British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical Quarterly Jul 31, 1944

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JULY, 1944 Sze
Published by the Archives of British Columbia
in co-operation with the
British Columbia Historical Association.
W. Kaye Lamb.
The University of British Columbia,. Vancouver, B.C.
Willard E. Ireeand.
Provincial Archives, Victoria, B.C.
(On active service, R.C.A.F.)
J. C. Goodfellow, Princeton. Robie L. Reid, Vancouver.
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. BRITISH COLUMBIA
" Any country worthy of a future
should be interested in its past."
Vol. VIII. Victoria, B.C., July, 1944. No. 3
The Founding of Nanaimo.
By B. A. McKelvie  169
Amor De Cosmos, Journalist and Politician.
By W. N. Sage  189
The Appointment of Governor Blanshard.
By Willard E. Ireland 213
The Journal of John Work, 1835.
Being an account of his voyage northward from the Columbia River
to Fort Simpson and return in the brig "Lama," January-
October, 1835.
Part II. Edited by Henry Drummond Dee  227
Notes and Comments:
"A Mountain Memorial"  245
British Columbia Historical Association 246
Contributors to this Issue  247
The Northwest Bookshelf:-
Stefansson:  Here is Alaska.
By T. A. Rickard  248
Kizer:   The U.S.-Canadian Northwest.
By G. F. Drummond  250
Tansill:   Canadian-American Relations, 1875-1911.
The Spaniards were the first Europeans to visit the locality
of Nanaimo. In July, 1791, Jose Maria Narvaez, sailing master
in command of the schooner Santa Saturnina, explored the vicinity and bestowed the name of " Boca de Winthuysen " on the
waterways contiguous to the present city.1 The Indians knew
the area as " Sne-ny-mo," meaning " the whole," or " a big
strong tribe," referring to the collective strength of the various
villages located along the shores of the sheltered harbour. Officially, until 1860, the settlement itself was called " Colvile
Town," although locally known as " Nanaimo."2
It was J. D. Pemberton, Colonial and Hudson's Bay Company
surveyor, who corrupted the Indian word into the pretty name
of to-day. " Mr. Pemberton has I observe adopted the Indian
name ' Nanaimo' for the Harbour, which I shall therefore use
instead of Wentuhuysen Inlet, in my future correspondence,"
stated James Douglas, Hudson's Bay Chief Factor and Governor
of Vancouver's Island, in writing to Archibald Barclay, secretary of the Company in London, under date of October 5, 1852.3
Douglas doubtless welcomed the change, for his letter-books of
the period show that he had difficulty in spelling the Spanish
name (in its altered form). He usually forgot the first letter
" u " in " Wentuhuysen " and had to insert it.
Pemberton did not always adopt Indian nomenclature. The
stream known to-day as " Nanaimo River " was called " Quam-
quamqua " by the natives, while the dominating mountain be-
* The revised text of the presidential address delivered before the British
Columbia Historical Association on January 14, 1944.
(1) Henry R. Wagner, The Cartography of the Northwest Coast of
America to the Year 1800, Berkeley, 1937, II., p. 524.
(2) John T. Walbran, British Columbia Coast Names, Ottawa, 1909,
p. 349.
(3) This and all subsequent extracts from Douglas's letters to Barclay
are quoted from the original letter-book (now in the Provincial Archives)
in which Douglas kept copies of his correspondence with the Hudson's Bay
Company regarding the affairs of the Colony of Vancouver Island.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. VIII., No. 3.
169 170 B. A. McKelvie. July
hind the city, called by the white settlers " Wakesiah," was
known to the natives as " Tai-took-tan."4
It was the epochal development of steam applied to worldwide transportation that hastened the inevitable settlement of
Nanaimo. Coal had been discovered towards the northern end
of Vancouver's Island in 1835. Its existence had been disclosed
to Hudson's Bay officials by an Indian. But it was not until 1847
that serious consideration was given to the possibilities that such
a discovery held.
In 1846 the boundary-line dispute between Great Britain and
United States was settled. With commendable celerity the
United States Navy Department set about establishment of a
mail service to the Oregon territory. In 1847 a contract was
entered upon by the Navy with William H. Aspinwall, of New
York, for establishment of a line of mail steamers between
Panama and the Oregon Coast. The Pacific Mail Steamship
Company came into existence as a result. It faced one great
difficulty: that of obtaining coal for steam purposes. Arrangements were made with British mines for this very necessary
commodity, while efforts were made to find a supply of suitable
coal on the Pacific littoral. Upon learning of the existence of
coal deposits on Vancouver's Island, Aspinwall entered into
negotiations with the Hudson's Bay Company. The Company
was willing to open mines if a market could be found for coal.
As a preliminary step Fort Rupert was established on Beaver
Harbour, replacing, to a great extent, the former Fort McLoughlin as a trade centre, and acting as a protection for the mines
to be opened in its immediate vicinity. But the Fort Rupert
mines were never a successful venture.5 The seams were narrow and the quality was not that of good steam coal. Even the
experienced miners brought from the United Kingdom to work
in the pits and to bore for new deposits could accomplish little.
This was most disappointing, for, quite apart from the Aspinwall contract, the discovery of gold in California and the rush
to that territory opened a new and most attractive field for consumption of the output of the Hudson's Bay Company's collieries.
(4) B. W. Pearse, Survey of the Districts of Nanaimo and Cowichan
Valley, 1859.    (Pamphlet in B.C. Archives.)
(5) John Haskell Kemble, " Coal from the Northwest Coast, 1848-1850,"
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, II. (1938), p. 123 et seq. 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 171
But as marketing prospects brightened so hopes of finding
.a profitable coal deposit at or near Fort Rupert waned. For
several years the work went on, some small shipments of shallow-depth coal being made, but nothing being found to warrant
expectations of a substantial industry being established. Thus,
on March 18, 1852, Douglas wrote: " After trying the ground
at Fort Rupert and boring in Muirs shaft to a depth of 20
fathoms he [Boyd Gilmour] gave it up in despair of finding coal,
and removed to Saquash [sic]."6 Here, however, no better
results were obtained, for on July 11 Douglas stated, respecting
the report of Gilmour upon the new location, " it is hardly necessary to remark [that it] is a very unfavourable indication for
Discovery and Exploration.
The Fort Rupert mines had proven to be a complete failure,
but James Douglas did not abandon hope of developing a source
of supply to meet the ever-growing coal demand along the Pacific
seaboard. It was after the discouraging reports of the spring of
1852 upon the Fort Rupert operations that he recalled that J. W.
McKay, an energetic and capable clerk stationed at Fort Victoria, had confirmed several years before Indian statements that
coal existed at Wentuhuysen Inlet, though nothing had been done
to open mines there.
McKay's own story of how he learned of the coal was recorded
for Hubert Howe Bancroft more than a quarter of a century
after the event.
While engaged in the office there [Fort Victoria] I was one morning in
December [1849] called out by the foreman of the Blacksmith shop, who
told me that an Indian from the vicinity of Protection Island (now Nanaimo
Bay) had been in the shop to have his gun repaired and while waiting and
watching operations he had picked up some lumps of coal which he observed
very closely. Subsequently, when he saw the men use some coal to replenish
the fire, he said that there was plenty of such stone where he lived. I went
to the shop and talked with the Indian and told him to bring me some pieces
of coal from his home and I would give him a bottle of rum and have his
gun repaired for nothing.
The man, who was quite old, went away, but he was taken sick and did
not return until early in April, 1850, when he brought a canoe load of coal
(6) James Douglas to Archibald Barclay, March 18, 1852.
(7) Ibid., July 11, 1852. 172 B. A. McKelvie. July
which proved to be of fine quality. I fitted out a prospecting party at once
and about the first of May we landed near the place where the town of
Nanaimo is built now. For several days we looked around and on the 8th
of May I located the Douglass vein, which is still being worked [1878] at
the place from which the old Indian had taken his specimen.   •
On our return to Victoria I made a favorable and very circumstantial
report on our discovery, but owing to the press of other business on hand
the mine was not actually opened until August 1852.8
Now that the failure of the Fort Rupert mines was practically certain, Douglas turned to the other prospect. Apparently
McKay was again sent to the place he had visited in 1850, for
on June 23, 1852, the Chief Factor was able to report:—
A bed of surface coal of considerable depth was discovered by M[r]
Joseph McKay of the Company's service at Point Gabiola [Gabriola], on
the east coast of Vancouver's Island nearly opposite the mouth of Fraser's
River. Mr McKay who was sent with a small party to examine that part
of the Island, discribes [sic] the Coast as abounding in Sandstone, and he
observed in several places seams of Coal varying from 8 to 12 inches in
depth; cropping out from the cliffs; but the principal bed is at Point
Gabiola, where the seam measures thirty seven inches in thickness; if so
it will be immensely valuable, and I will take the earliest opportunity of
having it carefully examined and secured for the Company.9
Douglas was impressed by McKay's report. He decided to
make a personal visit. This was done during August, and under
cover of August 18 he was able to make a triumphant announcement, justifying his faith in the mineral resources of Vancouver's Island. The letter10 telling of his inspection of the coal
measures was that of an enthusiast; rarely, in the hundreds of
letters he wrote as Company official or as Governor did he display so much dignified jubilation—for dignified he was at all
" I returned last night from an exploratory excursion through the Canal
de Arro and along the east coast of Vancouver's Island, undertaken for the
purpose of examining the beds of Coal reported to exist in that quarter, and
I rejoice to say that our journey has been productive of very satisfactory
results; as we have had abundant evidence to prove that the mineral
wealth of Vancouver's Island has not been over rated," he enthused. " In
the course of that excursion, we discovered three beds of Coal, the first and
(8) Joseph William McKay, Recollections of a Chief Trader in the Hudson's Bay Company, Fort Simpson, 1878, MS., Bancroft Library. (Photostat in B.C. Archives.)
(9) Douglas to Barclay, June 23, 1852.
(10) Ibid., August 18, 1852. 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 173
upper bed measuring 3 inches, a second immediately under it measuring 20
inches, and at the distance of about % of a mile, nearly due west a third
bed measuring 57% inches in depth, of clean coal; from which, with the
assistance of the Natives, we procured about 50 Tons in a single day at
a total cost of £11.0.0 paid in goods. This discovery has afforded me more
satisfaction than I can express and I trust the Company will derive advantages from it equal to the important influence it must necessarily exercise
on the fortunes of this Colony."
Here both the Chief Factor and the Governor were in harmony!    Continuing, Douglas wrote:—
I was accompanied in that journey by Mr. Pemberton Mr. Muir,n the
Company's late oversman at Fort Rupert and Mr. Golledge,12 with 6 men
and a few Indians in two canoes; while the Cadboro was despatched with
a small supply of goods, by the Gulf of Georgia to meet us in Wentuhuysen
Inlet which was appointed the general rendezvous.
After describing a stop made at Cowichan, where he talked
with the Indians, he continued:—
We found the Cadboro at anchor in Wentuhuysen Inlet having made the
voyage from Victoria in four days. If is in that Inlet that the Coal is
found. The three and the twenty inch seams appear about high water mark
on the Islands at the entrance of the Inlet. The Coal crops out on two sides
of those Islands and we therefore, and for the reason that the overlaying
beds of shales and sandstone exist in their natural order, exhibiting no evidence of displacement from volcanic or other agency, suppose that the seams
are continuous and extend from side to side of those Islands. About % of
a mile almost directly west of that coal the main seam 57% inches in depth
rises above the surface in a narrow cove in the main land of Vancouver's
The face of the seam is alone visible and takes a direction from low
water mark across the beach, until it disappears under the banks of the
cove, see sketch. The general dip or inclination of the seam, which is rapid,
is towards the cove, being in Mr Pembertons opinion east north east, while
Mr Muir thinks it is nearly due South. It is supposed that this seam underlies those on the Island a conclusion drawn from the displacement of a bed
of old red sandstone in the vicinity which has been thrown up into a vertical
position, and has evidently been the immediate cause of raising this valuable
bed of Coal partially to the surface.
Speculating upon the different formations that existed, Douglas carried his presumptions to the point of sketching an assumed
strata log.
(11) John Muir, who was in charge of mining operations at Fort Rupert
until succeeded by Boyd Gilmour. The latter expressed contempt for Muir's
work there but was no more successful in finding coal than his predecessor.
(12) Richard Golledge, sometime secretary to James Douglas. 174 B. A. McKelvie. July
" Without venturing an opinion as to the pecuniary results of this discovery I have resolved until I receive the Governor and Committee's instructions on the subject to take possession of the Coal District for the Company,
and to employ Mr Muir and two of his sons in opening a shaft at high water
mark, over the thick seam from whence they will work the bed inwards
towards the land, to ascertain its extent in that direction," he declared.
" A few of the common servants will also be sent there at the same time to
assist in that work and as a protection against the Natives. They will also
put up a few temporary buildings to shelter the workmen and purchase
coal from the natives. I will not go to much expense until we see our way
clearly, and have ascertained that the coal beds may be worked to advantage. In that case it may be desirable to remove Mr Gilmour & his party
of Miners from Fort Rupert should no discovery be in the mean time made
there, to this new coal field and to commence a permanent establishment
on the spot by withdrawing a part of the officers and and [sic] [of the]
Servants now employed at Fort Rupert.
" Mr Pemberton having completed the general survey as far as Soke
Inlet, and the present thick smoky weather being unfavourable for continuing it farther, I propose to send him immediately to make a geological
exploration of the Coal District about Wentuhuysen Inlet on which he will
prepare a report for the information of the Company. It will take from
two to three weeks to complete that service, but I trust the Governor and
Committee will consider the object in view of sufficient importance to justify
the expense, as well as the delay it will necessarily cause in his regular
Douglas's planned early occupation of the new coalfield was
quickened by the fear that others might forestall him in taking
possession of the country. He was not too certain of the precise
extent of Hudson's Bay possessory rights as defined in the Company's leasehold of Vancouver's Island, and decided that he
would take no chances on losing the coal deposits through any
technical blunder on his part. These things he explained in a
letter to Barclay under date of August 26, 1852, adding:—
Mr Joseph McKay was despatched on the 22nd Inst, with a few labouring servants to maintain possession of the Coal field in Wentuhuysen Inlet,
a step which I was induced to take rather hurriedly, in consequence of a
report that other parties, were going thither to dig and purchase Coal from
the Indians a plan which I thought it necessary to anticipate by unequivocally establishing the Company's right to the Coal District through actual
While in the foregoing Douglas says that McKay left on
August 22, the formal instructions for his guidance were dated
two days later.    It is possible that they were forwarded by other 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 175
conveyance. In any event they were as formal and ceremonious
as Douglas could make them. The letter13 is worth reproducing
in full, being of great historic value:—
Fort Victoria
24th August 1852
Mr Joseph McKay.
You will proceed with all possible diligence to Wentuhuysen Inlet, commonly known as Nanymo Bay and formally take possession of the Coal beds
lately discovered there for and in behalf of the Hudson's Bay Company.
You will give due notice of that proceeding to the Masters of all vessels
arriving there and you will forbid all persons to work the Coal either
directly by means of their own labour or indirectly through Indians or
other parties employed for that purpose except under the authority of a
license from the Hudson's Bay Company.
You will require for such persons as may be duly licensed to work coal
by the Hudson's Bay Company, security for the payment of a royalty of 2/6
a ton which you will levy on the spot, upon all Coal whether procured by
mining or by purchase from the Natives, the same to be held by you and
from time to time duly accounted for.
In the event of any breach or evasion of these regulations you will
immediately take means to communicate intelligence of the same to me.
I remain
Your obed't servt.
James Douglas
That McKay carried out the instructions given to him by
Douglas personally and by writing is evident. Unfortunately,
gaps occur in the records extant of that interesting period, but
the old Correspondence Book of Nanaimo contains sufficient to
give a fairly accurate picture of happenings at the new establishment. Unfortunately, one of the letters that is missing is
McKay's first report to Douglas upon the incidents of his landing and taking formal possession of the coal deposits.
J. D. Pemberton and his assistant, B. W. Pearse, were sent
off from Fort Victoria without loss of time to make the geological survey that Douglas planned, for on August 26 Douglas sent
(13) This letter, and the extracts from later letters that passed between
Douglas and McKay, are quoted from a transcript of McKay's letter-book
made many years ago by Judge F. W. Howay. For convenience the copy
in the Provincial Archives has been titled Nanaimo Correspondence, 1852-
1858. 176 B. A. McKelvie. July
his " compliments to Mr Pemberton and Pearse " indicating that
they were already at Nanaimo.14 They camped at the entrance
to the small rivulet originally called Millstone Creek, but now
more generally known as Millstream Creek. This location was
known in pioneer times as " Pemberton's Encampment." It was
about the junction of the present Bridge Street with Comox
Road. There was a neck of low land there. A deep ravine
extended from the head of Commercial Inlet to this point. At
extreme high tides it was practically filled with water, making
a peninsula of what is the main business section of Nanaimo of
Establishment and Industries.
It was on August 26 that Douglas wrote to McKay informing
him that he was sending the first party of miners to the new
coalfield aboard the Company's brigantine Cadboro. He had
learned something about the temperament of coal-miners since
they first came to work the Fort Rupert seams, and took pains
to impress upon McKay that they were to be treated with due
regard to their sensibilities. No doubt he realized that the
proud Scots would not take kindly to receiving instructions concerning their work from a fur-trader. " The Miners are under
the special instructions of Mr Muir," Douglas wrote, " and you
will please to avoid all interference with them directly, giving
any instructions you have to give through Mr Muir himself, but
in no case directly to the men under his orders."
The first of the thousands of miners who, during the next
seventy-five years, worked in the exploitation of the Nanaimo
coal-beds were, according to the same letter: John Muir, overman; Robert Muir, miner; Archibald Muir, miner, and John
McGregor, miner.15 McGregor, owing to illness, was detained
at Fort Victoria and did not come with the Muir family, father
and sons. Along with the miners was a blacksmith, Raymond.
He was assigned to general duty, with piority to be given to the
requirements of the miners.
An interesting side-light of conditions of those times is contained in a postscript to the same letter:—
(14) Douglas to McKay, August 26, 1852.
(15) Ibid. 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 177
The miners are allowed 1/- per diem instead of rations and will therefore provide their own provisions, which will save you much trouble.
Douglas was eager and enthusiastic about the new venture
to an extent that was unusual with him. He wanted to learn
all that he could about the progress of the mines, and told McKay
Please to write me by every opportunity and let me know all particulars
about the coal and if any fresh discoveries have been made since my visit.
This letter was dated August .31, only a week after McKay
had been sent from Fort Victoria to open the mines. In the
same letter the Chief Factor announced that
The Recovery has just left port on her way to Wentuhuysen Inlet with
a further supply of goods for trade, as per Invoice herewith.
You will endeavor to load her with Coal as soon as possible, and despatch
her to this place. In case you require her presence either as a protection
to the party or as a trade room for the time being you may detain her until
the return of the Cadboro and I have directed Capt Mitchell to attend to
your instructions in that particular.
As already noted, the first report made by McKay upon his
activities at Nanaimo is missing, but that of September 916 has
survived. He told of the arrival of the Cadboro on the night
of September 3—having left Victoria on August 26! The Recovery reached port the following day. The Cadboro, McKay
boasted, was now ready for her return voyage to Fort Victoria,
" with 480 barrels of Coals on board." This was the first commercial shipment from Nanaimo's mines, but was the second in
point of fact, as Douglas reported having taken 50 tons upon his
exploratory inspection of the locality earlier in the year. The
report continued:—
The Natives commenced working Coal on the 8th Instant, and have been
busily employed ever since, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather,
which has been very wet the last few days.
Mr Muir and miners landed on the 6th and are at present living in a log
hut lined and covered with cedar bark.
Raymond and the rest of the men are also comfortably lodged and are
in very good spirits.
Raymond, the blacksmith, while " comfortably lodged and in
very good spirits," had cause for complaint, for he had forgotten
to bring his " toe iron," and he found that the bellows that he
had brought from Fort Victoria was a poor thing and almost
(16)  McKay to Douglas, September 9, 1852. 178 B. A. McKelvie. July
" The greater part of the Cadboro's cargo was purchased with small
trade," McKay explained. " A few of the chiefs have retained their tickets
until they can afford to purchase blankets. I have continued the tariff
established last voyage, as the Indians were at first, so extravagent in their
demands, that I considered any concession on my part would only increase
their importunacy. They are very well satisfied with the present arrangement. An able man can earn at the rate of one shirt per diem. They
have opened the seam up to the bank and Mr Muir has a favorable opinion
of the appearance of the Coal; he commenced boring about 10 yds further
along the beach this morning, but has not as yet reached the Coal.   .   .   ."
Such was the account of the first steps in the development of
the Nanaimo collieries, written by the man who was directing
On September 10 McKay sent off another letter to Douglas,
announcing news of importance. Muir had " reached coal at
seven feet, ten yards beyond the section opened by the Indians.
He is now boring ten yds further on."
Reporting on September 16,17 the energetic McKay had
further good tidings. It was the finding of a thick bed of coal
probably near what was called " Pemberton's Encampment," in
a steep bluff south of the present Comox Road.    He wrote:—
" The seam which attracted my attention on the 28th ult. is found by
actual measurement to be 6 feet 2 inches in thickness including a stratum
of clay 2 ins. thick, and 2 ft 4 ins below the upper surface of the coal which
is about the level of highwater and 15ft from the cliff, which rising to
height of 30 feet forms the coast along a bay % mile Westward of a
point from which Mr Pemberton took the bearings and angular distances
between point Upwood, point Gore and Laurel point. A small stream of
water enters the bay at which you landed on your visit to this place. . . .
Between this seam and low mark are three other seams of coal. . . . Mr
Muir pronounces the Coal in all the seams to be of good quality and equal
to good English coal. He thinks that ten thousand tons might be raised
there by natives. On calculation," the careful McKay observes, " one thousand tons might certainly be raised by them within a short period.
" Most of the natives are now at work on this seam as they have worked
the 3 feet seam in the harbour near by to the level of low water mark and
owing to the thickness of super- stratum of clay a large quantity of coal
cannot possibly be raised from it without raising embankment to shut off
the sea."
The natives worked on a strictly cash-and-carry basis; they
not only mined, but they loaded the vessels as well. McKay in
his letter announcing the new coal discovery observed that more
(17) Ibid., September 16, 1852. 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 179
trade goods were urgently required, and especially tobacco, cut
glass beads, kettles, and soap.
At the same time the Chief Factor was told that Muir and
his men had started a new shaft, " 100 yds further along the
coast 8 feet from the edge of the bank He is confident that they
will reach the coal at a depth of 12 fathoms. He will require
two steady men as early as possible to work the winch. Indians
are not to be trusted as they might endanger the lives of the men
This latter observation is indicative of the ever-present hazards of mining with native labour. If, for any purpose, the
Indians were to stop work, especially when hoisting a bucket,
the result could easily be fatal to the men below. And the
Indians were likely to do just that sort of thing. They would
down tools in an instant to engage in hostilities against any
strangers that might be sighted passing in a canoe if they were
believed to be enemies.
Work went steadily ahead on the pit, it having reached a
depth of 9 feet by September 30, and it had been properly lined.
Coal was raised from " the 5 feet seam " for the Recovery, which
sailed on that day with 1,391 barrels of coal on board.
Muir had done good work in laying the foundations of
Nanaimo's collieries. Now he was to be succeeded by Boyd Gilmour, who had been in charge of the miners at Fort Rupert.
