge Howay's career as- a lawyer and judge,
while Dr. W. N. Sage, British Columbia representative on the Historic Sites 1947 Notes and Comments. 61
and Monuments Board of Canada, outlined the immense contribution he had
made as a scholar and historian.
Augustus Schubert, who passed away at the home of his son, Augustus
Jr., at Armstrong, B.C., on Thursday, November 7, 1946, was the last survivor of the colourful group of adventurers known as the " Overlanders,"
that made their famous trek across the prairies and through the mountains
to British Columbia in 1862. He was born at St. Paul, Minnesota, on December 23, 1855, and in 1861 his parents with their three children, of whom
Augustus was the eldest, moved to Fort Garry. There in the spring of 1862
the family joined the " Overland " party, and Mrs. Schubert had the unique
distinction of being the only woman in the group. Augustus, better known
to his many friends as " Gus," retained vivid memories of many of the
incidents of that journey, which took place in his seventh year.
From Kamloops, which their party reached on October 13, 1862, the
Schubert family moved to Lillooet, where Augustus grew up and received a
limited education. When he left home he worked at various places, including Clinton and Victoria, until he settled in the North Okanagan in the year
1881, and became one of the pioneers of the Armstrong community. On
July 1, 1883, he married Elizabeth Fulton, who predeceased him in September, 1932. His family included one son and five daughters, of whom all but
one daughter still survive.
Augustus Schubert was held in high regard by all his neighbours, and
though never aspiring to be a public figure, he was elected to serve as reeve
in the Municipality of Spallumcheen in 1892, when he held office for two
years, and again in 1904 when he served for three years. The funeral service was held in the Community Hall, Armstrong, on Sunday, November 10,
and interment was made in the Armstrong cemetery in the presence of a
large gathering of friends and neighbours. The old-timers, who had lived
in the district forty years or more, of whom there were nearly 100 present,
held a simple ceremonial at the grave-side to pay their tribute of respect.
Rev. F. E. Runnalls.
Sydney G. Pettit, M.A., is Assistant Professor of History and Sociology
at Victoria College, affiliated with the University of British Columbia. His
thesis submitted for his M.A. degree at the University of British Columbia
was a comprehensive study of the career of Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie.
Dr. T. A. Rickard is a former President of the British Columbia Historical Association and the author of many books, including Technical Writing,
Man and Metals, and The Romance of Mining.
B. A. McKelvie, journalist and historian, has done much to arouse general interest in things historic in the Province. Writer of numerous newspaper articles, he has also written several books, his latest being Maquinna
the Magnificent. 62 Notes and Comments.
Madge Wolfenden is immediate Past President of the British Columbia
Historical Association and Assistant Archivist.
A. E. Pickford is on the staff of the Provincial Museum, Victoria, in
charge of the Anthropological Collection.
Dr. G. Clifford Carl is Director of the Provincial Museum. THE NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF.
Growing Pains: the Autobiography of Emily Carr, with a foreword by Ira
Dilworth. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1946. Pp. xvi., 381.
111.   $3.
Growing Pains is well named. It is the record of the painful process
of an artist's struggle for expression and for recognition—her "growing-
up." Emily Carr was a supersensitive soul and in her autobiography she
has given an honest picture of herself from her childhood days to her old
age, not glossing over the less attractive phases of her life, but portraying
the highlights and many of the minor details, unbecoming or otherwise, of
her artistic career.
Emily's friends and admirers have awaited the publication of this her
latest book with much anticipation, and they will not be disappointed. It is
written with the same skill and ease with which Klee Wyck and The Book
of Small were executed. The style is almost journalistic in its crispness and
present-day phraseology, and her homely figures of speech are at the same
time pungent and humorous.
Although the book is on the whole a sad story of the unfolding and fulfilment of her artistic life, there are numerous amusing episodes in it which
relieve the depressing scenes of illness and frustration. Her descriptions of
places and events are truly the word-pictures of a born artist. As in her
paintings, so in her writing—bold, deft strokes are employed to create with
great effect.
Growing Pains is more than the story of Emily Carr's life—it is a revelation of her character and her brave undaunted spirit which, in spite of many
handicaps, still strove forward. In it she had revealed herself to her readers;
the book might almost have been called " Self Portrait," and in her truly
characteristic way she would never have published it during her lifetime.
It is a legacy left to those who loved and admired her.
As was to be expected, Emily Carr has here given loud voice to her many
antipathies, one being her dislike of England and the English people. One
is forced to smile at the emphasis and stress which she puts upon her own
Canadian-ness, for her parents were both English and had brought her up
in English ways, and so, in spite of herself, she was more English than
Canadian. What she is pleased to call her love of Canada and the Canadian
woods and untamed wilderness can be reduced, moreover, to an intense love
of British Columbia, her homeland. The Eastern Provinces and the Prairies
did not appeal to her in at all the same way as British Columbia's forests
and sea-coast, where she was most at home and into which she fitted as a
hand fits into a glove.
