British Columbia History

British Columbia Historical News 1984

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The Old Cariboo Wagon Road
The Provincial Archives, Part II
Jonathan Miller, Vancouver Pioneer On the cover ...
The Barnard Express Depot at Yale in 1868 ... story starts on page 5.
Member societies and their secretaries are responsible for seeing that the correct addresses
for their society and for its member subscribers are up-to-date. Please send changes to both
the treasurer and the editor whose addresses are at the bottom of the next page. The Annual
Report as at October 31 should show a telephone number for contact.
Member dues for the year 1982-83 (Volume 16) were paid by the following member
Alberni District Historical Society, Box 284, Port Alberni, B.C. V9Y 7M7
Atlin Historical Society, P.O. Box 111, Atlin, B.C. VOW 1A0
BCHA — Gulf Islands Branch, c/o P.O. Box 35, Saturna Island, B.C. VON 2Y0
BCHA — Victoria Branch, c/o Margaret Bell, 1187 Hampshire, Victoria. B.C. V8S 4T1
Burnaby Historical Society, c/o 5406 Manor St., Burnaby, B.C. V5G 1B7
Chemainus Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 172, Chemainus, B.C. VOR 1K0
Cowichan Historical Society, P.O. Box 1014, Duncan, B.C. V9L 3Y2
Creston & District Historical & Museum Society, P.O. Box 1123, Creston, B.C. VOB 1G0
District 69 Historical Society, P.O. Box 213, Parksville, B.C. VOR 2SC
East Kootenay Historical Association, c/o H. Mayberry, 216 6th Avenue S.,
Cranbrook, B.C. V1C 2H6
Golden & District Historical Society, Box 992, Golden, B.C. VOA 1H0
Hedley Heritage, Arts & Crafts Society (1983), P.O. Box 218, Hedley, B.C. VOX 1K0
Ladysmith New Horizons Historical Society, c/o Mrs. V. Cull, R.R. #2,
Ladysmith, B.C. VOR 2E0
Lantzville Historical Society, c/o Susan Crayston, Box 76, Lantzville, B.C. VOR 2H0
Nanaimo Historical Society, P.O. Box 933, Station "A", Nanaimo, B.C. V9R 5N2
Nanooa Historical & Museum Society, R.R. #1, Box 5, Kinghorn Rd., Nanoose Bay, B.C. VOR 2R0
' Nootka Sound Historical Society, Box 748, Gold River, B.C. VOP 1G0
North Shore Historical Society, c/o Robert W. Brown, 2327 Kilmarnock Crescent,
North Vancouver, B.C. V7J 2Z3
Princeton & District Pioneer Museum and Archives, Box 21, Princeton, B.C. VOX 1W0
Qualicum Beach Historical & Museum Society, c/o A.C. Killip, R.R. #1, Site 142, C-19,
Qualicum Beach, B.C. VOR 2T0
Saltspring Island Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Olive Clayton, R.R. #3, Comp. 4, Scott Pt. #1,
Ganges, B.C. VOS 1E0
Sidney & North Saanich Historical Society, c/o Mrs. Ray Joy, 10719 Bayfield Road, R.R. #3,
Sidney, B.C. V8L 3P6
Silvery Slocan Historical Society, P.O. Box 301, New Denver, B.C. VOG ISO
Trail Historical Society, P.O. Box 405, Trail, B.C. V1R 4L7
Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 3071, Vancouver, B.C. V6B 3X6
West Vancouver Historical Society, P.O. Box 91785, West Vancouver, B.C. V7V 4S1
Windermere District Historical Society, Box 784, Invermere, B.C. VOA 1K0
Affiliated Groups
City of White Rock Museum Archives Society, 1030 Martin St., White Rock, B.C. V4B 5E3
The Hallmark Society, 207 Government Street, Victoria, B.C. V8V 2K8 BRITISH COLUMBIA
The Old Cariboo Wagon Road        5
by T.D. Sale
The Provincial Archives of British Columbia, Part Two      11
by John A. Bovey
Jonathan Miller, One of Vancouver's Earliest Pioneers      14
by Douglas E. Harker
News and Notes
The Canadian National Historical Association Regional History Prizes    21
Introducing     22
Writing Competition     22
Ninstints: Haida World Heritage Site by UBC Press and UBC Museum of Anthropology;
review by Douglas Cole      23
Footprints: Pioneer Families of the Metchosin District by Marion I. Helgeson, ed.;
review by Barry Gough    24
Floodland and Forest: Memories of the Chilliwack Valley by Imbert Orchard;
review by Jacqueline Gresko     25
Voices: A Guide to Oral History, by Derek Reimer, ed.; review by Lynne Bowen   ...  26
Second-class mail registration number 4447.
Published fall, winter, spring, and summer by the British Columbia Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E,
Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5. Our Charitable Donations number is 0404681-52-27. Printed by Prestige Printers, Victoria,
Manuscripts and correspondence for the editor are to be addressed to 1745 Taylor St., Victoria, B.C. V8R3E8. Send all
other correspondence, including changes of address, to the Vancouver address given above.
Subscriptions: Institutional $16.00 per year; Individual (non-members) $8.00 per year.
The B.C. Historical Federation gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the British Columbia Heritage
Trust. Letters to the Editor
The Kelowna Volunteer Fire Department
kindly requests your assistance in locating and
possibly acquiring one of our old Fire Trucks.
We, as a Volunteer subsidy of the Kelowna Fire
Department, are celebrating our 75th Diamond
Jubilee this year. As a part of our department's
celebration, we would like to return to Kelowna
its longest serving Fire Truck for restoration and
display in our Main Fire Hall. The truck we are
searching for is a 1928 GRAHAM-DODGE
LADDER TRUCK. This unit was tendered on a
Graham chassis with La France equipment,
including, 400 gal. pump, spotlight, loading
lights electric siren and wooden ladders. This
truck last served the community of Ucluelet,
B.C., approximately 15 years ago.
We would appreciate it if you could inform
your members of our request and should you, or
any of your members know of this truck's
whereabouts, please contact:
Mr. Donald K. Wilson,
Kelowna Volunteer Fire Department,
2255 Enterprise Way,
Kelowna, B.C.    V1Y 8B8
The City of Vancouver Voters' List 1886
—Biographies of Individuals and Their
The City of Vancouver celebrates its centennial
in 1986. The British Columbia Genealogical
Society has chosen as our centennial project the
City of Vancouver 1886 Voters' List. We propose
to collect all available information on the
individuals listed therein, their families and
descendants. The information gathered will form
an important archival resource. Our aim is to
ultimately publish this gathered material as a
series of volumes of concise family biographies.
We urge everyone with any information
regarding any of the 527 individuals, families and
descendants shown on the 1886 Voters' List for
Vancouver please contact the British Columbia
Genealogical Society Centennial Committee,
c/o P.O. Box 94371, Richmond, B.C. V6Y 2A8.
I wish to subscribe to B.C. Historical News. I enclose a cheque or money order payable to the
B.C. Historical Federation, P.O. Box 35326, Station E, Vancouver, B.C. V6M 4G5.
Individual ..
Four issues for $8.00 (.
Four issues for $16.00 (.
Postal Code
Page 4
British Columbia Historical News T.D. SALE
The Old Cariboo Wagon Road
Early Travel On The Cariboo Highway To 1943
Prior to recording the historical development
of the Old Cariboo Wagon Road it is first
necessary to examine the geographical structure
of the northern part located in the area once
known as "New Caledonia". The fur trading
companies needed no road but made use of the
numerous rivers and lakes to gather the furs to
the forts which were strategically located. The
local Indian population did most of the trapping
and brought the furs to the forts in order to trade
for goods. The fur brigades delivered these furs
to Montreal by following the rivers and lakes
across what is now known as Canada.
Gold, discovered on the bars of the lower
Fraser River, brought in the first sizeable wave of
white settlers. Rich strikes in Lightning Creek and
Williams Creek caused the wave of gold-seekers
to ascend the Fraser. After the readily available
gold began to decline, so too did the population.
By 1901 the census recorded a population of only
4500 in the whole Cariboo area.
The population began to increase, slowly at
first, when the railways began to supply the area.
The Canadian Pacific was located to the south,
the Canadian National to the north, while the
Pacific Great Eastern (now known as the British
Columbia Railway) followed the old Cariboo
Trail and for many years ended at Quesnel.
Ranching was making a good start. This was soon
followed by the forest industry. As transportation
improved so did the industries in the Cariboo. By
1951 the census showed there was a population
of 50,000 people.
The climate of this Central Interior Plateau is
continental in nature and thus cold in winter
(averaging 10 degrees below zero F., or -10
degrees C) Due to the altitude the summers are
reasonably cool. Precipitation is about twenty
inches at the southern end and increases towards
the north.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century
Simon Fraser was the first explorer to travel the
length of the Cariboo country, naming it New
Caledonia. One definition of 'Cariboo' is
'Cariboeuf which means the favourite haunt of
the reindeer.
