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Canada on the Pacific : being an account of a journey from Edmonton to the Pacific by the Peace River… Horetzky, Charles, 1838-1900 1874

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A Winter Voyage along the Western Coast
of the Dominion ;
1874. *m
.1 Mac*** 1 Mflrifi?itfTffiii I. flfl
Entered according to Act of Parliament, in the year one thousand eight hundred*
and seventy-four, hy Dawson Brothers, in the Office of the Minister of
Agriculture and Statistics of the Dominion of Canada.
)HE following narrative comprises an account of
a journey made to the Western Province of
the Dominion, through a comparatively little known
portion of the | Nor'-West" territory, and of a
voyage along the whole Pacific coast of Canada.
The writer organized and conducted the overland expedition of Mr. Sandford Fleming, from Fort
Garry to Edmonton, during the summer of 1872;
and it was at the instance of that gentleman, who
desired to exhaust the whole field of enquiry, before deciding upon a route for the Canada Pacific
road, that the journey about to be described, was
The Pine River Summit Lake Pass, referred to in
this sketch, would also have been explored by me
had time and circumstances permitted: but the period
allotted for the journey, which included a visit to
the river Skeena, compelled me to abandon the
investigation of that locality. To the officers of the
Hudson's Bay Company, without exception, the best
thanks are due for the hearty welcome and aid
extended to Mr. Macoun (my colleague), and myself, IV
during our journey. To Lieutenant Ballantyne, late
of H. M. S. Sparrow-hawk, and Capt. Lewis, of H. B.
Co.'s steamer Otter, I am indebted for much valuable
information regarding the harbours, and also the
Indians of the British Columbian coast. Mr. Macoun,
botanist, of Belleville, Ont., has also contributed very
important data regarding the flora and growing capabilities of the Peace River country. In the section
exhibited, from Lesser Slave Lake to the Fraser
River, the reader will kindly bear in mind that
absolute correctness is not to be expected. The
elevations may be erroneous to the extent of one or
two hundred feet; and I shall consider my deductions
fortunate, if I am within a hundred feet of the truth.
To those conversant with engineering technicalities
and the fluctuations of atmospheric pressure, these
remarks are of course unnecessary.
Chas. Horetzky.
Ottawa, February, 1874. CONTENTS.
The Start for Peace River—Object of tbe Tour—Outline of
Intended Route—Confused and Discouraging Reports—Our
Party—Dinner alfresco—How to Cook Pemmican—A Miscellaneous Cavalcade—Mackenzie River Watershed—Lake
La Nonne—Tbe Odometer—Fording the Pembina—Heavy
Timber—Reach Fort Assiniboine  ,      1
Description of the Fort—A lazy Half-breed—The Clearwater
—Chain of Swamps—Pack train Travelling—Rich Pasturage—Lesser Slave Lake—Skirting tbe Lake—The Traverse
—Effective Shooting—Roman CathoHc Missions in the
North-West—Climate     16
A Delightful Country — The Grand Muskeg—Half-way to
Peace River—Back into the Prairies—A Rude Awakening
—Prairie Fire—A Cache—The Great Peace River Valley
—Noble Landscape—A Grateful Surprise—Dunvegan     29 iJ*»
Farming Facilities*—Minerals—Rare Field for the Geologist
—The Grande Prairie—A Grizzly—More Sociable than
Pleasant—Pine River—Burnt District—Indian Encampment—Route over the Rocky Mountains—Obstinacy of
Indian Guides    41
Glimpse of Rocky Mountains—Portage Hill—Old Buffalo
Tracks —Moose Steak—Mountain Terraces—A Stampede
—Amateur Rafting—Riviere du Milieu—Hudson's Hope
—Conversation under difficulties—Terrific Storm—Le Ra-
pide qui ne parle pas    52
Past the Rocky Mountains—The Parsnip—Hardihood of Indian Voyageurs—A Mining Pioneer—Lake McLeod—First
Winter Camp—Sagacious Dogs—Route of the Canada
Pacific Railroad —Lake Stewart—Salmon—Fort St. James
—Hudson Bay Company and North-West Discontent    65
Comfortless Encampment—Trout Fishing Extraordinary—
The City of Hog'em—Frying Pan Pass—Lake Babine—
Paddling for Life—Little Babine and Susqua—Invited to
Christmas    „„.   83
Physical Features—The Skeena—An Indian Ranche—Romantic Bridge—Curious Carving—Christmas at the Diggings Contents, ix
—Up the Skeena—The Wotsonqua—A " Cholera Box "—
American Enterprise at fault—A hideous Canon—Characteristics of Miners  102
Routes to the Coast—A Chinook Vocabulary useful—Skirting a Frozen Biver—Kitsigeuhle—Unpromising Quarters
—A Greasy Caravan—Kitwangar Valley—Kitwancole—
Pagan Orgies—Ingenious Carving—An Indian Mart—Lake
Scenery— Welpamtoots — Valley of the Chean-howan—
Trail lost —Muskeeboo—" Yorkshire" Indian—A Trying
Walk—Naas Scenery—Alaska visible—Indian Suspension
Bridge—Beyond the Chean-howan Canon—Valuable Silver
Lode—Basaltic Columns—A Native Bal Masque*—Kitawn. 113
Detained by Rain—Hazardous Canoeing—Camping on the
Sea Coast—Geographical Outlines—Salmon Cove—Observatory Inlet—An Avalanche—Naas Harbour—South Inlet
—A Critical Five Minutes—Work Channel — Chimsean
Peninsula—Birnie Island—Arrival at "Fort Simpson—The
Harbour—American Military Post—Moral and Religious
Condition of the Indians —Canoe Building—Agricultural
Facilities  134
On board the "Otter"—A "played-out" Boiler—Rose Spit
—Graham Island—Masset Harbour — Clams — Mineral
Wealth—A Nor"-Easter—Dundas Island—Fort Simpson
again—Porcher Island—Arthur Channel—Seaforth—Bella
Bella—Dean Channel—Bella Coula—The Old Route to
Fraser River—Perilous Anchorage—King Island—Safety x Contents.
Cove—Queen Charlotte Sound—Beaver Harbour—^Description of Scenery—Discovery Passage—Alberni Canal—The
Canada Pacific Route—Cape Mudge—Port Augusta—Off
Nanaimo  152
Geology of Vancouver Island  169
Nanaimo—San Juan—The Boundary Dispute—Victoria—
Esquimault—Olympia,—Opposition Stages—A Humiliating
Break-down—Washington Territory—A Model Hotel—
Reach Portland—On board the "Oriflamme"—Astoria—
Arrival at San Francisco  184
The Canada Pacific Route  194
The Indians of British Columbia   210
On the Topography, Climate and Geology of the Western
limit of the Fertile Belt, with some remarks upon the
Rooky Mountains and the Peace River  225   4 lv«\
The Start for Peace River—Object of the Tour—Outline of Intended Route—Confused and Discouraging Reports—Our Party
—Dinner alfresco—How to Cook Pemmican—A Miscellaneous
Cavalcade—Mackenzie River Watershed—Lake La Nonne—
The Odometer—Fording the Pembina—Heavy Timber—Reach
Fort Assiniboine.
f 3Ef URRAH for the Peace River!" Such was
<Ca*-» the joyous exclamation of our botanist,
as, after -waving an affectionate adieu to our late
travelling companions, he turned upon his heel,
and remarked to me in a manner peculiarly his
own, | Now we shall soon settle McLeod's theory."
It must here be remarked by way of explanation
that in the early part of 1872 a pamphlet, styled
" The Peace River," had been published in the city
of Ottawa, setting forth the possibility of a line of
communication between the Eastern and Western
parts of the Dominion of Canada, by the Valley of
the Peace River. The author of the article in question had, with great ingenuity, aided by extracts
from an old Hudson's Bay Officer's Journal and 2 Canada on the Pacific.
Diary, in imagination levelled up from the shores of
Hudson's Bay to the summit of Peace River Pass,
and after very closely (as~will be shown during the
course of this narrative) approximating to its elevation above the sea, urged the theory of a railroad
from the Atlantic to the Pacific, by that route. The
Chief Engineer of the Canadian Pacific road, struck
by the possible advantages of such a highway, chose
the writer of these notes to make a reconnaissance
of that pass, and ascertain, as nearly as possible, its
actual elevation. With this object in view, I left
Edmonton in the beginning of September, 1872, accompanied by Dr. Macoun, an eminent botanist, en
route for the Pacific coast.
Let the reader take up a good map of British
Columbia, and thereon draw a line from Edmonton
to Fort Assiniboine on the Athabasca; thence, let
him make a series of zigzag courses to the southwestern extremity of Lesser Slave Lake, then northwesterly to the confluence of the Smoky River with
the Great Peace; from that point, in nearly a straight
line, across the country lying north of that stream,
to Dun vegan; next follow the Peace River through the
Rocky Mountain Range toMcLeod's Lake, and thence
to Fort St. James on Lake Stewart, and he will have
traced the first part of a very interesting journey,—
interesting not only for its novelty, but also on account ofthe varied and magnificent scenery through
which it was made. The Start for Peace Rivet
Having, as already remarked, bade adieu to our
late compagnons de voyage, and having seen them
fairly under weigh for Jasper House, it now behoved
me to make preparations for the Peace River journey,
and as the season was already advanced no time was
to be lost.   A circumstance which lent an additional
.zest to our contemplated trip was the fact that we
were in complete ignorance as to the proper means
of procedure and the time necessary to accomplish
the journey.    Nobody at Edmonton could tell us
-aught regarding the Rocky Mountain Passes north
of the Tete Jaune Cache. In vain did we seek for
information as to our proposed journey. All the
positive information we did obtain was that a Hudson Bay Company's boat annually descended the
Peace River to the Rocky Mountain Portage, for the
; supply of leather required for the Indian trade in
New Caledonia; but that boat had already been
down and had long since returned to the west side
of the mountains, and our chances of getting through
to McLeod's Lake before the winter set in were very
slim indeed. In fact, everybody was too willing to
impart what knowledge he possessed, but as that
was generally of a negative and contradictory character, we derived but little satisfaction or advantage
from it. We were told by one party that such and
such a route wastnot to be thought of; by another,
that we might possibly make very slow and tedious
-progress on foot through the dense forests of the 4 Canada on the Pacific.
Peace River, but that it would be folly to think of
taking horses : and a third, and veritable Job's oom-
forter, coolly affirmed that we would never be able
to cross the " Grand Muskeg." which was described
as infinitely worse than the famous dismal swamp of
These conflicting and adverse statements, although
rather disheartening, did not prevent my choice of
some well-defined course, and I determined to strike
across the country to Fort Assiniboine, and thence
over the swampy and barren grounds intervening
between it and the Lesser Slave Lake. But we had
to bide our time. Two Hudson's Bay clerks, then at
Edmonton, had received peremptory instructions
from their superior officer at Fort Garry to immediately proceed to New Caledonia (a district of
British Columbia) by the way of Peace River, and,
as a matter of course, all the resources of Edmonton,,
in the way of horses, men andjprovisions, were laid
tmder contribution in order to expedite their journey _
This circumstance, coupled with the fact that Mr.
Fleming had been supplied with the pick of men and.
horses for his trip to Jasper House, augured unfavourably for us, and added] not a little to our anxiety..
Notwithstanding those drawbacks, I set about mak-
ing preparations for the journey as fast as it could be-
done under the circumstances; but little assistance,.,
however, could be expected from the Company until
Messrs. Y. and K. had been disposed of.  On the 2nd. ■^
The Start for Peace Biver. 5
of September those gentlemen's preparations bein
completed, they took their departure, kindly promising to smooth the way for us by leaving advice of
our expected advent at every post they should pass;
and, whilst bidding us farewell, adding that we
should meet again only on the west side of the Rocky
Mountains, as they would travel with customary
Hudson's Bay celerity. The botanist, whose countenance during our affecting leave-taking of Messrs.
Y. and K. had assumed a rueful and comically sad
expression, especially upon their allusion to our keeping the rear all the way to Lake McLeod, remarked,
after the last of the cavalcade had disappeared
through the main gate of the fort, that " It was too
bad to be left behind in this off-hand manner."
" Never mind, my dear Mac," said I; | we may not
be so much behind them after all; and as they intend proceeding by canoe from Fort Assiniboine to
Lesser Slave Lake, we may steal a march on them,
and possibly get ahead of them yet."
The fact that provisions would not be readily obtainable when once away from Edmonton, until we
reached Fort McLeod or the Omenica mines, rendered it imperative to carry supplies in quantity sufficient for a journey of nine weeks' duration. I accordingly packed up 2301bs. of flour, 121bs. of tea,
241bs. of sugar, and sundries, besides loOlbs. of pem-
.mican (equal quantities of finely pounded dried buffalo
meat and grease); meat and tea we expected to find
* Canada on the Pacific.
at any of the solitary establishments of the Hudson's-
Bay Company which we might pass.    Pack saddles
and  sundry horse trappings had to be made and
fitted, men had to be chosen, and horses picked out
from amongst the somewhat ill-conditioned animals-
left at the Company's horse-guard.    In the meantime, Mr. Mac, who was to be my fellow traveller as-
far as Fort St. James, on Lake Stewart, whence he-
was to proceed to Quesnel and Victoria, busied himself in scouring the surrounding country in search of
further botanical additions to his already bulky collection.
