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of the
VICTORIA: Printed by Richard Wolfenden, Government Printer
at the Government Printing- Office, James' Bay.  49 Vic. Immigration Reports. 611
Immigration Agents in British Columbia
To the Honourable Clement Francis Cornwall,
Lieutenant-Governor of the Province of British Columbia.
May it please Your Honour :
The undersigned has the honour to present the Third Annual Reports of the Immigration
Agents in British Columbia, for the year 1885.
Minister of Agriculture.
Victoria, SOth June, 1886.  49 Vic. Immigration Reports. 613
Government Immigration Office,
Victoria, B. C, 31st December, 1885.
Sir,—I have the honour to submit the annual report from this agency for the year 1885.
My time and attention have been, and are still, so fully occupied with matters and things
connected with the great Colonial Exhibition to be held next summer in London, that however
desirous I may lie of going minutely into details respecting British Columbia immigration, and
kindred subjects, I can only furnish the department to which I have the honour to belong
with a bare synopsis of what has been done during the year now closed.
Office Work.
There has been a slight falling off' in the corresponding branch of office business since the
date of last report, so far as enquiries for information was concerned ; although, including
exhibition work, the aggregate of letter writing was fully up to last year's figures, namely,
more than 700 letters received and nearly 800 written. As formerly, those seeking information about this Province wrote from nearly all parts of the civilized world, and in many
different languages; but a majority of them were from Ontario and the North-West. Printed
matter, consisting of hand-books, local and Dominion, " West Shores," Kootenay and Queen
Charlotte islands reports, San Francisco "Journals of Commerce," Victoria New Year's
" Colonists," &c, &c, &c, were dispatched to over 600 individuals. Office calls for information and advice, chiefly from new arrivals, numbered 675, notwithstanding necessary absences
in connection with Antwerp and London exhibitions. The nationalities of these visitors were
just as varied as in former years—Canadians from the eastern Provinces, particularly Ontario,
and the North-West, predominating. So far as occupations were concerned, farmers and farm
labourers were largely in the majority. In the former part of the year calls from mechanics
were more numerous than in late summer and autumn.
The only basis of calculation as to the number of immigrants arriving in British Columbia
that can be made use of is that of Custom House returns from steamers' and ships' manifests.
No distinction whatever is made between immigrants, casual travellers, or tourists. If every
steamer and vessel, therefore, carrying passenger's, could be boarded directly upon arrival,
these statistics could not be obtained. The number of new arrivals based on Custom House
manifests can only be approximate, as it is impossible to ascertain how many of these passengers stay in the Province. As there has been no opposition on the Puget Sound route, from
the terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway at Tacoma, to Victoria, a much larger percentage
of the actual arrivals may be taken as immigrants in 1885 than in 1884. It may safely be
presumed that at least one-half of the passengers that reached this city during the year just
closed came with the intention of locating somewhere in the Province. A percentage of these
went away, in consequence of not getting work, or meeting with disappointment in other
respects : but an allowance of 50 per cent, will fully cover those who left after staying for
shorter or longer periods, casual travellers, and the constantly increasing number of summer
Passengers arriving in Port of Victoria from 1st January to SOth June, 1885.
Whites. Chinese.
Puget Sound steamers    7,635 1,345
San Francisco     do.    1,455 1,053
China ships  730
9,090 3,128
Total whites and Chinese, 12,218. 614
Immigration Reports.
From SOth June to 31st December, 1885.
Whites. Chinese.
Puget Sound steamers    6,093 567
San Francisco     do.       864 402
China ships	
€,957 969
Total whites and Chinese, 7,926.
Total whites for the year    16,047
Total Chinese       do      4,097
Total whites and Chinese    20,144
Taking 50 per cent, of white passengers as new arrivals, the total addition to British
Columbia's population, entering by this port, is 8,023.
Add, at the lowest computation, 2,000 as entering the Province by New Westminster,
Nanaimo, Cananian Pacific Railway and Kootenay, and it may fairly be assumed that population in the Province has increased fully 10,000 during the year.
The following table shows the number, sex, and nationalities of settlers who passed their
effects at the Custom House, Victoria, during 1885 ; and also the value of these effects:—
Males (Adults).
Females (Adults).
Value of Effects.
849,632 00
15,359 00
25,225 00
2,895 00
193,111 00
This table gives an increase of about 100 heads of families bringing in household effects,
or over 33 per cent, in advance of the number reported last year. The increase in value of
goods so imported is not so marked. Those coming from the United States are very largely in
the majority; but many of those families are really Canadian, chiefly from Ontario, who, for
shorter or longer periods, have lived south of the line.