Early in 1856 an Indian found a large pebble of
gold in the Nicomen River as he stooped to
obtain a drink. He sold the gold to the Hudson's
Bay Company, who didn't want a stampede of
gold-seekers to interfere with their lucrative fur
trade in the area. On April 16th, 1856, Governor
James Douglas publicly announced that gold had
been discovered. As the nearest mint was located
at San Francisco, the Hudson's Bay Company in
February 1858 shipped 800 ounces of gold on the
steamer Otter, thus further spreading the word
and speeding up the gold rush to the lower
Fraser. Quite accidentally gold had been
discovered on Hill's Bar.
On April 25th, 1858, four hundred fifty miners
arrived at Fort Victoria on the Commodore. At
the time, the population of the Fort was only four
hundred people. In quick succession an
estimated 30,000 gold-seekers travelled from San
Francisco on any ship that would float. This ever-
increasing stampede of miners made their way
up the Fraser River in search of the precious
Governor Douglas was faced with a large
number of idle miners driven from their claims
by the flooding of the Fraser River in the late
spring of 1858. He put them to work constructing
the Harrison Trail to Lillooet. He hired twenty
teams of twenty-five men and gave them free
transport, free room and board, but no pay. Each
man hired had to pay a twenty-five dollar peace
bond and work guarantee. The equivalent sum
was returned to him in goods when the trail was
completed, which was at the end of September
British Columbia Historical News
Page5 In reply to Governor Douglas' appeal to the
Colonial Office in England, a detachment of
Royal Engineers, consisting of 165 officers and
men, arrived in the fall of 1858 under the
command of Colonel Richard Moody. On
November 19th, 1858, at Fort Langley, James
Douglas became Governor of the mainland
colony of British Columbia. His Deputy was
Colonel Moody, who also became Chief
Commissioner of Lands and Works for the
Colony. Amongst the Royal Engineers were such
tradesmen as architects, blacksmiths, carpenters,
miners, painters, and surveyors. New Westminster, Lytton, Lillooet, and Quesnel were all
surveyed by the Royal Engineers. Their presence
served to have a steadying influence on the
fledgling Colony. New Westminster became the
capital of the Colony on May 5,1859.
In 1861, Lillooet (meaning wild onion),
formerly known as Cayoosh Flats, became Mile 0
and the start of the first Cariboo Wagon Road. By
1863, Lillooet had a population of 15,000 and was
the second largest town north of San Francisco.
Cayoosh Creek produced a total of three million
dollars of gold. The Harrison-Lillooet route was a
mixed land and water route which meant freight
had to be handled too many times. Walter
Moberly, an engineer, persuaded Governor
Douglas that the superior route through the
Fraser Canyon and along the Thompson River
should be utilized.
The decision made as to the route, the Royal
Engineers, in October 1861, began to survey and
to blast out from almost solid rock a road from
Yale to Cooks Ferry. The width of this road was
eighteen feet. It was described as stony, dusty,
muddy, pitted with holes, and subject to slides
and washouts at various times of the year. The
Wagon Road was contracted out in sections in
1862 and 1863. These contractors included
Joseph Trutch and his partner Thomas Spence.
Contractor G.B. Wright had successfully
completed the Lillooet to Clinton section. He
was promptly awarded the 130 mile section from
Clinton to Soda Creek. Yale had been chosen as
the starting point for the Wagon Road since it was
the head of navigation on the lower Fraser River.
Soda Creek to Quesnel was served by a steamer.
In 1864 G.B. Wright contracted to build a wagon
road from Quesnel to Cottonwood. The
following year the road was extended to the
heart of the gold-fields located at Barkerville,
Camerontown, and Richfield.
Gold production in the Cariboo reached its
peak in 1863 when an estimated six million
dollars was produced in the vicinity of Barkerville
alone. For every six miners that sought to get rich
quickly, after a year or less, five gave up the quest
and looked for other occupations or retraced
their steps and left the country.
With the completion of the Cariboo Wagon
Road, it was possible to travel the 180 miles by
sternwheel steamer from Victoria to Yale, and
400 miles from Yale to Barkerville, a total distance
of 580 miles (928 km). Governor Douglas was
empowered to borrow a quarter of a million
dollars to build the Cariboo Road. The total cost
of constructing the road was just over a million
dollars ($2500 per mile). To pay for the road, tolls
were levied totalling fifty-three dollars a ton or
over two and a half cents a pound. To this figure
must be added the freight rate of fifteen cents a
pound. The cost of transporting was often two or
three times the original price of the freight being
carried. The traders and packers kept in touch
with the miners, supplying their wants according
to their ability to pay. The first express service was
by canoe or horseback, or packman. William
Ballou was one such pioneer expressman.
In the days of the stagecoaches, Mile Houses
made their appearance along the Wagon Road,
where horses could be changed and passengers
could be fed or boarded overnight. These Mile
Houses were numbered from Lillooet, the first
being 15 Mile House. The second was 22 Mile
House, where extra horses were needed for the
hard three-mile pull up Pavilion Mountain. After
a further change or two of horses the stagecoach
reached 47 Mile House (named Clinton after the
Colonial Secretary). At Clinton the stagecoach
from Yale would follow the same Wagon Road as
the one from Lillooet.
Two miles north of the Chasm there is an
alternate route of 125 miles through the edge of
the Chilcotin country to Williams Lake via Dog
Creek, Alkali Lake and Springhouse. Back on the
Cariboo Road, 59 Mile house was destroyed by
fire in 1946 and 70 Mile House was destroyed by
fire in 1956. The next main stage stop was 74 Mile
House then the 83 Mile House, where fresh
horses were needed to pull the coach up the
steep hill. Another change was needed at 93 Mile
House. Then it was downhill to 100 Mile House,
where the original buildings were destroyed by
fire in 1937. In the days of the stagecoaches,
stopping places were built at 105 Mile House, 108
Page 6
British Columbia Historical News Mile House, 111 Mile House, 112 Mile House, 114
Mile House, and 115 Mile House. Here the
Cariboo Wagon Road follows close to the shores
of Lac La Hache (Lake of the Hatchet). Travelling
north, frequent stopping places were available at
117 Mile House, 122 Mile House, 127 Mile House,
132 Mile House, 134 Mile House, and 141 Mile
House. At 145 Mile a road leads into the San Jose
Valley where St. Joseph's Mission, the Onward
Ranch, and the Sugar Cane Indian Reserve are
located. At 150 Mile House the Cariboo Road bypassed Williams Lake and headed across country
via 153 Mile House, 158 Mile House, and 164 Mile
House to the Gold Fields Trail. In 1860 this had
been the walking route for thousands of miners.
On April 14,1861, near Hope, the boiler of the
sternwheel steamer Fort Yale exploded, killing
five of her crew. One of the survivors was the
purser, Francis Jones Barnard. Following the
explosion, he left steamboating and began
delivering letters and papers throughout the
Cariboo. From this humble beginning evolved
the famous B.C. Express Company.
On March 12,1864, the first BX stagecoach run
was made from Yale to Soda Creek, taking 72
hours to cover the distance. The red and yellow,
California built, Concord-type coach was used.
The fare was $130. Meals at the Mile Houses were
fifty cents or seventy-five cents. A night's lodging
was fifty cents. With less traffic on the road at
night and by travelling non-stop except for meals
and changes of horses, the travel time was
reduced to 48 hours a short time later. In 1865 the
fare from Yale to Barkerville was $125. Express
parcels were a dollar a pound. An express letter
was also one dollar. A newspaper was fifty cents.
By 1868 the fare had been reduced to $85. Sleighs
were used to make the trip in winter.
In the latter decades of the nineteenth century
the- Cariboo owed its development mainly to
"horsepower". The big tandem freight wagons
were often drawn by five teams of sturdy draft
horses. A common sight were freight wagons
being pulled over the rough terrain by as many as
six yoke of oxen. The most colourful and the best
packer of this era was John Jacques Caux, better
known as Cataline. With the building of the
Canadian Pacific Railway in 1886, the distance for
hauling some of the freight was shortened since
deliveries could be made by rail to Ashcroft.
Following the completion of the CPR, the BX
Company transferred its office from Yale to
Ashcroft. Six-horse stagecoaches were the main
method of travel at this time. The best horses
possible were obtained for stage stock. Ostlers
Express Line Stages
Will raako
Regular    "Weekly   Trips
from Barkerville,
Arriving in Yale on Thursdays, in limp to
connect witli tbo nteamei- '• Onward'' for
New Westminster. i\mt with the II. 13. Co.'d
steamer " Enterprise,"
Tlie California steamers leave Victoria on
the 7lb and 22d ol each month.
ap27 3in
and blacksmiths were stationed at the Mile
Houses where changes of horses took place.