Our party, when ready, consisted of four persons,,
viz.:—the *botanist, myself, and two hired men, one
of them an English miner, named Robert Armstrong,.
recently arrived from the Omenica diggings on the
Peace River, and who desired to return thither, having-
evidently failed to appreciate the society and advantages of the Upper Saskatchewan;  the other, an
English half-breed, by name Thomas, who turned
out to be as lazy a rascal as ever munched pemmican.    Of horses, we had six to pack and four to ride,,
making ten in all.
After many vexatious delays, Mr. Macoun, the two
men, with nine horses and two carts (the latter I
had decided to take as far as wheels could be made
use of), left Edmonton on the 3rd of September,
wh?le I remained behind, intending to overtake them
on the following day.    My object in staying behind How to Cook Pemmican. 7
was to complete some barometric observations and
settle accounts with Mr. Hardisty, whose kindness
and hospitality had been unvarying. On the 4th,
after breakfast and? saying " Good-bye" to the inmates of the Fort, I mounted my little nag, gained
the high ground immediately behind the Fort, and
taking a last look at the Saskatchewan, turned my
horse's head towards Lake St. Albert, which I reached
after a pleasant ride of nine miles. My first visit was
to my old friend, Mr. Chastellain, who immediately
saddled a horse, and expressed his intention of accompanying me for the first few miles towards Lake
la Nonne. Before leaving, we paid a visit to his
Lordship, Bishop Grandin, and the Oblat missionaries, who have a large establishment here. These
gentlemen would not allow me to depart without
partaking of some collation; so we were detained
until the forenoon was far advanced, and it was
nearly eleven o'clock before we managed to escape
from our kind friends. The day being fair, but
cloudy, we rode along pleasantly for seven or eight
miles, when Mr. Chastellain, after wishing all kinds
of good luck to our expedition, turned his horse
homewards, and I was left to pursue my way alone
over the beautiful and undulating country.
At 1 p.m. I overtook our little train, which had
stopped by the side of a small creek, and found the
botanist and the two men busily and pleasantly employed preparing dinner.   The preparation of this
* Canada on the Pacific.
meal, and indeed of all our meals, which were unvarying in kind and quality, simply consisted in the
pounding up with an axe of a couple of pounds of
buffalo pemmican, which, after receiving an addition
of water and a sprinkling of flour, was placed in a
frying-pan, and heated. This mixture, together with
tea and bread, was our daily food during the whole
journey to McLeod's Lake, and, although very uninviting to a tyro, is the strongest food and the best
for the traveller. One great advantage of pemmican
is its portability. It can be compressed into very
small bulk. A bag containing lOOlbs. net weight
measures but three feet in length by about ten inches
in width, and will serve four men over a month.
Our horses were quietly feeding on the rich and nu-
. tritious grass which lined the banks of the creek
Those animals were of all shades of colour, and no
two were alike in size. They were of the hardy little
breed peculiar to the Saskatchewan country, and,
though not much to look at, were possessedof qualities
of endurance hardly to be expected from animals of
their appearance. The horses, like the half-breeds
of the country, understood a jargon, half French, half
Cree Indian, and answered to such names as Bichon,
Rouge, Noir, Sacre* Diable, &c I noticed with some
concern, however, that one or two of them had a
slight tendency to sore back, but Armstrong, the
miner, had seen to them, and had, with great forethought, fitted relieving pads to the saddles. Resumption of the Journey.
Dinner being despatched, we saddled up again and
resumed our journey. From Lake St. Albert to this
point the land had been gradually rising westward,
and we were approaching the dividing ridge between the waters of the Saskatchewan and those of
the Mackenzie River. The character of the country
was also beginning to change. Before dinner, prairie
had prevailed over wood, but now the clumps of
aspen and poplar became larger, and occurred more
frequently, and the trees themselves began to assume
a greater size. A few spruce trees appeared occasionally, and we saw that we were soon to leave the
prairie behind us, at least for a time. As we left our
dinner camp, a few drops of rain began to fall, and
the clouds, which since morning had been gradually
accumulating, being now surcharged, a steady rain
set in, which continued without intermission until
late the following morning. We had no' alterna-
tive, however, but to go on, and we halted only at
six o'clock by a fine lake of fresh water, having accomplished a distance of about thirty-four miles from
Edmonton. After considerable trouble and delay we
lighted a roaring fire, and, having pitched our tent,
we proceeded to make ourselves comfortable for the
September 5th.—Still raining this morning, and in
consequence we remained in camp until 9.30 a.m.,
when, the weather showing signs of improvement,
we packed up and moved on through the woods in 10
Canada on the Pacific.
-the direction of Lake la Nonne. Travelling this
forenoon was particularly disagreeable, the long grass
and bushes being laden with rain, and at every step,
notwithstanding the utmost care, we received a perfect shower-bath. As we advanced, the trail began
to change considerably for the worse, the ground becoming hilly and broken, and windfalls blocking up
the road at frequent intervals. Several times during
this forenoon's march we had to exert our united
strength to extricate the carts from the many quagmires which we could not avoid, and at 1 p.m., when
we stopped for an hour to rest our horses and boil
our tea kettle, we had only made six miles by the
After dinner we resumed our march, the road becoming much worse, and in some places impassable
for the carts, which, at every few yards, kept sinking up to the hubs. Two miles of this abominable
road took us out into higher and drier ground, where*
the trail improved very much, and we were enabled
to make satisfactory progress. We were now on the
Mackenzie River Watershed, the small creeks flowing north-westerly and into the Athabasca. The
height of land we had passed a little before dinner.
We arrived at Lake la Nonne before sundown,
and camped close to Messrs. Y. and K., the two Hudson Bay gentlemen, who had only just arrived. They
had experienced a great deal of trouble in passing
over the last ten miles of ground, as indeed we had Lake la Nonne. 11
seen; the numerous freshly chopped windfalls we had.
passed testifying to the immense amount of road
clearing they and their men had done for the general
good. They were a little wroth at the idea of having,
pioneered for our benefit, and half jokingly, half
seriously expressed the wish that we should take the
lead next morning. " Well, gentlemen," said the
botanist, "we started with the understanding that
you were to go ahead, and keep ahead, and I only
hope now [that you will be men of your word, and
do so still. Besides," continued he, "I thought
you were fast travellers." Our two Hudson Bay
friends being good-natured at bottom, took the tauntr
o o **
ing of our botanist in good part, and invited us to
join them at supper, which we did, not having the-
patience to wait for our own. After sundown we
strolled along the creek and lake margin in search of
ducks and geese, which are very numerous about
Lake la Nonne is of small extent, and empties its-
surplus waters into the Pembina, the most southern
of the prairie streams tributary to the Mackenzie
River. It abounds with excellent white fish, and the
surrounding country is thickly wooded. The soil
is excellent, and from the general appearance of the
country, not only here, but between this and Edmonton, we saw excellent opportunities for farming
and stock raising.
The experiences of to-day not having impressed Canada on the Pacific.
us very favourably with regard to wheeled vehicles,
I determined to abandon the two carts and pack our
horses. The other party volunteering to try how
far a cart could be taken, one of those rude Red
River contrivances was handed over to them, with a
request to keep the odometer register. For the information of those who have never seen anything of
the kind, it may be explained that the odometer, or
trochiameter, as it is sometimes called, is an instrument attached to the wheel of a vehicle, by which
the number of revolutions is registered—this num-
ber, being multiplied into the circumference of the
wheel, gives the distance travelled.—By 9 p.m. the
camp was quiet, every one being pretty well tired
out after the exertions of the day.
September 6th.—The morning broke bright and
clear, and having breakfasted, we proceeded to pack
the six animals picked out for that purpose, and
moved off towards the Pembina by 8 a.m. A walk
of an hour and fifty minutes brought us to the ford,
where we found quite a large encampment of two or
three white men, and some dozen half-breeds and
Indians. Messrs. Y. and K., who had started before
us this morning, had already arrived, and introduced us to Mr. McGillivray, another Hudson's Bay
clerk, then on his way to Fort Edmonton. He had
left Lesser Slave Lake some eight days before, and
had come by boat through the lake, down the Little
'Slave River, and then up the Athabasca to Fort Fording the Pembina.
Assiniboine, whence, to this point, he had journeyed
by land. He described the trail as bad, and strongly
advised our going from Fort Assiniboine by water;
but, as I had already decided to proceed overland,
he did the next best thing and secured to me the
services of an English half-breed, named William
Calder, and a most excellent man he afterwards
turned out to be.
After partaking of Mr. McGillivray's hospitality,
and thanking him for his kindness in forwarding"
our views, we separated, and forded the Pembina
which is not more than a hundred yards wide at
this point. The water was not deep, only taking-
the horses up to their bellies ; but the bottom was
of quicksand, and we needed to be cautious in picking our steps. We got over without accident, and.
a two hours' ride over a low and rolling country
brought us to the Paddle River, on the bank of
which our Hudson Bay friends decided to camp. At
William's suggestion, however, we pushed on a mile
further, and pitched our tent in the midst of a beautiful circular prairie, surrounded on all sides lay
thick woods. The next morning we were joined by
the other party, and falling into Indian file, we proceeded rapidly on our way to the Athabasca. The-
country we passed through to-day was pretty level,
and covered with dense timber, among which poplar,,
spruce and birch of large size predominated. Some
of the spruce trees were of great size, and several 14
Canada on the Pacific.
we measured had a diameter of three feet. Wild
fruits of different kinds were very abundant, such
as raspberries, the service berry, and wild gooseberry, and we occasionally dismounted to pick and
eat them to our heart's content. The botanist was
in his glory, and made large and valuable additions
to his stock. In point of numbers, our combined
party had now assumed quite formidable dimensions,
there being nine horsemen and twenty orses. Each
man carried a shooting iron of some kind, excepting
the botanist, who had, instead, a dilapidated tin
case slung across his shoulder, which at every movement of his horse made row enough to frighten
away whatever game there was in the vicinity.
We halted at noon to rest for an hour, as the
weather was close and sultry, and our horses required careful handling to enable them to perform
the long and difficult journey to Lesser Slave Lake.
At half-past one we pushed on again, and reached
Deep Creek, an affluent of the Athabasca, where we
camped for the night. The Hudson Bay party proceeded on, intending to reach Fort Assiniboine that
evening, if possible.
The next morning being Sunday, we did not hurry
in getting away from camp, as we were within four
or five miles of the Athabasca, and did not intend
going further than Fort Assiniboine that day. It
was, on this account, nearly nine o'clock before we
were fairly under weigh.    A steady drizzling rain Peach Fort Assiniboine.
^was falling, and rendered travelling uncomfortable.
Tt> the course of two hours we reached the crossing
-place; but, owing to the late rain, the river had
risen four feet, and we were compelled to follow
up its banks for a mile or so, to where lay a large
boat of the Company's, in which we crossed to the
Fort, after driving our horses on to an island, whence
they could easily be brought over during the afternoon,   At two o'clock we landed at Fort Assiniboine. CHAPTER n.
Description of the Fort—A lazy Half-breed—The Clearwater—
Chain of Swamps—Pack train Travelling—Rich Pasturage—
Lesser Slave Lake—Skirting the Lake—The Traverse—Effective Shooting—Roman Catholic Missions in the North-West—
HE valley of the Athabasca at Fort Assiniboine
is large, and fully equal to that ofthe Saskatche-
wanat Edmonton. The river is larger and deeper than
that stream, and 250 yards wide, with a very strong
current. The so-called | Fort" is a mere collection
of ruinous old log buildings, and is now used as a
sort of half-way house between the two important
posts of Lesser Slave Lake and Edmonton. We
found one solitary clerk, who, with two or three
Indians, were the only inhabitants of the place.
Here we had intended to make some additions to
our scanty stock of provisions; but the resources of
the place being at the last ebb, nothing could be had
but a few pounds of excellent butter, with which
Mr. Calder, the resident clerk, kindly furnished us. Fort Assiniboine. 17
By odometer measurement, this place is about
ninety miles from Edmonton, and two hundred and
sixty miles from Jasper House, which is upon the
same stream, but within the first range of the Rocky
Mountains. Fort Assiniboine was, doubtless, in the
good old days of the monopoly, a snug enough little
spot; but it has been allowed to fall into decay. It
is very nicely situated upon a fine level terrace about
twenty-seven feet above the river. In the rear, the
land rises to a considerable height, and is everywhere covered with thick forest; but the aspect was
bleak and desolate in the extreme, and we felt glad
that our stay here was to be of the shortest. In the
course of the afternoon we made a tour of inspection, accompanied by Mr. Calder, who was heartily
sick of the place, and intended leaving at the first
Here we got rid of Thomas, the half-breed, and,
paying him what was due, sent him back to Edmonton. He was a good-for-nothing fellow, and no loss
to the party. William, who replaced him, undertook to pilot us across the barren grounds lying
between this place and the Lesser Slave Lake. Accordingly, having overhauled our outfit, we prepared,
to start next morning.
September 9 th.—Beautiful weather, and at 9 a.m.
we started. Messrs. Y. and K. had left the day before by canoe, and expected to reach Lesser Slave
Post in six days.   However, the familiar French
R 18
Canada on the Pacific.
proverb, "L'homme propose mais Dieu dispose," was
well exemplified in their case, as they did not reach
their destination until some time after us, much to
the delight of Mr. Macoun, who did not forget our
leave-taking at Edmonton, where they had so boast-
ingly left us to bring up the rear.
The steep ascent from the Fort to the higher land
tried our horses pretty well. We got up, however,
without much trouble, and struck in a north-easterly
direction, following a very old and indistinct Indian
trail. The woods were very thick ; and fire having
passed through them in occasional spots, we experienced a good deal of difficulty in getting along.
