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RETURN To an Address of the Legislative Assembly, dated 5th March, 1883, for a copy of the Report of… British Columbia. Legislative Assembly 1884

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 47 Vic. Engineer^ Report—Spallumoiieen Canal. 435
To an Address of the Legislative Assembly, dated 5th March, 1883, for a copy of
the Report of the Engineer on the survey made in 1882, for the construction
of a Canal between Spallumcheen River and Lake Okanagan.
By Command.
Provincial Secretary.
Section 63, C. P. R., British Columbia,
1st December, 1882.
Sir,—In compliance with instructions, dated 11th August last, I conducted an exploratory
survey of the valley lying between the Spallumcheen River and Okanagan Lake, with a view
of ascertaining the feasibility of constructing a canal to connect these waters.
Having completed the required survey and prepared a plan and profile, I have the honour
to submit, in conjunction therewith, the following report:—
I established the initial point of the survey on the south bank of the Spallumcheen River,
in the locality usually designated as Lambly's Landing. From thence a line is traversed
through the valley in the direction of Okanagan Lake. This valley consists of meadow and
marsh lands throughout, which are covered with luxuriant wild grasses that yield a large
quantity of hay, suitable for feeding cattle; some of the wetter lands produce tall flags and
rushes. Numerous clumps of willows, thorn, and cranberry bushes are interspersed. The
edges of the valley are bordered with pine and cottonwood trees. In many places the
marsh lands are very wet, being completely covered with water. In such cases, to expedite
the work, it was necessary to run the line on the dry edge of the valley, and where it suited
along the public highway, taking all necessary offsets in order to lay down an accurate plan.
Two streams intersect the valley, one flowing northerly and emptying into the Spallumcheen  River,  the  other flowing southerly toward Okanagan Lake.
The stream flowing to the Spallumcheen River, for a distance of nearly three miles from
the slough, has a width from thirty to forty feet, and a depth at the centre from two and
a half to three and a half feet, with an almost imperceptible current; from thence to the summit
level the width is from eighteen to twenty-five feet, and the current becomes more rapid. The
course of the stream is very tortuous throughout; two or three small creeks flow into it on the
east side.
The water-shed or summit level of the valley is encountered at the distance Of eight and
a quarter miles from the initial point of survey, and is distant nearly 111 miles from Okanagan
The ascertained elevation is 128T7 feet above datum, that is, 31'44feet above the surface
level of the Spallumcheen River, and 51'76 feet above the surface level of Okanagan Lake,
which results in the water of the latter being 20'32 feet lower than the water of the
The stream flowing to Okanagan Lake is designated Deep Creek. At the distance of four
and a half miles below the summit it enters a small sheet of water known as Otter Lake (in
the Indian language called Cheatutaeo.) This lake is 7,200 feet in length, and has an average
width of 1,500 feet, the depth varies from three to twenty-six feet, with a very soft muddy
bottom; the general depth along the centre is sixteen feet. The elevation of the surface water
96-36, being nearly the same as the Spallumcheen River, and is 31'81 feet lower than the
summit, and 19'95 feet higher than Okanagan Lake; several small streams flow into it on the
east side. The width of the stream passing out of the lake, for a distance of 700 feet, varies
from 40 to 100 feet; the current is scarcely perceptible, and the surface is thickly covered with 436 Engineer's Report—Spallumcheen Canal.  ' 1884
weeds. The depth of water is from two and a half to three feet, with a soft muddy bottom.
The current continues very slow until it reaches O'Keefe's mill, two miles from Okanagan
Lake. From Otter Lake to this point it falls 4'83 feet, from thence to Okanagan Lake the
current is much more rapid for some distance, and the fall is 15-12 feet. The course of this
stream is also very crooked, and it has several small tributaries on the east side. For further
particulars in reference to distances and heights it is desirable to refer to the plan and profile.
As the two streams with their tributaries already described will be the chief sources of
water supply for the proposed canal, it will be in place to make some special statements in
reference thereto.
The stream running towards the Spallumcheen River has a general width of 25 feet, an
average depth of 3 feet, aucl an average area=50 feet. The current is generally very sluggish,
never exceeding 1^ miles per hour, the bottom is soft mud throughout, which varies in depth
from one to three feet. Below this the soundings indicate a stratum of firm clay. Several
beaver dams occur, especially near the summit level, which rendered it rather difficult to
ascertain the true water level. This stream empties into a slough of the Spallumcheen River,
which will be better understood by examination of the plan.
Deep Creek, the stream flowing towards Okanagan Lake from the summit to Otter Lake,
has a general width of 10 feet, an average depth of 2J feet, and an average area=19 feet.