Each horse had its own handmade harness which
was cleaned every time it was used. The baggage,
express parcels, and the mail were all loaded first,
then the passengers took their seats and finally
the driver, with his money bag, climbed into his
seat. The ostler would then lead the two sturdy
1700 pound "wheelers" or "luggers" to their
positions on each side of the staging pole, fasten
them properly into position, and hand the reins
to the driver. The second pair were the
"spanners" or "swing" team. Having placed
them just ahead of the "wheelers" the ostler
fastened them in the proper place and handed
their reins to the driver. Finally the two 1300
pound spirited leaders were brought out
prancing and eager to go. Usually with some
difficulty, the ostler fastened them into position
and handed their reins to the driver who rapidly
released the stagecoach's brake. The horses
lunged forward, but within a few yards settled
down to a brisk trot, drawing the coach forward
at a steady pace. The ostlers and the blacksmiths
took pride in their work and gave these
stagecoach horses the best possible care and
attention. The drivers seldom if ever abused
these horses. They became very skillful with the
use of the "jerkline" reins and the whip which
could urge an indolent horse to pull his share of
the load without the other five horses even
knowing the driver had used the whip.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 7 On the Cariboo Road, 1884
The regular mail stage took tour days to travel
the 280 miles from Ashcroft to Barkerville at an
average speed of six miles an hour. The Cariboo
Road was not paved, nor had it been topped with
gravel, so in the spring and at certain other times
of the year it was so muddy (gumbo) that
stagecoaches would sink to the axle. In spite of
the inconvenience of travel, passengers paid
$42.50 in winter and $37.50 in summer to make
the trip to Barkerville, and were allowed a
maximum of forty pounds of baggage.
Between 1863 and 1865 the Cariboo Road
ended at Soda Creek. The sternwheelers,
beginning with the SS Enterprise in 1863, used to
travel up the Fraser River to Quesnel and as far as
the present city of Prince George. This river route
was discontinued in 1921. For eighty years, until
1947, a flour mill was located at Soda Creek,
which obtained its name from the nearby creek
which runs over a deposit of carbonate of lime
and bubbles like soda water. By 1865 the
stagecoaches were running into Barkerville
which was by this time a 'hodge podge' of
workings, tailings, waterwheels, props,
windlasses, shafts, mines, stores, houses,
restaurants, and saloons.
Francis Jones Barnard retired in 1879, and Steve
Tingley took over the running of the BX
Company. In 1886 Steve Tingley bought out
Frank Barnard. Over the remaining years of the
stagecoach era Steve Tingley was assisted by
many well-known drivers such as J.B. Leighton
and Al Young. The last mail run was made in
October 1915. (Steve Tingley died in 1919.) The
last passenger run was made in 1921. The horse
drawn stagecoaches had ruled supreme in the
Cariboo for fifty years, but they were now about
to be displaced by the railways and the
automobiles. A well preserved BX Stagecoach is
presently on display in front of the Exeter Arms
Hotel at 100 Mile House.
Following World War I freight was hauled by
solid rubber-tired, chain-driven trucks. The
driver was usually accompanied by a swamper
whose duty it was "to give every possible
assistance" to get the truck up the steep hills and
British Columbia Historical News through the gumbo that was very common
following a rain or melting snow. The wheels
would have to be blocked if the truck stalled. In
winter several cowhides were carried on top of
the freight. If the truck was in danger of stalling
or skidding, the swamper was expected to jump
out and quickly place a frozen cowhide in front
of the rear wheel to give it some traction. As the
wheel passed over the frozen hide the swamper
had to remember to duck as the hide shot out
from behind the wheel like a kite. He then
quickly retrieved the hide and repeated the
procedure until the driver had nursed the truck
up to the snowy, slippery summit of the hill.
Horsedrawn stagecoach travel was coming to
an end in 1919 as the Pacific Great Eastern Railway
was being built to provide another means of
entering the Cariboo. Williams Lake thus far had
been by-passed as far as the Cariboo Road was
concerned, due to an unfortunate quarrel
between the contractor and an early settler. In
the early days the Indians called the Lake
'Columneetza' (meeting place of princely
people). The early settlement was called Borland,
which became Williams Lake in 1920. In July of
the next year fire destroyed much of Williams
Lake. Although the PGE Railway was incorporated February 27,1912, it did not reach Quesnel
until 1921. It was October 31, 1952 before the
service was extended to Prince George. The
southern terminal was extended from Squamish
to North Vancouver in 1956. Two years later, in
1958, the northern terminal became Dawson
Creek. This provincially owned railway had
rejuvenated the town of Williams Lake, which
was incorporated as a village in 1929. The PGE
enabled the Cariboo to become an area of huge
beef cattle ranches. At last, in 1932, the main
highway was built through Williams Lake, thus
ending its somewhat partial isolation.
In 1923 Clarence Stevenson and Norman
Glover formed the I.T. (Interior Transportation)
Stage Company, covering an area from Ashcroft
to the northern Cariboo. Clarence Stevenson, as
a youth, had driven a four-horse stage for the BX
Company from Ashcroft to Clinton on to
Lillooet, and later to northern Cariboo points.
The advent of balloon tires had made motor
stage riding much more comfortable.
Half a century ago commuters travelling to the
Cariboo would arrive at Ashcroft by CPR train,
from Vancouver and other communities, in the
wee small hours of the morning, and spend an
uncomfortable three or four hours in a small,
Quesnel •
British Columbia
• Soda Creek
Lillooet m*
;New Westminster
Harrison LakeVk  • Yale
>Z>>. Hope
• ^ New Wpstmin
» Victoria
rather chilly station waiting room. About 7:30
a.m. the waiting passengers were met by the
genial Clarence Stevenson or one of his expert
drivers—Hugh Higby comes to mind. They
would then be loaded into a large, comfortable
car (circa 1930 Studebaker) that would carry eight
passengers making use of the 'jump seats'
installed between the normal front and rear
seats. The baggage was carefully stowed on the
cartop racks for the trip up the Cariboo Road.
Frequent stops were made en route to drop off
parcels and deliver passengers to their
destinations. Often, parcels and letters, and
sometimes passengers, were accommodated
between the Mile Houses.
Noticeable along the Cariboo Road were the
different types of split rail fences. The two most
common were the Russell fences and the
snakerail fences. The latter type worked out at
British Columbia Historical News
Page 9 approximately 2500 rails per mile and would last
for at least forty years. It was easy for the ranchers
to remove a panel and drive through their stock
rather than build gates. What a wealth of
knowledge Clarence Stevenson had gathered
about Cariboo history and how interesting he
made the trip for the young teachers travelling to
and from their respective one room schools in
the thirties!
At times during the year travel was limited to
night time because the then unpaved Cariboo
Road would freeze over as the temperature
dropped to well below freezing. During the
warm sunny days the ground would soften and
the layer of soft sticky gumbo made travelling
difficult, and at times almost impossible. Up and
down the Cariboo Road, and along the feeder
roads, old-fashioned phones, worked by a crank
and the Morse Code (dots and dashes), complete
with 'howlers', had been installed in a numberof
homes. Since 'listening in' at the megaphone
shaped 'howlers' was a common and accepted
practice, the departure time and place of the I.T.
Stage would be phoned out to the farthest point
on the phone line. The passengers would
miraculously make their way to the Stage's
rendezvous point in time for the departure.
Regardless of the hour of the day or night the trip
down the Cariboo Road to Ashcroft was
accompanied by many interesting stories and
much singing. A welcome stop was always made
at Clinton where a delicious home cooked meal
was enjoyed at the Bob Inn Cafe. Descending the
hill to Ashcroft, the parting song was usually "The
End of a Perfect Day". The final leg of the journey
was the CPR train trip to Vancouver.
The I.T. Stage carried mail and parcels to
Williams Lake and way points every Monday and
Wednesday, and out to Ashcroft every Tuesday
and Friday. Parcels earned the Stage Company a
modest nominal charge. Errands were cheerfully
done at Ashcroft, Williams Lake or Quesnel. In
the twenty year history of the I.T. Stage Company
there was never a serious mishap. On July 1,1943,
the Greyhound Buses took over the routes
served by the I.T. Stages, and Clarence Stevenson
The Cariboo Road has now become the
Cariboo Highway and is part of Highway 97.
Today Cache Creek might be considered to be
Mile 0. The Cariboo Highway has now been
surfaced, paved, widened and straightened.
Frequent markers show where the old Cariboo
Wagon Road was once located. In a matter of
hours, in modern cars or buses, the traveller can
cover distances that a century ago took days. At
the end of the old Wagon Road (Quesnel to
Barkerville is now Highway 26) the restoration
and reconstruction of Barkerville began in 1958
and continues little by little each year. What an
important part the old Cariboo Road has played
in the development of B.C.'s history! It richly
deserves the nomenclature of the Eighth
Wonder of the World.
T.D. Sale is Secretary of the BCHF, and a member of the
Nanaimo Historical Society. He was a school teacher at 100
Mile House from 1935-1936, and at Springhouse from 1937-
Don't Forget!
Subscribe now if you're not
receiving the News regularly.
Page 10
British Columbia Historical News John A. Bovey
Provincial Archivist
The Provincial Archives of British Columbia
Part Two:
The Manuscripts and Government
Records Division
When people think of "archives" what they
usually see in their mind's eye is something very
close to the collections to be found in the
Manuscripts and Government Records Division.
Its holdings are the traditional, central,
foundation stones of most archival institutions.
But even in repositories which have holdings
dating from the era of vellum, if not papyrus, the
impact of twentieth century technology is being
felt with rapidly increasing impact.