One or two of our refractory animals would not keep
the trail, and, of course, came to grief the moment
they set off on their own account. We travelled
steadily until 4 p.m., when we reached a deep ravine,
through which flowed the. Clearwater, on its way
towards the Athabasca. Having descended, and
overcome the steep and soft banks on the opposite
side, we camped, having made about fourteen miles
over a perfectly worthless country. A good deal of
the land we passed to-day was sandy, and supported
the growth of a peculiar hardy pine, common in
those regions, and known to the Hudson's Bay people
as the cypress.
From the Clearwater to the Lesser Slave Lake
occupied nine days ; but the country was so uninteresting, our progress so slow, and the daily course Pack Train Travelling.
-of events so monotonous, that I shall pass over that
interval. The intervening country bore a great resemblance to that lying between the head waters of
ithe Ottawa and the southern shores of Hudson's
Bay; being hilly, swampy, and densely wooded. The
■timber is principally spruce, balsam, poplar and
birch; and wherever the land has any tendency
to be level, it is almost invariably swampy, and
•covered with cranberries and blackberries. For
•nearly the entire distance, the trail was hardly discernible ; our animals mired at every swamp we
•came to, and those were by no means of rare occurrence, the botanist having counted twenty-seven
separate and distinct ones during the course of one
day's travel. We seemed during-those nine days to
have experienced all the misfortunes incidental to
pack train travelling. One of our horses was impaled on a sharp stump, and nearly bled to death;
-another, worn out by fatigue, ultimately became a
prey to the wolves; our provisions got materially
damaged; and, to crown all, the weather, which had
been so propitious during our journey over the
plains, seemed now bent on making us pay for former
benefits, and enlivened us with continued storms of
rain and wind, which occasionally alternated to sleet
and snow. Upon the whole, we had a remarkable
time of it, and were not sorry to catch the first
; glimpse of the Lake, which we reached on the affcer-
Jioon of the 20th. 20
Canada on the Pacific.
The last four miles before reaching the Lake were-
terribly hard upon the poor horses, the southern
shore being for many miles a vast swamp, almost on.
a level with the water, and the soft ground sinking
beneath us at every step. Indeed, by the time we
got to a narrow strip of willows bordering a little
creek, we were, one and all, glad to camp. The
horses made up for their severe work by at once
burying themselves up to the very necks in the tall
and magnificent grasses which grow here in the
greatest profusion. While putting up the tent, Arm"
strong shot a brace of geese which came tamely
swimming down the creek, and failing to reach them
from the bank, coolly plunged in, and swam for
After supper, we went to the mouth of the creek,
to choose a ford, and after an examination returned,
to camp and turned in.
Lesser Slave Lake is a very fine sheet of water,,
lying nearly due east and west, and about seventy-
five miles long, by from five to ten miles in breadth.
At the eastern extremity, its surplus waters find an
outlet by the Lesser Slave River, through which,,
after a course of thirty or forty miles, they reach
and mingle with those of the Athabasca. We had
struck it about the middle, and our course now was-
to follow its margin, until we reached the Fort, situated at its western end. The waters of this lake
teem with white fish (coregonus albus), game in. Skirting the Lesser Slave Lake. 21
myriads frequent its shores, and can be easily got at
in the numerous little nooks and bays. As a rule,
the southern shores are low and swampy, while the
northern side is higher, and often of a rocky nature.
It is densely wooded on either side. Along this
lake, then, we started next morning, but first had to
-effect the crossing of the creek, which delayed us
considerably, the horses being much averse to the
cold water, and requiring long and patient argument
before we could induce them to take it.
The morning being raw and cold, it was decidedly
unpleasant, after internally congratulating yourself
on having got over the worst, to feel the animal beneath you suddenly sink in a hole, by which operation the waistcoat pockets were, in my case at
least, filled with water. The creek, at our crossing
place, was about thirty yards wide, and each rider
before making the attempt, drew his knees up to his
chin, fondly hoping in this position to be enabled to
reach the other shore comparatively dry; but on
nearing the middle, and sinking deeper and deeper
in the cold element, that hope was rapidly dispelled,
■and the individual temperament of each member of
the party was pretty well shown. Ejaculations such
•as I Oh! Gad!" and more powerful expletives, were
•heard, uttered in an ascending scale, and comically
plaintive tone, as the ice-cold water gradually reached
first over the boots, then filtered into the trouser
•pockets, and higher still in the case of the most un- 22
Canada on the Pacific.
lucky ones. This diverting little prelude to the-
day's work having been gone through, we dismounted, and emptying our boots and ridding ourselves of
the surplus water, resumed our way on foot, for the-
double reason of restoring the circulation and sparing
our animals. The trail, when visible, which it very
seldom was, sometimes led through the heavy "blue
joint," and again through the woods, but always kept
within a short distance of the shore.
At four in the afternoon we arrived at another
creek, or rather river, as this was a large body of
water, flowing with great rapidity, and requiring
great care in fording it.    After some delay,  we-
managed to get to the other side, but not before the-
current had carried away an unfortunate but obstir-
nate equine.   The brute, regardless of yells, curses,,
and other arguments, marched deliberately into the
worst place, and was, of course, whipt off his feet in
the twinkling of an eye, and thrown bodily into the-
top of a large spruce which had been blown down,
and now obstructed the river some few yards below.
Reaching the unlucky animal, after some trouble,,
we succeeded in extricating him from his unfortunate
position, and immediately turned our attention to
camping for the night.   After supper, much time
was occupied in drying our wet packs and bedding,,
and it was not until ten that we were in a position
to retire to our beds.
September 12th.—On calling the camp this morning, The Traverse.
I was surprised to see the ground covered with snow,
and on looking at the thermometer, found the mercury at 31°. At eight o'clock we moved on, and in
another hour were ploughing laboriously along the
swampy margin of the lake. The soft ground was
succeeded by occasional stretches of beach, covered
with large round boulders, which, being coated with
a thin film of ice, caused our poor unshod animals
to slip at every step, and tried them very much.
At three o'clock our progress was arrested by another good-sized creek, which we had to ford, and
where the horses, losing bottom for a few yards,
were obliged to swim. We camped at the other
side. The next morning, a mile beyond camp, we
encountered the third and last river, which we found
impossible to cross in the usual manner; and after
following it up for a considerable way, were compelled to cut down some dry spruce, and construct a
raft, upon which, after driving over the horses, we
conveyed our baggage and provisions.
This operation occasioned the loss of the forenoon,
and after a six-mile ride through the most luxuriant
blue-joint grass, we reached the "Traverse," just
below Lesser Slave Lake Post, where we camped,
and fired several shots, hoping that the reports might
be heard at the Post, which, hidden from our view
by a projecting point of land, lay about a mile and a
half to the north-west; but we only succeeded in
attracting the attention of two Indians who were 24
Canada on the Pacific.
nunting feathered game in the adjoining marshes.
Those fellows were dressed in the unmistakable
Hudson's Bay cap&t, and were each armed with an
old flint gun, with which they rather astonished our
botanist. A flock of grey geese happening to pass a
short distance, Mr. Mac. jokingly pointed to them,
and, by signs, signified his desire to see them shoot.
The two aborigines, motioning to us to keep quiet,
immediately began to imitate the cackling of geese,
and looking up, we saw the .flock swerve slightly in
their course and turn in our direction. When within
shooting distance, although to our unpractised eyes
they were yet too far, bang, bang went the guns,
and a couple of plump geese fell into the grass beside us. These were a welcome addition to our
larder, and proved a wholesome and palatable change
from pemmican. A plug of tobacco a-piece in payment was received by the Indians with evident
marks of pleasure, and they good-naturedly set to
work to assist in collecting firewood and doing other
little " chores " of the camp.
While we were sitting round ■ the fire er-joying
supper, one ofthe Indians, suddenly starting up, and
pointing lake ward, exclaimed " sheman," and sure
enough there were our two ci-devant fellow-travellers,
the H. B. clerks, paddling up as hard as they could
in the direction of the Post We hailed them, and
found they had been detained by hard winds and
bad weather.    They promised to send over a boat Rich Pasturage.
in the morning, so that we might put all our impedimenta across in one trip, and bidding us good night,
passed on.
The following day we crossed over, leaving our
horses to rest and feed at their leisure in the luxuriant pasture. The marshes in the vicinity of the
Lesser Slave Lake Post are justly celebrated for the
rich and unlimited quantities of wild grass, which
grows in many places to a height of six feet, and is
capable of affording feed for thousands of horses and
cattle. The horses belonging to the establishment
here always winter out, and in the spring are invariably found to be in the very best condition.
The post is situated on the north side of the lake,
■about forty feet above the lake level, which is something like 1,800 feet above that of the sea.    It con-
O 3
sists of some half-dozen ruinous old log houses, and
is built in the form of a quadrangle. The Hudson
Bay Company keeps here a resident clerk and some
half-dozen men, who are generally either Indians or
-half-breeds. A small enclosure, containing a potato
patch and some few turnips, beets, and carrots, was all
we saw in the way of cultivating the soil, which is of
excellent quality. The residents of the place depend
upon the' lake for fish (coregonus albus), and rely
chiefly upon game for their staple supply of food, a
small and inadequate quantity of flour and groceries
being annually imported from Edmonton, with the
goods required for the  Indian trade.    This is gra- 2$
Canada on the Pacific.
. dually becoming less profitable every year, owing to»
the increased rate of mortality among the Indians,
arising in some cases from actual starvation and the
ravages of disease. The Indians of this locality, and
indeed also those inhabiting the Peace River country,
are quiet and inoffensive, and the white man may
travel through their midst with perfect safety. Ia
character and mode of living, they are totally unlike
their brethren of the plains, who are occasionally of
an aggressive disposition, and, as in the case of the
Crees, treacherous, thievish, and confirmed liars.
The Roman Catholic missionaries have here a
representative, a Mr. Remon, who, like his confreres,
has sacrificed the advantages of civilized society to
devote himself to the conversion ofthe Indians. This
gentleman has built for himself a log shanty, which
answers the double purpose of chapel and dwelling-
house, and also serves as a school for the few native
children at the place. He invited us to tea, and
served us up a plentiful repast of third quality pemmican and tea, without the concomitants of sugar
and cream. Indeed, from what the old gentleman
remarked, I fear his superiors at Lac la Biche were
a little remiss in supplying him with the actual necessaries of life, as his stock of provisions was exhausted. He told me he had not tasted flour for six
months, so I, in return, asked him to our camp, where
we treated him to the unusual luxury of fresh breads
He was very communicative, and gave me a letter of Roman Catholic Missions. 27'
introduction to his confrere of Dunvegan, Monsieur
Tissier. The society which furnishes the North-West
Territory of Canada with missionaries of the Roman
Catholic persuasion is an extraordinary one, and
deserves, en passant, a tribute of respect and admiration for the self-sacrificing zeal, self-denial, and
pluck with which each and every member, from
their bishops down to the humblest lay brothers,
prosecute the work of Christianization. They are
bound by a vow of poverty, and they certainly carry
it out to perfection, for they possess nothing but the
clothes they actually stand in, whatever revenue
they accumulate going to the Church and the maintenance of mission stations, the principal of which
are at Lake St. Albert and Lac la Biche. The Mackenzie River and Isle & la Crosse districts possess the
largest and most important ofthe Nor'-West stations,.
which are also the head-quarters of several bishops.
Although the vegetation in the vicinity of Lesser
Slave Lake appears to suffer from the occurrence of
early frosts, still, the belief of competent judges is
that cereals could be successfully raised. At Lac la
Biche, in about the same latitude, wheat culture has
always been a success, and the Roman Catholic mission there annually supplies its outlying posts with
that staple. The level country lying between Lesser
Slave Lake and Lac la Biche supports a thick growth
of timber, principally spruce and poplar, and the
prevalence of | muskegs," or surface swamps, may, 28
Canada on the Pacific.
.account to a great extent for the summer frosts. Be
this asi t may, the country bordering on the North
Saskatchewan, and also a portion of that adjacent
to Manitoba, appears, from all accounts, to suffer
fully as much from that drawback as this more
northern region, which, therefore, must not be
deemed, by reason of its higher latitude, unfitted
to support a large population of emigrants. Indeed,
the immense tract of country lying between Fort &
la Corne and Lac la Biche seems to me to offer
greater advantages for settlement than the open
prairie situated to the south of the North Saskatchewan, where the cold is quite as severe as it is a
couple or three degrees further North. The continuous belt of forest which forms the boundary of
this northern section protects it in a great measure
from the cold north winds which sweep the ocean
of prairies situated to the south with irresistible
violence, and render winter travelling dangerous
-and difficult in the extreme.
A Delightful Country—The Grand Muskeg—Half-way to Peace-
River—Back into the Prairies—A Rude Awakening—Prairie-
Fire—A Cache—The Great Peace River Valley—Noble Landscape—A Grateful Surprise—Dunvegan.
\N the 29th of September, having changed our
-:_.,:m Edmonton horses for a similar number of
fresh animals, we took our departure from Lesser-
Slave Lake, our friends of the Hudson's Bay Company having preceded us by a couple of days. Mr.
Mac. and the two men started one day ahead, while
I remained behind, intending to overtake them at
their second camp.
Bidding good-bye to Mr. Remon and Mrs. Mc-
Gillivray, the wife of the gentleman we met at the
Pembina River, who had treated us with the greatest
kindness, I started early on the morning of the 28th,
accompanied by an Indian lad. Our destination was
now the Peace River, which we intended to touch
at a point some sixty miles below Dunvegan, a post -30
Canada on the Pacific.
of the Hudson's Bay Company. Skirting the northwestern shore of the lake for several miles, we ascended a wooded ridge some three hundred feet
above the level of the lake, and struck westward.