As New Westminster and Nanaimo are both ports of entry, a few immigrants reached
both these cities direct—more at the former than the latter. Another important factor in this
connection is the travel over the Canadian Pacific Railway during the year down to the coast,
and the absorption here and there en route of farmers, farm labourers, stockmen, mechanics,
and railroad men. There are no means of ascertaining how many came to the Province by
this route, and from the United States by way of Kootenay, but the number must have
reached between 2,000 and 3,000—especially by including the large number of men who
distributed themselves over the Mainland and Island after the completion of the road in
November last.
Agricultural Progress.
The demand for Government land, both local and Dominion, has been brisk and uniform
throughout the year. Outside of the railway belts, 340 pre-emptors and purchasers have taken
up land, covering an area of about 80,000 acres. Within the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway
belt 290 claims were recorded, representing an area of over 52,000 acres. In the Dominion
Government railway belt, New Westminster District, there were 232 applicants for homesteads
—37,000 acres. The total, therefore, makes up 862 applicants for land, with an aggregate
acreage of nearly 170,000. Applications for Dominion lands in Yale and Kootenay Districts,
embracing a stretch of about 450 miles along the line of railway, will increase the area preempted and applied for throughout the Province during 1885 to over 200,000 acres This is
a decrease from last year's report; but in 1884 the Island Railway lands were thrown open
for settlement, and a large number of squatters, who had been locating for several years before, 49 Vic.
Immigration Reports.
obtained their pre-emption records. In addition to this, the New Westminster Dominion
Government lands not being yet open for purchase, has occasioned a great falling off in applications for homesteads in that important agricultural district. Of the 862 applicants for land,
fully 750 were new arrivals, or those who had been in the Province but a short time, engaged
in railway or other work.
The steadily-increasing demand for farm implements still continues, while the rapid
expansion of trade with Canadian manufacturers is very marked. The following figures show
the value of imports under this head entered at the Custom House in this city for the past
four years :—
$9,081 95
United States....
$23,192 00
18,461 00
$6,656 67
$30,230 00
25,881 00
$18,614 00
29,474 00
$48,088 00
$5,842 90
$16,940 00
34,464 00
$51,404 00
$5,724 10
$41,653 00
$6,656 67
$56,111 00
$9,081 95
$5,842 90
$5,724 10
Imports entered at New Westminster and Nanaimo during 1884 and 1885 would add to
those amounts very considerably.
Another attempt has been made to collect agricultural statistics through the Local
Government Agents, but with only partial success. Out of twelve of these officers in different
parts of the Province, only five have responded to the request of the Hon. the Minister of
Agriculture here up to this date. Still, a beginning has been made, and probably next year a
general and reliable report on this most important industry may be collected. The following
are a few extracts and figures from the reports sent in :■--
Mr. Eric Duncan, of Comox, reports that there were 4,020 acres under cultivation in his
district last season, but that the crops were lighter than usual, on account of the excessively
dry weather of June, July, and August. The 62 farmers cultivating the above acreage have
820 head of cattle, 310 sheep, 330 pigs, and 70 horses.
" About one-third of the cultivated area of Comox consists of brown vegetable soil, partly
alluvial, very fertile, and well adapted for agriculture. The remainder is generally hillside
land, often thickly covered with loose stones, and sometimes gravelly. With manure it yields
good returns, but might be better suited for grazing. Cattle, however, still run mostly in the
woods, and on fern and marsh lands. The thin, rocky soil and short grass of Hornby Island
are well adapted for sheep pasturage."
Occupied land in this district amounts to about 16,000 acres. It is difficult to compute
the acreage of unoccupied land fit for cultivation. " Interspersed through the fir woods all
round the district may be found patches of alder and maple bottoms and drainable swamp
land, varying from five to ten acres in a place. About eight miles north of Comox wharf, and
three miles from the beach, there is a continuous stretch of alder, computed at 1,500 acres."
Mr. M. Bray, of Nanaimo, gives 1,838 acres as the quantity of cultivated land in the
various divisions of his scattered district. Live stock as follows :—Cattle, 1,604; sheep,
2,216 ; horses, 132; pigs, 232. Land occupied is computed at 35,300 acres. Considerable of
this has coal underlying it. Sixty thousand acres of unoccupied land in different parts of
this large, district are susceptible of cultivation. Alder bottoms, with grassy swamps, are
numerous, and when drained are well adapted for agriculture. Rocky ridges and broken
high ground are only fit for grazing purposes. A great deal of excellent timber is found in
many parts of this district.