It used to be possible to describe the holdings
of the Manuscripts and Government Records
Division as written records which, unlike books
or articles in periodicals, had not been
published. Readers who have home computers
will realize that that definition is no longer quite
adequate. Floppy discs and magnetic tapes, like
the pen or the typewriter, can be used to
document human actions, decisions and
impressions, and will very shortly become part of
our archives. But for the moment, our holdings
consist of paper records—or copies of them—
and it is those records which will be described
As its title suggests, the division collects two
kinds of records: manuscripts—the private
papers produced by individuals, businesses and
organizations—and government records. Our
aim in acquiring these records is to document all
aspects of the political, economic, social and
cultural history of the province. So far we have
approximately 970 linear metres and 2000
microfilm reels of manuscripts, and 3200 linear
metres and 2600 microfilm reels of government
records. Collections range in date from the mid
eighteenth century to 1984 and in size from a
single page to over sixty linear metres.
Since we are the Provincial Archives, the bulk
of our government records naturally are those of
Fort Kamloops Journal 1860-1862
the Provincial Government. However, we do
have some municipal records and copies of
relevant Canadian, British and United States
records, including records of the Department of
Indian Affairs and the Immigration Branch,
Colonial Office despatches, and American
Consular records.
Records of the Government of the Province of
British Columbia are selected for permanent
preservation in the archives through procedures
administered by the recently formed Records
Management Branch, and approximately five
per cent of all records generated finally end up in
the archives. They are selected to document
major policy, legal, and administrative changes
and are as necessary to the government as they
are to the historical researcher. The use of
archival records by the Provincial Government in
arguing the ownership of the bed of the Strait of
Georgia and related areas is a case in point.
Amongst the earliest government records
collected by the Provincial Archives were the
British Columbia Historical News
Page 11 Before ... Government records at the Herald Street warehouse, ca. 1974.
correspondence files and letter-books of the
Colonial governments of Vancouver Island and
British Columbia, and the correspondence files
of government departments—of the Department of the Provincial Secretary and the
Superintendent of Education, for example. "The
Colonial Correspondence", consisting of letters
inward to departments of the Colonial
governments from both individuals and
government officials, is an enormously rich
collection. The letters from Gold Commissioners
describing their various districts form a
particularly valuable source for local historians.
Correspondence files of ministries continue to
be a strong part of our collection; the earlier
ones often contain specific information—about
particular schools, for example—and all
document policy and administrative decisions.
Other types of records—tax rolls, company files,
pre-emption records, and probates—document
particular transactions between individuals or
organizations and the government.
As research interests have broadened to
include such areas as labour history, the
experiences of minority groups, women's
history, and the changing environment, the
archives has tended to retain records it might
have rejected in the past. Trap line records for
Northern British Columbia, a recent acquisition,
are an example of records which might seem
rather routine but which in fact are a very useful
source, not only on trapping, but on the
Northern British Columbian and Native Indian
economies and on changing patterns in the
wildlife populations.
At the same time as we have collected new
kinds of records, changing research interests
have led to some of our older collections being
used in new ways. Court Records form a good
example. Statements given by witnesses at
preliminary hearings or inquests can provide
insights into the lives of people who did not
themselves create written records.
Unlike government records, manuscripts do
not come to the archives through an established
procedure. In some cases, we contact potential
donors; in other, very welcome instances,
people, businesses, or organizations get in touch
with us to ask if we would be interested in their
records. Occasionally we borrow records, copy
them, and depending on the agreement worked
out, return either the originals or the copy to the
Page 12
British Columbia Historical News After ... Records sorted and safely encased in acid-
neutral boxes in the PABC stacks.
Our manuscript collections include ship's logs,
Hudson's Bay Company post account books and
journals, the letters and diaries of gold seekers,
pioneers, missionaries, surveyors and school
teachers, medical case books, literary manuscripts,
the papers of natural historians and of researchers
into the origins of geographical place names.
Amongst the most noteworthy are our large family
collections: the McKenzie papers, which
document the development of Craigflower Farm;
the Crease collection, containing the correspondence and diaries of Sir Henry Crease, his wife,
sons and daughters and covering a period from
1839 to 1943; the O'Reilly Collection, like the
Crease Collection, a rich source for colonial
period; and the Newcombe Family Papers, an
enormously valuable source for those interested
in the ethnology, archaeology or natural history of
British Columbia.
We are always interested in acquiring the
records of clubs and organizations: collections we
have received from Women's and Farmers'
Institutes and from the British Columbia
Cattlemen's Association and the British Columbia
Fruit Grower's Association have added a great deal
to the information we have on the agricultural
industry in British Columbia and on rural life in
Recently, we have been particularly interested
in papers relating to the history of education and
have acquired the records of a number of
independent schools. Business history is another
field in which we would like to increase the
strength of our holdings. In the past two years we
have received some valuable lumbering and pulp
and paper company records which complement
the records we acquired from the Ministry of
Forests in conjunction with their preparations for
the celebration of the seventy-fifth anniversary of
the British Columbia Forest Service. We have an
interesting collection of mining papers, both in
government records and manuscripts, but would
like to acquire the records of more mining
companies. W. Kaye Lamb, Provincial Librarian
and Archivist from 1934 to 1941, noted in a speech
delivered in 1935 that one effect of the Great
Depression and the reawakened interest in gold
mining was the increased use old gold mining
records were receiving. It is interesting to see, on
the fiftieth anniversary of his appointment, the
same thing happening again.
However much research interests change, or
come full circle, and the kinds of documents we
collect change, the records we collect will remain
of fundamental importance to all of the people of
the province. None of us can exist without a past.
Government, like any organization, needs records
which document its legal, administrative and
financial affairs; professional historians need
records to reconstruct and interpret our past; we
are all likely at some point to want to find out
about our own family or town, or to pursue a
particular interest.
Researchers are always welcome at the archives.
We hope in time to publish guides to the use of
our collections; in the meantime Manuscript
Inventories 1 to 3, published by the Provincial
Archives and available in public and university
libraries, describe at least part of our manuscript
holdings. Those who have not visited archives
before will receive information on specific
collections and their use in Local History in British
Columbia: a guide to researching, writing and
publishing for the non-professional by Maureen
Cassidy (Technical Paper Series, British Columbia
Heritage Trust) published in 1983, and available
from libraries or from the B.C. Heritage Trust,
Parliament Buildings, Victoria V8V 1X4
Editor's Note: In our last issue we incorrectly stated that
John Bovey succeeded Willard Ireland. Allan R. Turner
assumed the position of Provincial Archivist in 1974, when
Willard Ireland retired. John Bovey succeeded Allan R.
Turner in 1979.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 13 Douglas E. Harker
Jonathan Miller,
One of Vancouver's Earliest Pioneers
In the 1860s the district of Cariboo, a remote
area of British Columbia, produced enough gold
to draw a surge of emigrants from all over the
world. On June 4, 1862, one of the adventurers,
Jonathan Miller, from the deck of the Hudson's
Bay Company's steamer Enterprise, surveyed the
small houses lining the bank of the Fraser River.
They comprised the village of New Westminster,
capital of British Columbia.
Jonathan was twenty-eight, short, stocky,
bearded, compact, with an air of quiet self-
assurance and reliability that attracted trust. He
had come from Delaware, Ontario, where his
family had lived for three generations as
prosperous farmers and leading citizens, and
where he had been justice of the peace since the
age of twenty-two. His father had expected he
would follow the family pattern.1
But Jonathan had heard the call of gold and felt
the promptings of adventure strongly enough to
lure him away from his much loved wife
Margaret and their two infant daughters to
distant, largely unexplored British Columbia. For
a month he had been travelling, by train to New
York, by steamer to Panama, by rail across the
Isthmus, by other steamers to San Francisco,
Victoria, and New Westminster. He was
entranced by the scenic wonder of this new
country ... the immense trees, some two
hundred feet high, the backdrop of massive
mountains, the meadows and the sparkling sea
joined by the wide river.
The capital city itself was not attractive. It was
shut in by dense forest timber of the largest size.
New Westminster had grown rapidly from a
cluster of shanties to a settlement of three
hundred. It had a hospital, the Royal Columbian,
a newspaper, the British Columbian, and three
rough unfinished roads to Burrard Inlet.2
Nearby, the winds of change were blowing
that eventful year 1862. Fort Victoria had become
Jonathan Miller 1834-1914
an incorporated city. John Morton, Sam Brighouse and William Hailstone had ventured five
hundred and fifty-five of their hard-earned
dollars to buy five hundred acres of land close to
Burrard Inlet. Later, their claim would include all
of Vancouver's West End, from Burrard Street to
Stanley Park, and from the Inlet to English Bay.
Page 14
British Columbia Historical News During his long journey Jonathan had heard
stories of the gold rush, of its pitifully few
beneficiaries, and of its many victims who had
'hurled their youth into the grave.' Moreover,
the winter of 1862 was the severest within living
memory. Ships could not get up the Fraser River
because of the ice. The capital city was isolated,
the river frozen. Cattle and heavy carts could
travel on solid ice from New Westminster to Yale.
The sufferings of the gold miners that winter
were indescribable. Jonathan decided he would
not hurry to join the four thousand miners who
that year alone had invaded the Cariboo.3
It was not difficult to find employment. He
worked in a store, and he went with surveyor
Alfred Waddington's crew to look tor a route
from the north end of Bute Inlet to the Cariboo
gold fields. It would have been 175 miles shorter,
but the terrain defeated them. The Coast Range
of mountains, higher than the Rockies, the deep
canyons, towering glaciers, dense forests and
rushing rivers were insuperable. It was only by
chance that Jonathan avoided a massacre in
which fourteen of Waddington's crew were
murdered by Indians in their construction camp
in the Homathco Valley.