The trail being good, and the weather beautiful,
we trotted along gaily, our horses'  hoofs ringing
upon the slightly frozen ground.    The yellow leaves
of the aspen and poplars strewed the path to a depth
of several inches, and the aspect of the naked trees
reminded me of the lateness of the season, and the
necessity for speedy travel if we desired to pass
through the Rocky Mountain range before winter
set in.    We travelled on through a very   pretty
country—now through woods, now over open grades,
crossing an occasional tiny creek, and sometimes
-encountering a bit of swamp, which brought to my
recollection our wretched trip from Fort Assiniboine;
but we had evidently made a change for the better.
We were passing over splendid soil, a rich light loam
being its usual characteristic, and the timber of good
■size—truly, a delightful country to settle in.   About
two in the afternoon we reached the Grand Muskeg,
the bugbear of this piece of road; but dismounting,
-and leading our horses over the hardest spots we
could pick out, we made the firm ground on the
other side without any trouble, and at six in the
evening saw with pleasure the glimmering of the
camp fire, which had just been lighted.
I calculated that we were now about half-way to A Delightful Country.
the Peace River, having made about thirty-two miles
from Lesser Slave Lake.   My three fellow-travellers
had got along without any difficulty, and had crossed
the Grand Muskeg without being obliged to lighten
the packs.    The next morning we were all in motion
-at an early hour, and travelling in a north-westerly
•direction until eleven o'clock, we halted by a small
•creek, where we lighted a fire and rested for a time.
The day was very fine, the thermometer standing at
seventy-five degrees in the shade, while a warm
southerly wind made the atmosphere quite oppressive ; and after eating a hearty meal of pemmican
and excellent smoked white   fish, caught in  the
waters of Lesser Slave Lake, we felt more inclined
to stretch ourselves on the grass and enjoy a long
siesta than to resume our journey; but, as the botanist remarked, we were like that mysterious personage, the " Wandering Jew," and were condemned t6
.go on.
A mile from our dinner camp we emerged from
the woods, and entered upon a strip of prairie the
surface of which was perfectly uniform, and almost
a dead level, but with a slight downward tendency
in a north-west direction. On our left, the creek
beside which we had dined meandered alternately
through woods and meadows on its way to join the
Heart River, which we forded some eight or ten
miles further on, and camped upon its banks. Since
€he forenoon the appearance of the country had un- 32
Canada on the Pacific.
dergone a remarkable change. Then our way lay
through a dense forest of spruce and poplar, with occasionally some very fine larch in the swamps ; but
now we' seemed to be getting back into the prairies,
and the landscape had much the appearance of the-
country between the second and third crossings of
the White Mud River in Manitoba. The distance
made good to-day we estimated at twenty-five miles..
30th September.*—We were awakened this morning by finding our tent had gone by the board. A
strong westerly gale was at its height, and the tent,
pegs having been carelessly driven into the ground
the night before, a few strong gusts sufficed to disorganize the concern, and it required a considerable-
amount of ingenuity to extricate ourselves from the-
dismantled fabric.
At seven a.m. we were again on the march, and at
nine o'clock had entered one of the thickest forests
of poplars we had yet encountered. The trees,
although of small size, grew so thickly together that
any deviation from the beaten trail rendered advance
impossible. Several times during the forenoon some
of our most unruly pack animals branched off on
their own account, and as often did they occasion
us much trouble and delay in extricating them from
the trees between which they got wedged, and where
they, in one or two instances, tore away their packs.
Towards eleven o'clock the weather, which had been
threatening rain, cleared up, and we halted for dinner Prairie Fire.
in a little open prairie. In lighting our fire, the
grass, which was dry as tinder, caught, and in spite
of our greatest efforts spread in a most alarming
manner, and with almost inconceivable rapidity, but
fortunately in the direction whence we had come.
By William's calculation, we were now within a
very few miles of the Peace River; and the fact that
the creeks were now flowing through deep gullies,
showed us that we were approaching their outlets.
Mr. Mac. and I, therefore, after hastily swallowing
some hot tea, saddled up again and trotted on, leaving
William and Armstrong to bring up the rear. The
trail being well defined, we had no difficulty in finding our way through the woods, which were
now of much heavier growth than those we had
passed through in the forenoon. A short distance
from our dinner place we came upon a quantity of
moose meat, hung up out of the reach of the wolves,
and killed, as we afterwards found, by an Indian who,
upon our arrival at Slave Lake, had been sent to
Dunvegan to acquaint Mr. Bourassa, the Hudson
Bay agent there, with the circumstance of our being
on the way. This cache had been made use of by
our Hudson Bay friends, and, from appearances, they
had helped themselves pretty largely. There still,
however, remained sufficient for our use, and we proceeded to cut off and lay aside a choice piece for the
men to take up when they passed.
Keeping on in a westerly direction, we crossed
c 34
Canada on the Pacific.
one or two fine creeks flowing through deep gullies,
and finally emerging from the thick woods into the
open, we found ourselves upon the edge of a precipitous and grassy valley, at the bottom of which, and at
a depth of fully six hundred feet, flowed the Heart
River. Continuing along the plateau for a mile or
so, another immense chasm opened out from the
south, revealing another moderate-sized river, which
joined the Heart immediately beneath us.
Quickening our pace to a hand-gallop, and lost
in admiration of the landscape and the sudden transformation of the scene, we at length came to a dead
stop on the brink of the Great Peace River Valley
which now barred our progress westward. We had
at length reached the long-looked-for goal of our
hopes, and resting, our nags for a little, we feasted
our eyes on "the glorious landscape now mapped out
before us. Throwing the reins over our horses' necks,
we let them feed for a few minutes, while awaiting
the arrival of the others, who, with the pack animals, were still a mile or so behind. A strong westerly gale was blowing, but the air was so warm and
balmy, that to recline on the beautiful grassy
sward, full face to the blast, was positively delicious.
For several miles to the south-west, the noble
river, flowing 800 feet beneath us, on its silent course
to" the Arctic Ocean, could be distinctly traced as it
meandered through its mighty valley. Several
large and wooded islands dotted its surface here and A Noble Landscape.
"there, causing eddies and whirlpools, which in their
turn made long and faint streaks of foam, barely
visible in the distance. With the exception of these
disturbing causes, the bosom of the mighty river
was perfectly unruffled, and at our high altitude
failed to convey an idea of the great velocity with
which it flowed.
About a couple of miles to the south, the Smoky
River, a very large tributary, mingles its waters with
those of the Peace River. From our position, and
■embracing an angle of fully 130 degrees, or, in other
words, from the North-west round to South, a boundless and nearly level expanse of country could be
taken in at a glance, the only breaks being the great
valleys of the Peace and Smoky Rivers, than which
nothing we had ever seen could be more beautiful,
the former especially, in its magnitude and depth,
surpassing all we had anticipated. The width of
the valley at this point cannot be less than two and
a-half miles; and the banks, covered with verdure,
and showing occasionally clumps of wood, slope
downwards to the water edge in varied yet ever
graceful form.
The arrival of the pack animals disturbed us in
the silent contemplation of this wonderful scene;
and the business of descending the steep slopes put
a stop to any further reveries on the wonders of old
mother Nature. In Indian file we followed the zigzag trail, carefully leading our horses, and very 36
Canada on the Pacific.
speedily reached the lower terrace, after a descent,
which was accomplished by the horses in a half-
sliding fashion, the sagacious brutes being wonderfully sure-footed, and exhibiting great 'cuteness in.
picking out the easiest and safest places.
Reaching the bed of the Heart River, we forded
it with ease, and, a little further on, came upon the
smouldering remains of a camp fire, close to which
we found a note from our Hudson Bay friends, advising us of the correct state of their health, and'
that they had   crossed—or rather were going to
cross—the day before, at one p.m.    Seeing no signs*
of their presence on the other side, we concluded"
they had done so in safety, and immediately set
about the same operation ourselves; but, first, we-
had to find the canoe which usually served the purpose of ferry-boat.    To our disgust and annoyance,,
after vainly examining the shore, we descried the
much-coveted craft high and dry on the opposite-
bank.    Bewailing our fate, we were about to construct a raft, when the report of a gun reached usr
and a minute or so afterwards we saw, to our great
surprise, a large boat under sail coming rapidly down
the river.     Upon our answering their signal, she-
altered her course, and headed right for us.    She
proved to be one of the Hudson Bay boats, belonging to Dunvegan, and had been sent to meet Messrs.
Y. and K.   This craft was manned by a motley crew
of Indians and half-breeds, who understood nothing; A Surprise.
Taut French and Indian. They proved, however, to
be a jolly set of fellows, and very willingly helped
lis to embark our baggage and provisions, which I
now resolved to send up by this excellent and unlooked-for opportunity. The Indian who had been
-sent from Slave Lake was also on board, on his return thither, and I immediately arranged with him
to take back the horses, reserving two for my own
-and William's use, as we determined on riding to
Dunvegan, while the botanist, the miner, and the
baggage were to go up in the boat.
Having by this time collected all our materiel, we
-crossed to the north side, and sent back two men in
the canoe to pick out and drive over the animals we
were to ride on the morrow. They had considerable
^trouble in separating them from the rest, the cunning brutes fully understanding the manoeuvre in-
rtended; and it was only after much yelling and
^shouting that the men managed to get them into
the water. When finally in, however, they swam
for the other shore (550 yards distant), the men in
:the canoe encouraging them with yells and occasional taps from the paddles, while on the receding
bank their equine friends regarded the proceeding
with evident discomposure, and finally gave them a
parting neigh, doubtless intended as a farewell.
Immediately on landing, the animals were seized
and mounted, barebacked and dripping as they
•emerged from their bath, and were at once treated 38 Canada on the Pacific.
to a hard gallop up and down the beach, to restore*
circulation; then a slight rub down, and they were
busily engaged on the fine pasture in the midst of
which we had pitched our tent.
By sundown the wind had lulled completely, and
the sky was one glittering mass of stars; but the
mercury was sinking rapidly, and by nine p.m. the
thermometer stood at 29 ° Fahrenheit. The boatmen, however, were adepts at fire building, and had
chopped enough wood to last an ordinary town
household for a month ; and we felt decidedly comfortable when, after supper, we sat or stretched
around the huge fire, and listened to the Indians as
they discussed matters in general, and our business
in particular, and wondered what the deuce we could
be after. Had we been Hudson Bay men, their
wonder would have been at an end; but how two
strangers should travel through the country without any apparent object, they could not understand.
The account they gave us of the state of affairs
at Dunvegan was not very cheering. The New
Caledonia boat had left three weeks before, and men
willing to undertake the journey through the Rocky
Mountains at this late season would be difficult to-
get. Having, however, had some experience of the
mode of travel in the Indian country, and knowing
how the class of men I had to deal with were given
to over-estimate difficulties of the kind, I put no 9-S9
Start for Dunvegan.
more questions, and dismissed the subject from my
The morning of the 1st October dawned bright
and cold, there being a sharp frost; but the sun
gradually warmed up the atmosphere, and the day
turned out beautiful. Breakfasting early, the boat,
with its mixed freight, pushed off, and William and
I saddled up, and providing ourselves -with sufficient
for dinner, mounted our ponies; and after winding
up and down the slopes, now gaining the level of
some fine terrace, now descending the banks of some
tiny rivulet, finally gained the level of the country
above, a height of eight hundred feet or thereabouts
above the river.
The ascent had occupied nearly two hours; and
as our direction had always been up stream, we
found, on sweeping the horizon with the glass from
our now exalted position, that the Smoky River was
two or three miles below us. After a halt of five or
ten minutes, we pushed on westwards over a prairie
as level as those of Minnesota, and stopped for dinner
on the edge of a lake. Two hours' rest, and we
were again in the saddle. The uniformity in level
had now slightly changed, but for the better, as the
monotony of the prairie was broken by clumps or
bluffs of timber, and the ground had changed from
a dead level to an undulating roll, much more pleasing to the eye.
J£ 10
Canada on the Pacific.
At five p.m. we rested at a small creek, and again
setting off, and travelling for several hours in the
dark, we descended the beautiful slopes immediately
behind Dunvegan, and reached the Fort at nine
p.m., having ridden about sixty miles since morning.
Here we found Messrs. Y. and K., who had arrived
four hours ahead of us. They informed me that,
owing to the want of men and the lateness of the
season, they had determined to return, or at least to
cease the prosecution of the voyage westwards.
They urged upon me the advisability of doing likewise, or of, at any rate, waiting until the winter set
in, so that I might continue the journey on the ice;
but I determined to go on, and, if absolutely necessary, to await the setting fast of the rivers either at
Fort St. John or the Rocky Mountain Portage.
In the meantime, Mr. Bourassa had made preparations for supper, and very soon a smoking dish of
moose steaks, flanked by a platter of very diminutive potatoes, was introduced, and ample justice was
done to the repast by both William and myself. The
absence of bread did not surprise me, as I knew that
the Company only allow 100 lbs. of flour yearly to
each clerk in this district, the freight upon even
such a small quantity—coming, as it does, from
Red River, vid the roundabout Athabasca route—
amounting to no inconsiderable item. CHAPTER IV.
Fanning Facilities—Minerals—Rare Field for the Geologist—The
Grande Prairie—A Grizzly—More Sociable than Pleasant—Pine
River—Burnt District—Indian Encampment—Route over the
Rocky Mountains—Obstinacy of Indian Guides.