Mr. J. Maxwell, of Salt Spring Island, gives 900 acres as cultivated, with 400 head of
cattle, 4,500 sheep, 1,500 hogs, and 40 horses. Three thousand acres, susceptible of cultivation, are still unoccupied. This island is admirably adapted for fruit-raising. Sandstone of
fine quality abounds.    Granite and copper are also found. 616 Immigration Reports. 1886
Mr. J. Bowron, of Cariboo, on account of the extent, diversity of soils and climate, and
the sparse population, finds it almost impossible to arrive at even an approximate estimate of
its agricultural capabilities. He reports about 10,000 acres as being occupied, and 4,000 under
cultivation, divided as follows:—Wheat, 1,300 acres, with an average yield of 25 bushels to
the acre; oats, 1,000 acres—average yield, 37 bushels; barley, 350 acres—same average yield;
root crops, 200 acres, with a yield of 12,000 pounds per acre; timothy hay, 1,150 acres,
yielding a ton per acre.    Cattle number 2,500 ; horses, 900 ; pigs, 1,500 ; and sheep, 300.
" In the northern portion of the district, where irrigation is possible, the soil is well
adapted for the cultivation of all kinds of cereals and root crops, while the mountain ranges
afford abundance of the best pasturage during summer—say, six months. In the settled
portions one-half may be put down as timbered land, little of which has, as yet, been brought
under cultivation. Much of the winter feed for stock consists of natural wild hay, which is
found in abundance around small lakes and swamps with which the district abounds."
Mr. F. Soues, of Clinton, complains of the want of co-operation on the part of farmers in
his district, in collecting reliable information. Indian horses are so numerous that he classifies
them as "vermin," so far as their value is concerned, while they consume as much of the
natural grasses as valuable animals.
" In the northern part of this district butter-making is engaged in to a considerable
extent. One farmer reports a return of 6,000 pounds for the season (from about 1st June to
second week in October). Seventy cows were milked for this result, and of course the calves
were suckled also. Forty hogs were fattened on the refuse milk. This industry is confined to
that part of the district known as the ' Green Timber' and Lac la Hache Valley. In the
latter valley there are several unoccupied locations for dairying."
For the purpose of securing reliable agricultural statistics, Mr. Soues suggests that the
assessors, on their annual tour through their districts, be instructed to obtain necessary information from each individual farmer, and thus secure the material for satisfactory and reliable
reports on agriculture from year to year. This suggestion is a good one, and might be easily
carried out.
There are 6,200 head of cattle, 1,900 sheep, 1,200 hogs, and 2,500 horses reported from
this district, not including almost innumerable Indian horses. Soil is varied; the greater
portion adapted to grazing. Farming is confined to the valleys of the Fraser, Lower Bonaparte, Lac la Hache, Clinton and Pavillion Lakes.
Mr. F. Hussey, of Yale and Lytton, states that he was unable to get any information
from the farmers in his district.
No reply has been received at this date from the agents at New Westminster, Kamloops,
Okanagan, Kootenay or Cassiar. These districts embrace the great bunch-grass grazing region
of the interior, which, in many parts, is covered with stock, and the fine farming district on
the Lower Fraser, extending from Chilliwhack to the Gulf of Georgia, together with the
important districts of Cowichan, Saanich, Victoria, Metchosin, and Sooke, in Vancouver
Immigrant Home.
The temporary building still occupied as an Immigrant Home has been of great service
during the year to several almost destitute immigrant families and many single people No
repairs or additions to furniture have been made or recommended, in consequence of the uncertainty of the present tenure; but if it should be finally decided by the department to purchase
this property, in preference to building elsewhere, much improvement will be necessary.
Fourteen families, numbering forty children, have availed themselves of temporary shelter and
accommodation during the year. Forty-two men, single, or with families elsewhere, and six
single women or widows, have also occupied rooms for short periods. These, with the heads
of the fourteen families, make a total of 116 persons to whom the Home has been of great
service since the date of last report.
Bonus Certificates.