All through the pages of this delightful book the author's hatred of sham
and pretence serve to emphasize her own intense honesty and sincerity.
Her throwing aside of the meaningless conventions of life as conformed to
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. XI., No. 1.
63 64 The Northwest Bookshelf. January
by peoples in older lands, and her love of a simpler mode of existence, show
her to have been a real product of the West. She quite revelled in being
different to her prim sisters, and was often more eccentric than she need
have been just because she enjoyed shocking her conventional friends.
Her summary of the British Columbia Indian's artistic talent and conception of art is worth quoting:—
The Indian caught first at the inner intensity of his subject, worked outward to the
surfaces. His spiritual conception he buried deep in the wood he was about to
carve. Then—chip! chip! his crude tools released the symbols that were to clothe
his thought—no sham, no mannerism. The lean, neat Indian hands carved what the
Indian mind comprehended.
From this, one is better able to appreciate and understand some of her own
pictures which may hitherto have been incomprehensible.
Growing Pains abounds in delightful descriptions of scenery and wild
life. The author's references to the wild geese and the English song-birds
will charm every nature lover's heart. Emily had a pronounced understanding of animal life and of primitive people and her pbrtrayal of Indian
Sophie displaying her babies' graves is both poignant and penetrating.
In this book Emily Carr has given glimpses into her philosophy of life
and hints that she was capable of writing of abstract topics with equal
fluency. By this she has whetted one's appetite for the publication of her
Journals which it is hoped will make their appearance in due course. All
through the book the author's deep love for and understanding of nature is
most evident.
In format the book is of the usual high standard which the Oxford University Press has established, and the numerous reproductions of the author's
work and photographs of her as a young woman add greatly to its charm
and to the pleasure of the reader.
Growing Pains is another noteworthy contribution to Canadian literature
and a most enjoyable book.
Madge Wolfenden.
Victoria, B.C.
The Westward Crossings. By Jeannette Mirsky. New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1946.    Pp. xv., 365, xii.    Maps and ill.    $4.50.
This is an excellent book, well written. It tells again, from a fresh point
of view, the stories of three historic explorations—namely, those led by the
Spaniard, Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Scotsman, Alexander Mackenzie, and
the two Americans, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. These three
expeditions ascertained the size and shape of North America and prepared
the way for the subsequent complete occupation of the northern half of the
continent by European invaders.
The author, apparently an American by adoption, stresses the fact that
Spanish America is a principal antecedent of the United States. " If we
remember England as our mother, we should remember," she says, " that we
were sired by Spain." The occupation formerly of a part of the present
United States territory by the Spaniards is a fact, but the influence on the 1947 The Northwest Bookshelf. 65
culture and political growth of the States is much less than the author
wishes to stress.
The story of Balboa, the first of the conquistadores, is told with much
spirit. Balboa's untimely death, due to the jealousy and hate of Pedrarias
Davila, is only one of the many dastardly deeds that besmirched the glory
of Spanish achievement in the New World. The author tells the story
vividly. If Balboa had survived, he, and not a much inferior man, Francisco Pizarro, would have explored and looted Peru. However, if Balboa's
life was thus cut short cruelly, his fame is established forever by his discovery of the Pacific Ocean and the proof that the New World was not a
part of the Indies. When he stood " lone upon a peak in Darien," on September 25, 1513, he fixed one of the great landmarks of history.
The next story, that of Mackenzie's expedition from Lake Athabaska
across the Rocky Mountains to the coast of the Pacific, is wholly different
from the Spanish explorations. There is no cruelty to record, and no bloodshed. There might have been both if Mackenzie had been a man of different
disposition. On the contrary, in his encounter with various tribes of Indians,
some of them inclined to be hostile, he exhibited courage, tact, and good-will.
Thereby he obviated friction with the savages. On pages 161 and 162 the
author gives a good description of one of these encounters, on the amicable
outcome of which the lives of Mackenzie's party and the success of his expedition depended. His party numbered ten, two of them Indians, six French-
Canadians, and a Scot, Alexander Mackay. He controlled his party well,
by means of the confidence he inspired in his leadership, as also by his good
sense and kindliness.
The expedition was stimulated by the information, disclosed by the men
that had accompanied Captain Cook to Nootka, that sea-otters were plentiful
there. When Mackenzie approached the coast, at Bella Coola, he was given
" a magnificent sea-otter robe " by an Indian chief, and when he reached
the sea, in Dean Channel, he saw " a great number of sea otters." He
started on October 10, 1792, and completed his quest on July 22, 1793. By
one of the most poignant accidents recorded in history, he missed a meeting
with Captain George Vancouver, who had explored Dean Channel on June 3,
only seven weeks earlier. One can imagine what a delight it would have
been to these two gallant men if they had met and compared notes.