Gilmour did not have much of an opinion of the capabilities of
Mr. Muir, who had been his predecessor at Fort Rupert. It was
on April 9,1853, that his name first appears as being at Nanaimo.
Gilmour brought some Fort Rupert men with him, and the names
of four of them were given in a letter from Douglas to McKay at
that time: Pierre Versailles, George Cook, George Thomas, and
Magnus Edgar.
Unfortunately, the pages of the letter-book between September 27, 1852, and April 9, 1853, are blank.
Fortunately, a record made in 1907 by the late Mark Bate,
who came to Nanaimo in 1857, indicated the location of the first
mining operations.18 These were all prior to the opening of the
Park Head level, which was in front of the present fire-hall.    It
(18) Mark Bate, " Reminiscences of Early Nanaimo Days," Nanaimo
Free Press, February 9-May 18, 1907. 180 B. A. McKelvie. July
is from the development of the Park Head and Dunsmuir levels
'that the steady growth of Nanaimo's coal industry may be measured. There were seven openings made, as well as a number of
bore-holes and experimental or prospect workings. Two more
or less serious efforts were made to mine on Newcastle and Protection Islands, where later large operations were carried on.
But the first mining was done on the then peninsula, which is
now included in the heart of Nanaimo's business section. As
indicated by Mr. Bate, and brought up to date with more precise
data for permanent record, the first five workings were:—
No. 1. An open-cut on the beach off Wharf Street at the
point of Commercial Inlet. This was where coal was first discovered.
No. 2. Between Bastion and Wharf streets, and between
Commercial and Front streets. This was at first an open-cut
and later a shaft. It was near the centre of the space enclosed
by those streets.
No. 3. Within the same block, but about 40 yards from
Commercial Street on the Wharf Street side.
No. 4. About 30 yards from No. 3 in a southwesterly direction on the Commercial Inlet side of Commercial Street.
No. 5. About 40 yards south of Comox Road in a cliff that
rises as one of the ramparts of the Ravine. It would be south
of a point about two-thirds of the distance east of Bridge Street,
on Comox Road.
Coal-mining was not the only industry in Nanaimo's earlier
days. Salt was manufactured from a brine spring, and a sawmill was constructed and operated for some years.
The first mention of salt is contained in McKay's letter to
Douglas of September 9, 1852,19 but earlier reference to it had
been made by McKay in a letter not included in the dispatches
copied into the Correspondence Book.
" The Salt Spring mentioned in my last communication," McKay wrote,
" yields by evaporation at the rate of 1 pint of Salt from 7 pints water. The
salt is a little coloured by the debris brought down by the little rivulet which
runs into it. It appears to be of good quality and might be much improved
by deepening the spring and turning off the fresh water which would not be
difficult to accomplish.   .   .   .
(19) Nanaimo Correspondence, 1852-1853. 1944
The Founding of Nanaimo.
" There is a salt lake or pond reported by the Indians as being at no
great distance from the salt spring which I intend to visit per the first
Faced with the possibility of a shortage of provisions for the
coming winter, McKay thought of utilizing the salt springs for
the curing of meat. Writing to Douglas under cover of September 16, he said:—
We are also in want of salt and bbls as a large quantity of salmon and
venison might be put up here; if we had a salt pan and a man to tend it we
might manufacture a sufficient quantity for home consumption.
Location of initial workings at Nanaimo in relation to present streets.
No. 1 (marked with star) is where coal was first discovered.   •
The salt spring was on Millstone Creek, as it was known in
earlier times, now called Millstream. It was located just about
where an extension of Wallace Street would intersect the creek.
Salt-pans were provided and a shed was built.20
(20) Mark Bate, " Brief Descriptive Notes of Nanaimo in 1874," Nanaimo Free Press, fiftieth anniversary number, April 15, 1924, pp. 33, 40. 182 B. A. McKelvie. July
Salt of high quality21 was intermittently manufactured there
until the Hudson's Bay Company sold out its holdings in and
about Nanaimo to the Vancouver Coal Company in 1862, and
disposed of its store to Cunningham Bros., of New Westminster.
Not only was the salt used locally, but some shipments were
made to Fort Langley for the salting of salmon. When the Hudson's Bay Company withdrew from the locality neither the new
proprietors nor Cunningham Bros, were interested in manufacturing salt. The springs were neglected and filled up, and the
salt-shed lay idle until it was acquired by Stewart & Keast, of
Victoria, for use as part of the brewery they erected on the site.22
The sawmill was erected on the same creek. It was built in
1853 to cut lumber for the requirements of the mines and the
settlement. It was operated by water-power. Conversion to
steam-power was proposed by McKay, who remarked in a letter
to Douglas:—
A circular saw may be worked by the steam engine with apparently little
extra trouble. ... As a great deal of Lumber is required for building
the circular saw would be a great acquisition, the more so as our sawyers
with three pit saws, are barely able to supply the increasing demand for
sawn lumber in the coal mines.23
McKay's proposition was to use the steam-power for both
mining and milling.
The steam plant was secured, but it lay idle, as evidenced by
a note in the Nanaimo Journal, kept by Captain Charles Edward
Stuart, who succeeded McKay in charge of Nanaimo, under date
of February 6, 1856: " . . . Employed boarding in ' 0 ' shed,
and getting steam saw mill machinery, flat ropes &c into it, being
more sheltered than the sheds erected on the wharf where they
used to be.   .   .   ,"24
The cost of acquiring logs was not high. Captain Stuart
The Nanaimo Indians bring us large quantities of saw logs—none less than
fifteen inches in diameter at the small end and fifteen feet long, at the tariff
of eight for a blanket delivered at high water mark where required.    If
(21) J. Despard Pemberton, Facts and Figures relating to Vancouver
Island and British Columbia, London, 1860, p. 159.
(22) Personal narration by the late Mark Bate to the writer.
(23) Nanaimo Correspondence, 1852-1858, McKay to Douglas, September 24, 1853.
(24) Nanaimo Journal, 1855-1857.    (Transcript in B.C. Archives.) 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo,. 183
an occasional one arrives under that size it is bought by us at the tariff of
sixteen for a Blanket.25
When Mark Bate landed in Nanaimo in 1857 the mill was
still operated by water, and continued so for many years. Mr.
Bate described it as follows:—
There was one saw, a perpendicular-up-and-down, jerky-jiggy thing. Who
ever "saw to saw like that saw"? It was operated by a small horizontal
water wheel, of rather crude construction, which also was very unsteady,
and erratic in its revolutions. In 1860-61 a great improvement was made
in the mill machinery—the horizontal wheel was supplanted by a large overshot wheel, which did fairly good work for many years.2^
Community Life and Dangers.
While the harbour had been named " Nanaimo " by Pemberton, the first official name of the settlement was " Colviletown "
named in honour of Andrew Colvile, Governor of the Hudson's
Bay Company. Despite the high authority of the proprietors
the name did not stick. Even Douglas in his correspondence
applied the Indian name to the community as well as the harbour.
In 1861 the effort to maintain the official name was dropped, and
the settlement formally adopted the name it has borne ever
The first habitations, as already indicated, were rude log and
bark shelters. But immediate steps were taken to build more
substantial dwellings of squared logs. On September 9, 1852,
McKay wrote to Douglas: " Lazard and gang have most of the
wood on the site for a house 25 x 15 feet and have commenced
building. The Indians have brought 1000 pees bark. They cannot raise any more this year as the season is now far advanced."
At the same time he noted that the Indians were bringing in
" a constant supply of provisions."
A week after announcing the start on house-building McKay
was able to record that " the carpenters are now roofing the
miners house."   As the Muir family and McGregor constituted
(25) Ibid., August 29, 1855. See also W. Kaye Lamb, " Early Lumbering on Vancouver Island," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, II. (1938),
pp. 40-41.
(26) Mark Bate, " Reminiscences of Early Nanaimo Days."
(27) Mark Bate, " Nanaimo's Growth and Prosperity," Nanaimo Free
Press, April 15, 1924. 184 B. A. McKelvie. July
the whole force of miners at the time, this dwelling was obviously
intended for them.
The building operations went on as steadily as could be expected with the few facilities and meagre force at McKay's command. Douglas kept reminding him that accommodations would
be required for the coming of the Fort Rupert miners. The
marvel of that first year of Nanaimo's history is how the capable
McKay accomplished so much. He was a man of outstanding
ability. When the war with Russia broke out in 1854 he was
removed from Nanaimo and was sent to Fort Simpson, where
his tact, courage, and enterprise were relied upon to prevent the
Tsimpshean Indians from falling under Russian influence.
In the spring of 1853 he had to direct the construction of the
bastion, the defensive work that still occupies a dominating position on Nanaimo's waterfront. It was completed in June and
was largely the handiwork of two French-Canadian axemen,
Leon Labine and Jean Ba'tiste Fortier, with a gang of labourers.
Proud of their handicraft were these axemen. Mark Bate relates
in his reminiscences that Fortier would often offer to wager that
he would permit himself to be dragged naked over any piece of
timber he had squared without fear of being injured by splinters.
By the time that the bastion was completed, "there were,
as the make-up of Colville [sic] Town, four dwelling houses 26 x
15 feet, and three 30 x 20, habitable, and filling pieces raised for
three more 30 x 20." The armament of the bastion consisted
of two 6-lb. carronades, which were sufficiently powerful to overawe the natives, and were useful for firing salutes.28
The construction of a big store followed the building of the
bastion. It was located facing Commercial Inlet and some 50
yards or more southwest of the block-house, and considerably
below it in elevation. The store was surrounded by a high picket
fence, with a water-gate where Indians could come to trade.
It was fully protected from the bastion, which then stood on
higher ground immediately to the west, and across Front Street,
from its present site.
Indian intertribal warfare had already disturbed the serenity of the little establishment though no attempt had been made
to molest the white men.    But during the winter of 1852-53
(28)  Mark Bate, History of the Bastion, n.d. 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 185
a Nanaimo Indian and a Cowichan native murdered Peter
Brown, a shepherd, near Christmas Hill, Saanich. Governor
Douglas outfitted an expedition and started in pursuit. The
Cowichan was apprehended. Arriving at Nanaimo the surrender of the other murderer was demanded from the native chiefs.
They sought to protect him, although offering to pay indemnity
according to Indian custom. This was refused. The wanted
man escaped up a small stream. Sailors, marines, and a posse
of miners followed him. The Indian hid in a hollow tree-trunk.
It was snowing, and had he remained quiet he might have
escaped, for his footprints had been obliterated; but seeing the
approach of his pursuers he attempted to shoot one of them.
A flake of snow had fallen into the firing-pan of his musket and
it dampened the priming charge. He was detected and captured.
An hour or so later he was given trial aboard the steamer
Beaver and was sentenced, with his companion, to death. The
sentence was immediately carried out and both were hanged on
the point of Protection Island, which is now known as Gallows
Point in remembrance of that gruesome occurrence.29 The little
creek where the Nanaimo Indian was taken has ever since been
called Chase River. The late Chief Justice Archer Martin stated
that the trial aboard the Beaver was the first time that a jury
was empanelled in British Columbia.
This murder of Peter Brown undoubtedly hastened the construction of the defensive work at Nanaimo, for the condition of
the times required means of protection against savage treachery.
Prior to the construction of the block-house it was customary to
have one or other of the Hudson's Bay vessels always in the
harbour acting as a guard-ship, while coaling, as well as a trade-
room. It was therefore an economic necessity as well as a protective one to construct the bastion and the store.
Less than a month after his arrival at Nanaimo, McKay
reported (September 18, 1852) "a tragical event" had taken
place. Chief Tsan-si-si had arrived the previous day with forty
Cowichan warriors, professing to be on a friendly visit to the
Nanaimoes, but upon quitting the harbour the next morning the
(29) John T. Walbran, op. cit. See also W. Kaye Lamb, " Four Letters
Relating to the Cruise of the Thetis, 1852-53," British Columbia Historical
Quarterly, VI. (1942), p. 205. 186 B. A. McKelvie. July
Cowichans had killed a Nanaimo Indian who had been employed
about the mines.
Twelve days later McKay reported: " A Sku-who-mish Indian
was murdered at this place eight days ago by a Nanaimo in
revenge for three Nanaimoes who were killed by the Sku-who-
mish the last winter."
The account given by McKay to Douglas on May 18, 1853,
of a killing is characteristic of happenings common in the dangerous times and savage land in which the foundations of the
future city were being laid.
Two young Nanaimoes fired on a Cowichan last Wednesday in revenge
for the murder committed on the 29th of last August. The Cowichan escaped
with two wounds, not mortal; as this occurrence took place within 50 yards
of Mr. Gilmour's house I was under the necessity of chasing the belligrent
parties away from the place and warned the Nanaimoes to refrain for the
future from carrying on their murderous practises so near the dwellings of
the whitemen.
Apparently McKay had no desire to interfere unduly with
the private and public feuds of the savages, but he did object to
them carrying on their warfare in and about the settlement.
Such disturbances slowed down coal production. " The excitement occasioned by this occurrence [the killing of the Nanaimo
Indian on September 18] has nearly died away and the coals are
coming in this morning as usual."
Early in September McKay reported that the Indians were
bringing in a good supply of provisions, but this did not continue, and he was running short of supplies with which to pay
the natives by October 22, when he informed his superior:—
I have limited the number of Indians employed on a/c of want of goods
to pay them as owing to their poverty they require to be paid up regularly.
Upwards of 20 bbls of salmon have been salted down, potatoes are rather
dull. The Nanaimoes do not appear to have a large stock of that vegetable.
We have had little or no venison since the last fracas with the Cowechins.
I am consequently obliged to indent for some salt provisions. The miners
have also expended all their stock of tea and sugar and I have consequently
been obliged to supply them with those necessaries from my own stock.
The hard-worked and anxious McKay received but little sympathy from Douglas, who coldly replied that it was, in effect,
a case of " feed yourself—or starve ":—
I am glad to hear that you have put up so many salmon, and I would
impress upon your mind the great importance of securing as large a stock 1944 The Founding of Nanaimo. 187
of Country provisions as possible, seeing that the stock here is quite inadequate to meet all the demands upon
More or less thrown upon their own resources, the Nanaimo
people managed to carry on through the winter, gathering what
food they might where they could, mining, building, whip-sawing
lumber, and laying the foundations for a permanent settlement.
The advent of the Fort Rupert miners strengthened the force of
workers, but it was the following year that saw the first large
influx of population, when the ship Princess Royal arrived at
Esquimalt, November 27, 1854, with some twenty-two Staffordshire miners and their families, numbering in all some eighty-
three persons. Along with the party came George Robinson,
who was to take charge of coal-mine operations in place of Boyd
Gilmour, who was tired of the country and returned to Scotland
upon the expiry of his contract of three years with the company.
It was fortunate for Vancouver Island and British Columbia
that Gilmour's nephew elected to stay here, for he was Robert
Dunsmuir, who in later years made such a contribution to the
development of coal-mining and who constructed the Esquimalt
& Nanaimo Railway.
Nanaimo of to-day really dates its historical happenings from
the arrival of the Princess Royal. Proud, indeed, are families
who can claim descent from the fine, sturdy stock that came at
that time, and with justice, for they were worthy men and
Life in the wilds was new to them, and particularly to the
women and children, but they endured it cheerfully.
Describing his own arrival in 1857, the late Mark Bate, in
an address to the British Columbia Historical Association, at the-
Pioneers' Reunion, on May 9, 1924, gave a picture of the still
earlier days, when the Princess Royal contingent arrived:—
They told me how roughly the houses were constructed, of the dreary
look outside, and cramped space inside; how the chinks between the logs
and poles, through which the wind would blow with a shriek of triumph,
were plastered up with clay or stuffed with moss; of the interior equipage
of benches, boards and bunk-like bedsteads; of the Dutch ovens for baking
and cooking; of the drugget rush mats and rugs made in part of dogs' hair
by Indians, used for floor covering.
(30) Douglas to McKay, October 27, 1852. 188 B. A. McKelvie.
But, he explained, the poverty of material things was not
duplicated in the wealth and warmth of the welcome that they
gave to the stranger, or the open-handed hospitality with which
they greeted him.
The coming of the Princess Royal marked the commencement
of what may be called the second phase of Nanaimo's history.
The community had been firmly established; the mines were well
along to becoming famous as continuous producers for the next
three-quarters of a century.
Nanaimo had been founded.
B. A. McKelvie.
Victoria, B.C. John Foster McCreight.
First Premier of the Province
of British Columbia.
Amor De Cosmos. .
Who succeeded McCreight as
Premier in December, 1872. AMOR DE COSMOS, JOURNALIST AND
The second premier of the Province of British Columbia was
Amor De Cosmos, that most colourful figure in our early political
history. Born as William Alexander Smith in Windsor, Nova
Scotia, in 1825, he changed his name by Act of the California
Legislature in 1854. His death occurred at Victoria, B.C., in
1897.    He never married and his new name died with him.
De Cosmos was a journalist by profession and a politician
by temperament. He arrived in Victoria during the hectic days
of the gold-rush to Fraser River and on December 11, 1858,
issued the first number "Of the British Colonist. He did not approve of the policies of Governor Douglas, whose actions, he
claimed, were shrouded in a " wily diplomacy."1 To him Douglas " was not equal to the occasion." Douglas, on his part, did
not greatly approve of De Cosmos. This was natural enough,
since temperamentally they were poles apart. The Nova Scotian
wished to play the role of reformer, inspired perhaps by the precepts and example of Joseph Howe.2 He became an active opponent of what he termed the Family-Company-Compact, but at
first made little headway. Later he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Vancouver Island and supported the Union of
1866. He championed the cause of Confederation and took a
prominent part in the memorable debate in the Legislative Coun-
* Based oft a paper presented to Section II. of the Royal Society of
Canada in May, 1942, at Toronto. As originally written the paper gave
more space to De Cosmos's early life and less to his premiership.
(1) British Colonist, Vol. I., No. 1, December 11, 1858.
(2) The political relationship of Joseph Howe to Amor De Cosmos has
never been fully investigated. In her valuable M.A. thesis on Amor De
Cosmos, A British Columbia Reformer, accepted by the University of British
Columbia in 1931, Margaret Ross (Mrs. William Robbins), having discussed
the problem in some detail, draws the following conclusion: " It is difficult
to prove by direct reference of De Cosmos that he consciously realized the
influence of Howe though in many of his editorials one recognizes marked
resemblances between the ideas and language of both." At the time of De
Cosmos's death in 1897 the Victoria papers stated that during his early life
in Nova Scotia he chose Joseph Howe for his political mentor.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly. Vol. Vin., No. 3.
189 190 Walter N. Sage. July
cil of British Columbia in March, 1870. Governor Musgrave did
not select him, however, as one of the delegates sent to Ottawa
to arrange the terms of Union. De Cosmos sat in the first Legislative Assembly of British Columbia and was also elected to the
House of Commons in Ottawa. In 1872 he succeeded John Foster McCreight as premier of British Columbia, but less than two
years later, when dual representation was abolished, he preferred Ottawa to Victoria and resigned the premiership. He
continued to represent British Columbia at Ottawa until his
defeat in the election of 1882. His later years were spent in
retirement at Victoria.
In the Archives of British Columbia may be found a brief
account of the early life of Amor De Cosmos. It was written by
his elder brother, Charles McKeivers Smith, and from it the late
Beaumont Boggs, of Victoria, seems to have derived much of
the information regarding De Cosmos's early life for his paper
" What I remember of Hon. Amor De Cosmos," delivered before
the British Columbia Historical Association at its meeting on
May 3, 1929.3 Since so little is known about De Cosmos before
his arrival in British Columbia it is well to quote this valuable
primary source in full:—
Hon. Amor De Cosmos was born in Windsor Hants County Nova Scotia
on the 20th of August 1825. His education began in a private school and
from it he passed into the Windsor Academy and during the time he was
there made rapid progress in his studies until he was about 14 years of age,
when his parents moved to Halifax and took him with them. Shortly after
his arrival in that city secured a clerkship in the old and well known wholesale and retail grocery and liquor house of William and Charles Whitham,
in whose employ he remained for some ten or eleven years. During that
time he attended the grammar school of John S. Thompson, father of the
late premier of the Dominion and was also a member of the Dalhousie College Debating Club in which nearly all the political matters of the colony
were debated, which doubtless was of great service to him in after years.
When the California gold excitement was at its height in 1851 he like
many other men being anxious to better his condition decided to seek his
fortune in the Eldorado of the west. On leaving his home at Halifax went
to New York and from there crossed the continent to St. Louis on the Mis-
sburi River, at that time on the very outskirts of civil [iz] ation. There he
joined a party who were leaving for California, but on account of indian
troubles and other obstructions on the way were obliged to remain at Salt
(3)  For the text of this address see Fourth Report and Proceedings of
the British Columbia Historical Association, Victoria, 1929, pp. 54-58. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 191
Lake for the winter as they were too late to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains. In the spring of 1853 the party continued their journey on to California, and after some four or five days of slow traveling along the trail,
he decided to go on alone, as he had a good horse and could travel much
faster than the party he was with. Having provided himself with plenty
of food and amunition for his rifle and pistol, he left the train and by fast
traveling soon reached the Humbolt Valley and followed the river down
until he came to the crossing then following the trail until he came to where
it branched off into Northern California. When he reached that point he
and his horse were suffering terribly from drinking alkali water, as he was
not able to find any other, however he pushed on as rapidly as possible and
soon found fresh water which revived him and his [horse] and in a few
days he arrived in Placerville Eldorado County in June 1853. Three weeks
later the train came there, having his Camera and Daguerreotype stock in
it which he brought across the plains. He at once set up his Camera and
commenced to take views of mining claims with the owners on them, he
being the first in that business it proved a very profitable speculation much
better than mining. His sucess in taking views of mining claims induced
him to continue the business through all the mining camps in the country
from the Yuba River in the north to Jacksonville on the Tuolumne River
south near the Mexican boundary line which enabled him to obtain and
[sic] excellent view of all the mines [in the] great valley and was above
a splendid paying speculation as well. On his return from the southern
mines [he] settled down in the town of Orville Bute County, and was
engaged in mining speculations and business of other kinds up to the time
of the Fraser River gold discovery, when he decided to visit Vancouver
Island see the country, investigate the gold mines reports and any other
matters that might interest him. In order to carry out his desire took
passage on board the steamer Brother Jonathen and arrived in Victoria on
May 16th 1858, w[h]ere he remained for several days, and being satisfied
from what he had seen and heard of the country and mines returned to California settled up his business there and came back to Victoria in the latter
part of June in which place he made his home up to the time of his death.4
Some further particulars of De Cosmos's family and early
years were secured by Dr. D. C. Harvey, Archivist of Nova
Scotia, in 1933. Dr. Harvey discovered that one of De Cosmos's
sisters, Mrs. Peter Hudson Le Noir, was still living in Halifax.
She was then in her hundredth year.   Writing to Dr. R. L. Reid,
(4) The original narrative bears the stamp: " Library Legislative Assembly Nov. 3 1910 Victoria B.C." It is unsigned, but the hand-writing was
identified as that of Charles McKeivers Smith by the late Beaumont Boggs,
and a comparison of the writing with that of letters written by Smith in or
about 1863 reveals close similarity. Charles McK. Smith died in Victoria
Dn November 24, 1911, aged 88 years. 192 Walter N. Sage. July
at whose request the search for information regarding De Cosmos
had been made, Dr. Harvey reported as follows:—
I arranged an interview, and though I found her hearing very good she
suffers from the usual confusing of ideas, and has a tendency to wander
from her brother to her husband and her son, all of whom are dead.