There has been a falling off of seventeen bonus certificates this year, as compared with
last. All that have been issued, of which duplicate copies have reached this office, have been
presented and paid. These number forty-two, and were granted to twenty-eight men, ten
married and four unmarried women. Offices from which certificates were issued are as
follows:—Liverpool, 24; London, 10; Glasgow, 4; Bristol and Belfast, 2 each. 49 Vic. Immigration Reports. 617
Female Servants
are in greater demand than ever. Arrivals under this head have not numbered a dozen during
the year. The long distance and cost of travel from the old country prevent many of this very
desirable class from coming to British Columbia, while the scarcity of domestic servants and
the high wages paid in most, if not all, of the Eastern Provinces, keep them at present from
travelling further west. An effort is now being put forth to pay the expenses of a limited
number from Great Britain and Ireland, but with what success remains yet to be proven.
Labour Supply.
The large influx of mechanics and labouring men during the early part of the year filled
up every avenue of employment, and made it more or less difficult for new arrivals to get
work. Later in the season the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway flooded the
Province with men of all descriptions seeking employment. Some of these, went off to other
places; but many are staying in different parts of the Province, in expectation of busy times
when spring opens up.
1 have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Dominion Government Immigration Agent.
The Honourable '
Minister of Agriculture, Ottawa.
The following is a synopsis of reports from New Westminster and Okanagan Districts,
which were sent in too late for insertion in the Dominion Immigration Agent's report:—
In the large and important district of New Westminster, Mr. C. Warwick reports 18,150
acres under cultivation, being an increase of 3,330 for the year; acreage susceptible of cultivation, 107,000: occupied lands, 67,964; owned by non-residents, 61,036; cattle, 6,945;
horses, 1,188 ; pigs, 1,410; sheep, 535. Acreage, in Maple Ridge section of district, with the
exception of land under crops and number of head of live stock, is not included in the above.
General character of soil is a " rich alluvial deposit well adapted to the growth of all kinds of
roots and cereals, and for dairying and grazing purposes." Fruit culture succeeds admirably
in all parts of the district. Hay produces about 2| tons per acre, oats \-\, barley 1]-, wheat
\\, turnips 20 to 30, potatoes 10 to 15, mangolds 30 to 50, carrots 25 to 30.
Mr. Dewdney, of Okanagan, reports 5,075 acres under cultivation, with a total of 42,200
fit for farming purposes ; cattle, 5,517, 37 of which, belonging to Mr. J. Steele, of Spallumcheen, are thoroughbred Durhams ; 2,174 horses, 1,960 pigs, 734 sheep. Several sections of
this extensive district are not included in the above synopsis.
Generally speaking, irrigation is required in the Okanagan District. Spallumcheen is,
however, an exception to the rule, as the rain-fall there is sufficient to mature splendid crops
of grain, hay, and roots, almost invariably. Soil is usually a rich black loam, with sandy or
clayey sub-soil, admirably adapted for crops wherever water can be obtained, and affording rich
pasturage without the aid of irrigation.
An effort will be made next autumn to obtain more general and fuller agricultural
statistics than have been secured heretofore, as these returns are of vital importance in ascertaining the actual progress in this important industry from year to year throughout the
Report of New Westminster Agent'.
Provincial Government Immigration Office,
New Westminster,  December 4th, 1885.
Sir,—I have the honour to submit my report, with tabular statement, for the past twelve
months ending November the 30th. The total number which came directly under my notice
during the above period amounts to 274, of whom 237 were males, 23 females, and 14 children. 618
Immigration Reports.
Two hundred and thirty-two applied for and obtained homesteads within New Westminster
District. Sixty-six of that number had been resident in the district previous to their application, some of them for several years. So far as I have been able to ascertain, 90 per cent, of
the number recorded are in actual occupation, cleaning up and improving their land.
I have, &c,
(Signed)        John Sprott.
To the Hon. Simeon Duck,
Minister of Agriculture,  Victoria.
Return showing sexes and nationalities and total number of settlers for  the year ending
November the 30th, 1885 :—
""S ! *T*.
8    .
Aliens who have declared  their intentions:—United States, 15; Austria, 1 ; Sweden, 4
Norway, 2 ; Greece, 1.    Total, 23.
Mr.  W.  M.  Halpenny's Report.
Victoria,  6th January,  1886.
Sir,—I herewith submit a report of the number of settlers that have been assisted to
locate in Alberni during the year 1885. Of the 87 who left this city for the district in
question, 68 pre-empted land; but seven of those did not record their claims. Nearly all of
the 61 who actually took up land are now making more or less improvement on their holdings.
From instructions given, nine others selected and recorded their claims. With the 25, therefore, whom I assisted to locate during 1884, there are now 95 pre-emptors in the valley, as the
result of my exertions since the settlement was commenced, in addition to the few old settlers
who had been there previously. During my illness six or seven others found locations, in
accordance with my instructions to them ; so that, in all, there are considerably over 100
actual settlers in this prosperous new district.