^vWING to the fact that the Company's agents are
r<^y^ liable to be suddenly removed from one post to
•another, those people are, not unnaturally, averse to
the expenditure of the time and labour necessary
for farming experiments; hence the absence of farm
produce at these posts. But the natural advantages
of excellent soil of unlimited extent, and the proverbially early disappearance of the snow in spring,
would lead one to the belief that good crops of barley* potatoes, and fall wheat might be successfully
raised in this part of the North-West.
Dunvegan, otherwise styled by the French "Fort
de la Grande Prairie," owing to its proximity to the
immense plain region lying some thirty miles to the
south, and stretching from the Smoky River to the 42
Canada on the Pacific.
very slopes of the Rocky Mountains, is nicely situated upon a level terrace overhanging the silent
waters of the Peace. Behind it, the ground rises to
a height of seven hundred feet, and is chiefly of a
prairie character. The Fort, a mere assemblage of
some half-dozen log houses, is estimated to be one
thousand feet above sea level; hence, the general
elevation of the surrounding country is one thousand
seven hundred feet, which is much the same as that
of Lesser Slave Lake. The same elevation holds-
good on the south side, which is partially covered
with a scattered growth of poplar and spruce trees.
The efflorescence of sulphate of soda is occasionally
remarked along the slopes of the valley in the vicinity of Dunvegan, and cannel coal occurs within a
dozen miles of the Fort, but on the south side-
From the Rocky Mountain Portage to the Smoky
River, a distance of probably two hundred and fifty
miles, the Peace River, after taking a leap of two-
hundred and forty feet through the last and most
eastern of the Rocky Mountain ranges, has cut its-
way through thick strata of clay and sandstone to a.
depth of seven hundred and eight hundred feet,
where it flows over an almost horizontal stratum of
limestone, which stretches northward as far as Lake
Athabasca, where the primitive system meets the
Silurian. The sections laid open to view by this
river and its numerous tributaries offer an inviting
field to the geologist, who might not find it difficult Departure for Fort St. John.
to show that the Peace River did, at some distant
period, end its career at the spot where now it enters
the plains, or, in other words, at the Rocky Mountain
Portage, then a sea-washed rock, from which the
.waters gradually retiring, left it free to cut its way
through the soft sea sands and detritus which form
the comparatively level country over which the
Beaver and other Indians now hunt.
On the 6th of October, Mr. K. left by boat for
Fort Chipewayan, his fellow-traveller having previously set out on his return to Edmonton; and now
having the coast clear, I arranged to proceed to Fort
St. John with eight horses. I accordingly hired the-
services of a half-breed hunter, also an Indian lad to
act as guide; and, accompanied by Armstrong, the
miner, with whom I had already dissolved all connection, our party crossed the river, and started on
our way for Fort St. John. At any other season
of the year, the river route would have been easier-
and less expensive; but as my object was to see as
much of the country as possible, I chose the former
route, which, however (in order to avoid the rough
and thickly-wooded country bordering on the Peace),
promised to be a long and circuitous one.
Having swum our horses across, we ascended
the banks on the southern side, and passing through
several miles of rather open woods, we entered upon
a rich and open country, and camped for the night
about eight miles south-west of Dunvegan.   The Canada on the Pacific.
afternoon, although bright and clear, was cold enough
"to render a fire enjoyable; and our camp, thanks to
our long-acquired experience in such matters, and
under the influence of a cheerful blaze, soon assumed
a very comfortable appearance.
A slight eminence in the vicinity enabled us to
obtain a very fair view of the country to the southwest, which maintained its open character for many
miles, until bounded by a rather high ridge of
wooded hills lying nearly east and west, and on the
other side of which was situated the " Grande
Prairie." We observed that, curiously enough, the
vegetation upon those uplands did not appear to
have suffered so much from the effects of frost, this,
being probably due to the fact of the air in these
upper regions being constantly in motion, while in
the deep and capacious valley of the river the winds
have often no effect.
The following morning, after breakfast, Mr.Macoun
and I started off on foot, and in advance of the
horses. We followed a well-defined Indian trail,
which led us over the most charming country we
had yet seen, passing sometimes through small poplars, but chiefly over an open rolling prairie land of
the most excellent kind. We crossed numerous
little creeks flowing northerly towards the deep
coulSe, which lay on our right, and at eleven o'clock
we came suddenly upon a deep and precipitous
ravine, about a quarter of a mile wide, at the bottom Au Unwelcome Visitor. 45
of which flowed a tiny rivulet. On reaching the
bed of this little stream, the aneroids showed a
difference of two hundred and eighty feet. A halt
was called here; and while a fire was being lighted,
we proceeded to examine the section exposed to view,
which consisted of an immense layer of clay, sandstone, slate and fossiliferous limestone. Mixed up
with these strata we found an excellent specimen of
While wandering up the gloomy bed of the creek,
a yell from the botanist startled us all, and his hurried re-appearance, minus hat and coat, with the
information that he had seen a grizzly, started us-
off in pursuit of his bearship; but the unearthly
howl of the botanist had evidently frightened himr
as we could see nothing but some huge tracks
leading up stream. A, grizzly had undoubtedly
been there, and, as Armstrong remarked, he must,
have been a "whopper." Mr. Macoun described him
as being as large as a good-sized ox, and as having a
most sinister expression of countenance.
After an hour's delay here, we ascended the oppo- •
site side, and pushed on through thick woods until
five, p.m., when we camped. After supper this evening I tested the qualities of the coal we had picked
up at noon, and found it to burn readily, giving a.
good, clear flame, with very little ash; the strong
odour of real coal was emitted. We had, indeed,
found a treasure; and when one reflects that hun- Canada on the Pacific.
dreds of square miles of this beautiful country in
all probability cover immense fields of this mineral,
the future of this oasis in the great " Nor'- West"
may be safely predicted.
October 11th.—" Weather still holding out fine
and clear, with cirri from westward On the march
at seven, a.m., still travelling through the woods, and
over a level country. Halted at noon as usual."
Such were the jottings in the diary of this forenoon's
march. We were not a mile from our last stopping-
place when the barking of Indians' dogs caught our
attention, and presently through the woods appeared,
in single file, a family of Beaver Indians, on their
way to Dunvegan, with fresh killed moose-meat, for
barter at the Fort. They were the dirtiest, most
ragged, and most powerfully smelling lot it had been
our fate to meet, but from motives of policy I deemed
it advisable to stop, though much against our wish.
These filthy savages were all on horseback, and the
women bestrode their ponies en cavalier like their
better halves. They were wonderfully polite, and
would not hear of our going any further that day.
So we made a virtue of necessity, and after some
consultation camped beside good running water.
Our friends, the Indians, also came to anchor, and
bothered us to trade for tobacco and sundry other
articles, such as tea andjammunition. Mr. Macoun,
chafing at the delay, started off through the woods to
look for specimens, but a slight allusion to his grizzly- Reach Pine River. 47
-faced acquaintance of yesterday soon brought him
"back to camp. Those Beaver Indians are remarkably jealous of their wives, but are otherwise peaceably inclined, and passably honest.
The next morning we parted from our dusky
.friends and resumed our interrupted journey, which
•we continued until the 16th October, when we
reached the Pine River, the largest tributary of the
Peace from the Rocky Mountain Portage to the
Smoky River.
The whole country passed over during those few
• days was varied in appearance, the trail passing
through woods and prairie, principally the former,
and for the last two days through a rough country
covered with very dense forest. A good many large
creeks were crossed, and they invariably flowed
through deep depressions cut out by themselves, to
a depth of three and four hundred feet, where we
crossed them. Some very beautiful prairie land was
also seen, but we always kept to the north of the
I Grande Prairie," which, unfortunately, we had not
time to visit; still the favourable appearance of the
country we did pass through argued greatly in favour
of the more southern section, about which we had
heard so much.
On the afternoon of the 16th, and when yet a few
| miles south of the Pine River, we crossed an enormous tract of burnt country. The timber had been
of large. growth, principally spruce, and a luxuriant 48
Canada on the Pacific.
crop of grass had sprung up in the place ofthe burnt
underbrush. The fallen trees formed a net-work very
difficult to pass through, being, in some places, piled
one on top of another to the height of six feet. For
about a mile and a-half this bruU very much retarded our progress. Finally emerging from .the.
labyrinth of fallen trees, and gaining the summit of a
high ridge covered with green timber, along which
the path wound, we found ourselves upon the edge
of a deep and gloomy ravine, leading in a northern,
direction, and evidently forming the bed of a small
tributary of the Pine River, which we came upon,
as night began to enshroud the already gloomy landscape in its mantle of darkness. While skirting the
edge of the deep gap already mentioned, we had
caught occasional glimpses of the little stream flowing beneath at a depth of 1,000 feet. We were
accordingly fully prepared for the precipitous descent
which awaited us on gaining the edge of the Pine
River Valley. The botanist and myself were some
little distance a-head of the horses, and had passed
the usual path leading down to the water's edge ; so
after waiting some time, we were not a little surprised
to hear the voices of our men, far beneath and at the
right of us. Not caring to retrace our steps, we plunged boldly down the precipitous banks, and rejoined
the others after a descent which we most certainly
would not have attempted in broad daylight.
On reaching the river's edge, we followed up the ^
Indian Encampment. 49*
gravelled bank, and camped opposite the fires of a
large assemblage of Indians who were on their way
to their fall hunting grounds. The deep and rapid
river which separated our respective camps did not,
however, prevent these gentry from crossing in their
canoes to find out who we were, and otherwise gratify their curiosity, and hardly was our fire " under
way," when we were surrounded by a crowd of
chattering and inquisitive young braves, who were,
otherwise, well enough  behaved.    Being unable to
•*■ o o
converse with each other to advantage, we contented
ourselves with making arrangements for crossing in
the morning, and retired to the enjoyment of a sound
sleep, which we had fairly earned by our long day's
October 17th.—Our first care this morning was
to seek out a secluded spot where we might enjoy
the luxury of a thorough wash, and after breakfast,
a young Indian placing his canoe at my disposal, I
crossed to the other side. While making the tra-
verse, I had an opportunity to observe the physical
features of this singular locality. The stream was
150 yards in width, and flowed towards the Peace
(only a mile distant) with a velocity of two or three
miles per hour. Its deep and rugged valley could
not be seen to advantage for any great distance upwards, but I believe it preserves its great size for
forty or fifty miles, until it splits into several
branches, one of which takes its source from a small
D 50
Canada on the Pacific.
lake situated on the summit of the main Rocky
Mountain Range.
Mr. Bourassa, of Dunvegan, had drawn my attention to the existence of this lake, and had so minutely described the peculiar physical features of this
locality that I was strongly impressed with the idea
that a very low and practicable pass in the mountains could be found there, the more so from the fact
that another river, very inferior to the Pine in size,
helped to discharge the waters of the same lake down
the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains into the
south branch of the Peace. While at Dunvegan, I
had fully made up my mind to endeavour to cross
the Rocky Mountain Range by that route, and had,
with this object in view, been furnished with a letter
addressed to an Indian thoroughly acquainted with
the locality. This man, I had found out last night,
was here on the very spot, and now formed one of
the assemblage which stood on the other bank to
await my arrival. On landing I speedily found out
the man I wanted, whose name was M -, and showing him the letter, persuaded him to guide me at once
to Fort St. John, some five or six miles distant. The
horses we had hired at Dunvegan were still on the
other side ; but Isidore, their owner, and the rest of
the party, intended to follow me later in the day,
and Mr. Macoun remained to superintend operations.
A walk of one hour and a-half brought my Indian
guide and myself to the Fort, which is built on the Indian Obstinacy.
■edge of an extensive alluvial flat, overlooking the
Peace River. Here I found Mr. Kennedy, the clerk
in charge, and having expressed my wish to cross
the mountains by the Epinette River Pass, we soon
had engaged the services of three other Indians, who,
with M , were to conduct me to McLeod's Lake
by that route, while Mr. MacOun was to proceed by'
the river to the same point. But all my arrangements were soon broken through by one of my chosen
band, a newly-married man, backing out, and his
example being contagious decided the others to refuse, point blank, to proceed on the journey, which
they now pronounced to be hazardous and difficult. CHAPTER V.
Glimpse of Rocky Mountains—Portage Hill—Old Buffalo Tracks
—Moose Steak—Mountain Terraces—A Stampede—Amateur
Rafting—Riviere du Milieu—Hudson's Hope—Conversation
under difficulties—Terrific Storm,—Le Rapide qui ne parle pas.
MFTER vainly essaying all manner of inducements, I had finally to give up the project,
and take the only remaining alternative, which was
to proceed to the Rocky Mountain Portage, and take-
our chance of finding a boat or canoe with which to
ascend the river.
Several days being lost in getting men and horses-
for the trip, and collecting a large supply of fresh,
moose, pemmican, and other provisions, it was three
o'clock in the afternoon of the 19th when Mr. Kennedy, William, two Indians and myself crossed the-
Peace River, with part of our baggage and seven.
■* X OO     O
horses, en route for the Rocky Mountain Portage,,
distant some fifty miles. The stream being threa
hundred yards wide, with a very strong current, thee Glimpse of Rocky Mountains. 53
xisual difficulty and loss of time was experienced in
setting the horses across. While the men were fitting on the packs and saddling up, I shouldered my
rifle and gained the high ground above, after a steep
and laborious ascent of twenty-five minutes. Th e aneroids gave a difference of level amounting to eight
o o o
hundred and sixteen feet above the water, and from
this elevated position a most beautiful view of the
country was obtained. Immediately beneath, and at
my very feet, lay the little fort, the doors and windows being just discernible in the distance, while
behind it, to the south, the high ridge of the right
bank of the Pine River could be traced for many
miles to the south-west. The whole country in that
direction was one mass of dense forest, extending
right up to the outer and most eastern range of
the Rocky Mountains, which were distinctly visible.