The Lewis and Clark expedition was sent by Thomas Jefferson, as President, to explore the western wilderness and " for the purpose of extending
the internal commerce of the United States "; it was an expression of the
idea of " manifest destiny," the seed of which had been planted in Jefferson's
mind by John Ledyard, who had been corporal of marines on Captain Cook's
voyage to the Northwestern Coast. The author lays stress on the important
part that Ledyard played in this development of American policy. She has
written an important page of history in explaining the relation of Ledyard's
ideas to Jefferson's far-seeing action in extending American control westward to the Pacific Coast.
Both Lewis and Clark were soldiers. This expedition therefore was
subject to military discipline, and it was carefully organized.    Both men 66 The Northwest Bookshelf. January
were well educated, and made the most of their opportunities to study and
describe the resources of the region across which they made their laborious
A romantic detail of this historic adventure is the assistance given by a
young Indian girl, one of the Shoshone tribe, who was the wife of the
interpreter, a French-Canadian named Touissant Charbonneau. Her name
was Sacajawea, meaning " bird woman." With her travelled her little son,
not quite two months old. Her husband proved stupid and lacking in
courage, but she herself possessed amply the qualities he lacked. The
presence of a woman in the party served to show the Indians whom they
met on the way that the purpose of the expedition was peaceful. Sacajawea
belonged to a tribe of Shoshones living on the western slope of the Rocky
Mountains and had been captured in a raid of Minnetarees, Indians of the
great plains east of the Rockies. Charbonneau had bought her when only
twelve years old. She was able to guide the explorers to the Lemhi Pass,
which took them across the continental divide. She also, of course, aided
her husband as an interpreter when various Indians were encountered.
Here we come to an interesting subject—namely, the assistance given
to official explorers by " squaw-men." This term, applied contemptuously to
white men mated with Indian women, expressed a false sentiment. All
along the frontier, where women were lacking, it was not unusual, and it
was natural, for white men to mate with Indian girls. The French in the
early days of Canada encouraged such miscegenation, because it helped to
create friendly relations with the Iroquois. There is scarcely a single report
of westward exploration that does not mention the guidance obtained from
Indians that knew a little English or a white man that could ask the Indians
for the necessary information.
Three times in this book the author speaks of a river fighting its way or
forcing a passage through a range of mountains. This is unscientific.
John Ruskin, in Modern Painters, said truly: " I am not satisfied—no one
should be satisfied—with that vague answer,—the river cut its way. Not
so. The river found its way." The geologist will concur.
' The author indulges in several Americanisms which are illiteracies.
To write English acceptably one should avoid words and phrases that are
not scholarly, whether American or British, such as " readied " meaning to
make ready, " that far " instead of " so far," " impractical" instead of
■" unpractical " or " impracticable," " luscious " meaning richly sweet and
applied improperly to otter skins, " nightmarish," " hike," and " cussedness:"
Some people may like such words, so used. Chacun a son gout, et le marchand vend tout.
A few bibliographic references are given, but not in sufficient number
for an historical volume. A list of authors is added at the end of the book,
but that does not suffice. There is some excuse for this lack of adequate
references. The author herself says: " This book, making use of scholars'
researches, is written for the wider public that often supposes scholarly
research to be tedious, technical and esoteric." Repeatedly the author
imparted thoughts and motives to the heroes of her three stories without 1947 The Northwest Bookshelf. 67
giving any evidence therefor. They may add to the charm of her tale, but,
in effect, they tend to mar the historicity of her book. These are minor
points of criticism.   This book has proved interesting and informative.
T A. Rickard.
Victoria, B.C.
Indian Relics of the Pacific Northwest. By H. G. Seaman. Portland, Oregon; Binfords and Mort [1946]. Pp. viii., 157. 111. $3.
In the contemplation of this review a difficult task is faced, a task
difficult for several reasons. Not the least of these is found in the fact that
the reviewer is torn between two forces: on the one hand is his duty to the
subject and on the other his duty to the author. This trouble is common to
all reviewers, but in this immediate case the question is complicated by the
fact that the author happens to be an old friend to whom the reviewer owes
The book is found to be comprised of one hundred and fifty-odd pages
giving a straightforward account of the experiences of the author. These
experiences cover a long period of years and were gained while the author
was collecting archseological relics along the lower reaches of the Columbia
River and the deserts of jthe southern hinterland reached through the
Des Chutes Valley. In view of these geographical limitations those familiar
with the cultures found north of the described area may feel that the title
of the book outreaches the scope of its discussion.