I found it very difficult, therefore, to get any definite information, though
I went like a reporter with specific questions, and kept repeating my questions at intervals for confirmation.
It seems that the paternal grandfather was Joseph Smith who settled
in Newport. I cannot find such a man getting a land grant under the
Loyalists, although I found three Joseph Smiths, one of whom first settled
at Shelburne.    He may have drifted to Newport.
The maternal grandfather was Daniel Weems or Wemyss, apparently
a Haligonian. Jesse Smith, son of Joseph, married Charlotte Weems or
Wemyss, daughter of Daniel, and they had ten children, Daniel, Charles,
William Alexander, Jesse, John, Charlotte, Sarah Louise, Mary Ann,
Frances Sophia, and Jessie. Charlotte and William Alexander are the two
who went to British Columbia finally. Jesse Smith lived first in Windsor,
and then in Halifax. William Alexander went to King's Academy, where
he, according to Mrs. Le Noir, was very bright. One day the teacher called
his father in and said, " You better take him home; instead of me learning
him he's learning me."
Mrs. Le Noir confirmed Boggs' memories that William Alexander worked
in a shop in Halifax, and at the same time went to night school and took
part in debating. She thought that he just took up photography, and she
had no memory of his working with a professional. I quizzed her on his
relationship with Howe, and she said he was a great admirer of Howe and
tremendously interested in politics, and ready to fight for Howe.5
While in California, as has been noted, William Alexander
Smith changed his name to Amor De Cosmos. The reason usually given is that he wished to avoid confusion at the post-office.
Mr. A. G. Harvey, of Vancouver, B.C., has gone fully into this
problem of the change of name and it is only necessary to note
that Smith employed three languages to create his new and
rather high-sounding appellation.6
In June, 1858, De Cosmos returned to Victoria and settled
there. He did not at first embark upon a journalistic career and
it may be hazarded that he was either " engaged in mining
(5) D. C. Harvey to R. L. Reid, May 9, 1933.   Mrs. Le Noir died May
11, 1938.
(6) A. G. Harvey, " How William Alexander Smith became Amor De
Cosmos," Washington Historical Quarterly, XXVI. (1935), pp. 274-279. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 193
speculations " or was supporting himself by photography. Unfortunately, there is no evidence on this subject, except by inference from his brother's account. At this time the Victoria Gazette
had the journalistic field to itself. The Gazette was founded in
June, 1858, by experienced newspaper-men from California. It
had sound financial backing and formed a strong link with California.
According to a statement made by De Cosmos in 1883 he
started the British Colonist " for amusement during the winter
of 1858-9." De Cosmos's rival, David W. Higgins, had claimed
that De Cosmos began the Colonist as an opposition paper, and
the doughty Amor refuted the charge as follows:—
The statement that the Colonist was started as an opposition paper is
strictly untrue. It was started for amusement during the winter of 1858-9;
but circumstances afterwards changed it into an established political
It should, however, be remembered that De Cosmos wrote
this article soon after he had retired from politics, and that his
statements are not altogether borne out by a careful perusal of
the early numbers of the Colonist. His attacks upon Governor
Douglas, as has been noted, began in the first issue of the paper.8
At first the Colonist had an up-hill fight against the more
popular Gazette. De Cosmos concentrated on local issues and
politics and his opposition to Governor Douglas gave him a certain following, especially when the Governor in April, 1859,
tried, unsuccessfully, to suppress the Colonist. The Gazette, as
a rule, avoided discussion of Vancouver Island politics. In July,
1859, the San Juan question came to a head and anti-American
feeling waxed strong in Victoria. The Gazette felt the effects
of this change in public sentiment and in November it suspended
publication. This left the field open to De Cosmos and his
Colonist, and he and his paper may be said to have ruled the
journalistic roost relatively undisturbed until D. W. Higgins
(7) Daily Standard, August 21,1883. Reply by Higgins in the Colonist,
August 22, 1883.
(8) The relations between Douglas and De Cosmos are too well known
to be discussed at length. See W. N. Sage, Sir James Douglas and British
Columbia, Toronto, 1930, pp. 186, 208-211, 288-289. 194 Walter N. Sage. July
(with whom De Cosmos had a lengthy feud) founded the Chronicle in 1862.9
De Cosmos remained editor and publisher of the British
Colonist until 1863. During the intervening years he had taken
a rather active part in politics. Defeated on a technicality in
the elections of 1860, he was elected a member of the Legislative
Assembly of Vancouver Island in 1863.10 When he was running
for office in 1863 De Cosmos set forth a comprehensive platform:
responsible government, the union of the colonies of Vancouver
Island and British Columbia, the transfer of the Crown lands to
the colony, free land grants to settlers, investigation into the
claims of the Hudson's Bay Company to the townsite of Victoria,
free non-sectarian education, reciprocity with the United States,
the maintenance of the free port of Victoria, increased representation in the Assembly, and new electoral districts.
It may well be questioned why De Cosmos was unable to
carry out his programme of reforms. One reason was that the
Family-Company-Compact was too strong, and that public feeling was apathetic. Another was that De Cosmos, in spite of his
brilliance, lacked the qualities necessary for a real " tribune of
the people."
Soon after De Cosmos was elected to the Legislative Assembly
of Vancouver Island, Sir James Douglas retired from the gover-
(9) The connection of De Cosmos with the press may be summarized
as follows: The Victoria Colonist, of which he was editor and proprietor,
commenced publication on December 11, 1858. The paper remained under
the control of De Cosmos until October, 1863, when he disposed of it to
a syndicate composed of members of the staff. His valedictory, which
appeared in the issue for October 7, 1863, states that he sold the paper
because of ill-health. Nearly seven years later, on June 20, 1870, De
Cosmos published the first issue of a new journal, the Victoria Standard.
The next year he sold a half interest in the paper to T. H. Long, and in
July, 1872, sold the other half to his brother, Charles McK. Smith. Smith
bought out Long in 1876, and retained control until after De Cosmos had
retired from public life. De Cosmos contributed frequently to the Standard,
but always insisted that he had no part in its ownership or management
after 1872. (Data supplied by Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, who has devoted considerable study to the early history of printing and the press in British Columbia.)
(10) In 1860 he was defeated by Captain Gordon, whom he termed the
" obstructionist candidate." De Cosmos ran in that election as " Smith
called De Cosmos," but apparently one voter declared for " De Cosmos "
and Gordon was declared to be elected. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 195
norship of both colonies. Separate Governors were appointed,
Arthur Edward Kennedy for Vancouver Island and Frederick
Seymour for British Columbia. De Cosmos had favoured the
union of the two colonies as far back as 1859 and in 1865 championed that cause at the polls.
But the Union of 1866 did not provide the hoped-for solution
of the constitutional and financial difficulties of British Columbia.
De Cosmos now came forward as a champion of Confederation,
and in 1867 introduced into the Legislative Council of British
Columbia a resolution requesting Governor Seymour " To take
such steps without delay, as may be deemed by him adapted to
insure the admission of British Columbia on fair and equitable
terms, this Council being confident that in advising this step
they are expressing the views of the Colonists generally."11
Governor Seymour was half-hearted in his inquiries and delayed till September 24, 1867, the sending of a dispatch in reference to his telegram of March 17 inquiring whether provision
could be made in the Bill before the British Parliament for the
ultimate admission of British Columbia into the Dominion of
Canada. By his policy of delay Seymour shelved the question.12
By 1868 the Legislative Council was anti-confederationist and
an annexation movement had come into existence in British
De Cosmos visited Eastern Canada in the summer of 1867,
and in August spoke at the Canadian Reform Convention on the
twin subjects of Confederation and reform. He advocated the
entrance of the Pacific colony into the new Dominion. On his
return to Victoria he was chagrined to find that the Confederation movement had been blocked by the masterly inactivity of
the Governor. During the winter he kept up the struggle for
Confederation by writing letters to the British Colonist.
By the spring of 1868 it was evident that the people of British
Columbia were strongly supporting Confederation but that Governor Seymour and his officials along with a small group of
(11) Journals of the Legislative Council of British Columbia 1867, New
Westminster, 1867, p. 50 (Entry for 18 March, 1867).
(12) See F. W. Howay, " The Attitude of Governor Seymour Towards
Confederation," Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, 3rd Series,
Vol. XIV. (1920), Section II., pp. 31-49. 196 Walter N. Sage. July
annexationists opposed it. The Conf ederationists, however, were
not idle. On January 28, 1868, a public meeting in Victoria had
drawn up and adopted a lengthy memorial favouring federation
with Canada. A copy of this memorial reached Ottawa in March
and drew a favourable reply from the Canadian Government.
Seymour still pursued his policy of delay, and a majority in the
Legislative Council supported the Governor in his opposition to
federation. De Cosmos, on April 24, 1868, moved, and Captain
Edward Stamp seconded, an address to Queen Victoria favouring Confederation and setting out provisional terms. This motion was lost and an amendment was carried by the official
majority which agreed with the general principle of union with
Canada but counselled delay.13 Seymour had apparently won
the day.
De Cosmos, however, would not accept defeat. In association with John Robson, Dr. I. W. Powell, Dr. R. W. W. Carrall,
J. Spencer Thompson, and others, he carried the fight to the
people. A Confederation League was formed in May, 1868, in
Victoria and branches were organized on the mainland. In September, 1868, the league held a convention at Yale, which passed
resolutions in favour of federation and outlined terms of union.
Although denounced by the anti-confederationists of Victoria,
the Yale convention did its work well. It was in its way the
British Columbia counterpart of the Charlottetown and Quebec
In November, 1868, an election was held for the " popular "
members for Victoria in the Legislative Council. By means of
a political trick the Government party and the annexationists
won. All residents of Victoria, including aliens, Indians, and
Chinese, were permitted to vote. De Cosmos was defeated, but
it was a pyrrhic victory.
The Legislative Council on February 17, 1869, again went
on record as opposing federation. The resolution was quite
(13) Papers on the Union of British Columbia with the Dominion of
Canada, p. 13. De Cosmos's address is given in full on pp. 14-15. Judge
Howay's comments in " The Attitude of Governor Seymour Towards Confederation " are cogent and to the point. " Seymour was a master of evasion
and a purveyor of partial and prejudiced information." 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 197
That this Council, impressed with the conviction that under existing
circumstances the Confederation of this Colony with the Dominion of
Canada would be undesirable, even if practicable, urge Her Majesty's Government not to take any decisive steps toward the present consummation
of such Union.14
This resolution was the high-water mark of the anti-confederationist cause in British Columbia. Governor Seymour's sudden death in June, 1869, deprived the governmental group of
their leader and in spite of their renewed activities in the autumn
of that year the annexationists were unable to secure the support of more than a small fraction of the inhabitants of British
The new Governor, Anthony Musgrave, was sent to British
Columbia to secure the passing of the legislation necessary for
the admission of the Pacific Coast colony. Both the British and
the Canadian Governments were by now anxious to have the
question decided, especially since the proposed cession of the
Hudson's Bay territory was expected to remove one of the chief
causes for delay. Musgrave did his work well and the Legislative Council which had hitherto opposed federation now swung
round to its favour.
Late in 1869, Dr. Davie, one of the elected members of the
Council for the Victoria District, died and, in spite of the opposition of the Colonist, now controlled by his rival, David W. Higgins, De Cosmos was triumphantly elected to fill the vacancy.
He was, therefore, present to take part in the momentous debate
on Confederation which occurred in March, 1870.1B De Cosmos
had long been a supporter of union with Canada and in this
debate he felt himself free to criticize those officials who had
formerly strongly opposed but who now were equally enthusiastic for Confederation. He congratulated the House on its noble
work of nation-building, and reiterated his faith in the " grand
consolidation of the British Empire in North America." That
this faith was of long standing was evident from his statement
(14) Journals of the Legislative Council of British Columbia, 1869, Victoria, 1869, p. 43.
(15) The Government Gazette Extraordinary of March, 1870, published
the full text of this Debate on the Subject of Confederation with Canada.
The 1912 reprint is, however, now almost as rare as the original. Citations
are from the 1912 reprint 198 Walter N. Sage. July
that " From the time he first mastered the institutes of physical
and political geography he could see Vancouver Island on the
Pacific from his home on the Atlantic." He added the following
significant passage:—
Sir, my political course has been unlike that of most others in this
Colony. Allow me to illustrate my meaning by the use of another old
adage. My course has been that of ' beating the bush whilst others caught
the bird.' My allegiance has been to principle, and the only reward I have
asked or sought has been to see sound political principles in operation.
Therefore, Sir, I say again that I congratulate you and this Honourable
House on the noble work on which we are all engaged.16
In concluding his speech De Cosmos stated that he favoured
Confederation " provided that the financial terms are right in
amount and if the other terms will contribute to the advancement and protection of our industry."17
In the later stages of the Confederation debate, John Robson
and De Cosmos fought for the inclusion of responsible government in the Terms of Union, but Governor Musgrave and the
officials were not ready to accept the proposal.    Robson moved
That a humble address be presented to His Excellency the Governor
recommending that a Constitution based on the principle of Responsible
Government, as existing in the Province of Ontario, may be conferred upon
this Colony, coincident with its admission into the Dominion of
De Cosmos declared in favour of " representative institutions
and Responsible Government, irrespective of Confederation"
and threatened if responsible government were not included to
leave the Council and go to his constituents.
When Governor Musgrave selected the three delegates to be
sent to Ottawa from British Columbia to arrange the final Terms
of Union he did not include Amor De Cosmos. John Robson was
asked to go to Ottawa but refused on account of his newspaper-
work. He was then editing the Victoria British Colonist. De
Cosmos had now re-entered the newspaper field as editor and
proprietor of the Victoria Daily Standard. Although Robson
and De Cosmos were both supporters of Confederation and of
responsible government they were by no means friends. Their
editorial combats in the Victoria press were no mere shadow-
(16) Debate on the subject of Confederation with Canada, Victoria,
1912, p. 31.
(17) Ibid., p. 38.
(18) Ibid., p. 103. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 199
fights. It was a war to the knife between two able and ambitious
To Lieutenant-Governor Joseph William Trutch, who succeeded Musgrave, fell the task of choosing the first Provincial
ministry of British Columbia. Trutch had been formerly Chief
Commissioner of Lands and Works in the colonial administration and was, therefore, well acquainted with the political situation in the new Province. He chose John Foster McCreight as
first Premier of the Province. Neither Amor De Cosmos nor
John Robson was included in McCreight's cabinet. In a letter
to Sir John A. Macdonald, dated Victoria, B.C., November 21,
1871, Trutch thus comments: " The Newspapers however are
rampant because no office has been provided for either of the
editors," but adds: " As for the Newspapers if the Govt, want
the support of either of them I dare say they can obtain it."19
De Cosmos was elected as a member for Victoria District in
the first Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. He was also
elected as Member of Parliament for Victoria in the first Federal
election held after British Columbia became a Province of the
Dominion of Canada. At that time dual representation was
allowed.    It was later to be abolished.
Lieutenant-Governor Trutch was of opinion that the people
of British Columbia had " now got the best cabinet that can be
formed out of the present House,"20 but De Cosmos did not agree
with him. As early as November, 1871, De Cosmos had exhorted
the Liberals of the Province
To rally round their old leaders—the men who have year after year
fought their battles and have in no instance deserted the popular cause.
To take any other course is to convict themselves of Treason to manhood,
Treason to the Liberal party, that year by year for fourteen years have
urged Responsible Government, Union of the Provinces, and Confederation
with the Dominion. It is no Treason, no public wrong to ignore the nominees of Governor Trutch.2!
John Robson and D. W. Higgins, who had been on the whole
opposed to McCreight, began in January, 1872, to veer round
(19) Trutch Correspondence, 1871-1879, I., pp. 100-101, in Macdonald
Papers, Public Archives of Canada.
(20) Trutch to Sir John A. Macdonald, February 20,1872, in Macdonald
Papers, Trutch Correspondence, I., 144.
(21) Daily Standard, November 21,1871. 200 Walter N. Sage. July
towards the administration. De Cosmos lost no time in attacking the Colonist " as chief trumpeter to sound the praises of the
Legal Trio who have thoughtfully divided between them the only
three Cabinet offices of emolument which Gov. Trutch at present
has it in his power to bestow."22
The Colonist was not slow in answering De Cosmos's challenge. In a long editorial entitled " Party Government and
Patriotic Journalism," it upheld the McCreight administration
and attacked De Cosmos as " utterly devoid of political principle
and consistency."   The following extract is illuminating:
To put the whole issue between our local contemporary and ourselves
in the plainest light the editor of the former has conceived the idea that he
ought to have been selected as the first Premier of the Pacific Province
under the new dispensation; and that he has turned upon us, and abuses
us and misrepresents us in his usual happy style, because we will not assist
in placing him in that position,—accusing us as is his custom, of all sorts
of interested motives, he alone being the pattern of unselfish devotion!
Although the reasons which have led this journal to take the position of an
independent supporter or opposer, as the case may be, of the present Ministry, have already been stated, let us put the case as curtly as possible.
It is extremely questionable whether the country would be better satisfied
to see Mr. De Cosmos occupying the position of Premier. But, even assuming that it would have preferred him, to make the change now would be
virtually to postpone all legislation till next winter, and we feel certain that
the country is not prepared to accept the change at such a price.23
De Cosmos lost no time in taking up the Colonist's challenge.
He claimed that the McCreight ministry were " nominees of the
Crown,—almost self-elected,—not the choice of the majority,—
not the leaders of the majority,—not appointed after the consent
of the majority had been obtained,—and besides were not the
men who had been battling for the rights and advancement of
the people in any one particular."24 In another editorial he denounced McCreight and his fellow ministers as having " not one
solitary, legitimate claim on the country."
They never spent an hour's toil, never a dollar of their money,—never
opposed the enemies of Union, Confederation, Representative Institutions,
or Responsible Government. But when the battle was over, the victory won,
and the spoil to be divided then they came forward as the purest patriots,
(22) Ibid., January 5, 1872.
(23) Daily British Colonist, January 7, 1872.
(24) Daily Standard, January 11, 1872. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 201
to greedily devour what better, more honorable, and much more patriotic
men produced by years of toilsome labor in behalf of their country.26
The Colonist retorted with an attack on De Cosmos as the
head of the Meites. It also pointed out that by seeking and
obtaining a seat in the Federal house, when he was already sitting in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, De Cosmos
was thereby depriving the Pacific Province of its full representation at Ottawa. In a spirited editorial on January 26, Robson
poured the vials of his wrath on De Cosmos as follows:—
There is one among us who for many years past has been talking patriotism and vaunting self-denial and love of country—the great ME of British
Columbian Politics, the great promoter (in his own estimation and for his
own ends) of Confederation, one who should be a great warrior for the
Dominion. ' Where is he? Of course at Ottawa, or on his way there. Not
he! The soldiers, the quiet, modest unprofessing, are all wending their way
to the battlefield, or are about to do so; but he, the great De Cosmos, the
Falstaff of the Pacific, is waiting here for more sackW
When at length De Cosmos did leave for Ottawa in February,
1872, the Colonist speeded the departing legislator with a satirical attack entitled " Exit, Humbug ":—
He turns his back upon the Local Legislature ere yet it has been a week
in session and before a single public measure has come up! Nay, he runs
away at the very moment the tariff question is on the notice-paper—the very
question upon which he gained his election and fooled the farmers.27
In contrast to the above rather lurid passage may be cited
the following statement which appeared in the Daily Standard
on February 17, 1872, setting forth De Cosmos's reasons for
leaving for Ottawa:—
As very important matters will come before the Dominion Parliament in
which this province has a deep interest, it was of great moment that Mr.
De Cosmos should be early at his post, to make himself thoroughly acquainted
with all their details, and thereby be the better prepared to discharge the
high and responsible duties devolving upon him.
At Ottawa the last session of the First Parliament of Canada
was duly opened on April 11, 1872. Eight new members took
their seats, of whom six were from British Columbia. In the
record Amor De Cosmos is listed as coming from British Columbia, but the other five as sitting for specific ridings in the new
(25) Ibid., January 16, 1872.
(26) British Colonist, January 26, 1872.
(27) Ibid., February 23, 1872. 202 Walter N. Sage. July
Province.28 De Cosmos delivered his maiden speech on April 19,
in the debate on the Hon. Joseph Howe's motion that a sum of
$45,000 be paid annually for five years to defray the expenses
of the Geological Survey of Canada. He praised the work already
done in British Columbia, and called attention to the policy
adopted in California and Oregon " where men of the highest
attainments were engaged in what was termed economic geology,
the results being most beneficial, and hoped that in any directions or instructions given to the gentlemen who might be chosen
in Canada, they should be asked to attend particularly to that
branch."29 It is probably rather typical of De Cosmos that as
early as 1872 he should have already grasped the importance of
economic geology.
De Cosmos spoke again three days later in a debate on the
protection of agricultural interests. He stated that " the feeling of British Columbia was a unit in favor of the protection of
agricultural industry."30 The fact that British Columbia had
accepted the Canadian tariff should not be interpreted to mean
that the Pacific Province " was not in favor of protection on
agricultural interests." " The farmers of British Columbia,"
he added, " were comparatively poor and the country rugged
and they could not compete with America without protection."
On May 1, 1872, De Cosmos spoke in support of a motion by
T. Oliver, M.P. for Oxford North, Ontario, asking for " the correspondence relating to fees charged by American officials on
goods and produce passing through the United States in bond."31
He pointed out that " the question was one in which British Columbia was specially interested, as they imported largely from
Great Britain via San Francisco and Panama." He also stated
that " the pack trade along the frontier was at times compelled
to cross the border, when they had to crave indulgence and assis-
(28) Parliamentary Debates, Dominion of Canada, Fourth Session, 34
Victoria, 1872, Ottawa, Robertson, Roger & Co., 1872, col. 5. (According
to the Table of Durations and Sessions of the Dominion Parliament in the
Canada Year Book, this was actually the fifth session and it lasted from
April 11 to June 14, 1872.)
(29) Parliamentary Debates, 1872, col. 82.
(30) Ibid., col. 129.
(31) Ibid., col. 259. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 203
tance from the Custom House officers, often causing great
In the debates on the Canadian Pacific Railway which took
place on May 7 and May 28, 1872, Amor De Cosmos spoke on
behalf of Esquimalt and not a port on Burrard Inlet as the terminus of the proposed line. He stated that one of the British
Columbian delegates to Ottawa on his return had maintained
" that the Pacific Ocean, referred to in the Terms of Union,
meant the Pacific above and west of Vancouver's Island."33 He
was strongly opposed by Crowell Wilson, M.P. for East Middlesex, Ontario, who championed the Burrard Inlet route. Hon.
H. H. Langevin stated that " the intention of the Government
was to go to Esquimalt; but of course if it was impracticable
they could not go, and should the railway be carried to Burrard's
Inlet, a ferry will be established and a line will be carried to
Esquimalt as part of the railway."34 De Cosmos expressed himself as perfectly satisfied with the explanation made.
In the long debate on the Treaty of Washington, the so-called
Treaty Bill, which lasted from May 8 to May 16, 1872, Amor De
Cosmos took no part, but his colleagues Wallace and Thompson
spoke briefly in support of the Government. Wallace stated that
the Treaty " gave a free market for the fish and oil, the trade
in which was now carried on at a loss " and claimed that " the
ratification of the Treaty would open up the maritime trade and
produce the most beneficial results."35 J. S. Thompson, M.P.
for Cariboo, on May 16 " thought too much time had already
been wasted in discussing the Treaty," but was of opinion that
"the Treaty was not all they could expect, but he thought it
would be madness to reject it."36 The second reading of the
Bill was passed on May 16 by a vote of 121 to 55. De Cosmos
and the other British Columbia members voted for the Government and with the majority. ,
On June 3, 1872, occurred a sharp debate on the subject of
the salaries of Judges and Stipendiary Magistrates in Quebec,
(32) Ibid.