Away in the farther distance, a few snow-capped and
isolated peaks, of the higher range, reared their serrated summits high in the clear and cloudless sky,
and, owing to a peculiar state of the atmosphere,
seemed to vibrate and tremble as each successive
ray of the now rapidly declining sun impinged upon
their snowy sides. A conspicuous mountain, of moderate height (called the Portage Hill), bore north
107° west, allowing 25° easterly variation, and
formed a pretty and conspicuous landmark in the
The appearance of Mr. Kennedy with the horses Canada on the Pacific.
caused me to abandon the delightful prospect, and
taking a last look at the fort and river, I saw two
I dug-outs " (canoes) pushing off with Mr. Macoun
and the rest of the baggage.    " They have a strong
current against them all the way to the portage,"
said Mr. Kennedy, " and you need not look for them
there before three days."    Mounting a nag which
Mr. Kennedy had kindly provided for me, we broke
into a smart canter, following a level and well-worn
trail, which took us through alternate copses of poplars and prairie.    For six miles we kept on, and
camped in a lovely spot in the midst of some fine
trees.    While sitting round our cheerful camp fire,
Mr. Kennedy beguiled the time with stories and interesting   information   bearing upon the   locality.
"Just where you got into the saddle," said he, "two
years ago, a big buffalo bull got his death wound.
He must have strayed far from his comrades." " But,"
I asked, " where were his comrades ? he surely never
swam the river."   " Oh," said Kennedy, " there are
still some stray bands away north of us, and they are
even yet seen occasionally at Riviere Salee, quite close
to Lake Athabasca."    In fact, the old buffalo trails
are still distinctly visible on the grassy slopes opposite the fort, and it must have been a glorious sight
when, in the old times, numerous bands, led by some
huge bull with shaggy mane, might have been seen
winding down the valley sides to slake their thirst
in the cool waters of the Peace.    Alas, for the poor Moose Steaks and Onions. 55
Indians! those happy days have passed away, and
in a few years more not a bison will be left, and their
whitened skulls and well-marked roads will be the
sole vestiges of a once numerous and magnificent
o O
species. The moose deer, also bears, black, grizzly,
and cinnamon-coloured, are still very numerous on
the Peace River. The day we left the fort, a huge
brute of the grizzly kind was shot quite close to the
house. The annual slaughter of bears of various
kinds on the Peace River is about four hundred,
while almost fabulous quantities of moose meat are
annually consumed at the different posts of the Company upon this river; but the reckless slaughter of
wild animals habitually indulged in by the. Indians
and half-bred Iroquois trappers of the Smoky River,
will surely bring its own retribution; and some years
hence the Indians will be obliged to resort to other
means of livelihood than the chase.
Sunday, 20th October.—A sharp frost this morning made us glad to huddle around the fire, but the
day promising to be fine, we packed up and were on
our way at an early hour, after breakfasting on
delicious moose-steaks fried in onions, a plentiful
supply of the latter having been kindly furnished by
Mr. Kennedy, who has a very fine garden at Fort St.
John, where his vegetables are equal to any that can
be seen in the eastern markets. At 10.45, am., we
came to a deep ravine, through which a small river
from the north entered the Peace.    This gully was 56
Canada on the Pacific.
fully 800 feet deep, and the descent and the ascent
on the other side were very laborious. Half-a-mile
below we could discern our two canoes paddling up
stream, and from our great elevation their occupants
seemed about the size of crows. Gaining the top of
a fine level terrace, fully three miles in length, we
put our horses to a gallop, and. brought up at the
end, where we halted for dinner.
During the interval I photographed the river, which
struck me as being very beautiful at this place. On
our right, high sandstone bluffs, hidden by a superficial layer of soil, rose to a great altitude, their summits being fully one thousand feet above the river.
This forenoon we had a very fine view of the yet
distant mountains, their white peaks standing out in
bold relief against the blue sky. At 2, p.m., we
resumed our march, the trail being none of the best,
leading us sometimes down to the water edge, and
O O     '
again taking us to the high levels above, and sometimes through tangled bits of underbrush, where
both hands were constantly needed to save the face
from the branches and projecting bushes. At dusk
we found ourselves nine hundred feet above the
river, and had great difficulty in getting down to
the lower terraces, along which we travelled in the
dark, now and again missing the trail, and coming
to a dead stop to look, or rather feel, for it, as the
darkness-was almost palpable. While going along
slowly, our horses one and all took fright at a bear Riviere du Milieu. 57
which we disturbed ; but as we could not see him, he
was left to his own devices. Our progress was now
arrested by a large and strong mountain stream,
beside which we encamped for the night.
Our first business the next morning was the con-
struction of a raft, upon which, having embarked all
our baggage and saddles, Kennedy, William and
myself committed ourselves to the mercy of the Ri-
viere du Milieu. The raft being made and tied
together, we pushed off, each being furnished with a
pole; but before we could well realize our position,
the fragile and badly-constructed craft was hurled
upon a large shoal, over which we bumped into the
deep water below, losing-at the same time several of
the pieces composing the fundamental portion of our
handiwork. By dint of the most desperate exer
tions and the utmost steadiness, we at length managed to reach an eddy, and then the shore, where we
could afford to laugh at our own awkwardness. We
certainly had a narrow escape ! In the meantime the
Indians, choosing a better place higher up, crossed in
safety, having previously driven the horses into the
water, and over to the other side.
By the appearance of the banks, both the Peace
River and the Riviere du Milieu were low, although
the latter must be very strong in early summer
coming as it does from the eastern flanks ofthe mountains north of the Peace River. Its width was sixty
yards, with an average depth of five feet: the water 58
Canada on the Pacific.
was much colder than that of the Peace. On riding
up from the river to gain the higher regions above, we
passed over some alluvial flats, which were very
densely timbered, and we saw some magnificent rough
bark poplars, three or four feet in diameter, and growing to a great height. We were now twenty-two miles
from the lower end of the Rocky Mountain Portage,
where we arrived on the morning of the 22nd, after
following the northern slopes of the valley for the
entire distance. Between the Riviere du Milieu and
the Portage, we crossed several deep ravines, the outlets of small rivers flowing into the main one. The
trail, though rough in occasional spots, carried us over
a very fine country, where the excellent soil and large
tracts of fine land, facing the south, would offer great
facilities for farming. There was, however, a scarcity
of wood, but the southern banks and the numerous
islands, being covered with dense timber, afford unlimited quantities of that material for both fuel and
manufacturing purposes. As we approached the foot
of the Portage the soil became very light and sandy,
and the cypress occurred in abundance. Sandstone
rock began to show more frequently, and we now
saw indications of a decided change in the formation
of the country.
On reaching the level and sandy terrace immediately opposite " Hudson's Hope," the euphonious
name of the Company's establishment, we could find
no means of communication with the opposite shore; Conversation under Difficulties. 59
but, after yelling ourselves hoarse, managed to draw
the attention of a solitary miner, who was camped
close to the Company's house. Carrying on a very-
trying conversation with this individual, the distance between us being about two hundred and fifty
yards, and a high wind blowing, we found that Char-
lette, the man in charge, had gone down the river,
and had taken with him the only canoe at the place,
so that we had to give up all idea of crossings
There being yet no sign of the canoe with the
botanist, we decided on proceeding over the Portage, after having rested our animals, and prepared
. our frugal mid-day meal. Hailing the miner again,,
he gave us the welcome news that there were seve*-
ral canoes at the head of the Portage, besides a large
boat, the property of a prospecting party of miners,
who had descended the Peace from the Omenica,
and had left their boat'there. From this point they
had gone down to the Riviere du Milieu on a raft,
and were there at this moment building canoes, with
which to ascend that river. In fact, the party was
within half-a-mile of ours on the morning which
had nearly proved disastrous to us; but the high
wind that then prevailed had effectually prevented
our hearing one another. These miners, our friend
informed us, were bound for the "Riviere aux
Liards," where they expected to find gold in great
and paying quantities. "Who are ye?" inquired
our miner, "and where are ye goin' ?"    We replied* "60
Canada on the Pacific.
| We are tourists, on our way to McLeod's Lake."
" Well!" he answered, " ye'll have to hurry up; it's
one hundred and sixty miles from here. Have you
plenty grub ?" We assured him on that score, and
his answering yell was to the effect that we would
likely get through all right, but it would be " touch
and go " to take the boat so far at this late season.
Our dinner being despatched, we yelled a | goodbye " to our unapproachable informant, and faced
the steep ascent up which the Portage trail led us.
While ascending, we got an excellent view of the
country south of Hudson's Hope. A level plateau
immediately in rear of the Post was covered with a
thick growth of poplars; but beyond, the rising
ground was hidden by a dense spruce forest, in the
midst of which nestled an outpost of the Company,
situated on White Fish Lake, and which enjoys the
unenviable notoriety of being greatly frequented by
-"grizzlies." The ferocious brutes are, doubtless,
attracted thither by the fish, which they are adepts
at catching whenever the shoaliness of the water
admits, and they have on several occasions devoured
-some of the Company's horses.
Before leaving our dining camp, I was particularly
careful to mark the indications of the aneroids, as
upon the careful measurement of the difference in
level between the head and foot of the Portage de-
pended the  correct estimate of the height of the
river during its passage through the mountains, a Glimpse of Rocky Mountains. 61?
problem I was very desirous to solve. On reaching
the first high level, I found we were at an elevation
of eight hundred feet above Hudson's Hope; but we
continued to ascend, though very gradually, until
abreast of the Portage Hill, when the highest part
of the trail was reached. It was then half-past two
o'clock, and our elevation was about eleven hundred
feet above the water level at the lower end. The
Portage road was passably fair, but the soil was
sandy, supporting a growth of spruce trees and
cypress. From this point our progress was downward, and we reached the level terraces, at the-
upper end, at half-past three in the afternoon, having been three hours and a-half in crossing.    The
o o
road must be twelve or fourteen miles in length, as
O *
we lost no time, and trotted our horses occasionally.
We were now fairly within the first range of the
Rocky Mountains, which here are not to be compared, in point of elevation, with the mountains-
composing the same range at Jasper House. Several
high and snow-clad peaks were, however, visible in
the north-west.
About a mile below our camp, which we pitched
close to a ruinous old log shanty, owned (as a ticket-
nailed to the door intimated) by "Bill Crust," a
gentleman who combined the business of fur-trading
with the occupation of a miner, the Peace River
made the first step in the rapid succession of leaps-
which it takes during its course of twenty-five miles- 62
Canada on the Pacific.
through the last barrier which the Rocky Mountains
interpose between it and the Arctic Ocean. It here
narrows to about one hundred and twenty yards,
and, dashing impetuously between two not very
high sandstone cliffs, disappears in the gloomy depths
of the Canon.
Our first impulse, on arriving, was to look for the
boat which belonged to the mining party; and, after
a satisfactory examination, we proceeded to make
preparations for the night; Mr. Kennedy proposing
to return to the other end early the following morning, in order to meet Mr. Macoun and the rest of the
baggage. At eight o'clock, Kennedy and I, having
turned in, were about composing ourselves to sleep,
when the wind, which had latterly been unsteady,
veered to the south, and blew with such terrific
violence that we were obliged to turn out and fell
several large pines which stood in the vicinity, and
threatened us with destruction. The cracking of
falling trees was heard all night, and effectually
banished sleep. The following evening, Mr. Macoun,
Armstrong and the Indians, with the loaded horses,
arrived. Charlette, the man in charge of Hudson's
Hope, also made his appearance; and having now
overhauled the boat, we determined to start the
following forenoon., Having some doubts as to the
capabilities of my Indian crew, I told Armstrong he
might take passage with us; but he had elected to
**paddle his own canoe;" so, giving him provisions Distant View of Main Range. 63
for fifteen days, we left him to his own devices, and
pushed off at one, p.m., on the 24th October. The
boat being heavy, and the Indians perfectly unused
to pulling an oar, we started with three men on the
line, while William steered the unwieldy craft by
the aid of a long sweep, and I took up a station in
the bow with a pole. In this manner we made
about six miles up stream, and camped upon the
left bank. During the two following days we
ascended the stream for a distance of thirty-six
miles. The river was rather tortuous, and varied
from a hundred and fifty to three hundred yards in
width, and was sometimes split up into several
channels, through which the current ran, with great
velocity, over beds of gravel and boulders of hmestone.
The mountains, during the first day's ascent,
hardly deserved the name, for their elevation was
not great; and on the left bank they were generally
bare of timber, but covered with grass, through
which numerous old buffalo and moose trails could
be traced for miles. On the second day they
increased in altitude; and on turning a bend in the
river, we had a distant view of the high and snowy
peaks of the main range, which now and again were
obscured by heavy masses of snow clouds. A severe
storm was evidently going on in those high and distant regions, and the ever-changing and fantastic
•shapes assumed by the storm-clouds were wonderful Canada on the Pacific.
to behold, as they whirled around, and chased one
another with marvellous rapidity. At one moment
an immense and black mass of vapour would cover
some towering peak, hiding it entirely from our
sight, and the next instant would reveal the same
mountain summit, in bold and glittering relief, bared
to its very flanks, as if bidding defiance to the biting
boreal blast.