The current is very irregular, averaging about If miles per hour. The bottom is soft mud
which varies in depth from two to four feet, below this the stratum is firm clay. From Otter
Lake to O'Keefe's Mill the general width is 15 feet, average depth 3 feet, and has an average
area=36 feet. The current is very slow not exceeding an average of one mile per hour. For
a distance of two miles below Otter Lake the bottom of the stream is soft mud from two to
three feet in depth, from thence to the mill it is generally firm clay. From the mill to the
lake the stream has a general width of 12 feet, an average depth of 2|- feet, and an average
area=24 feet. The current is more rapid, averaging about 2J miles per hour. The bottom
is generally firm clay, in some places sandy and gravelly. The character of the valley changes,
it becomes drier and more contracted, varying in breadth from 50 to 300 feet.
Okanagan Lake, the terminal point of the survey, is a magnificent sheet of water, the
shore is level aucl sandy, the water very clear, with a hard sandy bottom; rushes grow thickly
in the water for a distance of 200 feet from the edge. At the distance of 50 feet from the
edge the water is three feet in depth; at 150 feet, four feet, gradually deepening outwards.
The apparent high-water mark is two feet higher than the present level of the lake. The flats
of the creek at the edge of the lake are covered with a very tall coarse grass, some of it reaching
the enormous height of twelve feet.
The ordinary rise of the Spallumcheen River is 9-3 feet above the surface level, as taken
during the progress of the survey. Last spring the freshet was unusually high, showing a rise
of 11-6 feet. It dams the water up the valley for nearly five miles. This may cause some
difficulty in the construction of the proposed work. The high water of Okanagan Lake does
not appear to exceed two feet rise; Otter Lake about the same, and through the marsh and
meadow lands of the valley the water rises from two to three feet, consequently nearly the
whole valley is submerged during the spring freshet. The past season was a remarkably dry
one, therefore the waters were at a very low stage when the elevations were recorded.
The result of the soundings such as I had appliances to make, show no indication of rock;
the soil throughout is clay, and would be suitable for canal construction.
The total length of the line surveyed, from the initial point at Spallumcheen River to the
terminal point on the shore of Okanagan Lake, is nearly 19| miles. The length of a located
line would be between 17 and 18 miles.
From the foregoing statements it may be deduced that the construction of a small canal
is quite feasible, say of the following dimensions, viz.: 50 feet at surface level, and having a
depth of five feet, which would be ample for the passage of the steamboats which now ply on
the Thompson River and the intermediate lakes.    Five or six locks will be actually necessary.
In connection with the proposed scheme, I beg to offer a few suggestions, as follows:—The
Sjsallumcheen River to be used as a feeder for the canal as far as practicable, thereby economizing the other source of supply for the summit level and the reaches below it. The summit
level to be reduced to the lowest possible elevation, and the several reaches to be as nearly
equal in length as practicable, having a due regard to economy in construction. The drainage
of the marsh lands to be effected by the cutting of the canal, by which means an extensive
area of land would be reclaimed, the soil of which would be rich and alluvial, especially adapted
for the production of grass and hay, 47 Vic Engineer's Report—Spallumcheen Canal. 437
The cost of the construction of the contemplated work depends in a great measure upon
the plan which may be adopted. In estimating what such a work, of the dimensions stated,
and on an economical basis can be executed for, I have arrived, approximately, at the sum of
127,000 per mile; this may be very much increased by the style of work which may be approved
by the Government.
The importance of this canal scheme cannot be over-estimated. It would establish an
unbroken navigable water stretch of over 240 miles, opening up a rich agricultural country, which
is unsurpassed in British Columbia for its fertility, and which, in many sections, has a sufficient
rainfall to enable farmers to produce crops without irrigation. The nucleus of a thriving
settlement is already formed, most of the prairie land having been taken up and occupied;
several fine farms are cultivated on a large scale with all the modern appliances, particularly
that of Mr. Lumby, which is equal to anything of the kind in the Dominion of Canada. The
grain crops of this year were magnificent, both as regard yields and sample, the estimated
average of grain to the acre reaching to the large amount of thirty-five bushels, and this I am
informed is considerably below the usual average. Winter wheat has been tried and proved a
great success. Messrs, O'Keefe and Greenhow, who reside at Okanagan Lake, have a large stock
of cattle. They harvest a large quantity of wild hay in the meadows and marshes of the
valley, which answers for winter fodder.
The general character of the country is rolling and lightly timbered, with the exception
of the prairies.    The soil consists of rich clay.
Before closing this report it is well to state that at one or two points on the Spallumcheen
River, between Shuswap Lake and Lambly's Landing, sand bars form, which render the
navigation very uncertain and difficult at low water. These obstructions can be overcome at
a very trifling outlay.
In conclusion, I beg to state that my instructions only called for an exploratory survey,
and to take such cross-sections and soundings as were deemed necessary to arrive at an approximate estimate. Trusting that what has been done may prove useful and sufficient for present
I have, &c,
(Signed)        L. B. Hamlin,
Hon. Jos.   W. Trutch, C.M.G., Engineer in Charge.
Dominion Agent, Victoria, B, C,


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