Through the swamping of a boat in making a landing at the Qualicum, the names of those
settlers got lost, together with other papers, so that I am unable to supply a list of them.
There is room in the Alberni Valley for 50 or 60 more families, each taking up 160 acres.
West of Beaver Creek there is a strip of land seven miles long hy four wide, mostly swamp
and beaver meadow, and easily drained, as the creeks have a good fall into Stamp's or Somas
River. This section of the valley runs up to within 3| miles of the great Central lake, where
the north branch of the river comes in from the direction of Comox, and along which there
seems to be a low divide. In the bed of this stream there are good coal indications, sandstone
and conglomerate being plentiful.
Another section of country, from 3| to 4J miles wide and perhaps 9 long, between
Sproat's and Central Lakes, also contains a great deal of good land, but it is interspersed with
rocky ridges and humps from 20 to 60 feet above the general level of the valley.    One tier of 49 Vic. Immigration Reports. 619
claims is already occupied in the above-mentioned section, along the northern shore of Sproat's
lake. There is room, however, for a large number of settlers back toward the Central lake.
Both of these large bodies of fresh water, and all the streams, are teeming with fish. Large
and small game also abound in the forest.
I have, &c,
(Signed)        W. M. Halpenny.
The Minister of Agriculture, &c,
Government Buildings, James' Bay.
Mr. D. H. McNeill, Immigrant Guide to Comox and north, reports that during the year
he had 74 persons, chiefly new arrivals, in his charge, land and stock range hunting. These
were distributed as follows :—South Comox, 3 ; Comox 20 ; North Comox, 33 ; Deep Bay, 2 ;
Nelson District, 1 ; Baynes Sound, 9 ; Hornby Island, 3 ; Denman Island, 3. Those, with a
few exceptions, took up claims.
Mr. J. A. Fitzgerald has recently been engaged by the Government to assist new arrivals
in Comox to secure land ; and he will meet such as require his services on the wharf every
Thursday, upon the arrival of the steamer from Nanaimo.
Victoria, B. O, 7th December, 1885.
Sir,—As the location of Queen Charlotte Islands is well-known, it is unnecessary to
preface my report with any introductory remarks respecting their geographical position, but I
will simply endeavor to give a brief description of the country examined, together with any
information I can furnish respecting its varied resources.
Commencing at a stream known to the natives by the name of Nedo, which empties into
the Masset Inlet at a distance of twelve miles from Masset village, we crossed the peninsula to
what is known as the white cliff's, on the East Coast. From thence travelled down the coast
four miles, towards Skidegate, and recrossed the peninsula, coming out again at a salt water
slough about four miles south of Nedo Creek, our first starting point.
We did not discover any evidence of minerals beyond a few fine colours of gold in the
sand and gravel on the East Coast, but there is no doubt that gold exists in formations of the
same character in different parts of the peninsula ; whether existing in paying quantities we
had no, opportunity to determine.
The country explored by us on this occasion was of a gently undulating character, chiefly
covered with light timber of hemlock, cedar, scrub pine, alder, crab apple, willow, yew, and
juniper, interspersed with extensive open patches of cranberry moss and grassy openings,
consisting of several thousand acres of land capable of reclamation by drainage.
By examining these openings with a barbed stick, a substratum of clay and sand is found
in many places near the surface ; and as the general composition of these lands is of a light
character, mixed with decayed vegetable matter, it is scarcely possible to estimate their future
Meadow Land.
In the middle of the peninsula we found a small lake surrounded by several hundred acres
of fiat meadow land, which could be easily placed in a state of cultivation. Trout was also
abundant in the lake, whilst its surface was dotted with wild geese, some of which furnished
us with an ample and enjoyable repast.
General Remarks.
Nearly all open lands, which, as a rule, are too wet for the growth of timber, are of the
class previously described, and even portions of the most undesirable, which are generally
covered with moss, have an underlying formation of either sand or clay, or both mixed, which,
having good drainage facilities, offer favourable inducements for settlement. 620 Immigration Reports. 1886
But as the reclamation of large areas would be beyond the means of individual effort, it
would be accomplished much easier by the formation of small colonies, possibly aided by the
Government. A chemical analysis of the soil or vegetable deposit might aid materially in
determining its adaptation to useful economic purposes.
So far as discovered, the whole of the low country lying east and north of the mountains
on Graham's Island has apparently been formed by wind and tidal influences.