(33) Ibid., May 28, 1872, col. 876.
(34) Ibid., col. 879.
(35) Ibid., May 13, 1872, col. 526.
(36) Ibid., col. 642. 204 Walter N. Sage. July
Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and British Columbia. Hon. Edward
Blake objected to the appointment of six Stipendiary Magistrates for 10,000 people in British Columbia, and especially to
their payment by the Dominion Government. Sir John A.
Macdonald explained that the Stipendiary Magistrates had been
appointed by the British Government and that they performed
the functions of County Court Judges. De Cosmos added that
these Stipendiary Magistrates acted as Gold Commissioners,
ordinary Magistrates, and also as Justices of the Peace, " and
that there was a very general feeling throughout the country
against non professional men acting as County Court Judges."37
Macdonald, questioned by Blake, replied that when the Gold
Commissioners acted as County Court Judges they were paid
by the Dominion. This was in accordance with the Terms of
Union, whereby " all these gentlemen must be employed or pensioned at two-thirds salary."38 David Mills, M.P. for Bothwell,
Ontario, objected to " Six Stipendiary Magistrates and three
Superior Court Judges to a population of 10,000." Sir John
pointed out that the " salaries were the same as before the
Union, and were fixed by the Imperial Government." The population, he claimed, " was nearer 60,000 than 10,000."39 Replying
to a charge that since Nova Scotia had no County Courts, their
extension to British Columbia had come too soon, De Cosmos
stated " that for a long time British Columbia had had County
Courts, and the large space of territory and scattered population
necessitated the appointment of six stipendiary magistrates."40
After further debate the resolution passed.
The vexed problem of dual representation occupied much of
the attention of the Canadian Parliament during this session.
J. Costigan, M.P. (Victoria Co., New Brunswick) on April 23,
1872, introduced a " Bill to compel Members of the Local Parliament when dual representation is not allowed to resign their
seats before becoming Members of this House."41 On May 27
Costigan moved the second reading of the Bill, and F. Geoffrion,
M.P. (Vercheres, Quebec) moved in amendment that the Bill
(37) Ibid., June 3, 1872, col. 940.
(38) Ibid.
(39) Ibid., col. 941.
(40) Ibid.
(41) Ibid., col. 114. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 205
" be read that day three months."42 In the division which followed Geoffrion's amendment was lost, 65 to 39. De Cosmos
voted with the minority. Sir John A. Macdonald did not vote,
but when questioned answered much to the amusement of the
House that " he had paired with Sir George Cartier," who, incidentally, had voted against the amendment.48 A lengthy debate
on this question took place on June 3, and a wordy battle ensued
between Edward Blake, Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George
Cartier, Alexander MacKenzie, and others as to whether or not
Ontario members were affected by the proposed Bill. On division the Bill passed its third reading by a vote of 70 to 36, but
Edward Blake reiterated a former statement " that the bill just
passed would not prevent Members of the House of Commons
from, sitting in the Local Legislatures."44
De Cosmos, apparently, took no part in the debate and since
the final division list is not recorded in the Parliamentary Debates, it is not certain how he voted. It may, however, be inferred
that he opposed Costigan's Bill. The Legislature of British Columbia had not yet passed legislation barring its local members
from sitting in the House of Commons, but as we have seen, the
issue was by no means dead.
The First Parliament of Canada was prorogued on June 14,
1872, and general elections were held during the summer. De
Cosmos was re-elected with a reduced majority for Victoria,
B.C. He returned from Ottawa in August in time to take part
in the election campaign, but spent part of his time campaigning for Hon. Francis Hincks in the Nanaimo riding. Feeling
against dual representation was strong in Victoria, and that may
account for the reduction in De Cosmos's majority.
The McCreight administration in the meantime had weathered the gales of its first legislative session and all was now
fairly quiet on the provincial political front. None the less a
storm was brewing. John Robson had withdrawn his allegiance
from McCreight and had gone over to the opposition.45    The
(42) Ibid., col. 808.
(43) Ibid., col. 809.
(44) Ibid., col. 965.
(45) The reasons for Robson's action aTe discussed in W. N. Sage,
"John Foster McCreight, The First Premier of British Columbia," in
Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada, Third Series, XXXIV. (1940),
Section II., pp. 179-182. 206 Walter N. Sage. July
Legislature was summoned for October 11, 1872, but the date
was later changed to December 17. McCreight's government
had remained in office not so much on account of its strength
but because the opposition had been unwilling to force the issue.
But by December, 1872, it was evident that a trial of strength
was fast approaching.
The second session of the First Legislature of the Province
of British Columbia was duly opened on December 17, 1872.
Lieutenant-Governor Joseph W. Trutch in the Speech from the
Throne flung down the gauntlet to the opposition in the following paragraph:—
I congratulate you on the fact, that far from the prognostications of the
failure of Responsible Government in this Province, which were indulged
in at the time of the Union, having been verified, the administration of
public affairs has been in the main satisfactory to the people in general.46
The next day two supporters of the McCreight administration, Messrs. Simeon Duck and Barnston, moved in reply to the
Address from the Throne a resolution which contained an expression of pleasure that the Lieutenant-Governor had made the
above statement regarding the success of responsible government. The opposition was not slow in taking up the challenge.
On December 19, Thomas Basil Humphreys moved and Arthur
Bunster seconded a substitute motion:—
Whilst entertaining the fullest confidence in that form of administration
known as Responsible Government, still we believe that the administration
of public affairs has not been satisfactory to the people in general.4'?
The amendment was carried by one vote, 11 to 10. Two
members of the House were absent, Mara and Semlin. If they
had been present and had supported McCreight the Government
might have been sustained. McCreight resigned on December
20, and Trutch called upon Amor De Cosmos to form an administration.
In this connection it is interesting to quote the following
comment by R. E. Gosnell taken from his article on Amor De
(46) B.C. Legislature, Journal, Vol. II., 1872-3  (Victoria, B.C. 1872),
p. 1.
(47) Ibid., p. 8.
(48) " Prime Ministers of B.C.    2. Amor de Cosmos," in Vancouver
Daily Province, February 15, 1921. 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 207
The man who succeeded him [McCreight] was [as] unlike him in temperament, in mental calibre, in moral outlook, in training and accomplish--
ments as any man could very well be. McCreight was direct in action and
frankly outspoken. Amor De Cosmos was indirect in action and canny of
speech when it came to revealing his true mind. If language was ever
given to a man to conceal his thoughts it was certainly given to De Cosmos.
If McCreight were challenged or provoked to a fight he would fight—fight
after the fashion of an Irish gentleman—but fight to a finish. De Cosmos
would suffer physical punishment from an opponent without hitting back,
but he would lash out with tongue and pen. His predecessor would impulsively forget and forgive; he never. McCreight was bred in an atmosphere of the public schools of the Old Country and Inns of Court. De Cosmos was educated largely in the School of Hard Knocks. Going early to
California and to the Western States and afterward to British Columbia,
mingling in a society that was not always too polite about words or actions,
he acquired that spirit of worldliness and shrewdness that qualified him
for the rough and tumble of politics. McCreight was painfully conscientious and scrupulous. De Cosmos had none of such scrupulosities and his
political policies were dictated by considerations which were unmoral if
need be.
De Cosmos became Premier and President of the Council
with George A. Walkem as Attorney-General, Robert Beaven as
Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, John Ash as Provincial
Secretary, and W. J. Armstrong, Minister without portfolio. In
February, 1873, Armstrong became Minister of Finance and
Agriculture. Walkem had been a member of the McCreight
ministry and criticism arose because he had accepted office under
De Cosmos. But McCreight generously stated that Walkem had
entered the new ministry with his approval. The De Cosmos
government, in spite of the new premier's protests while in opposition, in the main carried out its predecessor's programme. One
notable omission from the cabinet was John Robson. But Robson was no friend of De Cosmos and probably had no desire nor
ambition to be included in the new ministry.
The now familiar " Island v. Mainland " cry had once more
been raised, and De Cosmos had attempted to pacify the mainland by selecting two of his ministers from that portion of the
Province—Walkem from Cariboo, and Armstrong from New
Westminster. But the move was unsuccessful and the new administration laid itself open to the charge of first preaching
economy and retrenchment and then later adding a new portfolio. 208 Walter N. Sage. July
Two issues which arose in the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the early months of 1873 were the tariff and
dual representation. According to the Terms of Union British
Columbia was allowed to retain her own tariff until the completion of the transcontinental railway, " unless the Legislature of
British Columbia should sooner decide to accept the tariff and
excise laws of Canada."49 The Canada Customs Laws' Adoption Act, 1872, passed by the McCreight administration, had
adopted the Canadian tariff. There was much opposition in
Victoria to this Act and De Cosmos had been outspoken in his
criticism. On January 6, 1873, Arthur Bunster complained in
the House that the Lieutenant-Governor had solemnly promised
that if he (Bunster) would withdraw his candidacy to the House
of Commons and allow Sir Francis Hincks to run in his place,
Trutch " would have a modified tariff measure introduced by
the late Ministry " and he " regretted that the New Ministry
had not foreshadowed any scheme for the Modification of the
Tariff."60 Bunster's motion to this effect was lost by a vote of
16-4.61 Charles A. Semlin on January 10 " asked leave to introduce a Bill to render Members of the House of Commons of
Canada ineligible as Members of the Legislative Assembly of
British Columbia."62 The second reading of this Bill was carried on January 17 by a vote of 13-9; De Cosmos did not vote.
The third reading was passed without debate on January 20.63
The Bill received the Royal Assent on February 21, 1873.54
De Cosmos, however, did not resign his seat in Victoria but
in March, 1873, left for Ottawa where he was active in his support of the claims of Esquimalt as the railway terminal. In his
absence Attorney-General George A. Walkem acted as head of
(49) Terms of Union, Section 7. Printed in Howay and Scholefield,
British Columbia from the earliest days to the present, Clarke, Vancouver,
1914, II., pp. 665-666.
(50) British Colonist, January 7, 1873.
(51) Journals of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Session
1872-73, p. 11.
(52) Ibid., p. 18.
(53) Journals, op. cit., pp. 30, 33.
(54) Ibid., p. 78. By 35 Victoria, c. XV. (1872), no member of Parliament could sit in a Provincial Legislature if the laws of the Province forbade it.    (Statutes of Canada 1872, pp. 44—45.) 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 209
the administration. It was now evident that De Cosmos was
beginning to lose his influence in British Columbia, but he was
still able to command respect. This was shown when he was
empowered to negotiate with both the Dominion and British
Governments regarding the proposed graving dock at Esquimalt.
The fall of the Macdonald ministry as a result of the Pacific
Scandal and the rather stiff attitude of Alexander Mackenzie
towards the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway impeded
the negotiations at Ottawa. In London De Cosmos managed to
secure a small loan.66
The third session of the First Parliament of the Province of
British Columbia opened on December 18, 1873. De Cosmos was
still Premier, but the sands in his political hour-glass were fast
running out. The Speech from the Throne alluded to the difficulties over the railway clause and graving dock, but stated that
the Dominion Government had " agreed to submit a measure to
Parliament to carry out the proposal to advance £50,000 in lieu
of the guarantee."66 A political controversy ensued both inside
and outside of the Legislature, and De Cosmos had to face strong
On February 9, 1874, De Cosmos and Bunster, both of whom
had been successful in the elections of January 22 to the House
of Commons, resigned their seats in the local Legislature.67
George A. Walkem became Premier and asked the other ministers of state to remain in office. De Cosmos had now taken
the irrevocable step. His political career in British Columbia
was over. He had none the less to face an investigation by a
Royal Commission regarding certain proceedings in connection
with pre-emptions of land on Texada Island in which he was
involved as well as members of his former government. The
commission in its report in October, 1874, found that " while
circumstances apparently suspicious attended the preemptions
on Texada Island in August 1873, yet there was not sufficient
ground to believe that any member of the late [De Cosmos] or
(55) Section 12 of the Terms of Union dealt with the question of the
graving dock.
(56) Journals of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Session
1873-74, pp. 1-2.
(57) Ibid., p. 39. 210 Walter N. Sage. July
present [Walkem] Government, either by himself or in unlawful or dishonourable combination with any other person, had
attempted to acquire the iron of Texada in a manner prejudicial
to the interests of the public."58
De Cosmos remained a member of the House of Commons
until 1882. He protested against the non-fulfilment of the railway terms. He championed the construction of the Esquimalt
and Nanaimo Railway, the so-called " island section" of the
Canadian Pacific. After his return to power in 1878 on the
defeat of the Mackenzie administration, Sir John A. Macdonald
seemed to favour Burrard Inlet as the terminus of the railway.
The Walkem government objected, and in 1880 sent De Cosmos
on a rather futile mission to London to lay the Provincial case
at the foot of the throne.
In Ottawa De Cosmos also spoke strongly in favour of the
expulsion and restriction of Chinese from British Columbia.
Arthur Bunster supported him, but their stand that no Chinese
should be employed in railway construction in British Columbia
met with no support in the House of Commons.
De Cosmos's last speech in the Parliament of Canada was
in favour of the right of the Dominion to negotiate her own trade
I am one of those who believe that this country should have the right to
negotiate its commercial treaties. I go a step farther, I believe this country
should have the right to negotiate every treaty. The tendency of this resolution is, as the right hon. the First Minister pointed out, in the direction
of independence. I see no reason why the people of Canada should not look
forward to Canada becoming a sovereign and independent State. The right
hon. gentleman stated that he was born a British subject and hoped to die
one. Sir I was born a British colonist, but do not wish to die a tadpole
British colonist. I do not wish to die without having all the rights, privileges and immunities of the citizen of a nation.69
In the general election of 1882 Amor De Cosmos was defeated. His speech of April 21 had not endeared him to the
Imperialists of Victoria.    He became known ironically as the
(58) Howay and Scholefield, op. cit., II., p. 337. See " Papers relating
to the appointment and proceedings of the Royal Commission for instituting enquiries into the acquisition of Texada Island " (38 Vict. 1874) in
Sessional Papers of British Columbia, 1875, pp. 181-246.
(59) Debates, Canadian House of Commons, 1882, Ottawa, 1882, col.
1084 (April 21, 1882). 1944 Amor De Cosmos. 211
" nation-maker." After his defeat De Cosmos retired from politics and lived quietly in Victoria, making his home with his
brother, Charles McK. Smith, editor of the Daily Standard. As
he grew older his eccentricities increased, and before his death
his mind seems to have been somewhat affected. He died on
July 4, 1897.60
Gilbert Malcolm Sproat, who knew De Cosmos well, has thus
described the young political journalist as he first remembered
I first met him in 1860—a tallish, handsome man, pale complexion, dark
hair combed back, regular features, set off by a sufficient, shapely nose,
addicted to a frock-coat, top hat and big-handled stick hung on the forearm,
and not used in locomotion—relic, perhaps, of a western editor's equipment
—such was the man to the eye. He was wide minded, yet methodical,
laborious, and a master of details. A great reader, chiefly but not exclusively, in the line of history and politics; he made no parade in general
conversation of what he knew, only by some incidental allusion would you
become aware of his familiarity with the writings of Shakespeare and Scott.
Few ascribed to him humor, but, in reality he had a pretty good, though
perhaps rather limited, sense of it.   .   .   .
From a certain reticence, interrogative habit, and occasional irregularities of thought and aim, I should judge that Mr. De Cosmos was, largely,
a self-educated man; indeed, he was educating himself all the time with
good results, for he was observant, with an active principle of growth in
his nature. As a public speaker he was confident and clear but did not stir
the audience; the share of humor which he possessed did not appear in his
speeches, nor has his newspaper writing much literary grace, notwithstanding his own appreciation of good literature.   .   .   .
From after talk with Mr. De Cosmos, when our intimacy permitted
candor, I am inclined to think his was the case of an impulsive man in
search of a career, on a larger field than the Pacific seaboard colonies then
presented, which career he strove to prosecute by ways that entailed, on the
(60)  The inscription on De Cosmos's tombstone in Ross Bay Cemetery,
Victoria, reads as follows:—
JULY 4th 1897, AGED 72 YEARS
PEOPLE, NOW AT REST. 212 Walter N. Sage.
public, certain present sacrifices and risks. It appeared to me that he had
from the first mapped for himself a policy and career, which he advocated
and followed with persistence, in the firm belief that, ultimately, the public
would benefit as much as he, personally, would or might benefit. The East
and West were to be one politically, and he hailing from the West was to
be a political figure in the East. Like Sir James Douglas, whom he constantly assailed, and like Mr. Alfred Waddington, with whom he found it
easier to act, Mr. De Cosmos was in relation to the eastern colonies, what
might be termed a Pacific seaboard ' Confederationist,' though Confederation was not yet a practical question either in the East or the West. Already,
too, in conception he was a Canadian ' Nationalist,' favoring, nevertheless,
a connection of some sort with the Empire. The nature of the connection,
he thought, could not be worked out without the prerequisite of Canada's
independence;  hence his after nickname of ' nation maker.'61
Sproat was of opinion that " the best of Mr. De Cosmos . . .
was not on the surface." He was " more impulsive than wary "
and was unable " to establish an equilibrium between his impulses and the control which they needed." This lack of self-
control militated against his political success and probably also
against his powers as a journalist. He was rather too aloof, too
much a " mystery man," possibly just a bit introverted, to become a great " tribune of the people." None the less as premier
he " approved himself as an unpretentious, most laborious, just
and business-like official."62
Such was Amor De Cosmos, a figure of note in the history
of British Columbia. In his early days he championed reform
and fought Douglas and the Family-Company-Compact. Later
he strove for responsible government and for Confederation.
Sproat considered that the most notable portion of his political
career was after the Union of British Columbia with Canada.
Unfortunately, his idiosyncracies and mannerisms, and possibly
too his political inconsistencies, militated against his success.
He was a British North American and as such he represented
in Victoria a Canadian rather than an English point of view.
At Ottawa he was a Canadian from the Pacific Coast. Taken
all in all, Amor De Cosmos was a notable figure who deserves
more recognition than he has heretofore received.
The University of British Columbia, WALTER N. SAGE.
Vancouver, B.C.
(61) "Amor De Cosmos, a singular figure in B.C. Politics," Victoria
Daily Times, January 19, 1906.
Much of interest has been added in recent years to our knowledge of the old Crown Colony of Vancouver Island. In part this
has been the result of a careful re-examination of records long
preserved in the Provincial Archives. Other details have come
from new acquisitions in the manuscript collection, and in particular from papers that belonged originally to James Douglas or
John Sebastian Helmcken. Finally, the courtesy of the Governor
and Committee of the Hudson's Bay Company has made it possible, for the first time, to lay under tribute the immense store
of documents in the archives of the Company. Although further
searching for and through old records must still be done before a
definitive account of the Colony can be written, many aspects of
its history have now been fairly thoroughly explored. Amongst
them is the official career of the first Governor, Richard Blanshard. Ridicule has been heaped upon his brief and uncomfortable tenure of office, and it is usual to assume that Blanshard
himself was insignificant. But even if this were true, the fact
remains that the reading of his commission marked the commencement of formal British rule in Western America—a circumstance which makes his arrival an event of constitutional
and historical importance.
The establishment of a British colony on the Pacific Coast
was a direct result of the Oregon Boundary settlement of June,
1846. The Hudson's Bay Company, which had seen American
settlers overrun Oregon, feared that they might likewise pour
into the country north of 49° unless some counter settlement
were started by the British. In September, 1846, Sir John Pelly,
Governor of the Company, made a preliminary inquiry regarding
the advisability of the Company acting as the colonizing agency.
The reaction thereto of Lord Grey, the Colonial Secretary, was
* The first of a series of three or four short articles that will describe in
detail Blanshard's life and career. The second article will appear in an
early issue.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. VIII., No. 8.
213 214 Willard E. Ireland. July
This is a very difficult and important quest [io]n. Looking to the encroaching spirit of the U.S. I think it is of importance to strengthen the B[ritis]h
hold upon the territory now assigned to us by treaty by encouraging the
settlement upon it of B[ri]t[is]h subjects; & I am also of opin[io]n that
such settlement c[oul]d only be advantageously effected under the auspices
of the Hudson's Bay Co. wh[ich]. I am therefore disposed to encourage.1
From the outset it thus became apparent that the Government,
fully aware of the necessity for colonization, was favourably disposed towards the Hudson's Bay Company. Thus encouraged,
the Company in March, 1847, informed Grey that it was " ready
to receive a grant of all the territories belonging to the Crown
which are situated to the north and west of Rupert's Land."2
This sweeping proposal was quite impracticable, owing to the
state of political opinion, which, in spite of the attitude of the
Colonial Secretary, was none too friendly to the Hudson's Bay
Company. It was therefore whittled down in subsequent correspondence, and by March, 1848, the Company expressed its
willingness to have the grant " limited to the territory north of
49°, bounded on the east by the Rocky Mountains, or even to
Vancouver's Island alone."3 Grey was of the opinion that " in
the first instance " it should in fact be limited to the Island, and
discussions regarding terms and conditions commenced upon that
Negotiations did not proceed this far without arousing opposition. Some opposed any grant to the Company on principle.
Others had rival schemes of settlement to offer. Of the latter,
the most vocal was one James Edward Fitzgerald, who in June,
1847, submitted to the Colonial Office a detailed colonization plan
to be carried out by a joint-stock company. Later Fitzgerald's
interest shifted to the coal deposits on Vancouver Island, and he
discussed with Pelly the possibility of forming a company to work
the mines, on terms agreeable to the Hudson's Bay Company.
According to Fitzgerald, Pelly actually offered him a grant of
the mines, terms to be arranged.    In the late spring of 1848,
(1) Minute on Pelly to Grey, September 7, 1846;   original in Public
Record Office, London (hereafter cited as P.R.O.).
(2) Pelly to Grey, March 5, 1847, in Correspondence   .   .   .  relative to
the Colonization of Vancouver's Island, London, 1848, p. 9.
(3) Pelly to Grey, March 4, 1848.   Ibid., p. 11.
(4) Hawes to Pelly, March 13, 1848.   Ibid., p. 13. 1944 APPOINTMENT OF GOVERNOR BLANSHARD. 215
however, word reached London that Sir George Simpson, senior
official of the Company in North America, had already entered
into an arrangement by which the Company itself would work
the mines and supply coal for the steamers of the new Pacific
Mail Steamship Company.5 Infuriated by this news, Fitzgerald
launched a vigorous attack upon the Hudson's Bay Company and
all its works, declaring roundly that the Company was seeking
the grant in order to prevent rather than to encourage the founding of a strong colony. In 1849 he embodied his criticisms in a
book entitled An Examination of the Charter and Proceedings of
the Hudson's Bay Company, with Reference to the Grant of Vancouver's Island.6
As this title implies, the Company meantime had received the
grant of the Island. Most of the details had been settled by September, 1848, and the formal grant itself was made by Proclamation in January, 1849. Vancouver Island was handed over to the
Hudson's Bay Company, upon condition that a settlement was
established there. Even at this late date it is difficult to see what
other course the Colonial Office could have pursued, assuming
that the Government itself was not prepared to sponsor the
colony. The year 1848 was a year of unrest and revolution.