In 1865 Jonathan became a lumberman. He
had come to the conclusion that British
Columbia's future was founded on timber rather
than gold. Before long, he had two lumber
camps on the shores of Burrard Inlet and
employed twenty men. He felt ready to send for
his wife and children.4
As Margaret stepped off the Enterprise, with
four-year-old Ada holding one hand and three-
year-old Carrie the other, she must have found a
disturbing contrast between the settled East and
the emerging West. New Westminster had
begun the year with a serious financial deficit.
Governor Seymour who had arrived a few weeks
earlier reported to the Colonial Office:
"... New Westminster presents a melancholy
picture.  Many of the best houses are
untenanted.  The largest hotel is to let.
Decay appears on all sides and logs of the
fallen trees block most of the streets..."5
Fortunately for British Columbia and posterity,
there were in the capital city and on the Inlet
some men of rare vision and ability such as editor
John Robson, mill operators Sewell Moody and
Edward  Stamp, logger Jeremiah Rogers and
others whose courage and endurance built the
province. Jonathan was of their number. His
teams hauled logs for the mill owned by Sew.
Moody, and it was while he was so employed that
an event occurred that changed the course of his
life and led to his becoming one of Vancouver's
leading pioneers. The event was a lawsuit
brought against him by Captain Stamp. Jonathan
was logging the 1000-acre peninsula which later
became Stanley Park, but which was then a
Military Reserve. Stamp had been given
exclusive timber rights over it, so he sued.
The suit was widely discussed in the little
community of New Westminster. The area which
Colonial Secretary Birch had handed over to
Captain Stamp was far larger than he could
possibly need or use. Moreover, he was an
irascible man whose domineering ways had
made him many enemies. Most people favoured
the unassuming young man from Ontario. They
included John Robson, editor of the British
Columbian and Governor Seymour. Stores and
businesses closed early that afternoon in 1868 to
enable as many of the townspeople as possible to
attend the trial and witness Stamp'sdiscomf iture.6
Though the judgment went in Jonathan's favour,
he left the logging business soon after the trial
and bought a farm in the Fraser Valley, but not
before he had come to public notice as a strong,
steady man and a leader.
On Burrard Inlet a little shacktown had grown
up nicknamed 'Gastown'. Its first sale of lots had
occurred in 1869. The following year it was
surveyed into streets and blocks of land, and
called Granville after the British Secretary of State
for the Colonies. A townsite of twenty acres cut
from the forest, it was bounded by three streets
later named Carrall, Hastings and Cambie. The
fourth side was the shore, a crescent beach
littered with boulders and seaweed where a few
white-washed buildings faced the mountains.
The town was dominated by the Hastings Mill
which provided employment for mill crews and
hangers-on, and was the focus for liquor and
gambling activities. Granville was a wild place,
not safe, some thought, for a respectable family
to live.
In 1871 a meeting took place between Captain
J. Raymur, Stamp's successor at the Mill, Sew.
Moody and 'Gassy' Jack Deighton, proprietor of
Granville's largest saloon and regarded as
Vancouver's founding father. The meeting
concerned the lawless conditions on Burrard
...At present the Inlet is a scene of
drunkenness and savage violence on the
part of the Indians. They continually
threaten the lives of white men and recently
have committed one murder and have
attempted another on whites, beside
British Columbia Historical News
Page 15 innumerable acts of violence on each
So wrote Tompkins Brew, Deputy Collector of
Customs to the Colonial Secretary in London.
Without doubt whites were equally culpable.7
Raymur, Moody and Gassy Jack considered the
appointment of a constable to be of paramount
importance. All knew Jonathan Miller and
believed him to have the necessary qualities to
bring law and order to Granville. They took their
recommendation to higher authority.
It was F.C. Claudet, a young Englishman sent
out by the Colonial Office, and at that time filling
in as stipendiary magistrate in New Westminster,
who took action. There had been a savage fight
on one of the ships. Acting without official
sanction, Claudet appointed Miller constable
and government agent for Granville, at a salary of
$50 a month.8 The British Government confirmed
the appointment and built a Court House with a
jail about as big as a large cupboard. It stood on
Water Street flanked by two saloons, Gassy Jack's
and Ebenezer Brown's. A few yards away was the
famous maple tree where notices were posted
and impromptu meetings held.
Jonathan and Margaret were pleased to leave
the isolation of the farm. Their five children
would now have others to play with. Though the
Inlet was still regarded as a wild, inhospitable
place with a climate as savage as its terrain and
occupants, Jonathan had strong faith in its
Jonathan's duties far exceeded those of a
constable in today's sense of the term because he
was the only officially appointed Government
agent for the community. For the next twelve
years there were about twenty-five houses and
seventy residents.9 During those years he saw a
school opened a hundred yards from Hastings
Mill. His children attended it and he became a
school trustee. He also found a job for his
brother-in-law, Ben Springer, Margaret's brother, who had come from Ontario to join them, as
an accountant at Sew. Moody's mill.
But life was primitive in spite of the efforts of
the hardy pioneers to maintain civilized
standards. There was no electric light. Groceries
had to come from Victoria, and their arrival was
haphazard. There was little public transportation.
The corduroy roads were uncomfortable and
dangerous. Not until 1876 did Granville have
direct communication with New Westminster or
the neighbouring community of Brighton, four
and half miles away.10
Then suddenly came an electrifying change in
the circumstances and prospects of the people of
Burrard Inlet. Ever since the coming of the
Canadian Pacific Railway had been first mooted,
its western terminus had been the subject of hot
debate and keen rivalry among several
competing localities. Would it be at New
Westminster, Esquimalt or Port Moody? The last
named was the most favoured. When the rumour
spread that the CPR would have its terminus at
none of these places but at Granville, the impact
was immediate and immense. CPR President
William Van Horne changed its name to
Vancouver. A committee was appointed to draw
up an act of incorporation for the new city and
met at the home of Hastings Mill manager
Richard Alexander in January 1886. A petition
was sent to the Legislative Assembly of the
Province of British Columbia requesting a
charter and first election of a mayor and ten
aldermen. Jonathan Miller was named returning
officer by acclamation. One hundred and
twenty-five persons signed the petition.
May 3, 1886, was the day of Vancouver's first
election. Two men competed for the office of
mayor. One was Richard Alexander, whose wife
was the first white woman to live in Granville, and
son Henry the first white child to be born there.
Alexander, a stalwart Scot, had travelled as a
youth across Canada with the Overlanders, and
had survived great perils, including the feat of
swimming one mile in icy waters when his canoe
capsized. An exceptional scholar and a natural
leader, he had been educated at Edinburgh
Academy and Upper Canada College. As mill
manager, he had been involved in all the
developments on the Inlet for the past fifteen
years, and the instigator of most of them. He was
expected to win the mayoralty contest with
ease.11 Surprisingly, the result was otherwise.
The other candidate was Malcolm MacLean, a
comparative newcomer who had come from
Winnipeg to join his brother-in-law, A.W. Ross.
As a CPR land adviser, Ross had foreseen the
coming boom at Granville and started a real
estate business there. MacLean had not even
been invited to join the committee which had
won incorporation for Granville five months
Four hundred and sixty-seven electors, all
men, placed their ballots. Few could claim a
year's residence but all had been householders
or leaseholders for at least six months. No
Chinese or Indians were entitled to vote.
MacLean won the election by 242 votes to
Page 16
British Columbia Historical News First Meeting of the First City Council
Alexander's 227. The newcomers had triumphed
over the old-timers.
Alexander's supporters protested. MacLean,
they said, had been nominated by one Angus C.
Fraser, but the said Fraser was not at the time of
the nomination a resident of the city of
Vancouver. Nothing came of the protest which
was strongly opposed by Richard Alexander and
MacLean became Vancouver's first mayor.13
MacLean was a fluent, forceful man, much
travelled, of the utmost integrity and dedication.
He worked without a dollar of salary for the first
year, furnished his own desk and his own
postage.14 On May 10th, 1886, he held his first
Council meeting. Jonathan's tiny courthouse was
stretched to the limit as aldermen and officials
trooped in. John Innes' well-known picture "The
Builders" portrays the scene: thirty men with
high collars, dark suits and serious expressions
are crowded around a table. A kerosene lamp
swings from the ceiling. MacLean is in the centre
exuding confidence and Jonathan at his left,
white-bearded and looking older than his fifty-
two years.15 The mayor appointed a treasurer,
though there was no cash to deposit, a coroner,
city engineer, fire chief and other civic officers,
including a lamplighter and two scavengers.
Jonathan's various duties as Government
Agent and constable were divided among
several officials of the new city. He received a
different appointment, that of Vancouver's first
postmaster. Since the Vancouver Post Office
would now become a distributing point for
Chinese, Japanese and Australian mail, the
position was clearly important and required a
first-rate administrator. In recognition of the
hard work involved and the post office's
undoubted future growth, Jonathan was given
one boy assistant. (By 1904 the job required an
assistant postmaster and thirty-four clerks!)