Masset Peninsula.
Along the north shore of Masset Peninsula the beach is very wide at low water, and composed chiefly of sand, which in the summer season is drifted by the trade winds into high
embankments, with immense deposits of sea-weed at their base, forming the nucleus of
advanced embankments.
We found strata of clay in the interior containing clam shells of a recent age, and in such
manner as to prove they were not deposited by human agency. The capabilities of the sandy
loam and vegetable soil openings are confirmed by the same character of land to be. found on
the east coast of the island, extending to the white cliffs before mentioned.
On the top of the cliffs, and owing to drainage, the vegetable matter is more compact, and
the winds of Hecate Channel having drifted the sand over it, has formed into a light loam
covered with a luxuriant growth of grass and underwood, proving that such lands, when
properly drained, are valuable for agricultural or grass-growing purposes.
Excellent Land.
On our way back from the East Coast we traversed several miles of very good land, commencing almost at the coast line and extending fully one-third  of the distance  across  the
The prevailing timber was alder and crab apple, the soil being a mixture of sand and clay
interspersed with black vegetable mould, and on the whole could be easily cleared and made
available for tillage.
Tidal Lands.
On both sides of the salt water slough in Masset Inlet there is a long stretch of good land
which could be reclaimed by low dyking, as it is only subject to overflow from the highest tides.
Sandstone crops out in several places in the slough, and indicates the presence of coal underneath the whole of this low-lying country; and as coal is known to exist in many parts of the
island it is not unlikely but that the coal measures are as prolific as those of Vancouver.
On our way up the inlet we found a sponge, and were told by Mr. McKenzie that there
were several beds of sponges in that locality ; and, judging from the quality of those found, it
is quite possible that at a greater depth sponges equal to those imported may lie found at some
future date, and even sought after as a remunerative enterprise.
River Awyne.
Our next trip extended up the River Awyne to prospect the timber belt said to exist in
that locality ; also minerals, if any. This stream is of considerable size, containing a number
of falls and rapids for the first two and a half miles from salt water. By blasting some points
of rocks and cutting away timber jams, logs could be successfully floated to the inlet
At the head of the rapids there is a small lake suitable for storing logs, and at a further
distance of about two miles there is a much larger lake, at but a very slight elevation above
the lower one. There are numerous sloughs running into the low timber lands surrounding
the large lakes, which could be utilized for logging purposes. This lake appears to be about
twenty-five miles long, and from one to one-half mile wide. We followed the shore line to the
extreme limit and examined the streams leading into the lake; also prospected up the streams
situated on its north and west banks.
Volcanic   Formation.
The whole of the country appeared to be of a volcanic nature, consequently void of
minerals. The timber at the north end of lake, and particularly north of the river, is extensive, in patches consisting chiefly of cedar and spruce, also some yellow cedar, but the various
patches of timber are too scattered to be deemed of much commercial value at present,
although, taken in the aggregate, the area is large, and the facilities for handling very good. 49 Vic. Immigration Reports. 621
The mouth of the creek is also very favourably situated for a mill site, and the location
for a dam for driving purposes cannot be excelled anywhere.
More Good Land.
Along the stream emptying into the north end of lake there are several hundred acres of
good land, but portions of it are heavily timbered, and communication with salt water at
present difficult.
This stream is an eldorado for anglers, as very fine large trout are plentiful and take the
fly readily.
We next prospected an arm or inlet which extends from the south-west side of Masset
Inlet for a distance of fifteen miles, and up the Patlem River about five miles, not far distant
from the West Coast.
We found the formation to be of the same volcanic nature, and containing no minerals of
any value, with the exception of one place along the north side of the arm, where we discovered
a vein of obsidian in sandstone, and apparently in a similar formation to that in which anthracite coal is found, being between walls of sandstone and resembling anthracite so closely that
it was only when we fractured it we discovered its nature.
Mamim River and Arm.
We next prospected the Mamim Arm and river of that name; also intended to prospect
around a lake at its source, but were unable to procure a canoe and were obliged to return.
We found some pieces of lignite coal on this stream, but not in any quantity.
Tow Hill.
Returning to Masset for supplies, we were informed by Mr. McKenzie of indications of
coal oil at Tow Hill, about sixteen miles from Masset; so we followed the shore line to that
place, only to discover that the indications were of the same character as those previously seen
by us, composed chiefly of iron, vegetable scum, and sulphur.