The financial world was much upset. Even Fitzgerald himself
admitted it would be most difficult to raise capital, and it seems
clear that he was proposing a counter scheme which he would
have been incapable of carrying into effect. It is significant
that one of Pelly's letters bears a minute in Grey's handwriting
stating that there was " no probability of the capital required
to begin being raised unless by the Co's assistance . . ."7
Moreover, the Hudson's Bay Company had an unrivalled firsthand knowledge of the country, for it had been trading on or
around Vancouver Island for almost thirty years. Finally, the
Company already possessed an exclusive right to trade with the
Indians which would not expire until 1859.    To extend its rights,
(5) See John Haskell Kemble (ed.), "Coal from the Northwest Coast,
1848-1850," British Columbia Historical Quarterly, II. (1938), pp. 123-130.
(6) See the letters and documents relating to Fitzgerald's proposals
printed in the Report of the Provincial Archives Department . . . 1918,
Victoria, 1914, pp. V 54-V 68.
(7) Minute, June 29,1848, on Pelly to Grey, March 4, 1848. CO. 305/1;
P.R.O.  . 216 Willard E. Ireland. July
rather than to require it to share control of the Island with another authority, seemed a sensible course, to pursue.
Although the sale of lands and many other public matters
were to be managed by the Hudson's Bay Company, the new
colony was to have its own government as well. This was to consist of a Governor, an appointed Legislative Council, and—when
conditions warranted—an elected House of Assembly. But it is
significant to find that Lord Grey was willing to leave the selection of the governor to the Company,8 and that the Company in
turn had chosen its candidate several months before the grant of
the Island was actually made. The choice fell upon James Douglas, one of the three Chief Factors who composed the far-western
Board of Management, with headquarters at Fort Vancouver.
To do the Company justice, it seems clear that this appointment
was not suggested by purely selfish motives. It realized that for
a time at least the revenue of the colony would be extremely
small, and considered that it would be wise therefore to recommend as governor some one who had an adequate income from
another source. It is apparent, moveover, that the Company
expected the appointment to be neither popular nor permanent.
The correspondence bearing upon the matter is interesting.
" We shall have the nomination of the Governor," Pelly wrote
to Simpson on September 8, 1848, " and I contemplate placing
Douglas in that situation temporarily, but his allowce must be
small—what should you think—[£]150 or 200 a year."9 The
same day the Governor and Committee dealt with the matter at
greater length in a dispatch to the members of the Board of Management at Fort Vancouver, which then consisted of Peter Skene
Ogden, John Work, and James Douglas. It will be observed that
the appointment of Douglas, and his transfer to Vancouver Island, were to be associated with a partial transfer of the Com-
(8) "As the power of the Gov wd be restrained by an Ass1? represent*
the inhabitants I can see no danger in allowing the Company to select
him . . ." Minute by Grey, on Pelly to Grey, March 4, 1848, in CO.
305/1;  P.R.O.
(9) Hudson's Bay Company Archives (hereafter cited as H.B.C. Arch.),
D5/22. This and all other quotations from documents in the Archives of
the Company are printed by kind permission of the Governor and Committee. 1944 APPOINTMENT OF GOVERNOR BLANSHARD. 217
pany's district administration from Fort Vancouver to Fort
Victoria.   The paragraph reads:—
We think it necessary that a Member of the Board of Management should
in future reside permanently at Fort Victoria, and it appears to us that
Mr. Douglas can be better spared from Fort Vancouver than Mr. Ogden. We
shall forward to Mr. Douglas a Government Commission, to act as Governor
of Vancouver's Island pro tempore. We say pro tempore because it is not
improbable that those persons, who may settle on the Island may not be
content that a Gentleman, having so deep an interest in the Fur Trade,
should hold the situation of Governor of a Colony, which is to be free and
On September 13, Pelly wrote to Grey and formally recommended Douglas for the governorship. Once again he stressed
the point that he did " not propose this as a permanent appointment, but merely as a temporary expedient, until the colony can
afford to pay a Governor unconnected with the Hudson's Bay
Company."11 In reply he was assured that Grey saw " no objection to the appointment of the chief factor of the Company as a
temporary arrangement . . ."12 Pelly thereupon wrote once
again to Simpson, on September 29:—
I have recommended Douglas as Governor pro tem: and I expect he will
be appointed, you must therefore find means to spare him, whatever salary
will be given him will be from the Colony, the Fur trade will not have to
pay it.16
The dispatch to Fort Vancouver reached its destination early
in 1849. Douglas's reaction to the news of his pending appointment was anything but favourable. The slight implied in the
remark that he could be " better spared from Fort Vancouver "
than Ogden evidently stung him to the quick, and in March he
poured out his resentment in a private letter to Simpson:—
Pray what does the appointment of " Governor of Vancouver's Island
pro tempore " imply, does it mean that I am to be thrown aside like a cast
off garment, when the heat and toil of the day is over? if so, I am not
ambitious of such honours, nor do I think them a proper reward for thirty
(10) H.B.C. Arch., A 6/27.
(11) Copies and Extracts of Despatches and other Papers relating to
Vancouver's Island, London, 1849, p. 18. A minute by Merivale on the
original letter (CO. 305/1 in P.R.O.) dated September 15, 1848, states that
the governor's commission was then already in draft.
(12) Hawes to Pelly, September 27, 1848.   Ibid.
(13) H.B.C Arch., D 5/22. 218 Willard E. Ireland. July
years of incessant toil, borne without a murmur, and with a devotion of
body and mind deserving of a better fate.14
Precisely what happened thereafter is not clear, as a number
of papers relating to the matter have not been found. Apparently Simpson himself had written to Douglas on January 29,
1849, mentioning that a salary of £300 per annum would be
attached to the post of governor,15 and a statement made some
years later implies that Douglas was actually appointed Governor pro tern, on May 12.16 In any event, Peter Skene Ogden
remarked, in a letter to Simpson written from Fort Vancouver
in June, that " On 17th May the new Governor pro tem for Victoria took his departure."17 Travelling by easy stages and
attending to various Company matters by the way, Douglas did
not reach Vancouver Island until the first days of June.
Meanwhile opposition to the grant of Vancouver Island to
the Hudson's Bay Company had increased sharply in England.
It culminated in a speech delivered in the Commons on June 19,
1849, by the Earl of Lincoln (later Duke of Newcastle) which
lasted four and a half hours. At the end of that time the House
was counted out, but there was no denying that the attack had
been both able and effective. In such a hostile atmosphere the
Company realized that to appoint Douglas would simply be to
add fuel to the flames, and it decided to look elsewhere for a
governor.18 Contrary to the general view, this decision was not
a result of Lincoln's speech, for the minutes of the Governor and
Committee show that it was on June 13, six days before the
debate, that it was " Resolved that Richard Blanshard Esq. be
recommended to Earl Grey Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of
State for the Colonies, to be appointed Govr of Vancouver Island."19   Moreover, the Colonial Secretary had already held his
(14) Ibid., D 5/24.
(15) See ibid., A 6/29;  Archibald Barclay to Simpson, October 29, 1852.
(16) See ibid., A 6/30;  Barclay to Douglas, February 3, 1854.
(17) Ibid., D 5/23;   Ogden to Simpson, June 18, 1849.
(18) " It was proposed to appoint you Governor pro tempore, of the Island, but you will see by the Public Press, from the jealousy of some parties,
and the interested motives of others, how next to impossible it would have
been to give you the situation." Pelly to Douglas, August 4, 1849. (Original in Provincial Archives.)
first interview with the prospective Governor, for Pelly, writing
to Grey on June 15, makes reference to an interview held the
previous Thursday at which he had introduced Blanshard, whom
the Committee of the Company were going to recommend for the
position of Governor of Vancouver Island.20 The recommendation was accepted, and Blanshard received his commission on
July 16, 1849.
It is evident that the Company regretted the substitution of
Blanshard for Douglas, but there is little to suggest that it was
either angry or resentful. As we have seen, it was expected that
a demand would arise for a governor unconnected with the fur
trade. All that happened was that this demand appeared much
sooner than was anticipated.
This view of the matter is borne out by the letters which
passed between various officers of the Company at the time. In
September, 1849, for example, Pelly wrote in a private letter to
Simpson as follows:—
With respect to the appointment of Mr. Blanshard to the Governorship
of Vancouver's Island, it was with my entire concurrence, indeed recommendation. It wrests from those adverse to the Company the charge of
making the Colony subservient to their views alone, and retaining in their
hands the power of tyranizing over the settlers, which the ill disposed are
too ready to charge them with.21
In December, Eden Colville, falling at that early date into the
error of ascribing the change to Lincoln, had this to say:—
I suppose the effect of Lincoln's motion was the appointment of Gov.
Blanshard in the room of Mr. Douglas, which I am very sorry for, as I think
that from his experience in the country, and the interest he took in the
colony he would have conducted the affairs thereof fully as well as a perfect
stranger. Be that as it may I suppose there was no alternative left to you
but to appoint a person unconnected with the Company & we must try to
make the best of it.22
Douglas was notified promptly of the change in plans by
Archibald Barclay, Secretary to the Governor and Committee,
to whom he replied with typical frankness:—
Having accepted the appointment of Governor of Vancouvers Island only in
obedience to the wishes of the Governor and Committee, without any desire,
on my part, to possess that responsible office, I shall in obedience to the same
(20) Pelly to Grey, June 15, 1849.   Ibid., A 8/4.
(21) Pelly to Simpson, September 7,1849 (private).   Ibid., D 5/26.
(22) Eden Colville to Simpson, December 7, 1849.   Ibid. 220 Willard E. Ireland. July
authority and with even greater alacrity, resign my office to Governor Blanshard on his arrival. In making these remarks I, of course, understand
that the new appointment emanated entirely from the Crown, and that
their Honours, have not withdrawn from me, any part of the confidence, with
which I have been hitherto so much honored.26
Any doubt he may have felt in this regard must have vanished
when he received a second letter from Barclay informing him
that he had been " appointed Agent to the Company for all matters relating to the territory of Vancouver's Island . . ."-
For Barclay took pains to point out that the duties of the governor would be " confined to the administration of the civil government of the colony and to military affairs ;"24 and it was obvious
that the Company expected the office of Agent to be an influential
At this point two questions naturally come to mind: Who
was Richard Blanshard, and why was he appointed Governor?
Relatively little is known about his early life. Blanshard was
born on October 19, 1817, the son of Thomas Henry Blanshard,
a well-to-do London merchant.26 He matriculated at Christ
Church on October 22, 1835, received the degree of B.A. at
Queen's College, Oxford, in 1840, and that of M.A. in 1844.
Meanwhile, in 1839, he had been admitted as a student of Lincoln's Inn, and he was called to the bar on November 22,1844, at
the age of 27.26
Contrary to the usual story,27 there is no evidence that Blanshard had held any previous appointments under the Colonial
Office. This belief appears to be based upon a misinterpretation
of his replies to two questions put to him by J. A. Roebuck in
1857, in the course of the well-known parliamentary investigation into the affairs of the Hudson's Bay Company. The official'
record reads as follows:—
(23) Douglas to Barclay, December 10, 1849.   Ibid., A 11/51.
(24) Barclay to Douglas, August 3, 1849.    Provincial Archives.
(25) Lymington and South Hants Chronicle, June 14, 1894.
(26) From notes in the Provincial Archives based upon Joseph Foster,
Men-at-the-Bar; Alumni Oxonienses, the admission register of Lincoln's Inn,,
and other sources.
(27) For example, see E. 0. S. Scholefield, British Columbia,-Vancouver,
What previous knowledge had you of colonisation or colonial government?—I had been in one or two of the West India islands; I had been in
British Honduras, and I had been in India.
And upon the ground of the experience which you there gained, you
thought that you could make a good Governor of Vancouver's Island?—
I saw no reason to believe the contrary.28
It will be noted that Blanshard claimed no more than that he
had been in the colonies mentioned, and there is no indication
that he visited them other than as an ordinary traveller. The
records of the Colonial Office offer no clues whatever as to the
reasons for his selection—no letter of application, no testimonials
of any sort, are to be found. The entire absence of any material
makes it impossible to accept the suggestion that he had had
previous experience in the colonial service, for had such been the
case it is reasonable to assume that some mention of it would
have been made by the Colonial Office officials. Curiously
enough the records of the Hudson's Bay Company throw no further light on the reasons for the Company's selection of him as
Governor. In contemporary references he is referred to almost
invariably simply as a barrister. When writing to Douglas,
Archibald Barclay characterized him still more vaguely as " a
gentleman of great intelligence and respectability  .   .   .  "29
One change of importance was made with respect to the
governorship between the time Douglas's name was put forward
and Blanshard was appointed. Pelly, writing to Simpson, had
proposed a small allowance to the holder of the office and had
suggested £150 or £200 a year.80 It was understood that this
would be paid out of the moneys received from the sale of lands.
Later, however, it was decided that the Governor should receive
no salary until such time as the expense could be met by taxation
and royalities on coal. Basing his conclusions very largely upon
this fact, the historian Bancroft explained Blanshard's appointment in the following terms:—
If they [the officials of the Company] could not have Douglas, if some
noodle was required for a figure-head—for they knew that no very able or
sensible man would assume the office under the circumstances—they could
easily, even under the cloak of courteous consideration, make it so uncom-
(28) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company
.   .   .   London, 1857, p. 289.
(29) Barclay to Douglas, August 3, 1849.    Provincial Archives.
(30) H.B.C. Arch., D 5/22. 222 Willard E. Ireland. July
fortable for him that he would not long remain. So, when the name of
Richard Blanshard was suggested by Earl Grey, never having heard ill of
him, never having heard of him at all, Sir John Pelly offered no objection.
The friends of his lordship's friends knew him, and that was sufficients1
Bancroft's account is amusing, and it is important because it
is the accepted version. But it would appear to be contrary to
the facts. To begin with, Pelly told Simpson quite definitely that
Blanshard had been appointed upon his recommendation.82 To
end with, Blanshard explained his acceptance of the office quite
candidly to the Select Committee in 1857. He expected that
funds to pay a salary would soon be available, that in the meantime he would receive a thousand acres of land, and that this first
appointment, though a modest one, might lead on to a career in
the Colonial service. The two questions and answers in the evidence which bear upon the matter read:—
Do you mean that you accepted the governorship of this colony, with the
understanding that you were to get nothing whatever for your services in
that respect?—Nothing at the first beginning. I was certainly led to believe
that colonial settlers would flock out there; that all facilities would be
given to them; and that of course as the colony increased a civil list would
be formed; that the land sales and the royalties on the coal would produce
a considerable colonial revenue.
■ And those expectations, with the grant of 1,000 acres of land, to be
selected by yourself, were your inducements for going to the colony?—Just
so, and moreover I also hoped that my services would be considered by Her
Majesty's Government afterwards.33
So it came about that Richard Blanshard, a well educated and
travelled young barrister of 31, became the first Governor of the
Colony of Vancouver Island.34
(31) H. H. Bancroft, History of British Columbia, San Francisco, 1887,
p. 265.
(32) H.B.C. Arch., D5/26; Pelly to Simpson, September 7, 1849
(33) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 288.
(34) Copies of most of the important records relative to Blanshard's
appointment are in the Provincial Archives. The " Warrant to prepare
Letters Patent under the Great Seal for appointing Richard Blanshard, Esq.,
to be Governor and Commander-in-Chief in and over the Island of Vancouver and its Dependencies " is dated July 9, 1849. His Commission and Instructions are both dated July 16. The Letters Patent appointing him Vice-
Admiral are dated September 24, but the Warrant to use the Public Seal
of the new colony was not issued until June 28, 1850. 1944 Appointment of Governor Blanshard. 223
Blanshard was scheduled to leave England in September,
1849, in the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's regular West
Indian mail steamer,36 presumably the Avon, which left Southampton on the 17th, with seventy passengers and a full cargo.36
The Admiralty had agreed to instruct Read-Admiral Hornby,
Commander-in-Chief on the Pacific Station, to arrange if possible
to have a ship at Panama to convey Blanshard to Vancouver Island.37 But means of communication were slow and uncertain,
and there was no vessel there when Blanshard arrived on November 28. After waiting a month, Blanshard reported briefly to
the Colonial Office and wrote to Rear-Admiral Hornby.88 Eventually he was picked up by H.M.S. Driver, Captain Charles R. Johnson, a small steam sloop of 1,056 tons. By that time Blanshard
must have been very weary indeed, for the Driver did not reach
Victoria, Vancouver Island, until March, 1850.
An extract copied many years ago from the Fort Victoria
Journal records Blanshard's arrival as follows:—
Saturday, March 9, 1850.
... At noon a boat having an English flag flying entered the harbor
and anchored at Ogden point, which proved to be H.M.S. Sloop (steam)
Driver Capt. Johnson. Governor Blanshard of this Island was on board
and will take up residence here.39
Blanshard himself states that he arrived on March 10; but both
he and the fort journal agree that he landed and read his commission on Monday, March ll.40
The ceremony was made as formal and impressive as the
rudeness of the surroundings would permit. Blanshard landed
Under a salute of seventeen guns from the Driver, which was
answered from the bastion of Fort Victoria. The officers and
servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, Captain Johnson, and
all the British residents assembled, and in their presence Blanshard read his commission, thereby bringing into being the
(35) W. A. B. Hamilton to B. Hawes, August 9, 1849.    CO. 305, v. 2,
pp. 131-2;   transcript in Provincial Archives.
(36) The Times, London, September 18, 1849.
(37) W. A. B. Hamilton to B. Hawes, August 9, 1849.    CO. 305, v. 2,
pp. 131-2; . transcript in Provincial Archives.
(38) Blanshard to Grey, December 26, 1849.    Provincial Archives.
(39) Notes in the possession of W. Kaye Lamb.
(40) Blanshard to Grey, April 8, 1850. 224 Willard E. Ireland. July
Crown Colony of Vancouver Island. The scene was a wintry
one, for Blanshard recalled in later years that there was about a
foot of snow on the ground.41
Chief Factor James Douglas was, of course, amongst those
present. The contrast between the Factor and the Governor
must have been striking. In March, 1850, Douglas was 46 years
of age, and had spent more than thirty years in the fur trade.
Only Peter Skene Ogden could rival him in prestige and experience in all the West. He had been nine months at Fort Victoria,
and in his methodical way had made himself familiar with every
detail of the affairs of Vancouver Island. Blanshard, by contrast, was only 32, and by comparison a babe in arms in the
wilderness. Yet Douglas's first impressions of the Governor
were kindly and not unfavourable. On March 18 he wrote to his
old friend A. C. Anderson.
Mr. Blanshard has neither Secretary nor Troops, being accompanied by
a single body servant. I have not had time to become acquainted, but I may
say that his quiet gentlemanly manner, is prepossessing.
He has not yet entered upon his Executive duties, further than reading
his commission to the assembled states of the Colony.42
Two days later Douglas penned a parallel impression in a private letter to Sir George Simpson:—
I am pleased with Mr. Blanshard the Governor, his quiet gentlemanly
manner is prepossessing. We received him on landing with a salute of 17
Guns; he is rather startled by the wild aspect of the country, but will get
used to it in time.43
Circumstances now brought Blanshard under the gaze of
another interested observer. The Driver happened to arrive at
a moment when Fort Victoria and the infant colony were badly
in need of a shipment of cattle and sheep from Nisqually. Captain Johnson, in Douglas's words, " tendered his services for our
relief " in a " handsome manner . . . beyond all praise," and
undertook to transport the animals in the Driver.** Blanshard
accompanied the ship. At this time Dr. William Fraser Tolmie
was still in charge of the Nisqually farms, and on March 25 he
(41) Report from the Select Committee on the Hudson's Bay Company,
p. 294.
(42) Douglas to Anderson, March 18,1850.   Provincial Archives.
(43) H.B.C. Arch., D 5/27;  Douglas to Simpson, March 20, 1850.
(44) Douglas to Tolmie, March 13, 1850; see also Douglas to Tolmie,
March 17, 1850.    Provincial Archives. 1944 Appointment of Governor Blanshard. 225
included a lively thumb-nail sketch of Blanshard in a letter to
Mr. Blanshard the Governor of Vancouver's Island came passage in the
Driver and spent three days here. He is a tall, thin person, with a pale
intellectual countenance—is a great smoker, a great sportsman, a protectionist in politics and a latitudinarian in religious matters. His manner is
quiet, and rather abstracted, and tho' free from hauteur, or pomposity, he
does not converse much.46
On March 24, 1850, the Hudson's Bay annual supply ship
Norman Morison arrived at Esquimalt from England. Amongst
those on board was a 25-year-old surgeon, John Sebastian Helmcken, who was expected to act as Blanshard's secretary. In his
reminiscences Helmcken recalls guiltily the somewhat cavalier
fashion in which he first treated the Governor:—
One night while I was in bed and asleep, the Capt. woke me, and said
Govr. Blanshard has come on board from HMS Driver to see you. Well I
suppose I grumbled, and the governor sent word not to bother, as there
would be plenty opportunities later. I did not see him. The fact is I should
have got up with alacrity, but I supposed I was tired or lazy.46
Later Helmcken, by this time much worried by his discourtesy,
called on Blanshard in company with Dr. Benson, surgeon at Fort
Victoria. The Governor bore no grudge, and years later Helmcken wrote this account of the visit:—
We found Governor Blanshard smoking a very thick pipe with a very
long stem. He was a comparatively young man, of medium height, with
aquiline, aristocratic features, set off by a large, military moustache. He
had arrived only a few days previously, and had been riding. He said,
" Benson, you told me all the trails led to the fort, but you did not tell me
they all led away from it. Now, I got off the trail, to wander about, and I
lost it; but I found another, and it led away from the fort. I should not
have been here now had I not turned my horse's head and tail—as it is, I
have lost my dinner." He was a very intelligent and affable man. We left
him with his pipe-stem still in his mouth.4'
(45) H.B.C Arch., D 5/27; Tolmie to Simpson, March 25,1850 (private).
The Driver arrived at Nisqually on the morning of March 19. Blanshard
dined at the fort that evening, and on the 20th rode over to Steilacoom and
visited the officers of the American garrison there. On the 21st he went on
a shooting excursion. The Driver sailed for Victoria on the afternoon of
the 22nd, carrying 85 cattle and about 800 sheep. See Victor J. Farrar (ed.),
"The Nisqually Journal," Washington Historical Quarterly, XI. (1920),
pp. 146-7.
(46) Helmcken's Reminiscences, II., p. 89. MS., in Provincial Archives.
(47) Victoria Colonist, Christmas number, 1887. 226 Willard E. Ireland.
Not long after this visit Dr. Helmcken was ordered to Fort
Rupert, at the northern end of Vancouver Island, where the
Hudson's Bay Company had established a post in 1849, and was
seeking to develop the near-by coal deposits. Due to this transfer he never acted as the Governor's secretary. The letters
Which passed between them are cordial in tone, and Blanshard
always spoke well of Helmcken; but the latter remarks in his
memoirs that " Blanshard and I never became friends—he
evidently did not care for me."
Willard E. Ireland.
Royal Canadian Air Force. An early view of Fort Simpson.    From the original painting in the Provincial Archives. THE JOURNAL OF JOHN WORK, 1835:
Edited by Henry Drummond Dee.
Part II.
[At Fort Simpson.]
Friday, March IS. Thick drizzling rain all day with little or no wind.
Since I left here,63 the square of the dwelling house has been put up, and
the rafters, but the most of the latter were blown down with the storm two
nights ago. They are unable to go on with the building at present for want
of Nails, as there are none but what the blacksmith makes and, and [sic]
he has been sick and unable to work ever since I left. Indeed several more
of the men have been ill, all winter always between the % & Vt of the whole
number have been on the sick list. The Sawyers are employed sawing
boards for the roof of the dwelling house, and altho there are but a small
part of the boards wanted yet cut, yet the saw will soon have to be stopped
as there are no files to sharpen it with.