On May 14th the mayor called another
meeting, this time to arrange for the celebration
of Dominion Day. Jonathan, who was of Empire
Loyalist stock, headed the committee.
Vancouver's population had soared to nine
hundred. Lavish plans were made to celebrate
the day as never before.16 But a momentous and
tragic event held those plans in abeyance for
British Columbia Historical News
Page 17 over a year. During the morning and early
afternoon of Sunday, June 13, 1886, Vancouver
was consumed by fire.
Though no one can state with certainty, the
Great Fire is generally believed to have started in
the CPR townsite, a six-thousand acre clearing,
stretching from the high ground west of Water
Street (above today's Victory Square) to the
forest edge (Burrard Street). Blasting and burning
of slash went on there every day of the week and
the townsite was perpetually carpeted with a
dense mass of dry, fallen trees. Suddenly, on that
fateful morning, an extremely hot day, a
southwest gale of almost freakish intensity
sprang up. At once the sky was obscured and the
air became one mass of fiery flames, driven on by
the gale. The black bitter smoke of burning gum
and pitch brought instant suffocation to many.
Others had no chance to escape the great
tongues of fire that swept down on them.
Most of the Miller children were at home
getting ready for Sunday School. Nine-year-old
Walter had gone ahead to help Father Fiennes-
Clinton ring the bell at St. James' Church, this
service being Walter's particular privilege.
Almost immediately, the Miller's house was on
fire. As Margaret saw her domain being totally
destroyed before her eyes, she was transfixed—
unable to move or utter a word. Somehow the
children propelled her into the street. Their
father, conscientious as ever, had been working
at the Post Office, which that week had been
moved to a small building on Carrall Street. They
saw him running towards them, carrying in front
of him a big black cashbox. His spectacles lay on
top of it. Solemnly he said to Margaret: "I've
saved my glasses".
"I've saved my prayer book," replied
Margaret. It was her first utterance, spoken very
Several steamers were already engaged in
taking refugees across to Moodyville (today's
North Vancouver), and Jonathan got his family
embarked on one of them, the Senator. By early
afternoon they were all safely with their relatives,
the Springers, who lived in a big house on the
heights above Sew. Moody's mill. The house had
electric lights, a luxury not yet enjoyed on the
mainland. Eight young Millers and six young
Springers bedded down together that sad night.
Two young men who were engaged to be
married to two of Jonathan's daughters
performed bravely that day. One of them,
teamster Harry Berry, rushed off to a shed right in
the path of the fire where he knew explosives
were stored. With the help of a friend, he
wrapped the twenty barrels of blasting powder in
wet blankets, set them on his dray and drove his
team at breakneck speed into the waters of False
The other hero, acting City Clerk Joseph
Huntly, set himself the gruesome task of looking
for persons reported to be missing. A makeshift
morgue was set up at the north end of Cambie
Street Bridge. Huntly bivouacked with the other
refugees at the south end.19
According to the 1887 Vancouver Directory,
the pioneers re-built "with many points of
superiority". One million dollars was spent on
"buildings of every description including twenty-
five boarding houses and hotels, one of them a
palatial hotel for the Canadian Pacific Railway,
four churches and several schools." Jonathan
Miller was one of five trustees who helped form
the Vancouver Electric Illuminating Company,
and less than two months after the Fire, electric
lights were turned on in Vancouver for the first
time. The City's business was conducted in a tent
until Alderman David Oppenheimer persuaded
the city fathers they could debate more comfortably at the back of his warehouse.20
The great day came, May 23, 1887, when the
first train from Montreal, with baggage car,
colonist sleeper, first-class pullman, and dining
car steamed into Vancouver. Public enthusiasm
knew no bounds. Hundreds gathered at the
station. There were cheers for New Westminster,
cheers for Victoria, cheers for the Queen.
Streamers floated across the track inscribed,
"Confederation Accomplished", "Occident
greets Orient", and "Our National Highway".
Mayor MacLean, elected for a second term, read
an address to Harry Abbott, General Superintendent of the Pacific Division of the CPR, recording
the "high appreciation of the citizens of
One year to the day after the Great Fire, SS
Abyssinia, chartered by the CPR, arrived from the
Orient with a cargo bound for London, marking
the commencement of trans-Pacific trade using
the new railway. Vancouver was made a customs
port of entry. Before long the Empresses would
be steaming majestically into its harbour. Their
arrival was almost as important as the railway's.
The Post Office where Jonathan had been
busily working when Vancouver caught fire, had
burned to the ground. Postal work was now
carried on in more spacious quarters in the Lady
Mount Stephen Block at 309 West Hastings
Street. Jonathan built a house for his family next
Page 18
British Columbia Historical News door, and after a brief stay there, moved to
Burrard Street, a shady tree-lined boulevard
running from English Bay to the Inlet.
He was now a rich man. In its 1891 souvenir
edition, the Vancouver Daily World stated:
...At the time the city was laid out Mr. Miller
invested largely in property, a great amount
of which he still holds. He is one of the
largest property-holders here, most of his
real estate being of the choicest kind.
The article went on to name Miller and
Oppenheimer as patriarchs of the business
Vancouver was indeed on the world's
commercial map. Its population in 1891 was
estimated at 15,522. Settlers came in a steady
stream from Britain, the United States, the
Orient, and every part of Canada. Jonathan's
fortunes advanced with the city's. In partnership
with Thomas Dunn, hardware merchant and one
of Vancouver's first aldermen, Jonathan built the
Dunn-Miller Block on the south side of Cordova
Street, the site of today's Army and Navy Store. It
stood three storeys high, the largest and most
attractive building in the city. It housed retail
stores, apartments, Vancouver's first library, first
synagogue, and the Electric Railway and Light
Most men of Jonathan's financial stature lived
in the West End which had become Vancouver's
fashionable district. However, he preferred to
live farther out. In 1895 he moved to the district
of Fairview, so named by surveyor L.A. Hamilton
when he first mapped the south shore of False
Creek. Jonathan's new house on the corner of
Birch and Alder Streets occupied an entire city
block and provided a superb view of forest, sea
and mountains. Here he could run his three
horses and have a residence large enough for his
family. Jonathan and Margaret were loving
parents and seven of their children, though in
their twenties and thirties, still lived with them in
their four-storey mansion. In the grounds were
cottages for grooms and gardeners and even for
assistant postmaster John Harrison.
It was a happy life full of sports, games and
music, but access to town was not easy. Jonathan
spurned the automobile which had arrived in
Vancouver at the turn of the century. When the
Millers wanted to go to town they had to walk or
ride in the phaeton. No tramcarcameto Fairview
for many years, though when Jonathan opened
his new Post Office at Pender and Granville
Streets in 1895, by his express wish the electric
street car passed its door and enabled him to
establish Vancouver's first letter-carrier service.
Jonathan lived in Fairview for many years. He
saw Vancouver suffer a temporary recession
during the 1890s and be revived by the Klondike
Gold Rush. He put up money to salvage the
World newspaper, and established his widowed
daughter, Alice Berry, as its assistant manager
and organizer of the World Printing and
Publishing Company, the owning company.
Later Alice married Louis D. Taylor, publisher of
the World and one of Vancouver's most
enterprising mayors.
Jonathan's third son, Ernest, was the most
prominent of his children. Ernest had been sent
away to school at New Westminster Lome
Collegiate, adjoining Bishop Sillitoe's residence
at Sapperton. Fees were $4 per week for room
and board, a further $1 for tuition and an annual
$2 for fuel. For this sum, meagre even by the
standards of the day, 'careful instruction' was
given in Reading, Writing, Spelling, English
Grammar, Analysis and Composition, Bookkeeping, Literature, Ancient and Modern
Geography, Use of the Globe, Drawing,
Chemistry, Philosophy, Commercial and
Advanced Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry,
Mensuration, Latin, Greek, Bible History, Liturgy
and Ecclesiastical History. French, German and
Music were Extras.22
At this remarkable school, Ernest made a lifelong friend of Richard McBride, premier of
British Columbia during some of its most
prosperous years. When they met in later years,
McBride steered Ernest Miller away from the
practice of law into politics. He became MLA for
Grand Forks, the best debater in the House,
adviser to the premier and Member of the
Council. Death at fifty-four cut short a career of
great promise.
In 1906 Margaret, Jonathan's loyal and loving
wife of more than fifty years, died. Their ten
children were scattered all over the province. His
brother-in-law and best friend Ben Springer,
who had shared most of his enterprises, had
been dead since 1898. Although Jonathan felt
very much alone, at seventy-two he was healthy
and still working.
During twenty years as postmaster Jonathan
had seen the Post Office moved five times, each
time to a larger and more elaborate establish-
British Columbia Historical News
Page 19 ment. Vancouver was growing by two thousand
people each month. The Hundred Thousand
Club had predicted (correctly) that by 1910 the
city's population would exceed 100,000. Jonathan decided a new and more fitting Post Office
must be built before he retired. The building was
constructed at 701 West Hastings Street, within a
stone's throw of the shack he had hastily erected
after the ravages of the Great Fire. Three storeys
high, built in the Edwardian baroque style, with
majestic columns and an elegant clock tower, it
remained a landmark for fifty years.