Nevertheless, those who open the book at random in the comfort of their
firesides will feel that Mr. Seaman has presented some very interesting
reading and is much to be complimented on his perpetuation of some very
excellent pictures. He tells about the location of his hunting-ground and
gives some indication of the joys of his hunting. But it is herein that a
danger lies. Many people having cars and seeking new interests in life
will be inspired by Mr. Seaman's example and will look forward to doing
in a smaller way, perhaps, what he has done. Mr. Seaman thus may have
given impetus to many, and among them money-conscious hordes, who will
increasingly invade what more educated people may regard as " holy
ground." To offset this condition the author might have advanced an
argument in favour of the superior claims of scientific treatment which, if
formulated with examples, would surely appeal to intelligent people.
Unfortunately Mr. Seaman has said nothing about this all-important subject
in his book. These objects which he handles and of which he treats are held
by him in trust for posterity, and posterity will criticize him for whatever
errors he may make in omitting to safeguard the interests of its children.
We know so little of primitive human life and are so hungry for greater
knowledge that we are impatient when we see the sources of that knowledge
carelessly handled or despoiled.
In view of Mr. Seaman's great opportunities and long experience it
would have been well had he been in closer touch with those trained
authorities of whom there are many at work in his State, then perhaps his
interesting narrative would have gained merit by the inclusion of guidance 68 The Northwest Bookshelf.
principles. In view of the importance of the argument for science, reference
to several minor errors and erroneous deductions have been omitted. None
of these, however, overshadow the simpler merits of the book, which, from
the point of view of narrative and pictorial representation, are many.
A. E. Pickford.
Provincial Museum, Victoria, B.C.
Driftwood Valley. By Theodora C. Stanwell-Fletcher. Boston; Little,
Brown and Company, 1946. Pp. 384. 111. by John F. Stanwell-
Fletcher.    $4.
Here is a book that will not fail to provide a delightful experience to all
readers, whether or not they are interested in the out-of-doors. Written in
an informal diary style the contents give a woman's angle of a two-year
period spent in a remote portion of the Interior of British Columbia north of
Takla Lake. The author and her explorer-artist husband selected this spot
in which to make a natural history study for its beauty as well as for its
isolation. The result has enriched not only the Provincial Museum of British
Columbia, which received many specimens in return for certain assistance,
but also readers in general who may share rare experiences so vividly
described by Mrs. Stanwell-Fletcher.
The author is a trained biologist, yet she has the enviable ability of
describing things simply so that the reader appears to see them through his
own eyes. The many delightful accounts of animals and plants add much
to the charm of this book, and the life-like sketches of Mr. Stanwell-Fletcher
greatly enhance its appeal. Driftwood Valley has already given rise to
much interest in a hitherto little-known section of our Province and will
undoubtedly continue to do so for a long time to come.
G. Clifford Carl.
Provincial Museum, Victoria, B.C.
Ballads of the Pacific Northwest. By Robert Allison Hood. Toronto; The
Ryerson Press [1946].    Pp. xii., 170.    111.   $2.50.
Not often is it possible to commend to readers a book of poetry on an
historical theme which is alike pleasing to the poetic ear and satisfactory
to the critical eye. Yet to a very high degree Ballads of the Pacific Northwest has accomplished just that. The ballad form requires simplicity in the
retelling of a well-known story in graphic language. Mr. Hood has selected
.five general types from the cavalcade of participants in the history of the
Pacific Northwest—the sailor, the Indian, the voyageur, the explorer, and
the miner. For each of these he has selected representative stories from the
vast field of historic lore. Thus we read of the exploits of Captain George
Vancouver, Maquinna and John R. Jewitt, Alexander Mackenzie, David
Thompson, Sacajawea, Walter Moberly, and John A. " Cariboo " Cameron.
Each ballad is accompanied by a brief prose historical narrative. The book
is beautifully illustrated and has been printed with care.
Printed by Don McDiarmid, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
650-247-9864 We
Organized October 31st, 1922.
——— #
His Honour Charles A. Banks, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
Hon. G. M. Weir  ----- Honorary President.
George B. White     - President.
Madge Wolfenden       - Past President.
Alma Russell  1st Vice-President.
Rev. W. Stott      - 2nd Vice-President.
Helen R. Boutilier ...       - Honorary Secretary.
J. K. Nesbitt        ----- Honorary Treasurer.
Burt R. Campbell. H. C. Holmes. W. Kaye Lamb.
B. A. McKelvie. T. A. Rickard. W. N. Sage.
Willard E. Ireland Muriel R. Cree Rev. W. Stott
(Provincial Archivist;      (Victoria Section).      (Vancouver Section).
Editor, Quarterly).
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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