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RETURN To an Order of the House for a copy of the depositions in the hearing of the charge against the… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly. 1885

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 48 Vic. Depositions—Metlakatlah Riot. 317
To an Order of the House for a copy of the depositions in the hearing of the charge
against the Indians for riotously taking possession of a school-house at Metlakatlah,
By Command.
A ttorney- General,
Attorney-General's Office,
9th February, 1885.
Information and Complaint for an Indictable Offence,
Province of British Columbia.
District of Cassiar.
The information and complaint of William Ridley, Bishop of Caledonia, in the Province
aforesaid, taken this 21st day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
and eighty-four, before the undersigned, one of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace, in and for
the said District of Cassiar, who saith that (he hath just cause to suspect and believe, and
cloth suspect and believe that) Kawan, Edward Mather, Henry Ridley, Frederic Ridley,
Timothy Milton, Charles Spence, and Dennis, of the town of Metlakatlah, in the said District
and Province, within the space of six months last past, to wit, on the twenty-second day of
September last, at the town of Metlakatlah, did riotously and tumultuously assemble together,
to the disturbance of the public peace, unlawfully and with force injure and break into a
church, the property of the Church Missionary Society of London, England, contrary to the
form of statute in such case made and provided,
(Signed) W. Caledonia.
Taken and sworn before me, the day and year first above mentioned, at the place
above mentioned,
(Signed) A. C. Elliott,
S. M.
Depositions of Witnesses.
Province of British Columbia.
District of Cassiar.
The examination of William Ridley, David Leask, William Duncan, Odill Morrison,
Albert Leighton, Matthew Auckland, William Shebasha, and W. B. Anderson, taken on this
thirty-first day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty-
four, at Metlakatlah, in the District or Province aforesaid, before the undersigned, one of Her
Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the said Province, in the presence and hearing of Kawan,
Edward Mather, Henry Ridley, Charles Spence, Dennis, Frederick Ridley and Timothy
Milton, who are charged this day before me, for that they, the said Kawan, Edward Mather,
Henry Ridley, Charles Spence, Dennis, Frederick Ridley and Timothy Milton, at Metlakatlah,
on the twenty-second day of September last, did riotously and tumultuously assemble together
to the disturbance of the public peace, unlawfully and with force injure and break into a
church, the property of the Church Missionary Society of London, England.
This deponent, William Duncan, upon his oath, saith as follows :—
I was formerly an agent of the Church Missionary Society. The building referred to was
erected as a school-house, partly by money from the Church Missionary Society, partly by
money from the Indian Department, and fifty pounds contributed by myself.    The building 318 Depositions—Metlakatlah Riot. 1885
was used for divine service, and as such during the summer months in the evening. The
contribution of the Indian Department was paid to me, and I spent it on that school and
entered it in the accounts of the Society.
(Signed) William Duncan.
Examined by Edward Mather—I built the school-house for the Indians of Metlakatlah
as a school. It was not built for church purposes; there was already a church in Metlakatlah.
I was not instructed by the Society to build the school.
By Frederick Ridley—It was built on the Indian lands of Metlakatlah. The contribution from the Government was for the Indians.
(Signed) William Duncan.
David Leask, sworn, says:—
I am secretary of what is called the Indian Council of Metlakatlah. The letter
produced, marked A, is written by me, I had to ask a white man in regard to some words I
did not understand, which the people wished to put in the letter produced. I only asked
advice in reference to a few words, and the sentences were not put together by a white man,
or with the assistance of a white man. The word "surreptitiously" is the only one I had to
ask advice about. The word "impelled" means pressed upon. The word "futile," which
appears in the letter, I did not know the meaning of. "Notify" means to give notice.
" Ignore " means taken no notice of. The word "assert" means to do or to act. I did receive
assistance from some white man in putting the sentences together. I was assisted by Mr.
Duncan and sometimes by Mr. Tomlinson. I was not aware that in writing this letter I was
committing a felony or misdemeanor. The reason I wrote this letter was because the breaking
into of the school-house was determined on by the Council. I keep no minute-book of the
proceedings in Council. All the defendants were present at the meeting of the Council when
this was determined on; the Council was unanimous. I was not present when the building
was broken into, but I knew it was to be done.    Certain men were told off to do it.
(Signed) David Leask.