Saturday, March 14. Stormy with very heavy rain in the night which
continued till towards noon when the wind fell and the weather cleared up.
Had what furs were traded at Kygarny64 landed, also about 5 bushels of
potatoes for seed. The ones I left when I was here last, were inadvertently
exposed to the frost and all spoiled. Several of the Indians went off to
Nass during the day. An Indian arrived from that place in the evening,
and reports that the little fish have not yet arrived, and that not many
Indians are yet assembled. It is our object to proceed to Nass, as soon as
the wind will admit.
Sunday, March 15. Heavy rain, little or no wind all day. Dr. Kennedy66 was taken very ill during the day yesterday, and continues so. From
the number of sick Fort Simpson appears to be an unhealthy place. The
remainder of the Indians went off to Nass today.
Monday, March 16. Stormy in the night, Squally with rain and hail
during the day. Thick weather. The weather was deemed unfavourable
for the vessel to sail for Nass, tho' had we got into the straits the wind was
favorable to run up.    We are in hopes that we will get off tomorrow.
(53) An Admiralty plan of Fort Simpson, dated 1853 (No. 2426;  copy
in Provincial Archives), shows the fort in some detail.
(54) Kaigani Harbour, Alaska.    See supra, p. 140, n. 30.
(55) Surgeon and clerk at Fort Simpson.   See supra, p. 137, n. 19.
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. VIII., No. 3.
227 228 H. D. Dee. July
[Voyage to the Nass River.]
Tuesday, March 17. Frost in the night, raw cold weather during the
day. Got under weigh with a favourable wind for Nass,66 about 8 Oclock
A.M., and proceeded up the straits, but towards noon the wind died away
when we were able to make but little progress, and in the evening the tide
being against us we are losing ground, tho we are within sight of the Old
Fort6? and within a short distance of the anchoring place at the little river6^
a short distance below it. Saw several canoes proceeding up the straits
along shore, one of them came along side and informed us that the little
fish6^ have not yet arrived; nor are the Indians assembled, but few of those
from the fort have yet reached this place.
Wednesday, March 18. Bleak cold frosty weather. The steep mountains
with which we are surrounded are covered with snow. The wind freshened
a little with the flood tide in the night when we got worked up, tho' it was
very dark, to abreast of the little river where we anchored about 2 Oclock
in the morning, in sight of and a few miles below the old fort. A gun was
fired to apprise the Indians above that we are here. Several canoes passed
up during the day, and some of those from above came aboard, but traded
only a few Martens. They were examining the goods and enquiring the
prices, which does not appear to please them. We keep to the same tariff as
at the fort.
Thursday, March 19. Fine dry frosty weather. The Indians from the
fort were passing up with their canoes all day. The three chiefs and several
of their people came aboard to beg for liquor. Several of the Indians from
above also came aboard and after hanging on a long time about the price
traded 34 Beaver, 53 Martens, 1 Marten Robe,66 2 Bears. They appear little
disposed to trade, they complain about the price, a blanket & head of Tobacco
per Beaver, which I look upon as high enough, and it is probable that even
were we to pay higher, that they would hold up their skins in hopes of
(56) The Lama was bound for the Nass River to trade with the Indians
which gathered there at this season for the oolachan fishing.
(57) The " Old Fort" (i.e., the original Fort Simpson; see supra, p. 137,
n. 23), was about 20 miles up the Nass Estuary, near a large Indian village
called Ewen Nass. The post is described by Dr. W. F. Tolmie in his Diary,
entry for June 15, 1834: " Ft. Simpson is situated on a projecting rocky
point, on the eastern shore of the channel,—exposed to all the fury of the
NE. gales so prevalent in winter the buildings are placed in the centre of a
flat of about 2 or 3 acres in extent, which [is] elevated about 40 feet above
highwater mark & presents a breastwork of bold rocks to the sea. . . .
Several lodges of the Nasse tribe are scattered around the Fort. An excellent path leads from the landing place to the Fort Gate. Within everything
is nicely arranged—court macadamized pathways of cedar logs formed &
over the central one extending from the inner gate to the hall door a broad
awning is spread—houses whitewashed outside—Dwelling house covered
with cedar shingles which form a neat roof—wainscoated within."
(58) Not identified. Several streams flow into the Nass Estuary at this
(59) Oolachans.
■ (60)  A skin robe or cape which was thrown over the shoulders in cool
weather.    Blankets were substituted later for these robes. 1944 John Work's Journal. 229
getting more from the Americans whom they expect to arrive soon. Some
Crabs of a large size and a few small halibut61 were traded.
Friday, March 20. Thick weather; snow, sleet, & hail all day. There
was a good depth of snow on the deck in the morning. Bad as the weather
was, some Indians came off and traded 8 Beaver, 21 Martens, 1 Marten
Robe, 1 Bear Skin & a few Mink & Rats.
Saturday, March 21. Very unpleasant weather, hail, sleet, & rain, with
squalls of wind all day. Notwithstanding the bad weather some Indians
came off but did not trade any thing. They had a few small furs but would
not take the price offered for them.
Sunday, March 22. Fair in the morning, but stormy with a fall of snow
and sleet towards evening. Several Indians came off and traded 8 Beaver
and a few small furs. The Indians were out after Srauw62 a small fish but
without success, tho' there is no doubt they have arrived, a sure sign of
which is the number of gulls which are hovering over the water. The water
was also rather rough.
Monday, March 28. Stormy in the night, sleet & drizling [sic] rain
during the [day], squally in the evening. Several more of the Indians came
off but traded very little, their principal object appears to be begging. The
Shrau63 are arrived at last, the Indians took some today, a part of which
they brought us.
Tuesday* March 24. Cloudy mild fair weather. Several Indians came
off and traded as much small fish as is required for the vessel, but sold only
4 beaver skins. They seem so little inclined to trade at present that we
mean to go off tomorrow and cruise elsewhere & return here 1 % or 2 Months
hence. The expectation of obtaining a better price should an opposition
cast up, induces the Natives to hold up their furs. Late last night a party
of Sabassa64 men passed here, but did not come aboard. But we learn from
them that their people have some furs.
[Voyage from the Nass to Clemencitty.]
Wednesday, March 25. Fine weather very little wind. Got under weigh
in the morning but the wind was so light and ahead at the same time, that
we made but little progress, and now late in the evening we are still a considerable distance from the mouth of the straits.
(61) It is interesting to note that this is one of the earliest references
to the now extensive halibut fisheries of the North Pacific. The Indians
caught these fish by means of a wooden hook made of a forked branch, or
of two pieces of wood lashed together to form an acute angle. The line was
fastened to the middle of one fork, while to the other, so as to project
obliquely backward, was lashed a bone point. Good specimens of these hooks,
which were used mainly for halibut, are to be seen in the Provincial Museum
at Victoria, B.C.
(62) This is Work's interpretation of the Haida word for the oolachan.
It is rendered as " sa-ow " in W. Fraser Tolmie and George M. Dawson,
Comparative Vocabularies of the Indian Tribes of British Columbia, 1884,
p. 96B.
(63!)  Another form of the same word.
(64) Sabassa (sometimes rendered as Sebassa, or Sebasses) seems to
have been a collective term applied to the Indians of Laredo and Principe
channels. The tribe was often named after the chief, who was given an
hereditary name. The chief Sabassa is mentioned in Tolmie's Diary, entry
for April 3, 1835. 230 H. D. Dee. July
Thursday, March 26. Fine weather till towards evening when it began
to blow from the S.E. Continued under way all night with very little wind
and did not get out of the straits till the morning when we bore down to
Clemencitty66 and sent in a boat to ascertain if the Tongass Indians66 were
there and found that they were. A ship which proved to be the Europe
[sic], Capt. Allen6? was now observed bearing down from Fort Simpson and
soon joined us, when we both went into Clemencitty about noon, and shortly
after Capt. Allen came aboard. It appears he left the Islands68 in February and put in here the first place, where he remained 3 days and traded a
few skins, but not many. The Indians have some furs yet. We have
obtained very little news from Capt. Allen. The Dryad** had not yet
reached the Islands when he left. The arrival of this vessel will oblige us
to raise our Tariff or we will have no chance to get a share of the furs.
Friday, March 27. Blew strong from the S.E. in the night and all day
with heavy rain and sleet. Bad as the weather was, several Indians were
aboard and as usual examining the goods and examining the prices &
endeavouring to beat down the prices. Only 2 or 3 beaver were traded.
When both vessels are here they will trade little with either in hopes that
they may get [a] higher price. Capt. Allen brought over the Indians which
Capt. Dominis70 had hunting the Sea Otter. Dominis, it appears, was not
very successful.
Saturday, March 28. Fair weather, but blowing fresh from the S.E.
Several Indians were aboard but traded only 3 or 4 beaver for which we
had to raise our price 1 gall. Ind[ian]. liquor?! per beaver.
Sunday, March 29. Blew a storm in the night, squally from S.E. with a
great deal of sleet hail & rain during the day. Some more Indians were
aboard during the day & traded 4 or 5 beaver. With what few beaver they
have, they are going from vessel to vessel trying where they can get most.
We are anxious to get out from this place and proceed on to the Southward
as little is to be made here.
(65) See supra, p. 146, n. 52.
(66) A tribe of Tlingit Indians at the mouth of Portland Canal.
(67) Captain Allan, of the American brig Europa, which was on the
coast in 1834 and 1835.
(68) The Hawaiian Islands.
(69) For a description of this brig, owned by the Hudson's Bay Company, see H.B.S. IV., p. 25, n. 1. The Dryad had been sent to Honolulu
from Fort Vancouver for a cargo of salt to be used in the Columbia River
salmon fisheries.
(7Q) Captain John Dominis had been on the coast the previous year in
the 212- or 224-ton brig Bolivar Liberator. He had hired twenty Tongass
Indians to act as hunters for him in the California sea-otter trade which,
by that time, had become illegal. These natives were now being returned
to their villages by Captain Allan. See Adele Ogden, The California Sea
Otter Trade, pp. 125, 178;  and supra, p. 140, n. 31.
(71)  Diluted rum. 1944 John Work's Journal. 231
Monday, March 30. Wind still S.E. blowing right into the harbour so
that there is no chance of getting out. Stormy in the night, and blowing
fresh with sleet and rain during the day.    Traded a Sea Otter and 4 beaver.
The Indians were fighting the most of the day just round a point a little
above where we are lying. It does not appear they were drinking, but
probably from some old grudge, the quarrel arose from a trifling circumstance. A man had been ill treating his wife when her brother interferred
[sic], when they immediately took to arms and the partizans on each side
espoused their respective friends and kept up a brisk fire for a considerable
time. One of the Chiefs, Cootanah, came along side in the evening badly
wounded in the head and body with buck shot and stabs from knives. They
state that 7 are killed and others wounded, but perhaps some of those said
to be killed are only badly wounded. It is dreadful to see people belonging
to the same tribe, and relations too, thus butchering each other for a trivial
quarrel. It was the Jones's party that were opposed to Cootanah, who
headed Necoot's72 party. The Jonese's [sic] it appears have had the worst
of it. They had a quarrel last summer, when Capt. Allan was lieing here.
The Indians were drunk and upset their canoe when going ashore. Old
Jones missed his sister in the scuffle & thought she was drowned, & in
revenge laid hold of a man & held him under water till he drowned him,
and his friends in retaliation, shot Jones in the night. These are reckoned
the best Indians on the coast, and when they butcher each other in this
manner what may be thought of the others?
Tuesday, March 31. Rain most of the day, Wind Southerly. Stormy
during the night & forepart of the day. No chance of getting out of the
harbour. By the accounts received today it appears that 9 Indians were
killed dead in the affray which took place yesterday besides several wounded.
Of Jones's party 6, and of Cootanas 3 were killed. The Jones's fled in the
night and went to Nass. Cootana will scarcely recover of his wounds, and
one of his people has received a very severe wound in the groin.
Wednesday, April 1. Rain & sleet with very cold unpleasant weather
the most of the day. There being no chance of the vessel getting out of the
harbour, I took a boat and five men and went to Fort Simpson where I
arrived in 5% hours.^ We were all drenched with wet and very cold. It
was too late to return again to the vessel in the evening and I had to defer
starting till tomorrow. My object in coming here was to confer with Mr.
Birnie relative to the trade in consequence of the opposition casting up.
Nothing material has occurred here since I last left.
[The " Lama " seeks shelter in Kaigani Harbour.]
Thursday, April 2. A good deal of snow fell in the night and continued
stormy with snow till near noon, when the weather moderated and cleared
up. At noon when the weather had moderated I started on my return to the
vessel and past 3 Oclock P.M. Met her a little to the Southward of Clement-
Citty in Company with the Europa. They had got out in the forenoon.
Towards evening it began to blow fresh from the Southward, and though
(72) Not all of these chiefs can be identified. Necoots is described by
W. F. Tolmie in his Diary, entry for June 8, 1834, as a " Kyarnie chief."
Tolmie also mentions an Indian by the name of Jones at old Fort Simpson
on the Nass.    Diary, entry for September 2, 1834.
(73) The distance from Fort Simpson to Clemencitty is approximately
16 miles. 232 H. D. Dee. July
our object is to proceed to the Southward, yet from the unfavourable appearance of the weather it was deemed advisable to steer for Kygarny, where
we will be able to obtain shelter. Little way could be made beating against
a head wind. I brought a supply of some Kettles, Files, and Knives from
the Fort.
Friday, April 3. Blew strong in the night and all day. We got into
Kygarny and anchored in the upper harbour74 which is the safest place,
about Noon. The Europa arrived some time after and anchored in the lower
harbour.    Some Indians visited us but had nothing but a few fish.
Saturday, April 4- Blew a storm from the Southward in the night and
greater part of the day with heavy rain and sleet. Towards evening the
wind moderated. I rather regretted that we came in here yesterday, but
we have now reason to congratulate ourselves that we were in, as we could
have made no way, and run great risk had we been out in such a storm.
Sunday, April 5. Mild weather in the morning, blowing fresh from the
S.E. afterwards, with rain towards evening. Several Indians visited us
during the day from whom we obtained some fish. They had also some bear
and marten skins to trade but demanded such an extravagant price that it
could not be granted. From all we can learn, they have got but few skins
except some California Sea Otters,76 which they had when we were here
before, and which we will not buy except at a reduced price, which they
dont appear disposed to accept of.
Monday, April 6. Little wind & that variable. Fair weather till towards
evening, when it again set in to rain and become thick. Several more
Indians visited us but only 1 beaver and a few bear skins were traded from
them. It is annoying being so long detained thus and doing nothing, it is
difficult to get out of these parts, generally much more so than getting into
them, particularly during those prevalent Southerly winds.
Tuesday, April 7. Stormy with very heavy rain in the night, moderate
in the morning, but blowing strong from S.E. afterwards, with rain towards
evening. A few more Indians were aboard today but no trade. We learn
from the Natives that a vessel was seen some time ago passing to the N.E.
It is conjectured it could be none else but a Russian vessel,76 probably going
up to their establishment at Stikine.77 She was a two masted vessel. The
Indians below it seems have been quarreling among themselves, and it is
apprehended it may turn to serious consequences.
[Voyage from Kaigani to Nahwitti, on Vancouver Island.]
Wednesday, April 8. Blowing fresh with heavy rain forepart of the
night. Fair weather during the day. Very little wind in the morning but
a fine breeze from the Westward afterwards. Got under weigh at 10 A.M.,
and towed out of the harbour.    The wind being light we did not get out of
(74) These harbours on the south-east coast of Dall Island are shown
on Admiralty Chart No. 2431 (copy in Provincial Archives). See also
Marcus Baker, Geographic Dictionary of Alaska, p. 225.
(75) Doubtless these skins were a few which the Indians, recruited for
the California sea-otter hunt, had managed to keep back for themselves.
(76) Later identified, when this vessel turned out to be the American
brig Bolivar, Capt. Dominis.
(77) On Wrangell Island, at Point Highfield. Described by Tolmie in
his Diary, entry for June 20, 1834, as " a shapeless mass of logs or planks."
See supra, p. 129, and p. 143, n. 43. 1944 John Work's Journal. 233
Kygarny till 1 P.M., when we carried on with all sail set and were off
Tongass in the evening. Capt. Allen came out of Kygarny when we did,
but as his Vessel outsails us, he passed us and is now some distance ahead
of us.
Thursday, April 9. Fine weather. Kept on our course all night and by
8 A.M. were at the North entrance of Canall de Principe76 down which we
continued to Seal harbour^ at the S. end of it where we anchored at 8 P.M.
The wind was light and baffling a considerable part of the day, which
delayed us several hours. The Europa had hauled in towards Catsack6*
harbour in the morning when we passed her. We saw her following us on
afterwards but she has not yet come up. This place, Seal harbour, is where
we expected to find the Sabassa Indians but not one is to be seen. Different
old villages on both sides of the Canall as we came down, where they used to
resort, are all at present abandoned.81 It is conjectured that they are on
the opposite side of the island and may visit us tomorrow. We fired two
guns when we anchored to apprise the Natives that we are here. We also
fired at different times coming down the Canall to give them Notice of
our coming.
Friday, April 10. Fine weather, little wind. Late last night two canoes
of Indians came alongside, enquiring what ship. In the course of the day
several natives came aboard, but had very few furs to trade. 2 beaver 6
Otters & a few Martens and Minks were obtained from them. We also got
a good deal of fish & a deer from them & some geese and ducks. From
these people we learn that they are scattered about in small parties, that
the greater number are [on] the opposite side of the island82 at Skidoon
harbour,83 about 30 miles distant. Some were to go off to apprise them of
our arrival. The Chief Sabassas has been off some time with a party on a
visit to the Fort at Millbank64 and probably they have taken a good many
of the furs they had with them. Two guns were fired to apprise the Indians
of our being here. The Europa has not yet made her appearance. It is
conjectured she has put into Land Otter harbour66 and found a few Indians,
tho' we saw none in passing.
(78) Principe Channel, between Banks and Pitt islands. Named by
Jacinto Caamano.
(79) Not exactly identified, but judging by this entry and those for
April 15, 16, and 17, Seal Harbour must have been a rock-bound bay at the
southern end of Banks Island. It is mentioned in the Fur Trade Journal of
the Lama, March-August 1836, entry for April 8, which was kept by
Captain William Henry McNeill.
(80) Catsack or Cossack was somewhere near the entrance to Principe
Channel. This place is also mentioned in the Fur Trade Journal, but not
identified. The village was the headquarters of the chief Sabassa and his
name, " Shebashes," appears in quotation marks under the entry for Cossack
Harbour. It may be an oft-visited Indian village on Dolphin Island, or Port
Canaveral, on McCauley Island.
(81) The only reason for abandonment was the usual seasonal one, when
the Indians went from place to place for salmon and the like.
(82) Banks Island.
(83) Skidoon Harbour is specifically mentioned by Work, entry for May
14, as being on the west side of Banks Island, but no such place has been
located, nor does the B.C. Pilot list any anchorage on that side.
(84) Fort McLoughlin.
(85) Not identified. Perhaps Port Stephens, on Pitt Island, or a Kit-
katlah summer village just north of that place. 234 H. D. Dee. July
Saturday, April 11. Fine mild, overcast weather. Several more Indians
visited us, but only 3 beaver 3 Otters and a few Martens were traded from
them. Indeed they do not appear to have many furs, and from their clothing
they appear to be poor. They are nevertheless very difficult to deal with.
No appearance yet of the Europa, the wind was so light and variable today,
that she could make but little way. The men were ashore procuring spars
these two days.
Sunday, April 12. Very heavy rain in the night and during the day till
towards evening when it faired up. Very little wind and that variable.
Several Indians came aboard and traded 1 beaver, 5 land Otters, and a few
Martens & Minks and some fish and wild fowl & a deer. There is little
appearance of getting any thing more from them, nor is it likely that they
have much more furs of any kind. They brought a small sized inferior sea
otter but would not accept the price offered for it. There being so little
prospects of getting any thing more from them, we have determined to proceed on to the Southward tomorrow should the wind be favourable. We are
anxious to get to Neweetie66 before the American vessel.87 She has not yet
made her appearance here. Perhaps she has found a few Indians at. Land
Otter harbour and from the state of the weather has not yet got out of it.
Monday, April 13. Overcast showry weather. Wind variable and little
of it.. The want of wind deterred us from sailing today. Some more
Indians visited us and traded 1 beaver and 1 Otter and 10 Martens. Some
Indians proposed being paid for going to Skidoon Harbour for a part of
the tribe which are there, but we declined their offer as it was uncertain
when they might arrive and we did not like to lose so much time as would
probably be required to wait for them, and perhaps not get much from them
when they would come. They are now scattered about in small parties and
might take a considerable time to collect.
Tuesday, April 14- Excessive heavy rain, and thick weather all day.
Blowing fresh from the S.E., stormy afterpart of the day. The unfavourable weather deterred us from sailing as was intended. Two Indian men
and a woman came aboard with a sea otter and a land one recently killed.
While they were aboard a gun was fired from the shore and a ball or buckshot struck the side of the vessel and recoiled off it a little above the woman's
head, who was sitting in the canoe. We did not see who fired the gun nor
can we conjecture whether it was discharged at us or the woman. We are
not aware of the least offence having been given to any of the Natives since
we have been here, but they are such savage brutes that the least trifle
would induce them to commit murder. Some of the men with the 1st Mate,
Mr. Scarborough, were ashore near the place cutting a spar; they heard the
shot but did not see any of the Natives. The Indians report that there are
still a few Sea Otters to be found about here.
Wednesday, April 15. Heavy rain in the night and morning, showry
thick weather most of the day. In the afternoon the wind shifted round to
the S.S.W., but it was too late in the day for us to make a move as there
(86) Nahwitte (as the name is now spelled) is a few miles east of Cape
Scott and near the entrance to Goletas Channel. It was erroneously identified by the editor of this journal as the spot where Fort Rupert was later
built. Fort Rupert lay to the south, on Beaver Harbour. See H. D. Dee,
"An Irishman in the Fur Trade," in British Columbia Historical Quarterly,
VII. (1943), p. 258.
(87) The Europa. 1944 John Work's Journal. 235
are dangerous rocks to pass, which we would have to grope our way through
in the night & would be dangerous. We are in hopes of getting off tomorrow morning. Some Indians were aboard and traded a land Otter, they had
a Sea Otter but demanded too high a price for it.
Thursday, April 16. Light rain in the morning very little wind all day,
but fine weather, what little wind was from the Westward. Got under
weigh at 7 A.M. and towed the vessel out of the harbour, but though the
wind was favorable it was so light that we made but little progress and we
are now in the evening not more than 8 or 10 Miles from where we started1.
We hauled out past the South end of Bank's Island.88 Some Indians came
aboard in the morning and traded 1 Sea Otter & 2 land otters and some
Friday, April 17. Fine weather, some light rain in the morning. The
wind continues the same as yesterday, very light. Continued under way all
night and all day, but from the lightness of the wind making ver'y little
progress,, seldom over 2% Miles an hour and often only 1 Mile. In the
evening we were off Cape Swaine.89 It was past noon before we lost sight
of the harbour we left yesterday.
Saturday, April 18. Hazy Low[er]ing weather. The wind more round
to the Southward which enables us still to lie our course, but the wind is still
so light that we make but little progress, from 1 to 4 Miles an hour. Late
in the evening we were off Calvert's island^6 the wind was shifted to the
S.E. when we had to tack and stand off the land for the night. Large flocks
of geese have been passing these two days to the Northward.