Jonathan did not wait for the opening which
was twice postponed, but retired in 1909 aged
seventy-five. Next year he came to Vancouver
from California for the ceremony, and was
observed standing quietly in the background
while other civic dignitaries did the honours and
accepted the plaudits. He was never interested in
public acclaim.
In 1914, the First World War heralded the end
of an era, the end of Vancouver's golden years.
One of the more than 60,000 Canadians
slaughtered was Jonathan's oldest son Fred, who
was fifty when he enlisted.
Towards the close of the year Jonathan, living
in retirement in California, suffered a massive
stroke. He was brought back to Vancouver and
died with eight of his children at his bedside, well
pleased to be able to spend his last hours in the
city on whose shores he had resided for fifty-two
years, and for which he had done so much—a
man who deserves to be remembered.
10. Ibid. (The first road between New Westminster and
Granville was completed in 1876.)
11. "Petition for the Incorporation of the City of
Vancouver," Vancouver City Archives. (McLean's
name is not included among the 125 signatories.)
12. Ibid.
13. Vancouver Herald, May 28, 1886.
14. The Shoulder Strap, Vol. 2, Tenth Edition, p. 87, as
quoted in article by R.J. Templeton and J.S. Matthews,
"Jonathan Miller, First Constable of Vancouver". (The
title should be First Constable of Granville!)
15. "The Builders", John Innes' famed picture. Names are
listed in article by R.J. Templeton quoted above, and on
p. 66 of Morley, Vancouver.
16. J.S. Matthews, Early Vancouver, Vol. I.
17. Morley, Vancouver, p. 80.
18. Ibid., p. 81.
19. Ibid., p. 83.
20. Eric Nicol, Vancouver, p. 83.
21. Da/7y News Advertiser, May 24, 1887.
22. The Churchman's Gazette, November 1,1883.
Douglas Harker, North Pender Island, B.C., was formerly
Headmaster of St. George's School, Vancouver. He has
been a member of the Vancouver and Gulf Islands sections
of the BCHF, and is currently Treasurer of the Gulf Islands
1. Pamphlet: "Township of Ekfrid" (Middlesex County,
Ontario Archives.)
2. F.W. Howay, "Early Settlement on Burrard Inlet," B.C.
Historical Quarterly, 1937.
3. Margaret Ormsby, British Columbia, A History (1958),
p. 186.
4. Reminiscences of Kathleen Kennedy, Jonathan Miller's
granddaughter, now living in Vancouver, B.C.
5. Ormsby, British Columbia, p. 202.
6. A. Morley, Vancouver: from Milltown to Metropolis, p.
7. Tompkins Brew, Deputy Collector of Customs, to
Colonial Secretary, London, 1869. Colonial
Correspondence, Provincial Archives of British
Columbia (hereafter cited as PABC).
8. F.C. Claudet to Colonial Secretary, October 27, 1871,
Colonial Correspondence, PABC.
9. Vancouver Herald, January 15, 1886 (first issue of first
newspaper published in Vancouver).
Back Issues of the News
Back issues of the News can be ordered at $3.50
each plus postage from the Editor.
Page 20
British Columbia Historical News News and Notes
The Canadian National
Historical Association
The Canadian Historical Association is pleased
to announce that among the winners of its 1984
Certificate of Merit Awards are Lynne Bowen
and the Coal Tyee Society of Nanaimo, B.C., and
Mrs. Elsie Turnbull of Victoria, B.C.
Mrs. Bowen and the Coal Tyee Society were
honoured for Boss Whistle: The Coal Miners of
Vancouver Island Remember in which Lynne
Bowen skillfully wove over one hundred taped
interviews, mainly collected by the Coal Tyee
Society, into a lively and well-researched
narrative of the working days of early twentieth
century miners. Boss Whistle is a splendid
example of how dedicated and informed local
residents and a professionally trained historian
can co-operate to produce a volume that is of
interest to both the local community and
students of working class life everywhere.
Mrs. Turnbull was honoured for her many
historical activities over the years. Her citation
reads as follows:
Mrs. Turnbull's name is closely tied to historical
studies of the West Kootenay. She was
instrumental in founding the West Kootenay
branch of the B.C. Historical Association and
later served as secretary and president of the
provincial association. As an historian in her own
right she has published numerous popular
articles, two booklets, and two books, Topping's
Trail (1964) and Trail Between the Wars (1980),
which carefully recount periods of the history of
Trail, B.C. and its close relationship with the
Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company.
Her books are invaluable local references but
have wider interest. As the Trail City Archivist
noted, her second book is "a must for anyone
interested in Kootenay history and, on a broader
scale, the unique evolution of the industrial
company town in B.C."
Douglas and Elsie Turnbull
The Regional History Committee of the
Canadian Historical Association invites
nominations for its "Certificate of Merit" awards.
These annual awards are given for meritorious
publications or for exceptional contributions by
individuals or organizations to regional history.
Nominations, including a brief statement of why
the individual or organization is being
nominated, should be sent to Professor Patricia
Roy, Department of History, University of
Victoria, Victoria, B.C., V8W2Y2. To insure
inclusion in the 1985 competitions, nominations
should be submitted by 15 November 1984.
British Columbia Historical News
Page 21 INTRODUCING Writing Competition
Member-at-Large, Mary Orr
The British Columbia Historical Federation
invites submissions of books or articles for the
second annual competition for writers of British
Columbia history.
Any book "with historical content published
in 1984 is eligible. Whether the work was
prepared as a thesis, or a community project, for
an industry, or an organization, or just for the
pleasure of sharing a pioneer's reminiscences, it
is considered history as long as names, locations,
and dates are included. Stories told in the
vernacular are acceptable when indicated as
quotations of a story teller. Please include the
selling price of the book, and an address from
where it may be purchased.
Submit your book with your name, address,
and telephone number to:
British Columbia Historical Federation
c/o Mrs. Naomi Miller
Box 105,
Wasa, B.C. VOB 2K0
Book contest deadline is January 31,1985.
Mary Gartrell Orr (Mrs. Donald Orr) was born
at Trout Creek Point, Summerland, a third
generation pioneer, and has been actively
involved with the preservation of Okanagan's
heritage for over twenty years. She is an
Honorary Life Member of the Summerland
Museum Society, Life Member of the British
Columbia Museums Association and Past Chairman of the Summerland Heritage Advisory
Committee (presently secretary). Moreover, she
has been one of the directors of the Penticton
Branch, Okanagan Historical Society, since 1966,
and on the Executive Council of the parent body
of O.H.S. since 1977. She has served as President
of the O.H.S. since May 1983.
There will also be a prize for the writer
submitting the best historical article published in
the British Columbia Historical News quarterly
magazine. Articles are to be submitted directly
The Editor,
British Columbia Historical News,
1745 Taylor Street,
Victoria, B.C. V8R 3E8
Written length should be no more than 2,000 to
3,000 words, substantiated with footnotes if
possible, and accompanied by photographs if
available. Deadlines for the quarterly issues are
September 1, December 1, March 1, and June 1.
Page 22
British Columbia Historical News Bookshelf
Ninstints: Haida World Heritage Site. George F.
MacDonald. Vancouver: University of British
Columbia Press in association with the U.B.C.
Museum of Anthropology, 1983. pp. vi, 60, illus.
$8.95 paper.
George F. MacDonald, before he was called back to
Ottawa to assist in the planning for the new Museum
of Man building and then elevated to the directorship
of the museum, spent a year in teaching at both Simon
Fraser and the University of B.C. During the same
time, he completed the impressive inventory and
description of Queen Charlotte Islands Haida poles
and posts, Haida Monumental Art: Villages of the
Queen Charlotte Islands (University of British
Columbia Press, 1983}, itself a monument to Haida art
and engineering. This booklet, published as a
Museum Note of the Museum of Anthropology, is a
generous expansion of the Ninstints section of the
book suitably altered for its purpose of singling out
the Anthony Island village that UNESCO has
designated as a World Heritage Site.
The booklet describes the Haida and their Kunghit
branch who occupied the site, the village itself as it
stood in its nineteenth-century prime, and continues
with a solid section on contact with Europeans, mostly
dedicated to the violence of the maritime fur trade
period. MacDonald then devotes a section to Tom
Price, the last Ninstints head chief, who, with the rest
of his villagers, abandoned the remote Ninstints to
gather with other Islanders at Skidegate or Masset.
Price was an important artist, especially in argillite.
Finally, MacDonald gives us a brief, moving history of
the effort to salvage the monumental art of Ninstints,
first by removing the best poles to museums in
Vancouver and Victoria, and more recently by
attempting to prolong the life of the decayed poles
and houseframes in Ninstints itself. The booklet
contains over sixty photographs, some in color, and
several drawings, excellent for their purpose of
reconstructing the village as it stood in mid-century.
MacDonald's knowledge of Queen Charlottes
archaeology, anthropology and ethnohistory is not to
be faulted. We are indebted to him and to the
Museum and UBC Press for this handsome and
informative publication.
Douglas Cole, who teaches History at Simon Fraser
University, has written extensively on West Coast art
and anthropology.