Frequently long stretches of level terraces, the silt
of bygone ages, occurred; but they generally ended
abruptly at the base of some rocky and precipitous
mountain flank, and sometimes shifted their position
to the other side of the valley, where they met with
similar obstructions.
On the morning of the 27th, having made about
o * o
forty-two miles from "Bill Crust's" house at the
head of the Portage, we reached a short rapid, called
by the Hudson's Bay voyageurs, " Le rapide qui ne
parle pas," owing to the fact of its being, in a high
state of the water, almost smooth. Its fall could
not have exceeded four feet; and though the cur-
•* o
rent was very strong, we tracked up it in twenty-
minutes. CHAPTER VI.
Past the Rocky Mountains—The Parsnip—Hardihood of Indian
Voyageurs—A Mining Pioneer—Lake McLeod—First Winter
Camp—Sagacious Dogs—Route of the Canada Pacific Railroad
—Lake Stewart—Salmon—Fort St. James—Hudson Bay Company and North-West Discontent.
{T had snowed during the previous night, and
r, the round boulders being covered and slip pery
rendered tracking very laborious. We were now
entering the highest range: but owing to the snow
storms, which were holding a revel high up in the
mountains, we lost the view of the gorgeous scenery
which extended far above us. Now and again, only,
did we catch a glimpse of some rugged peak towering four or five thousand feet above the eye. We
camped about fourteen miles above the rapid; the
current was strong all day, but the bed of the river
was smooth, and had little fall. At five, p.m., on the
28th, we had cleared the Rocky Mountains, after
passing some of the grandest and wildest scenery
imaginable. During our passage through the highest
E 66
Canada on the Pacific.
part of the range, the occurrence of level terraces
was not so frequent as farther east, and in many
places the steep and rocky mountain flanks abutted
upon the water. Yet, with the advantages of an
easily navigable river, the construction of a road
through this valley would not be impossible, and
at some future time may become an accomplished
After passing Bernard's River, a little stream
which empties its crystal waters into the Peace,
just west of the highest range, we tracked on, having the advantage of a more uniform beach, and
O O '
camped three miles above it, on the right bank.
About five inches of snow covered the ground, and
the underbush was loaded down with it, thus rendering camping very uncomfortable. The timber
was very large in the vicinity of this camp, and had
been so all through the heaviest part of the Rocky
Mountain Valley. The next morning the botanist
and I started on foot along the snow-covered beach
for some distance; and after two hours' tracking we
reached the foot of the | Finlay Rapids," which we
surmounted by putting all hands, with the exception
of the bowman and steersman, on the line. A projecting reef and a steep wall of rock occasioned some
trouble, by causing William to keep the boat out to
the extreme length of the hne; and as those on
shore were obliged to clamber over the rocky prominence, considerable risk was run.   Having gained Past the Rocky Mountains.
"the upper end, without any accident to the boat, we
tracked and poled up past the large island which
divides the river immediately above the rapids.
There was here a decided change in the colour of
the water, that of the Parsnip, or south branch of
the Peace River, being quite clear. After getting
fairly into the south branch, we put ashore for dinner, which we prepared on rocks, exhibiting talc,
slate and iron pyrites. No mountains were visible,
•excepting to north. Where we dined the banks
were low, and covered with a thick growth of spruce,
poplar and birch. The Parsnip was here a hundred
yards wide, and the current very moderate in this
short reach; but round the next bend we could see
streaks of- foam, an indication of swift water higher
up. After dinner we tracked for five miles, when
we camped among enormous poplars, four or five feet
in diameter.
We had now really passed through the Rocky
Mountains, in a large and unwieldy boat, manned
by Indians, who had never handled an oar in their
lives before. During our passage through this pass
we had encountered only one slight rapid, the fall of
which could not have exceeded five feet. With this
trifling exception, the whole river, during the seventy
miles which take it from the western side to the
•eastern wall of the range, falls very gradually, and
the mean descent does not, I am sure, amount to
twenty-four inches per mile of its course.   The ele- 68
Canada on the Pacific.
vation of the Peace River being assumed to be fifteen
hundred and ten feet at the head of the Portage,
and sixteen hundred and fifty feet at the Finlay
branch, the mean of those two elevations—fifteen
hundred and eighty feet—may be taken as that of
the Pass. It is needless to inform the reader that
those elevations were not the results solely of barometric readings; but repeated observations of that
instrument, combined with the inferential evidence-
derived from their relation to other known heights,,
confirm me in the belief that, at any rate, I am not
far wrong.
Our ascent of the Parsnip continued for the next-
four days, during which time we had a decided preponderance of bad weather. The beaches were
rarely free from snow, and ice could always be seen
in spots shaded from the sun. We found the course
of this stream extremely tortuous and rapid, while
its bed was almost invariably of gravel—in many
places, where we had occasion to cross and re-cross,,
being distinctly visible from one side to the other. Our
progress was slow and laborious. Our four Indians,,
though dreadfully awkward in the use of the pole
and oar, were quite indifferent to the ice-cold water,,
in which they often waded for hours Up to their
waists. William, the half-breed, though an active-
and powerful young fellow, could not equal them in
that respect; and the nonchalance with which they
took the water, while hauling on the line, excited Jottings from Diary.
his wonder and admiration, and, I may say, his
jealousy also, for a half-breed hates to be outdone in
matters which require those qualities so essential to
a good Nor'-West traveller, viz., endurance of cold
and hunger, and untiring strength.
I shall now content myself with giving an occasional extract from the diary of the voyage, and then
take the reader to McLeod's Lake, which we reached
on the 5th November.
" October 30th. — Under way at seven, a.m.
Banks low; gravel bottom; poplars very large on
banks; current two and a-half miles per hour; ice
along the margin; cloudy; rising barometer. At
dinner place, river one hundred and twenty yards
wide. Water clear as crystal; very rough country
on left hand; mountains well back from river.
" October 31st.—Under way at seven. Snow
ceased; atmosphere cloudy. Plenty of beaver and
otter along this river; their tracks very distinct and
well beaten. Put ashore at half-past ten, a.m., to
warm ourselves; boat coated with ice, and leaking
badly. Gloomy weather; low banks all day, and
have been so almost since we entered the Parsnip.
Rocky Mountains range visible now and again on
our left. At three, p.m., while tracking up a strong
-current, William, the steersman, was knocked overboard by the sweep, and nearly perished. Put ashore
immediately, to build fire and camp."
Such were some of our daily jottings—laconic, 70
Canada on the Pacific
but suggestive of the situation. The thermometer
during all this time ranged from 30 deg. to 33 deg.,
and we were thankful it was no colder. The scenery
all along, the Parsnip was extremely monotonous,
and by the time we reached McLeod's River we
were heartily sick of it. Twelve miles before arriving there, and on the 3rd November, while poling
up along the banks, we were surprised to see a
regularly organized white man's dwelling, and on
hailing it, out stalked a solitary miner, Pete Toy by
name, who shook hands very heartily with us all,
and expressed no little astonishment at seeing us.
Our first question was, " Whereabouts are we ?"
I Well," said he, " you are now about fourteen miles
from the little river, and twenty-eight from the Fort,
which you ought to reach to-morrow night." Pete
was alone, but had a mate some six miles higher up.
They were both engaged in trapping, and expected
to make a good haul of beaver, marten and mink.
They had abandoned their mining operations, which
they could not follow up during the winter season,
and intended trading with the few scattered Indians
who usually frequented McLeod's Fort.
Pete was a fine specimen of the mining pioneer,
tough as hickory, and clad in blue shirt, with his
unmentionables tucked into his boots. His shanty
was a pattern of neatness. This very intelligent
man found perfect contentment in his lonely cabin,,
around which were hung the spoils of the chase, in A Mining Pioneer. 71
the shape of beaver and marten skins, the latter
much larger than those found east of the Rocky
Mountains, and a huge skin which only the day
before had roamed the trackless wild on the back of
a grizzly. Mr. Toy gave us some delicious fresh
bread, made from British Columbia flour." We, in
return, presented him with a chunk of pemmican,
manufactured at Fort St. John, of which we had an
ample supply.
Declining his offer to make use of his cabin for
the night, we pushed on, and camped a mile above,
Pete promising to join us next day, as he, too,
wished to go to the Fort. " Gentlemen," said Pete,
as we were shoving off, " you may consider yourselves very lucky to have got through as well as you
did; but I see you are prepared for the worst," pointing to the snow-shoes and other paraphernalia requisite for winter travelling, with which we had taken
the precaution to furnish ourselves. "And mark
my words," added he, " before three days, this 'ere
river will be running ice; but you are all right now."
The following evening we reached the little McLeod
o o
River, and were soon joined by Pete and Bill
Southcombe, who overtook us in their " dug-out"
of poplar.
We had now done with the Parsnip, and had
navigated it for a distance of seventy-five miles. Its
fall I estimate at eighteen inches per mile, and the
construction of a road along its banks could be easily 72
Canada on the Pacific.
accomplished. But it is a very crooked stream, and
the densely-wooded wilderness through which it
flows is, owing to its rigorous climate, ill adapted for
On the morning of the 5th we left our camp, and
poled up the little river for seven miles, when we
reached a lake, across which we pulled, and entered
another small and shallow river, where we were
obliged to abandon our boat, and transfer our baggage to a canoe, arriving at the outlet of McLeod's
Lake at four, p.m., when we soon made ourselves at
home in the Company's house. The next morning,
with the assistance of Mr. Sinclair, the Company's
agent, I paid off my four Beaver Indians, who had,
indeed, behaved.very well; and after settling up
with William, another most excellent fellow, I started
them all down to the boat, which they were to take
back to the Rocky Mountain Portage. This they
were unable to accomplish, being met by ice when
half-way back; and I was told afterwards by Captain Butler, author of The Great Lone Land, that
the poor fellows had to " foot it" for the rest of the
distance, following the margin of the river, and
having a wretched time of it as far as the Portage,
which they reached in a very emaciated state.
Messrs. Toy and Southcombe, after finishing their
business, also took their departure; and the botanist
and myself were left alone with Sinclair, who, with
his Indian wife, were the sole residents of the place. Lake McLeod. 73
It was a matter of much regret to me to find that
there were no Indians about, as I had fully made
up my mind to make a flying trip to the Summit
Lake I have already alluded to, as being the source
of one of the branches of the Pine River, as well as
of another stream flowing down the western slopes
of the Rocky Mountains to the south branch of the
Peace; but having no guide, and the season being
too late for an open trip, and too early for a winter
one, I was reluctantly obliged to abandon the idea.
On the night of the 6th, McLeod's Lake was partially frozen, and winter came on in right good
earnest, there being already five or six inches of
snow on the ground, although not sufficient to make
snow-shoeing agreeable. After waiting several days
in the expectation of meeting some Indians, I finally
determined to start for Stewart's Lake (eighty-one
miles distant), and, arranging with Sinclair to
.accompany us, we began to make the preparations
necessary for the trip.
At seven, a.m., on the 9th, the thermometer marked
9 degrees ; but the morning was beautifully clear,
and at ten o'clock we turned our backs on Fort
McLeod. Sinclair had provided a light sled, upon
which our blankets and provisions were packed,
and after harnessing four dogs to this vehicle, we
set out on foot. Crossing the Long Lake River, we
ascended a steep hill, and travelled steadily until
-three, p.m., when the roughness of the trail, and Canada on the Pacific.
insufficient depth of snow, caused us to abandon the
sled, and camp. The weather had now become very
cold, the mercury standing at zero after sundown.
This night we made our first winter camp of the
Having chosen a convenient spot, with plenty of
green spruce and a sufficient quantity of dry wood
at hand, one of us cleared away the snow, while
another cut spruce branches, and the third chopped
dry wood in lengths of eight or ten feet. Spreading
the spruce on the ground to a depth of six inches or
so, we arranged the wood in front, and soon had a
roaring fire, by which we boiled water for tea, and
were presently in the enjoyment of a good supper
of pemmican, bread, and scalding hot bohea. After
supper, we all devoted a half-hour to getting an
extra supply of wood, which was piled up close at
hand, to replenish the fire; and, spreading our blankets, we laid down with our feet to the blaze, and
were soon snoring, with faces upturned to the clear
and glittering sky. In a winter encampment, a
covering is rarely if ever used, although sometimes
a piece of thin sheeting cotton is spread behind, to
break the force of the wind.
The following morning, at six o'clock, the mercury
stood at ten degrees below zero, and the air was
sufficiently keen to render the heat emitted by about
a cord of blazing logs perfectly enjoyable. While
breakfast was being prepared by one of us, the Sagacious Dogs. ■ To
others gathered and packed our traps in bundles,
adapted to the carrying capabilities of each individual. Neither were our canine friends forgotten,
for Sinclair prepared four diminutive loads of about
fifteen or twenty pounds each, with which we loaded
each dog, which followed in our tracks with the:
gravity and decorum due to the occasion. It was
amusing to watch the sagacious brutes when, by
any chance, one or other of us lagged behind, as we
sometimes did. One and all would then step aside,
and courteously give the precedence, in order to,
benefit by the better beaten track. Sometimes one,
more lazy than the rest, would calmly sit down and
refuse to move, unmindful of the most seductive
whistling and other blandishments; then a series of
pantomimic gestures, accompanied by " bad" French,,
generally produced the desired effect.
The trail from McLeod's Lake to Long Lake, a
distance of twenty miles, was very rough, owing to-
the windfalls and uneven nature of the ground..