Sunday, April 19. Still overcast lowering weather. Very little wind
and that from the Southward which was ahead of us. We kept working to
windward during the night and all day. About noon passed close by the
Virgin rocks^i and in the evening were within 8 or 10 Miles of the land on
the South side of Queen Charlotte's Sound*2 near Naweetie, but were not
able to make the harbour, which, would have been dangerous to attempt
entering in the night, and had to put about and stand out from the land.
Monday, April 20. Thick weather, some light rain part of the day, with
very little wind. A stiff breeze of wind with rain part of the night, which,
with the cross tide made a nasty jabble^s of a sea, which caused some of the
sails to be taken in. About 8 A.M. we again made the land, but the wind
was so light that we did not get into [blank in MS.] or Newettie harbour
till 5 P.M. This harbour is situated on the South side of Queen Charlotte's
Sound, North end of Vancouver's Island. Several Indians came along side,
and sold us some fish.    We have had a tedious long voyage from Seal har-
(88) The Lama is now in Otter Passage, Nepean Sound. This channel
is obstructed by rocks and rendered even more dangerous by strong tides.
(89) On the southern side of the entrance to Milbanke Sound.
(90) Calvert Island, at the left of the entrance to Fitzhugh Sound.
Work was now some 125 miles south of Banks Island.
(91) A patch of rocks in the Sea Otter Group in Smith Sound, southwest of Calvert Island.
(92) Separating the northern extremity of Vancouver Island from the
(93) Work had a flair for descriptive words. " Jabble" is an obsolescent onomatopoeic word meaning a confused motion of waves in a cross-
sea. For further examples see British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VII.
(1943), p. 232. 236 H. D. Dee. July.
bour here.    There was no wind worth mentioning and that little, variable
and baffling.    The distance is but about 140 Miles.
Tuesday April 21. Weather the same as these days past. A considerable number of the Indians came aboard and along side, but traded only
1 Small Sea Otter, 2 land Otters, 13 Martens, 26 Minks, and a few Hiaquas®4
and some fish. They say they have some Sea Otters, but they did not bring
any of them aboard. As usual they passed the day enquiring about the
price &c that would be given them. It is not thought that they have many
furs. They appear very difficult to deal with. This is always the case
when Indians are very poor and these appear to be so in their clothing and
they appear wretched, notwithstanding an American vessel was here last
year. They are not very numerous, there might be about 40 or 50 men
about the vessel today, but perhaps this was not the whole of them. There
are two other tribes at no great distance, the principal of which, the Col-
cauth,95 are accustomed to have most furs. Two Indians were engaged and
sent off to apprise them that we were here & to bring them. They are to
be back in three days.
Wednesday, April 22. Fine weather, Wind Northerly. The most of the
Indians were about the vessel during the day and traded 9 Land Otters, 61
Minks 2 Martens, & 2 beaver, and a few Heyaquas. They had two or three
sea otters but would not trade them. They appear to have but few furs of
any kind, and demand very high prices for them. When the American vessel arrived, they stopped trade at once. About noon the Europa, Capt.
Allen, arrived. It appears he came to Seal harbour the next day after we
left it, where unfavorable winds detained him till yesterday, when having a
chance of a favourable wind, he came off and was lucky enough to get here
in about 30 hours, while on account of foul light winds we were five days
and four nights coming the same distance. We were unlucky, in having
such unfavorable winds, had the weather permited [sic] of our leaving Seal
harbour on the [blank in MS.]96 as we intended and been favourable coming,
we would probably have had all the skins here collected by this time. Capt.
Allen states that he got but few furs at Sabasses.97
Thursday, April 23. Some light rain in the Morning, fine weather afterwards. The Indians have a few land otters and three beaver with which
they passed the day going from One vessel to another trying to raise the
price. Nothing pleases them better than to have two vessels thus opposing
each other. It is annoying in the extreme to see the advantage which the
black vagabonds endeavor to make of this circumstance.
Friday, April 24. Overcast raw cold weather. Wind Northerly. The
Natives passed the day going from vessel to vessel as yesterday. We traded
only 3 land otters and a few Martens and Minks. Capt. Allan's blankets
are much larger than ours and of a superior quality, which renders it neces-
(94) Shell money composed of strings of dentalia (tooth-like shells)
used by the Indians of the North Pacific. This word is spelled variously,
haiqua, heyaqua, hykwa, ioqua, etc.
(95) Work's attempt at the spelling of the name Kwakiutl. In its more
restricted sense this term applies to a group of closely related tribes in the
Fort Rupert area, around Beaver Harbour.
(96) April 13th is probably meant.
(97) Cossack Harbour. 1944 John Work's Journal. 237
sary for us to give some ammunition and some other articles in addition,
to make up for the difference.    He has traded little more than us today.
Saturday, April 25. Weather as yesterday. The Indians going on as
usual. Our trade today only 2 beaver, one of which was a fresh killed one,
which shows that there are some beaver here. There is a small river falls
into the head of the harbour which appears remarkably well adapted for
them, but from the quantity of underwood it appears a very difficult country
to travel through. The shore in most places is very rocky. The Natives
bring us a sufficiency of fish, principally halibut. We got a few large trout
yesterday but they are of a very inferior quality. It is a pity that we could
not make some arrangement as to the scale of trade so as to prevent the
Indians from playing so much upon us and bring them down in their
demands, but the difference in the quality of Capt. Allan's goods from ours
render such a thing difficult. Late in the evening a Canoe of Naspatte98
men arrived with 2 Sea Otters and some land Otters but they have not yet
offered them for sale.    Naspatte is a harbour to the Southward.
Sunday, April 26. Wind continues Northerly. Overcast raw cold
weather. The Natives as usual going from vessel to vessel trying where
they can get most for the chance skin they have. The people that arrived
yesterday have a couple of Sea Otters and a few land ones but have not
traded them. In the evening a large Canoe arrived from the Colcauths,
they [word omitted in MS.]99 that more of the people are on the way coming.
We traded only 1 bear, 2 Otters & 3 Martens.
Monday, April 27. Wind Southerly. Rained a good deal during the day.
This is the first Southerly wind we have had since we have been here. Our
trade today, 6 land otters & 2 beaver. Our neighbours have far the advantage of us in the quality and variety of their goods yet it does not appear
that they are doing much more than ourselves. Another canoe arrived from
the Colcauths and report that more are on the way. They have probably'
been off scattered, fishing, which is the cause of their being so long of
coming. When we sent off the Message for them it was expected they would
be back in three days, formerly when sent for they used always to come in
two or three days. It is a hardship to be remaining so long losing so much
time here, doing little or nothing, but as this is the principal place where
any thing of a trade is to be expected, we must remain and see what is to be
done. We might go away and return again, but we cannot do so and leave
our opponent here.    Later in the season is the best time to visit these people.
Tuesday, April 28. Heavy rain most of the day. Wind Southerly. The
Natives as usual going from vessel to vessel with a chance land otter skin.
They are telling us that the Colcauths will be here in 5 or 6 days, but they
have been telling us the same thing every day. It is probable that they
either have few skins to trade, or that they are dispersed fishing, or they
would be here before now. On former occasions, they always arrived in 2
or 3 days after being sent for.
Wednesday, April 29. Rain most of the day. Wind Westerly. Two
Otters & a couple of beaver are the only trade of this day. As there is no
prospect of the Indians which we have been so long waiting for, we would
(98) Nasparti Inlet is adjacent to Cape Cook, on the west side of Vancouver Island. Work's use of the word_" southward " makes one feel that
Nasparti lay farther south from Nahwitti along the east coast instead of
being located on the west coast.
(99) Possibly " intimated." 238 H. D. DEE. July
make a move and go some where else at once were it not for our opponent
who, if he remains, might get the Indians just after -we start. He says he
means to sail also the first opportunity.
Thursday, April SO. Showry squally weather in the morning, fine
weather blowing fresh from the Westward afterwards. Two Otters were
traded today. Our trade altogether since we have been here amounts to
8 beaver, 27 land Otters, 20 Martens 111 Mink and 1 Pup Sea Otter.
[Voyage to the Queen Charlotte Islands.]
Friday, May 1. Heavy rain forepart of the day. Having given up
hopes of the arrival of the Colcauth Indians for whom we have been waiting
so long, we got under weigh & towed out of the harbour in the morning and
continued working down the sound, and have got out opposite Cape Scott by
the evening. In the afternoon the wind, which is N. Westerly and right
ahead, freshened up and with the strong cross current in the entrance of
Queen Charlotte's Sound caused a nasty jabble of a sea in which the vessel
pitched considerably, and occasioned a good deal of seasickness. The Europa
got under weigh before we did and came out also, but we are now some
distance ahead of her. Our object is to proceed to the Northward, call at
some of the tribes which we have not yet seen and then pay another visit
to Nass.
Saturday, May 2. Fair weather blowing fresh and a heavy sea on.
Continued working on to the Northward but owing to the roughness of the
sea and the wind still ahead we made but little progress and have got only
abreast of Calvert's island. The Europa was not to be seen in the morning
and it is conjectured she has proceeded to the Southward to Nasspatte, a
place near Woody point.ioo This is a place where very few furs have ever
been found, particularly since Sea Otters became scarce.
Sunday, May 8. The weather more moderate than these days past, but
the wind being still ahead we made but slow progress working to windward.
Monday, May 4- Weather fine, wind still from the Northward, So that
we made but little progress. In the evening we were close to the land off
the S. end of Canall de Rideau.101 Here about a score of Indians came off
to us at 6 Oclock. They had some furs with them and after spending some
, time quibling [sic] about the price commenced trading and continued till
after dark near 9 Oclock, when they went ashore, and we are to come in
again in the morning as they have still a few more furs. These Indians
are of the Inchelo [?]162 tribe.
Tuesday, May 5. Fine mild weather. Very little wind in the morning
but a fresh breeze afterpart of the day. Kept off and on all night and stood
into the land early in the morning, when the Indians came off and by 9 A.M.
had traded the most of their furs, and a good many fish, which are a seasonable supply as our stock was out.    We now stood out from the land with a
(100) Woody Point was named by Captain James Cook. It was changed
to Cape Cook by Captain G. H. Richards in 1860. See Walbran, British
Columbia Coast Names, p. 107.
(101) Laredo Sound, named by Jacinto Caamano in 1792. Work's prolonged association with French-Canadian servants of the Hudson's Bay
Company undoubtedly accounts for his Gallic twist to the word. The sound
lies between Aristazabal and Price islands. The Channel of the same
name, which Work calls a " Canall," lies behind the former island.
(102) Not identified. 1944 John Work's Journal. 239
fine breeze which raised a jabble of a sea; but the wind being still ahead
we stood across to Charlotte's Islandioa and in the evening are off Cape
James.i"4 From these Indians we traded 29 beaver, 16 land otters, 60
Martens & 74 Minks.
Wednesday, May 6. Fine weather. Wind still the same, but so light
that we make but very little progress, moreover, (probably from the long
continuance of these Northerly winds,) a strong current is setting us to
the Southward.
Thursday, May 7. Wind still continues the same, a thick fog part of
the day. We continue working to windward, but owing to the lightness of
the wind that we make very little progress. Indeed we have not gained over
20 to 30 Miles these two days. The wind died away last night and the
current swept the vessel near a rock off the lower end of Isle de Stephen.*66
Friday, May 8. Wind continues still from the Northward, foggy weather
most of the day. It blew fresh most of the night and greater part of the
day, and raised a pretty heavy sea. Notwithstanding that the wind is so
strong that a part of the sails had to be taken in, we are able to make little
progress working against the head sea. At noon we were off Seal harbour,
Isle de Stephen. It is extremely irksome being thus so long baffled with
contrary winds, now 8 days coming a distance that might have been done in
24 hours with a favorable breeze. Capt. McNeill, all the time he has been
cruising on the coast, never experienced the like before.
Saturday, May 9. Continued squaly [sic] during the night & became
calm in the morning, a nice breeze in the middle of the day, & calm again in
the evening. In the morning the wind shifted round to the Southward and
continued so till towards evening, when it fell calm and again shifted round
to the westward. We made good progress while the wind continued favourable, and by the evening were well up with Skidegates harbour,196 but the
wind failing we could not get in, & will have to keep off & on during the night.
Sunday, May 10. Showry squally weather, wind baffling, occasionally
blowing in squalls, and then dieing away. Wind Westerly. In the morning
we were out off Skiddinas197 harbour, East side of Q. Charlotte's Islands but
as the wind was blowing right out of the harbour and not being steady there
was some difficulty working in. At 10 A.M. we anchored inside of the bar
in an exposed place, not being able to get up to the proper anchorage. In
the course of the day a considerable number of the Skidegate Indians came
off, and supplied us with some fish & a bear skin and a few Martens. There
was such a jabble of a sea on, that the canoes could not lay along side &
they had to go ashore. The Indians were shy to come aboard for some time
till they were told they had nothing to fear.    Their shyness arose, from the
(103) The Queen Charlotte Islands.
(104) Cape St. James, at the southern extremity of the Queen Charlotte
(105) Not identified, but if Work's sailing directions may be relied upon,
this must refer to some spot off the south-east coast of Moresby Island, in
the vicinity of Skincuttle Inlet, and not to Stephens Island at the southern
end of Chatham Sound.
(106) Skidegate Inlet, between Graham and Moresby islands.
(107) This may refer to Skedans, on Cumshewa Inlet, a little south of
Skidegate, where a large Haida village was to be found. However, from the
subsequent mention of the sand-bar at the harbour entrance, it seems to
refer to the main village at Skidegate, on Graham Island. 240 H. D. Dee. July
loss of the Vancouver1®* last year, as they are connected with the tribe who
inhabit where she was lost, and who plundered her. We learn from them
that 25 Canoes of that tribe and these people are off now at the fort Simpson
for the purpose of making up matters, and that the Chief means to exculpate
himself & his people by stating that it was not their fault, but the fault of
the waves that occasioned the loss of the vessel This appears to be their
way of reasoning on the subject. They have also taken some things with
them to the fort. These people say they have few furs, that those who have
gone to the fort have taken what furs they had with them, but that another
tribe the Gawwilth,199 which live a little farther up the Sound have got some
Monday, May 11. Showry weather, some squalls. Wind variable.
Moved 5 miles farther up the Sound to well sheltered good anchorage a few
miles above the village. The most of the Indians visited us during the day-
and traded 6 or 8 bear skins and about 40 Martens & 1 land Otter, which is
probably the most of what they have got. We also bought some potatoes,110
for which we paid higher than usual for, but they are scarce now, and I
much want these for seed at the fort. A few of the Cawelth men were also
here, but had very little with them. They have two Sea Otters which they
are to bring tomorrow. These people appear very poor; they are wretchedly clothed and apparently badly off for every thing. This formerly used
to be one of the best places for Sea Otters on the coast, but now scarcely any
is to be found among them. They grow a considerable quantity of potatoes
they have several patches under cultivation about their villages. The
Necoon111 tribe, who who [sic] reside at Point Rose, 60 Miles to the Northward of this, where the Vancouver was wrecked, speak the same language
as these people and are in some measure connected with them; yet I have
not been able to observe any of the articles belonging to the vessel about
them. So that it is probable they have not come in for much share of the
plunder.    I counted near 100 about the vessel at one time today.
Tuesday, May 12. Blew strong from the Eastward part of the day with
showers. Several more of the Indians visited us and traded two small Sea
Otters. It is believed they have got no more furs. All we have got is not
worth coming in for, but we did not know that. What few furs they had,
those that have gone to Nass (15 Canoes) have taken them with them.
Should the wind be favourable we intend to leave this tomorrow.
(108) The schooner Vancouver, wrecked on March 3, 1834. See supra,
pp. 141, 143.
(109) These' Haida people are referred to in George M. Dawson, Report
on the Queen Charlotte Islands, p. 173B, where an estimate of Haida and
Kaigani Indians, made by John Work, is given. In this publication the
name is given as " Kow-welth," and indeed, Work renders it variously in this
present journal. The Handbook of American Indians (Frederick Webb
Hodge, ed.), I., p. 230, identifies these people as living in the village of
Chaahl, on the north-west coast of Moresby Island. This is undoubtedly
Chaatl Village on Chaatl Island, at the west entrance to Skidegate Channel.
(110) The Hudson's Bay servants at Fort Simpson and other establishments were under orders to be to the greatest possible extent self-supporting.
There and at Fort McLoughlin they bought quantities of potatoes from the
Indians until their own gardens were in production. When and from whom
the Indians first obtained potatoes is not clear. Dawson, Report, p. 113B,
states vaguely that they were introduced by early voyagers.
(111) Necoon, or long nose, was the name given by the Haidas to Rose
Point, at the north-eastern extremity of Graham Island. 1944 John Work's Journal. 241
[Voyage to the Nass River.]
Wednesday, May IS. Fine weather, light variable winds. Got under
weigh at 1 P.M., but the wind was so light that it was past 6 when we got
across the bar. We are certainly very ill lucked for wind. In the forenoon
there were 28 Canoes about the vessel in which I counted 157 Natives 30 to
40 of whom were women and children and about 120 Men; 15 Canoes of.
these people are off to Nass. Suppose they would average only 10 Men each,
it would make 150.
Thursday, May 14. Fine weather. Wind still light and variable from
S.W. to S.E. The wind was so light that we made very slow progress, not
over 30 to 40 Miles during the 24 hours. It was first our intention to have
touched at Skidoon harbour on the W. side of Bank's island but have abandoned the idea and proceed direct to Nass least [sic] Allan*12 be there
before us.
Friday, May 15. Fine weather during the day, and a nice breeze of
favourable wind afterpart of the day. Some rain in the night. We passed
Isle de Zayas early in the morning and got into Nass straits past noon and
proceeded to Nass where we anchored a little past 12 Oclock at night. As
we got towards the anchorage it came on to blow with very heavy rain and
was so dark that we could scarcely see the land and had to get to the anchorage by sounding. We have the Mortification to find the Europa here, she
arrived this morning, and has already been busy trading with the Indians.
We have been exceedingly unfortunate, in having unfavourable winds, or
according to our plan we would have been here long enough ago and have
had the trade all secured before this.
Saturday, May 16. Fine weather. Early in the morning the Indians
began to assemble and were about both vessels and going from one to another all day. We traded 51 Beaver, 5 Land Otters, 9 Bears & a few
Martens. The Americans have 3% point Blankets, far superior to ours
both in size and quality, of which the Indians are well aware. In order that
we might have a chance for a share of the trade we were induced to rise our
Tariff to a Blanket 3 gall. Ind[ian]. Rum, 6 head Tobacco, per Beaver
large. It is high but without we do so we will have no chance to get our
share of the trade. We also give 7 gall. Mixed liquor for a beaver which is
a gallon more than our opponents give. The Indians glory in having in
having [sic] opposition and know well how to take advantage of it. There
are a great many Natives assembled here now from different quarters, they
are encamped some distance up the river.
Sunday, May 17. Still fine weather. The Indians assembled again in
the morning as usual, and kept going between us and our opponents as usual.
During the day we traded 94 Beaver, 5 Otters, 28 Bears, 21 Martens. We
had more customers than our opponents owing to the superior quality of our
Rum and Tobacco. Capt. Allan who must have been perfectly aware of our
scale of trade, came aboard and enquired what we were giving, and on being
told, got in a violent passion and declared that he would do his utmost to
rise the price and make us pay as high as possible for all the furs we would
trade on the coast this season, that he had plenty of goods to do so (& as our
deck was full of Natives busy trading) without waiting to be spoke to went
over the side and proclaimed to the Indians that he would give 4 gall. Rum
& 8 heads of tobacco with one of his large blankets for a beaver.    The
(112) .Captain Allan of the Europa. 242 H. D. Dee. July
Indians received this intimation with several loud hurrahs, and immediately
ceased trading, and began to clear off to his vessel. It remained with us now
either to lose the beaver or rise our price, the latter was preferred and we
accordingly offered 5 gal. Mixed rum & 10 heads tobacco with a blanket per
beaver, the result of which was that we secured, as we think, the best share
of the day's trade. At this rate the furs cost high, but as our expenses are
going on the same, let us get beaver or not, and as we have a good stock of
goods, it is deemed best rather than let the furs fall all into the hands of our
Opponents, to secure them even at a light profit. The Indians seem perfectly aware that this is not to last, for they are enquiring how long these
prices are likely to continue and were promptly told by us only so long as
our Opponents remained.
A large party of Necoon & Skidegate Indians, who had been here, went
off on their return home this morning. These are the people that pillaged
the Vancouver when she was wrecked last year and probably being afraid,
did not come near us. In the course of the afternoon, 20 Canoes containing
from 7 to 20 persons each of Cumshewas men,116 arrived, also from Q. Charlotte's Island.
Monday, May 18. Still fine weather. The Indians still about us in great
numbers, but the trade has not been so brisk as yesterday. We secured 45
Beaver 2 Otters, 19 Bears and a few Martens, and 6 Sea Otters. The
Natives have got such an ample supply of liquor, that they are in no hurry.
Tuesday, May 19. Fine weather. Fewer Indians than usual about today. We traded only 12 beaver. The Natives are said to have a good many
yet, but they were all busy drinking today, which was the cause of but few
of them coming to trade. Capt. Allan got under weigh in the forenoon and
stood down the straits, but returned and anchored again in the evening.
We had prepared to follow him, for though we learn from the Natives that
they have still a good many beaver, should our opponents go off, it would
be better for us to leave them as they will most likely be obtained at the fort
hereafter at a much cheaper rate than we can procure them now.
Wednesday, May 20. Raining most part of the day. As the Americans
still remain here we have not moved either. Several Indians again visited
us but traded only [blank in MS.] Beaver & [blank in MS.] Bears. They
brought a considerable quantity of small fish Oil114 here but we did not
purchase any of it. Formerly the Americans used to buy a great deal of
this article and sell it elsewhere on the coast for furs, but as this has been
an indifferent fishing year the Oil is scarce and such high prices demanded
for it that there would be no gain in buying it to sell it elsewhere. We are
led to conclude that the Natives have fewer beaver remaining among them
than we thought.    We have therefore determined to leave this tomorrow.
[Return to Fort Simpson.]
Thursday, May 21. Raw cold weather, blowing fresh from the Southward which is right up the Straits.116 Rain in the evening. At a little
before 11 A.M. about high water, we weighed anchor and proceeded down
(113) From Cumshewa Inlet, on the east side of Moresby Island.
(114) Oil from the oolachans was in demand by all the coast Indians.
To extract this oil the fish were allowed to putrefy partially, and were then
boiled in a mass in wooden boxes with hot stones. No condiment was more
pleasing to the Indian palate that oolachan grease.
(115) Nass Straits, the entrance to Portland Inlet. 1944 John Work's Journal. 243
the Straits but having to work against the wind. We made but slow
progress, and now in the evening we are not more than 10 or 12 Miles from
where we started. The American vessel got under weigh at the same time
as we did, and as we were both tacking from side to side of the Straits on
one occasion the two vessels came in contact, when our Martingal116 and
part of the boarding netting chains117 were carried away, some ropes &c
also gave way in the other vessel. I was below at the time this occurred.