Ascending to the top of a high hill, we obtained a good view of the country, which was
similar in character to that already described. Returning to the beach, we found an out
cropping of
Lignite Coal,
Between high and low water mark. The sandstone appeared to be of the same character as
that found in Masset Inlet, and no doubt underlies the whole of that vast section of flat
country. There is a large creek near Tow Hill with considerable spruce timber on its banks,
but it could not be boomed on account of exposed coast and lack of facilities for shipping.
Pieces of lignite coal were found amongst the gravel at the mouth of the creek, but as it was
of little value we did not deem it worthy of further research.
We then returned to Masset with the resolve of traversing the interior of the country to
Skidegate, and bought a canoe suitable for going up the river Ya Koun. Leaving Masset
behind us, we proceeded up the river which heads in a lake situate in the rear of Slate Chuck
and Mount Needham. About seven miles north of the Coal Company's land, Skidegate
Channel, the river runs in a northerly direction and enters the south end of Masset Inlet.
At an Indian encampment near the mouth of the river we were intercepted by several
Indians, who objected to our going up the river, but we informed them of our determination
to do so, and resumed our journey unmolested.
River Ya Koun.
This river is one of the largest and most important in the group of Queen Charlotte
Islands. At a medium stage of water, when clear of obstructions, the river is navigable for
light draught stern-wheel steamers for 15 or 20 miles from its outlet. It averages about 100
feet in width, with gently flowing current.
First-Class Land.
The land on both sides of the river is a rich alluvial soil of great depth, and although a
great deal of it is heavily timbered, there are large tracts of alder and salmon berry bottoms
easily cleared. 622 Immigration Reports. 1886
Judging from what we saw, there cannot be less than 30,000 acres of rich agricultural
land in the Ya Koun valley available for settlement. At a short distance from the outlet of
the river we found small pieces of bituminous coal, and, being a coal formation, we examined
the banks of the river very minutely for a considerable distance, but found no other indications until our arrival at the outlet of some small streams situate about 28 miles above the
mouth of the river. At this point we picked up some more pieces of bituminous coal, and
on closer examination of the locality discovered more coal under the roots of a large tree which
had been blown down by the wind.
Proceeding up a small creek we found other good samples, and subsequently an outcropping
of good bituminous coal, which, on being burnt, emitted a clear, bright flame, producing
scarcely any ash, and showing but little or no signs of sulphur, appearing in every respect a
much superior coal to what is termed the best Wellington.
The sandstone is of a light greyish colour, specimens of which we brought with us, and the
conformation of the surrounding country of a uniform character.
These measures appear to embrace a very large area of country, the outcroppings occurring
in the centre of an apparently large coal-producing district, and of superior quality; also in
sufficient quantity to pay for development from the surface.
The importance of this coal discovery is still further enhanced by the fact of its being
surrounded by large tracts of first-class land, sufficient to support a large colony of settlers,
who would produce among themselves a good portion of the supplies needed for works of
development, and form the centre around which new enterprises would cluster and prosper in
healty competition with each other.
The distance from Masset Inlet to Skidegate is computed by Mr. Dawson and others to be
about 28 miles, which must be an error, for after travelling that distance we found that it was
at least 20 miles further than anticipated.
In some places we had great difficulty in getting our canoe up the river, owing to scarcity
of water and large piles of driftwood. We were also informed by the Indians that the present
season was the driest ever known on Queen Charlotte Islands. If the river were cleared of
obstructions for the first 20 miles, it would be easy for settlers to take in supplies, either by
light draught steamers or canoes.
Should be Surveyed.
I would respectfully suggest an early survey of the land alluded to, and an arrangement
entered into with the Indians whereby this fine tract of country could be open for settlement,
and more particularly by a colony of hardy pioneers, who would be greatly assisted by cheap
communication and an adequate mail service.
Another Lake.
From the coal outcropping or seam we went up to the lake and prospected the streams
which form its source, but did not discover anything of value. This lake is from five to six
miles long, and from one-half to three-quarters of a mile wide. The outlet is on the east side
of the lake, and runs in a northerly direction past the north end of the lake, there being but a
small divide between them. The general character of the land is rocky, with some small
arable patches not worthy of mention.
Grand Sight.
On leaving the lake we climbed to the top of a mountain, from which we had a magnificent
view of the whole country lying north-east and west of our location, and from its summit
obtained one of those rare sights not often seen by human eyes.
To the west could be seen vast masses of rugged and turreted mountains, with their wild
gorges and glens stretching hither and thither, connecting the base of each glittering or grassy
peak into one grand panorama.