By Mr. Duncan—I asked assistance because, in the writing of the letter, the Indians
wanted their words to be made clear in English. There is nothing in the letter that the
Indians did not wish me to put in. The Indians told me to write to the agent of the Church
Missionary Society, in reference to the land about to be surveyed by Capt. Shearburn; and
they said they felt the Government did not acknowledge their protest in regard to that land,
meaning all the land then occupied by Church Missionary Society; so they said they would
stop the society from occupying the school-house, which is on their land, and that they would
hold the land and the building. They bid me write that to the agents of the Society. I then
took down their instructions. Nearly all the Indians here present were at that meeting.
There was no white man at that meeting. I wrote in English their instructions, the best way
I could. I have not the original draft; I tore it up after I had written the letter produced
(marked A). No one asked me to destroy the original. I put in the original the word
"secret" for surreptitiously, contained in the letter produced. There is no sentence changed
in the letter produced from what was in the original, nor any suggestion added. The Indians
did not ask me to ask any white man to help me with it. I did not copy the letter produced
from any other document. I took the word "surreptitiously" from a dictionary, and in
seeking for that I looked for the word "secret." The letter produced fully expresses what the
Indians meant, and nothing more. I am in a position to prove it if necessary. I wrote a
letter produced (marked B) at the request of the Indians. The Indians wanted me to write
to the Magistrate concerning the school-house and buildings then occupied by the Society, to
use his judgment in their favor. I wrote letter B before the one marked A. The Indians
said that if the Magistrate said he had no power in the matter, they would do what they
wanted themselves. Mr. Elliott was not in the district when the letter was written. I wrote
it on the 18th September. The letter is correctly dated. I don't believe Mr. Elliott was in
the district when the school was broken into. All the accused were present when I was
instructed to write the letter of the 18th September. Having heard that a surveyor named
Shearburn was here for the purpose of surveying their land, they caused the letter of the 22nd
of September to be written. The Indians said that the Government had sent a man to survey
their land in spite of their written protest, and that led to the letter. I thought what Dr.
Prffiger meant by assistance was that some one held my hand while I wrote the letter. Mr.
Duncan told me to look in a dictionary for the word I wanted to get the meaning of.    Letter 48 Vio. Depositions—Metlakatlah Riot. 810
B was sent after letter A was sent to the agents of the Society. I am working for the people
of Metlakatlah (the Indians); they pay me for writing for them. I keep books for the Tsimpsean store at Metlakatlah. I thought Dr. Pra3ger asked me if I received assistance in writing
letter A, advised by any white man, in addition to the request of the Indians for me to write.
Evidence continued through interpreter—Dr. Prager asks me if any white man assisted
me in the writing of that letter (marked A), and I said "no." The reason I say "no" is
because it was at the request of the Indians I wrote the letter. Another reason is, that when
the Indians told me to write the letter there was no white man present, and I wrote it word
for word. No white man instructed me to write, or held my pen at the time I wrote letter A.
I was by myself when I wrote what the Indians told me to write. There were certain words
I did not know how to translate into English, so I asked Mr. Duncan's advice. He advised
me to look into the dictionary for them.    That is all.
(Signed) David Leask.
Odill Morrison, being sworn, saith:—
My name is Odill Morrison.    I am the wife of Charles Frederic Morrison.
I remember the morning of the 22nd September last. I was standing just outside Moses
Venn's house, in sight of the School House. There was a crowd outside the School House.
Some going in and some going out. I saw Frederic Ridley, Edward Mathers, Timothy Milton
(Cornelius), Kawan, Dennis, Charles Spence and others I could name. Frederic Ridley had
something in his hand, and raised himself up as though he had been hammering something,
to listen to what the crowd said to him. Did not know if he had a hammer or a hatchet. This
was sometime between six o'clock a. m., and noon. I saw Albert Leighton there; he was
refused admission. I saw him being pushed about by Charles Spence and Dennis. I know
that the School House has been used as a place of public worship for some time by the Church
Missionary Society. I have attended services there when at Metlakatlah. I know the
signature of Dr. Powell.    The writing produced is the signature of Dr. Powell.
By the Court—I heard a great noise. There were several at a time talking to Albert
Leighton. Edward Mather said to him: "Are you with us? If you are with us, you can go
in." I did not hear Albert answer; I saw Dennis and Charles Spence push Albert back, so as
to keep him from going in. I heard some one in the crowd say: " What are you doing,
Albert? we are doing this for your children. We want the land." Albert was the only one
remonstrated with by the crowd. I was at divine service there the day before; have attended
service every Sunday since I have been here, about two months, in the same building.