Capt. McNeill says that it was Capt. Allan's fault for, as he was on the
larboard tack, according to Naval rules, it was his business to keep off. Be
this as it may very serious damage might have been sustained by both
vessels had they not fortunately separated as they did. It would appear
that Capt. Allan did not perceive when Capt. McNeill ordered his helm
alee. We have traded altogether at this place 8 Sea Otters, 205 Beaver 11
Land Otters 59 Bears 53 Martens & 3 Marten Robes. As far as we can
judge Our Opponents may have procured about 240 or 250 Beaver and land
Otters, and probably from his articles of trade and the price he gave, he
has got rather more Marten than we have got, but he got few or no Bears.
Moreover of the Number of beaver and land Otters which he got, as he gave
a higher price for the land otters than we could afford, he got a greater
proportion of land Otters than we have.
Friday, May 22. Rain during the night and most of the day with very
little wind. The wind was so light that the current carried us back in in
[sic] the night nearly half of the way that we came yesterday, and our
progress was so Slow during the day that we are yet some distance from
the Mouth of the Straits. The Europa being on the one side of the straits
while we were on the opposite side got a little breeze of wind in the night
which shoved her on a piece when she got a few miles ahead of us, and got
out of the Straits in the morning but appears becalmed at some distance
outside. Two Indians delivered me a note from Dr Kennedy dated yesterday, stating that a strange vessel, a brig, was seen on the 19th working up
past the mouth of the straits to towards the fort,116 but that she had put
about again and stood into Clemencitty, and had fired several guns. We
suppose it must be a Russian vessel.119 Her guns were answered from the
fort. Late in the evening a gun was supposed to be heard, when we answered
it with two. Some days ago the Indians reported to us that they had seen
a vessel but they are such notorious liars that we did not credit them.
Saturday, May 23. Fine weather. Very light wind & variable. Early
in the Morning we were out of the straits and abreast of the fort, and at
4 A.M. Capt. McNeill and I landed with the furs leaving the vessel standing
off and on outside so that time might not be lossed [sic]. A few hours after
the Capt. returned on board with a supply of 3 bales of blankets & 1 Cwt. Buck
Shot, and proceeded on his voyage. It was his intention to proceed through
Brown's passage12* but the wind shifted a little and he passed round by the
(116) An ash bar fixed downward from the bow-sprit cap, by which the
martingale stay supports the jib-boom.
(117) It will be remembered that the Lama carried protective netting,
to guard against surprise attacks by the natives.
(118) Fort Simpson.
(119) Identified later by Work as being the American brig Bolivar.
(120) Brown's Passage, between the Tree Nob islands and South Dundas
islands. 244 H. D. Dee.
North end of Dundass' island,^1 but the wind was so light that he was not
out of sight late in the evening. He is directed to proceed to Naweetie and
endeavour to procure the furs that the Caucoulth men may have, (we did
not see this tribe when we were last there) and then to cruise about where
he can make most, but to be back here in sufficient time, to have the vessel
in readiness to sail for the Columbia122 by the 1st September. I remained
ashore myself and mean to remain at the fort now. The Europa was seen
in the morning out towards the N. end of Dundass' Island.
[To be continued.]
(121) As previously identified, immediately west of Fort Simpson.
(122) I.e., for Fort Vancouver, on the Columbia River. NOTES AND COMMENTS.
Shortly after the death of Judge F. W. Howay, in October, 1943, it was
announced by Lieutenant-Colonel G. G. Aitken, British Columbia's representative on the Geographic Board of Canada, that the Board had approved
the suggestion made by himself and the late A. Wells Gray, then Minister
of Lands, that a prominent peak in the vicinity of Stave Lake should be
named Mount Judge Howay. Some time ago it occurred to Mr. B. A.
McKelvie, President of the British Columbia Historical Association, that it
would be peculiarly fitting if a companion peak nearby could be named after
Judge Howay's life-long friend, Dr. Robie L. Reid. This suggestion was
promptly submitted to the Geographic Board by Colonel Aitken, and official
approval was given early in July. A few days later Mr. D. A. McGregor,
editorial writer for the Vancouver Daily Province, wrote the following
leading article, which appeared in the Province for July 7, 1944:—
"A Mountain Memorial.
" Fifty-one years ago, two young men began the practice of law in
partnership in New Westminster. They had long been close friends. They
had both taught school in the Fraser Valley. They had studied together at
Dalhousie University and read law in the Nova Scotia town of Kentville.
Both were soon to marry daughters of Fraser Valley pioneers.
" The two young barristers were Frederick W. Howay and Robie L. Reid.
The subsequent careers of these two men are well known. Both achieved
prominence in the lower mainland community. Judge Howay, after serving
as alderman and school trustee of New Westminster, went to the County
Court bench, devoted his leisure to the study of British Columbia history
and became a national figure and one of the authorities on the early history
of the Pacific Coast.    He died nine months ago.
" Mr. Reid, who had also served as an alderman of New Westminster,
removed to Vancouver after his partner went to the bench and has long
been in practice in this city, devoting himself, meanwhile, to public service
in various fields. He was one of the first governors of the University. He
served for many years on the Library Board. He was the first president
of the Little Theatre Association. He was [one of the] organizer [s] of
the British Columbia Historical Association. He also has been interested
in British Columbia's early story and his contribution to the general knowledge of B.C. history has been enormous. Happily, he is still with us, though
not as active as formerly.
"After the death of Judge Howay, the Provincial Government paid a
unique tribute to his memory by naming after him a mountain peak north
of Stave Lake. Now, a like tribute has been paid to the work and qualities
of Mr. Reid.    A mountain in the same area has been named Mount Robie
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, Vol. VIII., No. 3.
245 246 Notes and Comments. July
Reid.    Mount Robie Reid stands 6,847 feet high near the head of Alouette
Lake and west of Stave Lake.
" The two peaks are visible from New Westminster, where the partners
began their life-work, and though they are 10 miles apart, at that distance
they appear to stand side by side. And so they will stand, a continuing
memorial to the high qualities and public spirit of two of British Columbia's
finest citizens."
Victoria Section.
The last regular meeting of the year was held in the Provincial Library
on the evening of Thursday, April 27. Mr. F. C. Green, Vice-Chairman,
presided. The speaker was Dr. W. Kaye Lamb, who spoke on Peter and
James and John. The reference was to the three leading figures in the
history of the fur trade on the Pacific Coast: Peter Skene Ogden, James
Douglas, and John McLoughlin. Dr. Lamb explained that he referred to
them in this familiar fashion because he wished to speak of the men themselves and their personalities, and not merely to outline their careers and
list their accomplishments. It was usually forgotten, for example, that'
Ogden's ancestors had come to America as long ago as 1642; that he came
of a family that produced many distinguished lawyers and judges who
achieved distinction in Canada, the United States, and Great Britain; and
that phrases and references in his letters indicated that Peter Skene
himself had studied law. No other fur-trader had a more remarkable
ability to handle both his traders and the Indians, as could be demonstrated
by incident after incident dating from the great days of the Snake River
expeditions to the tragedy of the Whitman massacre. James Douglas,
equally successful and prominent in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company, had very different gifts and a curiously different career. His life
was primarily that of an administrator, and he advanced in life rapidly
because he was always so well qualified for any higher position that might
fall vacant or be created that he was the obvious choice for the appointment.
McLoughlin, very different once again, was the most complex personality
of the three, and unhappily his career, remarkable and successful as it was
in many respects, ended in frustration and sorrow.
The annual summer meeting took the form of a garden party held in
the grounds of " Little Harbour," the residence of Dr. and Mrs. T. A.
Rickard, on the afternoon of Saturday, July 15. More than eighty members
and friends attended. The guest speaker was Dr. Erna Gunther, Director
of the Anthropological Museum at the University of Washington, who spoke
on early Indian civilization in the Victoria region. She described the daily
life of the Indians, and pointed out the ingenuity with which they made
use of what they had. Known chiefly as warriors, hunters, and fishermen,
the Indians were also fine farmers. Dr. Gunther deplored the loss of old
traditions and native customs, and expressed the hope that the historian
and anthropologist, working together, might recreate a permanent picture
of primitive life on this continent.    Dr. Rickard spoke on the history of 1944 Notes and Comments. 247
Victoria  Harbour, and related interesting and little known facts about
historic points in the vicinity of his home.
Mr. Justice H. B. Robertson, Chairman of the Section, presided at the
outdoor programme, at the conclusion of which tea was served indoors with
Mrs. Robertson and Mrs. Curtis Sampson presiding. Mrs. Rickard, accompanied on the piano by Mrs. George, Phillips, led in community singing.
Bruce A. McKelvie, journalist and historian, is the author of Pelts and
Powder, Early History of the Province of British Columbia, and other books.
He is President of the British Columbia Historical Association.
W. N. Sage, M.A. (Oxon.), Ph.D. (Toronto), is Head of the Department
of History in the University of British Columbia. He was recently named
British Columbia member of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of
Canada, in succession to the late Judge F. W. Howay.
Willard E. Ireland, M.A. (Toronto), Provincial Archivist since 1940, is
at present on leave of absence, and serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Henry Drummond Dee, M.A. (British Columbia), is Vice-Principal of
Victoria High School.
George F. Drummond, M.A. (St. Andrews), M.Sc. (London), is Associate
Professor of Economics in the University of British Columbia. THE NORTHWEST BOOKSHELF.
Here is Alaska.   By Evelyn Stefansson.   New York:   Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1943.   Pp. 154.   Hlus.   $3.
Intelligent curiosity concerning Alaska, and, more especially, the Aleutian
Islands, has been stimulated by the incidence of war. The importance of
Alaska, in these later days, is due largely to its geographic position, which
makes it a key point in global air communication. Moreover, in this war,
it is serving as an air-base for the coming attack on the Japanese outposts.
The American Northland is an interesting region, as is proved in this
book, written by Evelyn Stefansson, the wife of the Arctic explorer,-
Vilhjalmur Stefansson. To most educated people the territory has been
known as a sub-Arctic country, the chief products of which were gold, fish,
and furs. The treacherous attack on Pearl Harbour pushed the United
States suddenly into war with Japan, and the prompt action of the Asiatic
savages in bombing Dutch Harbour, followed by landings on the Kiska and
Attu islands of the Aleutian chain, brought Alaska into the footlights of
contemporary history. Most of us therefore should be glad to read a book
that tells us much about this part of the world, about its people and its
resources, about its early development and its recent progress. The book
is liberally illustrated by means of photographic pictures, handsomely
The author takes us first to the Diomede Islands, the two stepping-stones
from Asia to America. The international date-line passes between these
two islands, one of which, belonging to the United States, is the island of
today, while the other, belonging to Russia, is that of tomorrow. On Little
Diomede a picture of Abraham Lincoln hangs in the school-house; on Big
Diomede the picture in the school-house is that of Karl Marx.
The width of Bering Strait appears to be variable, for various distances
have been given, ranging from 30 to 100 miles. One might infer that the
two continents, Asia and America, advanced to, or retreated from, each
other at intervals. Two years ago I took pains to measure the width of
the strait on a good map, and found it to be 42 miles. Now our author says
it is 56 miles. Whereupon I went to the office of the Surveyor-General and
examined several maps. The most authoritative gave the distance as a
little over 54% miles. Mrs. Stefansson therefore is right. Perhaps we
might accept 55 as the nearest approximation.
Next, our author refutes many of the current untruths about Alaska.
Like her gallant husband, she is eager to protest against the idea that the
great Northland is not fit for human habitation. Have you read Stefansson's
Friendly Arctic? If not, do so. The persistent myth that Alaska is never
warm is exploded by Mrs. Stefansson by quoting U.S. Weather Bureau
statistics, which inform us of 100° F. in the shade at Fort Yukon and 99°
at Fairbanks.   The summers are warm, and yet bracing, on account of the
British Columbia Historical Quarterly, VoL VIII., No. 8.
248 1944 The Northwest Bookshelf. 249
purity of the air. In winter it seems colder at Toronto or New York than
at Nome or Dutch Harbour, as I know from personal experience.
The author explains the derivation of husky, the name given to the
Eskimo dog. We are informed that some early traders in the service of
the Hudson's Bay Company were Cockney Englishmen, improvident in their
use of aspirates; so they called Eskimos, Heskimos. Therefore the dogs
became Heskys, for short; and that was soon corrupted further to Huskys.
The crews on the whalers in the Arctic seas used the name for the Eskimos
themselves. Their name is derived from the Ojibway Indian word ashkimaq,
which means " eaters of raw flesh." The Eskimos name themselves Innuit,
meaning people. They are the people, just as the Huns deem, or deemed
not long ago, themselves the master race.
A typical Alaskan village, Unalakleet, is described, with a detailed
account of its Eskimo inhabitants. The start and development of agriculture is an important part of the story. " The plants grow according to the
amount of sun they receive rather than the number of days they are in the
ground, and this is believed to account for the size and goodness of the
vegetables." Each family owns about two hundred reindeer, and the
children are taught in school all about them so as to make the best use of
them in their daily life. Fishing is important because it provides food for
the dogs. Seals and whales are hunted. " Happy by nature, Unalakleet
Eskimos find pleasure in almost all their activities, whether it be gardening,
hunting, visiting, or playing."
The Aleutian Islands are passed in review. The number is not known
accurately; it is more than sixty and less than a hundred and fifty. How
large must a rock be in order to qualify as an island? The prevalence of
thick fogs is due to the fact that the icy Arctic waters wash these islands
along their northern coast, while the warm Pacific current passes along
their southern shores. The meeting of cold air with warm water produces
the fog. The Aleuts have a considerable admixture of Russian blood, thanks
to the fur-traders of other days. Since the start of the war most of these
natives have been removed to the mainland.
The outlying islands, but little known, are described by the author, who,
evidently, has been to them. These include the Pribilof, or Seal, Islands,
whose Eskimo inhabitants have been taken to Admiralty Island for the
duration. Nunivak Island, near the coast between Bristol Bay and Norton
Sound, is the second largest in Bering Sea. It is the site of successful
experiments in the breeding of musk-oxen and reindeer. The first are
valued for their meat and their wool, both excellent. Northward is St.
Lawrence Island, the largest in these parts. This also, in prehistoric days,
must have been a stepping-stone in the migration of the Mongoloid people
to North America. In 1900 the United States Government placed seventy
Siberian reindeer on the island to provide food and clothing for the Eskimo
inhabitants. Now there are 10,000 reindeer on the island, in consequence
of which the Eskimos are happy and prosperous. The author reminds us
that the reindeer and caribou are the same kind of animal, the difference
being in their condition, the one domesticated and the other wild. 250 The Northwest Bookshelf. July
Mrs. Stefansson devotes comparatively little space to the interior of
Alaska, being herself apparently more familiar with the insular and coastal
parts of the territory. But as these are the parts least known, her contribution to our knowledge of this northwestern region is the more valuable.
Like the books of her intrepid husband, this is another useful and interesting"
addition to our information concerning a part of the world that is of
constantly increasing importance.
T. A. Rickard.
Victoria, B.C.
The U.S.-Canadian Northwest: A Demonstration Area for International
Postwar Planning and Development. By Benjamin H. Kizer. Princeton: Princeton University Press; and Toronto: The Ryerson Press,
1943.   Pp.xvi.,71.    $1.35.
There is an old Scottish proverb which says, " Guid gear gangs into
little book." There is a lot of " guid gear " in this little book, and its
publication at a time when there is so much discussion concerning the
potentialities of the Northwest is not only opportune but will help to temper
optimism with a sense of realism. The author, Mr. Benjamin H. Kizer,
Regional Chairman of the National Resources Planning Board and Chairman of the Pacific Northwest Regional Planning Commission, has given us
an excellent digest of a large subject. This vast territory, comprising
roughly the Northwest expanse of the North American continent and under
the suzerainty of both Canada and the United States, presents a challenge
to a new pioneering spirit, not the old grab-and-get predations of the gold-
rush days, but the rational development of the area's varied resources on
a long-range plan. It presents another challenge also, namely, that of good
neighbourly co-operation between Canada and the United States in agreement on the plan and its successful prosecution. A good deal of administrative groundwork has already been done. The Joint Economic Committee of
Canada and the United States decided in January, 1943, to sponsor an
international study of the region; the codirectors, Dr. Charles Camsell,
Deputy Minister of the Department of Mines and Resources, Ottawa, and
Mr. J. C. Rettie, of the National Resources Planning Board, Portland,
Oregon, were given the responsibility of analysing the economic data of the
region on behalf of the Joint Economic Committee. Mr. J. C Rettie under
the aegis of the National Resources Planning Board has, in co-operation
with his staff, produced some excellent brochures on the industrial develop-
'ment of the Pacific Northwest region, and Mr. Kizer acknowledges his debt
to the work of the Portland office. There is no corresponding office in
British Columbia nor has there been, to my knowledge, any comparable
output of analytical material. The need for co-operative research on the
West Coast is a primary condition of success.
The immediate background of the problem of the Canadian-Alaskan
Northwest has been, of course, the military pioneering of the present war,
namely, the building of the Alaska Highway, the Canol pipe-line, the string
of airfields, the improvement of port facilities, etc.    The degree of perma- 1944 The Northwest Bookshelf. 251
nence in these developments depends not only on the overhead cost of their
maintenance but fundamentally on the supporting economy. There is no
suggestion that these investments should be written off as war costs, but
rather that they should become the framework of a post-war economic
development offering opportunities for still further investment, for settlement and growth. It is in this light that Mr. Kizer views the whole
problem. He sets himself the task of reviewing what is already known
about the actual resources of this great region, the timber resources and
their use for both primary and secondary production, the varied mineral
resources and their utility in a variety of industries, the presence of good
iron ores, coal, and limestone as the basis for a Pacific Coast steel industry,
the agricultural possibilities and post-war settlement, the oil resources and
their accessibility. This correlation of resources with potential economic
development is linked in turn with the problems of transportation, by rail,
by road, by air, and by sea. Here international co-operation is essential.
The basic problem is to eliminate trade restrictions which, before the war,
prevented the integrated development of the area. Canadians, and especially British Columbians, have looked with a sour historical eye on the
Alaskan panhandle; it has shut out a good part of the Yukon, the North
West Territories and Northern British Columbia from direct access to the
Pacific Coast. American coastal shipping regulations and the tariff structures of the two countries have further aggravated the situation and turned
their northern political boundaries into economic hurdles. It is one thing
to make economic surveys and plans for development; it is quite another
to get the two governments committed to joint action which will envisage
long-range planning for the development of this vast territory as an
economic whole. Mr. Kizer is well aware of all these problems and presents
them not only in their historical setting but as a challenge to the future
co-operation of Canada and the United States. Whether the reconciliation
of political sovereignties with the economic unification of the Northwest can
best be handled by an International Northwest Commission or by a series
of treaties suspending shipping, tariff, and other restrictions on a regional
basis is a question which Mr. Kizer does not touch. One has the feeling
that he is content to leave it to the goodwill of the future, but Canada's
recent action in providing for the reclamation of American-built airfields
on her territory suggests that political sovereignty has still to find the
appropriate means for making international economic co-operation a reality.
Mr. Kizer's book is not only written in a clear, concise style but is very
suitably illustrated with good reference maps of the North Pacific region.
Here is the last economic frontier of our continent, comparable with the
climatic conditions of Northeastern Europe, and capable with its manifold
resources of sustaining a new expansion of economic activity and a growing
population. It lies on the Arctic air route to Asia and Russia; it also lies
astride great natural resources hardly explored as yet but giving great
promise for the future. All who are interested in that future should read
Mr. Kizer's little book, The U.S.-Canadian Northwest.
Vancouver, B.C. George F. Drummond. 252 The Northwest Bookshelf. July
Canadian-American Relations, 1875-1911. By Charles Callan Tansill. New
Haven: Yale University Press; and Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1943.
Pp. xviii., 507.    $4.50.    (The relations of Canada and the United States.)
This stout volume might well have been entitled Four Studies in Canadian-
American Relations, 1875-1911, for it consists essentially not of a continuous
narrative but of four case-studies. The topics dealt with are the North
Atlantic fisheries controversy, the Alaskan boundary dispute, the fur-seal
arbitration, and the movement for commercial union that culminated in the
reciprocity campaign of 1911.
British Columbians will naturally be most interested in the accounts of
the Alaskan boundary and the fur-seal dispute. Both are considered at
great length, the two studies together occupying 250 closely printed pages.
Text and footnotes alike indicate that the search for material has been
unusually widespread and thorough. In particular, the personal papers of
many of the men concerned have been examined with care and discrimination, and the viewpoint of almost every important individual concerned in
a matter at almost every moment is carefully noted. Unfortunately this
approach carries with it a penalty, and the story is told in such detail that
the picture'as a.whole tends on many occasions to be obscured. Indeed, one
might hazard the opinion that the distinctive value of the whole book will
prove to be its usefulness as a guide to a vast array of source material.
Canadians will find the discussion of the Alaskan boundary in some
respects surprising. Thus the basic assumption throughout is that Canada's
case was a trumped-up affair, and that she never really had a leg to stand
upon. One of Laurier's private messengers is quoted as having confessed
to the Americans: " Sir Wilfrid knows, and all of us know, that we have
no case" (p. 239). Conscientiously believing this to have been true,
Dr. Tansill feels that the Canadians were unreasonable and unreliable, to
say the least, and that they were led by a group of politicians whose chief
concern was their own continuance in office. By contrast, the British statesmen showed every desire to be accommodating, while south of the 49th
parallel all was of almost lily-white purity—at least until the appearance
upon the scene of Theodore Roosevelt. This interpretation takes far too
little account of the fact that the British were " reasonable " because they
actually knew very little and cared less about what was at stake, and that
Canadian " unreasonableness " arose mostly from the exasperating conviction that the British would handle the Canadian case not on its merits, but
in the way that best suited the over-all Imperial interests. If the whole
matter had suddenly been turned over to Canada, to be settled by direct
negotiation with the United States, the Canadian attitude would doubtless
have been very different. As it is, the whole episode is not very much to
the credit of any country or any person, and in the perspective of the years
it begins to look as if nothing very vital had actually been at stake.
The account of the fur-seal controversy is less open to criticism, but it
is clear that the author feels that Canada fared better than she deserved
upon this occasion. His concluding word is that she " had been able to drive
a hard bargain," and " secured a nice diplomatic plum," presumably because 1944 The Northwest Bookshelf. 253
(if Russian suspicions were correct) " President Taft was willing to make
these concessions in order to prepare the basis for reciprocity negotiations."
W. Kaye Lamb.
Vancouver, B.C.
Printed by Charles F. Banfield, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty.
560-844-2058 We
Organized October 31st, 1922.
His Honour W. C. Woodward, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia.
Hon. H. G. T. Perry     - Honorary President.
B. A. McKelvie ----- President.
J. C. Goodfellow   ----- Past President.
A. G. Harvey 1st Vice-President.
Mrs. Curtis Sampson    - 2nd Vice-President.
Madge Wolfenden     - Honorary Treasurer.
H. T. Nation ------ Honorary Secretary.
Mrs. M. R. Cree.      Helen R. Boutilier.      F. C. Green.      Robie L. Reid.
T. A. Rickard.       E. G. Baynes.       W. N. Sage.
Willard E. Ireland W. Kaye Lamb
(Provincial Archivist.) (Editor, Quarterly).
A. G. Harvey H. B. Robertson
(Vancouver Section). (Victoria Section.)
To encourage historical research and stimulate public interest in history;
to promote the preservation and marking of historic sites, buildings, relics,
natural features, and other objects and places of historical interest, and to
publish historical sketches, studies, and documents.
Ordinary members pay a fee of $2 annually in advance. The fiscal year
commences on the first day of January. All members in good standing
receive the British Columbia Historical Quarterly without further charge.
Correspondence and fees may be addressed to the Provincial Archives,
Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C.


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