To the north and south could be seen huge mountains rearing their lofty heights and
frowning defiance at the ocean's tidal waves, whilst the shimmering waters of Rennel Sound,
glistening like a blade of steel, could be seen through the opening of the mountains beyond,
almost forming a connection with Lake. Ya Koun, lying peacefully at our feet, and surrounded
by the deep dark foliage of the western wilds reflected in its placid depths, looking grand and
In a southerly direction could be seen Skidegate Inlet, with its numerous timber covered
islands, bays and coves, in pleasing contrast to the deep blue water which environed them on 49 Vic. Immigration Reports. 623
every hand ; and still farther did the serried mass of hill and mountain rise until lost in the
Eastward, the eye revels in the same stupendous scene of rugged inequalities, covered with
the green foliage of the forest, with darker shades between marking the sinuosities of numerous
streams trending their way towards the blue waters of Hecate Channel.
Northerly and behind the sea-coast wall of mountain and hill lies a vast plain as far as
the eye can reach; a land awaiting the coming of the hardy pioneer to awaken it from its
slumbering uselessness to a condition of usefulness and productiveness.
No doubt the time is rapidly approaching when these islands will be the scene of great
activity, furnishing food and other supplies to the vast mineral regions of the north and northwest coast, and by such means reduce the cost of supplies and further the interests of various
mining communities. And, if for no other reason than the one stated, every inducement should
be given to parties capable of forming small colonies, so that the nucleus of rising and prosperous
communities can be formed on a basis of progression and mutual protection.
Whilst on the summit of the mountain we killed a bear and camped there for the night.
Next day we arrived at the coal company's house, Skidegate Channel, and from thence made
our way to the oil company's works. At this place we hired the old Gold Harbour Chief, Scots
Gp.y, and went to Gold Harbour, but were very much disappointed on arrival there, as we found
no evidence of a lode, and the work done on the supposed vein did not exceed in depth more
than two or three feet below high water mark. The formation, as far as I know, may be called
dorite, intersected with small veins of lime, spar, and quartz, but in the whole of my experience
have never found minerals of any value in a formation of that character. Every small vein
resembling quartz, in the vicinity of Gold Harbour, has been prospected and the old workings
thoroughly examined.
While Mr. Shields was exploring Rennel Sound I prospected the adjacent mountains,
finding several quartz veins, but no evidence of gold or any other mineral, except copper,
specimens of which I brought with me to Victoria. The whole of that surrounding country
has been prospected, traces of which 1 discovered in several directions, but I do not think the
copper had been discovered before.
We returned to Skidegate and went from thence to Cumshewa Island to see the deposit
of coal oil said to have been found there, but found the formation to consist of solid granite,
with no possibility of such a thing occurring in its vicinity. We afterwards prospected Cumshewa Inlet from one end to the other, also the streams emptying into it, but found nothing
worthy of note.
The mountain tops around Gold Harbour, and nearly all along the west coast, are for the
most part free of timber and well covered with grass that would furnish excellent feed for
sheep, goats and deer, all of which ought to thrive well there, as there are no wolves or panthers
known to exist on the islands, bruin being the only animal likely to cause any trouble.
Cariboo Deer.
There is said to be a large species of deer, supposed to be the Cariboo, lately found in the
mountains south and west of Virago Inlet. There are also a few deer that have been placed
there by Mr. A. McKenzie, of the H. B. Oo.'s post at Masset, and if a few more were added,
as well as a few goats, they would rapidly increase, especially in that section of country. A
colony of rabbits was also liberated by the same gentleman, and are now very numerous.
His next project, I believe, is the raising of beavers.
Charts of the various inlets, bays and estuaries are very much needed, and should be
compiled either by the Dominion or Imperial authorities, as the time is not far distant when
they will be in great demand, and especially when the varied resources of the islands become
generally known to capitalists seeking investment or settlers in search of homesteads, where
they can live happy, free, and prosperous.
In conclusion, I beg to state that I was ably assisted in the work of exploration by Mr.
James Shields, and found him a most valuable auxiliary. I also desire to express my thanks
to Mr. Hall, of Fort Simpson, Mr. A. McKenzie, of the H. B. Co.'s post at Masset, and Messrs.
Sterling and Tenant, of Skidegate Oil Works, all of whom treated us with uniform kindness,
and did their utmost in furthering the object of our desire.
I have, <kc,
To the Honourable Wm. Smithe, (Signed)        W. A. Robertson.
Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works,


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