By Mr. Duncan—The doors were all opened when I first saw the crowd.
I was afraid, because the people get so rude, and act as if they were crazy when they do
anything in the way of riot. The people I mean are the accused, and the others of the crowd
about the School House. I have on other occasions been rudely pushed and jostled by the
young men. Joseph, a young Indian, when I was interpreting for Mr. McKay, assaulted me
so that I had to ask the protection of the Court. Joseph is not one of the accused. A crowd
means a number of people gathered together. A great noise means a lot of people talking and
shouting together. I don't know why they refused Albert admission. I did not stop; I was
afraid—having heard that the Indians were generally armed with revolvers—of being shot.
Did not see any gun or pistol upon that occasion. Albert laughed, as if he did not care for
them.    Someone said, "Don't touch him, he is drunk."
By W. Duncan—Albert made no resistance, that I could see.
By E. Mathers—It is usual among the Indians to call the followers of a person " his
people." I was standing by the little well, right in front of Moses Venn's house. I was at
the time staying at Paul Shebasha's house. It is my home when I am here. I have business
here sometimes.
By the Court—There was no obstruction between where I stood and the School House.
I think there were more than twenty people there.
By Frederic Ridley—To the best of my belief, it was a hatchet or hammer which
Frederic Ridley had. I stood by the well, by Moses Venn's house. I saw Ridley (Frederic)
by the ordinary entrance door.
(Signed) O. Morrison.
Albert Leighton, being sworn, saith:—
My name is Albert Leighton, and I live in Metlakatlah, and am an adherent of the Church
Missionary Society. I remember the morning of the 22nd September last. I was on the roof
of a house, and I saw two of the School House doors open, and I went up there.     I was on 320 Depositions—Metlakatlah Riot. 1885
the Mission House. There was a number of people about the School. There were more than
twenty present. I noticed Charles Spence, Dennis, Kawan, -Edward Mather there. I know
Edward Ridley; I saw him in the crowd. Did not notice Timothy Milton. I saw several
people standing on the steps of the house, but only noticed Edward Mather come out of the
School House. I tried to get in, but Charles Spence and Dennis prevented me. Edward
Mather asked me what I wanted—" What do you want to come in for?" and I said: " I want
to see what you are doing here." Edward Mather said: " If you are with us, you can come
in." I tried to get in, and at the top of the steps I was stopped by Dennis and Spence.
Kawan told me that it was for the sake of my children that they had taken the house. The
Government had taken it from them, and they were now taking it back. 1 then went to
another door, and in attempting to look in I was confronted again by Charles and Dennis, who
pushed me back. The people were not boisterous, but were all standing on the steps, and all
talking. I know the building has been used by the Society for a Church. There have been
services held there before Mr. Duncan was severed from the Society. I have heard Mr.
Duncan preach there.
Cross-examined by Mr. Duncan—I went to the Mission House roof because I had heard
that the School House was broken into. I did not stay long time enough to see two of the
doors open.
By W. Duncan—I don't think I stayed over two minutes. I was doing nothing but
looking. I stooped down while there to adjust a little sand on the roof which I had been
repairing. I think I stooped about three times. I did not see the doors broken open, they
were open when I saw them. I went alone to the School House. I was not afraid to go there.
I went because it was our Church. I saw it was open, and I went to find out what it was.
The Bishop sent me. I was not struck. I was pushed back by Charles Spence and Dennis.
I was not threatened, but was not allowed to go into the Church. There was not much
talking when I first got there, but a good deal of tramping of feet. I was permitted to go
quietly away. I saw no one molested, and there could not have been, for all there, excepting
myself, were of one party. I was here when the building was erected. It was used as a
School House, and was used as a Church. I attended Church services there before the
separation of Mr. Duncan from the Church Missionary Society. So far as I know, there were
not two services going on at the same hour in Metlakatlah previous to Mr Duncan's separation.