Footprints: Pioneer Families of the Metchosin
District. Marion I. Helgeson, ed. Victoria,
Metchosin School Museum Society, 1983. Pp.
316, illus., $17.50. (Available through Metchosin
School Museum Book Committee, 505 Witty
Beach Rd., R.R. #1, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3W9)
This book is a great smorgasbord: a rich array of
offerings—some major, others trivial; some
international, others parochial; some ordinary and
other peculiar.
Metchosin, lying athwart the Strait of Juan de Fuca
between the Lagoon, Royal Roads, and Becher Bay
never could boast the secure harbours or richer soils
of Esquimalt and Victoria. Somehow nature had been
less kind, and its separation from the two hub-ports
kept it as a refuge for cottagers and beachcombers.
William Head, quarantine station-turned prison,
stood sufficiently far away from naval base and
colonial capital. Even Chief Trader James Douglas of
the Hudson's Bay Company had thought it lesser. In
1842, he wrote of Metchosin (and spelled it that way)
that it was "an open Roadstead, One and a Half Mile
East of the former Port [Sooke]. It is a very pretty Place,
and has a small fresh water Run near it. There is
however, no Harbor, and the Anchorage is much
exposed, and must be insecure in Rough Weather. In
addition to that Disadvantage the Extent of clear
Ground is much too small for the Demands of the
large Establishment, and a great Part of what is clear is
poor, Stony Lands with a rolling Surface, so that on the
whole it would not do for us." (p. 16)
But it did do for many others. Take Mary Ellen Tufts
(Argyle) for instance. Of pilgrim stock, her family's
name was given to a great Massachusetts university.
Ellen forsook all that, went to Sapperton, B.C. via the
Horn and married the Royal Engineer Thomas Argyle.
They spent most of their hazardous lives tending the
light at Race Rocks with their nine children, their only
neighbours being the barking sea lions and noisy
seagulls. The rain supplied their fresh water.
Or take Yorkshire-born John Ash, M.D. Educated at
Guy's Hospital, London, he came to the Cariboo rush
but found real estate speculation and colonial politics
more profitable. Let Doctor John Helmcken's
manuscript Reminiscences tell their own lively tale.
Anyone could have had a dispute with Amor De
Cosmos and Ash was no exception. They had
quarreled in the Bird Cages and the affair continued
British Columbia Historical News
Page 23 The House being over, Ash met De Cosmos
outside, and near the bridge an altercation took
place and blows were struck. De Cosmos always
carried a stick and Ash asserted this had been
used on his head. I came up at that time and with
the aid of others induced them to go their way,
for Ash had his 'monkey up' and was able fo
throw De Cosmos over the bridge. I induced
Ash to walk with me up Bird Cage walk—and
there he found his face bleeding and his glasses
broken. Oh. I said, here is a nice clean pool of
water, let me wash the blood off At this he
flared up; did I want fo make him a spectacle in
the public street, and I thought he was about to
pitch into poor weakly me. He dm not, would
not come into my house and walked growling to
his own home on Fort Street. In the evening
Governor Douglas met me, and said Mr.
Speaker are you aware that your authority
ceases when out of the House. You have no
authority to interfere when gentlemen out of
your own jurisdiction wished to settle their little
difficulties. You had better have let them have it
out—as it is neither is satisfied. I laughed at the
Governor's grim humour—he had no love for
De Cosmos and vice versa—and probably
would have been inwardly pleased had Ash
pitched De Cosmos into the Bay!
An oculist of note, the province's first minister of
mines, Ash expired of apoplexy in Victoria in 1886.
There were, too, the respectful Cogans of
Dewdney Flats and the genteel, United Empire
Loyalist Arthur Clarks of Happy Valley Road. There
were men like George Brown, a good enough hunter
in his time but careless enough (and he never did it
again) to hang a deer he had shot on his porch
overnight, a fine feast for a cougar. And there were
the women like the fearless Mary Ann Vine who
branded a whisky-seeking Indian with her sizzling-
hot flat iron. There were the enlightened Wallaces,
whose four children—Bob, Mary, jack ana Laurie
made such Stirling contributions to British Columbia's
educational and civic spheres.
This is a book about places: "How Kangaroo Road
Got its Name" and of William Head—quarantine
station, leper colony, and federal medium-security
prison "probably the most shimmering bejewelled
106 acres that anyone could be locked into." (p. 217)
We have snippets on the post office and school, St.
Mary's Church and Taylor Beach, Taylor Road;
unhappily, however, nothing on that fine institution
Lester Pearson College of the Pacific.
This is not a systematically told story. Only the
geography ties it together. Yet editor Marion Isabel
Helgeson, nee Minns, and her army of writers
deserve great credit for this handsome and
fascinating offering.
Barry Gough, a professor of History at Sir Wilfrid
Laurier University, is the author of Gunboat Frontier,
the last volume in a trilogy on British Columbia
maritime history.
Floodland and Forest: Memories of the
Chilliwack Valley. Imbert Orchard. Victoria,
Provincial Archives, 1983, Pp. iv, 92, illus., $4.50
and Growing Up in the Valley: Pioneer
Childhood in the Lower Fraser Valley. Imbert
Orchard. Victoria, Provincial Archives, 1983, Pp.
iv, 79, illus., $4.50.
Any review of these Sound Heritage volumes must
regretfully note that 1983 provincial budget cuts
ended this series, produced by the Sound and
Moving Image Division of the Provincial Archives.
These volumes and their accompanying cassettes
have been important in attracting the public,
especially modern youngsters to History and
invaluable in complementing historians' research in
more traditional sources.
Imbert Orchards compilation of his 1960's CBC
radio interviews with Fraser Valley old timers on
Chilliwack settlement, and on pioneer childhood,
illustrate the merits of the Sound Heritage
publications. In Floodland and Forest: Memories of
the Chilliwack Valley, he mixes documentary
excerpts and interviews. Their range and his style help
make History human as well as academically useful.
Floodland and Forest includes charming versions of
summer battles with mosquitoes and Sunday-long
struggles to get to church. Orchard points out the
importance of Indians to the economy and society of
Valley pioneers. He quotes Jack Henderson on
Chilliwack's four brass bands, including the
Coqualeetza [Methodist mission school] band at
Sardis and "a cracking good Indian band at the
Landing reservation ... the result of the training
received at the mission school for young Indian boys
at [St. Mary's Roman Catholic] Mission."
Orchard's Growing Up in the Valley, another
volume based on his CBC radio interviews of two
decades ago, helps make them available to a new
generation of the public and to print-oriented
historians. Orchard begins with three autobiographical accounts of boyhood in the southern part of New
Westminster District. His subjects include boys of
British, Indian and French-Canadian descent who
were involved with their families in logging and
homesteading. The second half of the volume gives a
charming mosaic of girls' accounts of pioneer life.
Page 24
Honorary Patron:
His Honour, the Honourable Robert G. Rogers,
Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia
Honorary President:
Col. G.S. Andrews, 116 Wellington, Victoria V8V 4H7
382-7202 (res.)
Leonard G. McCann, #2-1430 Maple St., Vancouver V6J 3R9
736-4431 (bus.)
1st Vice President:
Naomi Miller, Box 105, Wasa VOB 2K0
422-3594 (res.)
2nd Vice President:
John D. Spittle, 1241 Mount Crown Rd., North Vancouver V7R 1R9
988-4565 (res.)
T. Don Sale, 262 Juniper St., Nanaimo V9S 1X4
753-2067 (res.)
Recording Secretary:
Margaret Stoneberg, P.O. Box 687, Princeton VOX 1W0
295-3362 (res.)
J. Rhys Richardson, 2875 W. 29th, Vancouver V6L 1Y2
733-1897 (res.)
Myrtle Haslam, 1875 Wessex Road, Cowichan Bay VOR 1N0
748-8397 (res.)
Mary G. Orr, R.R. #1, Butler St., Summerland V0H 1Z0
Barbara Stannard, #211-450 Stewart Ave., Nanaimo V9S 5E9
754-6195 (res.)
Marie Elliott, Editor, B.C. Historical News, 1745 Taylor St., Victoria V8R 3E8
Chairmen of Committees:
Leonard G. McCann
Historic Trails:
John D. Spittle
B.C. Historical News
Policy Committee:
Ruth Barnett, 680 Pinecrest Rd., Campbell River V9W 3P3
287-8097 (res.)
Award Committee:
Naomi Miller
Publications Assistance Helen Akrigg, 4633 W. 8th Ave., Vancouver V6R 2A6
Committee (not
involved                          228-8606 (res.)
with B.C. Historical
News):                            Loans are available for publication.
Please submit manuscripts to Helen Akrigg. JOIN
Why not join the British Columbia Historical
Federation and receive the British Columbia
Historical News regularly?
The BCHF is composed of member societies
in all parts of the province. By joining your local
society you receive not only a subscription to
British Columbia Historical News, but the
opportunity to participate in a program of talks
and field trips, and to meet others interested in
British Columbia's history and the BCHF's
annual convention.
For information, contact your local society
(address on the inside front cover).... No local
society in your area? Perhaps you might think
of forming one. For information contact the
secretary of the BCHF (address inside back


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