I know a building that was built as the Church of Metlakatlah. It is a different one to the
one which was broken into. The reason the School House was used as a Church, was because
there were lamps in it, and none in the Church. I have attended Church service in the Church
of Metlakatlah. Since Mr. Duncan's separation I have not gone to the Church. I have since
gone to service in the building broken into, held by the Church Missionary Society. I went to
service in the Mission House last Sunday. The Bishop officiated. I have children. They
go to school at the Mission House. I understand that some of the Metlakatlah Indians
protested against the School House being used as a Church. Mr. Duncan's Indians objected
to our using the building as a Church. We used the Mission House as a Church sometimes.
I was told that the Government have taken the School from the Indians, and they had taken it
back. Edward Mather said, "If you join us, you can come in." I work for Dr. Prager. On
the day in question I was working for Mr. Wilkinson. Mr. Wilkinson lives in the Mission
By Edward Mather—I said when Mather asked me if I was with them: " Waig Woi, I
am with you."    I did not believe Mather was in earnest, therefore I was not in earnest.
I was following Mather in when I was stopped by Charles Spence and Dennis. He might
have been in earnest, but I was prevented from going in by Charles Spence and Dennis. I
saw H. Ridley there; I did not see him do anything.
By Dr. Prager—The service held in the Mission House was not the regular Church
service.    I know there have been communion and other Church rites held in the School House.
(Signed) Albert Leighton.
Cross-examined by Mr. Duncan—I met John Tait as I was leaving the School House,
and he told me to tell the Bishop he had better take an inventory of what things were in the
School House. I did not tell John Tait why I went to the School House. I told him the
Bishop had sent me. I did not tell him that I had gone there for my own heart. I have
seen desks in the room used as a Church.
By Dr. Pr^ger—The desks were only used as seats.
(Signed)       Albert Leighton. William Sebasha, being sworn, saith:—
I went up to the School House the clay it was broken into. I met Edward Mather later
in the day, and he said: "You are very foolish for trying to come up too. The Government
have taken the School House from us, and we are simply taking it back." I was not pushed
about then, but when I first went up in the morning, I was pushed about by Charles Spence.
I saw Charles Spence, Dennis, Edward Mather, there at the School House in the morning.
Cross-examined by W. Duncan—I did not see anyone break into the School. It was
already taken when I went up.    I saw no one hurt at the School.
By Edward Mather—I met Mather at the end of the road leading to the store, and
walked with him, by his invitation, down the main road, and then Mather spoke about the
School.    There was a good deal of talk when I was at the School House.    I was not frightened.
By Charles Spence—I was standing in the Mission garden when I heard of the School
House being taken, and walked up. Charles Spence said when he pushed me: " Be off! be
off! or go away ! "    That is all I can tell you about the matter.
(Signed)        William Sebasha.
Matthew Auckland, being sworn, saith:—Since the separation of Mr. Duncan from the
Society, the School House has been used as a Church. Before the separation Mr. Duncan,
Mr. Tomlinson, and Mr. Collison have preached in it. Since the separation, I am aware that
marriages and other rites have taken place in the building. There has been no school materials
in the room used as a Church since alterations have been made.
Cross-examined by Mr. Duncan—The Society did not immediately use the building as a
church after the sej>aration. It was in the autumn when the separation took place. I think
it was somewhere about a year before the building was used as a church by the Society, after
Mr. Duncan separated. Mr. Duncan's people did not want us to use it, and we waited until
we had asked a certain person. The Indians who are followers of Mr. Duncan are the ones I
call his people. There were also followers of another party, but not exactly at the time of the
By the Court—I clo not remember having seen any church rites performed, in the way of
communion, etc., in the school-house previous to the separation. Previous to the separation
the large church was used for funeral and other church rites.
(Signed) Matthew Auckland.
David Leask, on oath, saith:—The Indians wanted me to write secret steal, and I was
told to look in that dictionary for the word surreptitiously. I looked for the word surreptitiously, instead of the word secret, as I stated at the last examination.
(Signed) David Leask.
W. B. Anderson, sworn:—I measured the distance between the house of Moses Venn
and the school-house, and I find the distance to be 154 feet—that is, from the well in front of
Venn's house, as described by the witness, Mrs. Morrison.
(Signed) W. B. Anderson.
The above depositions of William Ridley, William Duncan, David Leask, Odill Morrison,
Albert Leighton, Matthew Auckland, William Shebasha and W. B. Anderson were sworn
before me the clay and date above mentioned.
(Signed) A. C. Elliott,
S. M.
VICTORIA: Printed by Richard Wolfexdex, Government Printer,
at the Government Printing; Office, James' Bay.


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