From that point to the Muskeg River, a stream
flowing into the Fraser, the walking improved, but
the soil throughout was useless. All this country
is much cut up by lakes of great beauty, the waters
of which abound in trout, and fish of various kinds..
Furred animals are very numerous, especially martens ; while deer, wolverine and bears are not by
any means wanting.
Some seven or eight miles to the south-west of 76
Canada on the Pacific.
McLeod's Lake, we passed over the highest point of.
land which is encountered between Lesser Slave
Lake and Lake Stewart, a ridge lying between
McLeod and Long Lake, the elevation of which was
two thousand six hundred and sixty-five feet above
the sea level. This was perfectly distinct from the
true watershed separating the affluents of the Peace
from those of the Fraser River, and which we crossed
further on at the Muskeg River, elevated two thou-
sand two hundred feet above the sea. The country
immediately south-west of McLeod's Lake is very
broken and billy; but I believe that, should circumstances require the Canada Pacific Road to pass the
Rocky Mountains, either by the Pine River Summit
Lake Pass, or the Peace River Valley, the country
between the Parsnip and Quesnel may be crossed,
perhaps, under two thousand two hundred feet above
the sea.
From the height of land we had a very fine view
ofthe country away to the south-west; and Sinclair
pointed out the position of Fort St James, which
bore north 125 degrees west, and was, probably, as
the crow flies, forty miles distant. The general
appearance ofthe landscape was tame, and the ground,
cut up now and again by gullies, sloped gently
towards Lake Stewart. The whole country was
wooded, and the cypress, always indicative of
wretched soil, predominated. Large burned tracts
Telieved the sameness of the aspect, and were easily Fort St. James. 77
recognized in the distance as white patches, where
the snow had fallen, and now lay to a greater depth
than in the green woods. A noticeable difference in
the depth of the snow was observed as we crossed
the watershed. North of it, its depth had been from
six to eight inches, and had caused us much difficulty in walking; but now we had almost bare-
ground, which enabled us to push ahead with redoubled ease and speed.
At the Muskeg River we had engaged the ser-
o o   o
vices of a very intelligent Indian, to relieve us of a-
portion of our packs; so that now, with this additional help, and the better walking, our progress
was much accelerated. Passing the upper part of
the Salmon River, Dead Man's and Round Lake, we
reached the edge of Carrier Lake, where we camped
on the night of the 13th.    The next morning we
o o
crossed Carrier Lake on the ice, which was perfectly
glare, and fully nine inches thick; and making ten-
miles, we halted at Troisi&me Lac, where we prepared our dinner of partridges, shot that forenoon,
fortunately for us, as our flour and pemmican were
done. This, however, did not trouble us, being now
within two and a-half hours of Stewart's Lake.
The soil began to improve a Httle during the
course of this afternoon's walk, which took us occasionally through open pieces of level prairie. At
four, p.m., we came in sight of the lake and Fort
St. James, lying about three hundred feet below us.. 78
Canada on the Pacific.
Following the trail for a mile further, we reached
the Hudson's Bay Company's establishment, where
we were kindly welcomed by Mr. Gavin Hamilton,
the agent.   Here Mr. Macoun, my fellow-traveller,
immediately prepared to leave for Victoria, and having procured for him a couple of Indian guides, to
carry his  bedding and provisions, we said   good
bye, and he took his departure for Quesnel on the
17th, reaching Victoria sometime in December, in
perfect health, and the best of spirits, as I was afterwards glad to learn.   My journey was, however,
only half over, as I had instructions to proceed to
Port Essington, on the Skeena.    By Mr. Hamilton's
advice I resolved to wait here until the ice on the
lake was firmly set, and the   season sufficiently
advanced to admit of good snow-shoeing.   I accord-
O ©
ingly took up my quarters with Mr. Hamilton, who
was extremely kind, and promised to procure the
men I required to take with me to the Babine Post,
which I intended to visit on my way to the Skeena.
At this time, that portion only of Lake Stewart in
the immediate neighbourhood of the Fort was frozen
over, while the central and more northern parts
were still open. This circumstance caused the postponement of my departure until the 2nd December,
and afforded ample time for rest, together with the
opportunity of carrying on meteorological observations, by which to obtain some clue to the actual
•elevation of this interesting locality above the sea. Lake Stewart. 79
Lake Stewart is a very beautiful sheet of water,
about thirty-five miles in length, with an average
width of five miles, and is, I should think, about
eighteen hundred feet above sea-level.    Its waters,
together with those of Lakes Trembleur and Tacla,
both very large lakes, find their way, by the Nakosla
or Stewart's River, to the Fraser, which they join
at Fort George.    To the north and west the lake is
flanked by high hills, and along some portions of
the northern side precipitous rocks rear themselves
high up from the very water's edge; but the southern
extremity is bordered by very low and level land,
which continues, I am told, to the Quesnel.    The
depth of this lake is generally very great, and salmon
annually seek its waters, in which great quantities
are caught by the Indians.   This fish, in the dried
state, forms the staple food of the natives, and is not
only wholesome and palatable, but extremely nourishing, and is not looked upon with disdain by
even the fastidious whites.
Fort St. James, the principal station of the Hudson Bay Company in the northern part of British
Columbia, is nicely situated at the southern extremity of the lake, and commands a very fine view to
the westward. Like all the interior posts of the
Hudson Bay Company, it is composed of a few
rough log houses, with a small potato patch and
vegetable garden. The store or trading shop is
usually supplied with excellent articles of clothing, 80
Canada on the Pacific.
blankets, cottons, and, in fact, all the stoek necessary for the prosecution of the Indian trade, which
is here, as at every other establishment of the Company, rapidly decreasing.
During the last fifteen years, this once powerful
and deservedly successful institution has been on
the decline; and dating from the death of its late
energetic and far-seeing Governor, Sir George Simpson, the monopoly it was said to possess, and the
influence attributed to its officers, existed only in
the brains of its short-sighted and jealous opponents,
who falsely gave it credit for a power and prestige
utterly incompatible with recent events. We have-
only to look back upon the doings of Louis Riel, and
the base ingrates who supported him in his nefarious
acts, who forcibly, and under a false though specious
pretext, wrested Fort Garry from the hands of those
who had fed and clothed them for years—who
turned, and, viper-like, stung the very bosoms from
.which they had drawn life and nourishment,—we
have, I say, only to do this, and peer a little below
the surface, to see how utterly unreasonable and
groundless were the conclusions arrived at by those
who, without a moment's consideration, pronounced
a hasty and most partial verdict In fact, for several
years the Hudson's Bay Company, at Red River
and on the Saskatchewan, has been the mere plaything of the half-breeds, who quickly took advantage of the false position in which the Company The Hudson Bay Company. 81
found itself soon after the withdrawal of the regular
troops from Red River. In vain did the late
Governor McTavish sue to the gentlemen living at
their ease in London for help—in vain did he draw
for them a true picture of the real state of affairs.
They treated his suggestions with unmerited contempt, and pooh-poohed what they seemed to consider the fevered ravings of an over-worked brain.
But William McTavish saw what others did not or
would not see ; and the parsimonious policy of a
few who would not even hear of a paltry company
of fifty regulars, for the protection of life and property at Fort Garry, aided, no doubt, by the premature and uncalled-for interference of some Canadians,
who thought they knew better than anybody else,
precipitated the crisis which resulted in the lamentable events of 1869. No allusion is here meant to
the one or two Canadian gentlemen then at Fort
Garry on official business.
Other causes might be cited for the gradual decay
of this yet great trading Company; but this digression is foreign to the subject. It will, therefore, suffice to say that the introduction of liquors by petty
traders, the infusion of new blood, which demands
better wages and better food, and which has more
extravagant notions than the simple yet hardy
agents of the old school, who looked upon a chief
factor much as a Persian water-seller regards the
Shah, also the apathy with which some of the best 82
Canada on the Pacific.
officers in the service now regard the futile attempts
to reorganize and ameliorate the present condition of
affairs, are aids to the gnawing effects of the canker-
worm, which is slowly but surely eating away the
very vitals of this long established Company. But
when this great corporation shall have wasted
away, and when nothing but the mere fossil remains ;
when the " gem of the North West," the beautiful
country ofthe Peace River, teems with a happy and
thriving population, rich in the possession of countless flocks ; when the Peace River coal and other
products find a market in the east, and the Canada
Pacific Railway shall issue excursion tickets to the
Peace River Valley at ridiculously low prices, then
Canada may remember that the long dead company
was the pioneer of the North West, and chiefly
instrumental in the bloodless conquest of British
American Indians, to whose good-will and confidence
the Company's honest policy has paved the way. CHAPTEE VII.
'Comfortless Encampment—Trout Fishing Extraordinary—The
City of Hog'em—Frying Pan Pass—Lake Babine—Paddling
for Life—Little Babine and S usqua—Invited to Christmas.
UT revenons d nos moutons, and I have here
||lp to crave the indulgence of the generous reader,
who has borne me company so long, and who, perhaps,
may have the curiosity to know how I fared on
my solitary trip through the trackless wastes of
Northern British Columbia. Well, after seeing the
"lions" of Fort St. James, and enjoying the hospitality
of Mr. Gayin Hamilton; after dining in great comfort with poor Judge Fitzgerald (since gone to his
-account), and his deputy, Captain Fitzstubbs, a fine,
handsome, jovial fellow, in whose company—must I
confess it ?—some of the saloon keeper's brandy (for
■Stewart's Lake had reached that pitch of civilization,
and actually could boast of a regularly organized
whisky shop, where brandy-smashes, cocktails, and 84
Canada on the Pacific.
three card " monte " helped to ease the reckless;
miner of his hard-earned gains), found its way, in a
temperate kind of style, down our throats, I very
reluctantly resumed my weary tramp, which- was to-
cease at whatever point on the coast I might be
lucky enough to find the Hudson Bay Company's
steamer, the Otter. Having secured the services of
a Red River half-breed named Damare, and three
others, all Indians, or " fractional parts " of that
persuasion; having put up a good supply of bacon,
beans, flour, tea and sugar, and being each provided
with snow-shoes, mocassins, and plenty of blankets, I
said farewell to Fort St. James, and took my departure for Fort Babine on foot. It was noon when we
left: the ice being quite glare, and the men willing,
we made ten miles in about a couple of hours, and
camped on the west side of the lake. On reaching
that shore we found, to our annoyance, that the ice
was extremely thin, and, a little further on, there
was open water. Our camp was made on a sloping-
rock within half-a-dozen feet of the water edge, for
we could find no better ground. Dry wood was-
scarce, and after a fire was lighted we were nearly
smoked to death, the wind having risen, causing us
great inconvenience and discomfort. We were now
without a tent, but carried with us a piece of factory
cotton, which we stuck up behind us on poles, but
speedily hauled down again, finding it do more
harm than good.    During the night snow began tc* ■^
Comfortless Encampment. 85
fall, and this melting on our blankets from the heat
of the fire, rendered matters more uncomfortable
still. This was truly a most wretched encampment,
and was only the beginning of a series. While reclining on our angular bed, we could still see the distant
lights ofthe fort, and I most heartily wished myself
back again in its snug quarters. The night was
moderately warm, and we woke up next morning glad
to relieve our aching bones, and anxious to get rid of
our stiffness by good exercise, of which we soon got
plenty, as we had no longer any ice to walk on, and
were obliged to follow the rugged beach, sometimes
o oo •*
oomingto a projecting rocky point, the steep sides of
which we had to clamber. Sometimes, indeed, we
had to take to the woods for short distances, and altogether we had a rough time of it.
The lake was now entirely open, and by 4, p.m.,
we had only reached a point opposite the Indian
village of Pinche. We camped here, and, wearied
Xiy the exertions of the day, soon fell asleep.
Dec. 4th.—Tried the ice again this morning, but
found it very weak ; progress slow, being obliged to
proceed cautiously, sounding the ice with poles as
we went along. No getting to the Portage this day.
N.W. and S.E. is the general direction of the lake.
During the afternoon had good and sound ice for the
rest of the day, and camped opposite Tache Village.
Ice nine inches thick, but an Indian from the village
tells us that a few miles above the lake is open to 86
Canada on the Pacific.
the very end, so more trouble looms up for to-morrow.
December 5th.—Travelled eight miles on the ice>
and were again met by open water; halted for
dinner, and sent on two of the young lads to the
Portage for a canoe.
We left the baggage here, and the rest of us proceeded along the margin when practicable. After
two hours of execrable walking, during which slips
and falls were the rule, and upright walking was the
exception, we reached the solid ice at the upper end;
a short walk took us to the Httle river, on the banks
of which we camped.
I now determined to send on two men to the Babine Lake, seven or eight miles distant, with the
heaviest of my baggage. They were then to start
for Fort Babine by canoe, this lake usually remaining open till the end of January, while Damare, another man, and myself, were to branch off to the
right, towards Lac Trembleur, whence I intended to
strike north towards Lake Tacla, and then make for
Fort Babine by | Leon's trail."
Having reached the first little lake in the middle
of the portage, our party split up, two men proceeding to the Babine end of the portage, myself and two
others following up this little lake for three or four
miles, when we left it and immediately took the ice
on another. Following this one for a mile or two, we
came upona large camp of Indians who were catching Trout Fishing Extraordinary.
the finest trout and white fish I ever saw. They
had thousands of them hung up on poles to dry.
Their encampment was a perfect picture, what with
the primitive and open lodges, the long rows of fish
in the successive stages of desiccation, the half naked
children sprawling about in the snow, the dogs too
fat and lazy to move, and the numerous dug-outs or
canoes hauled up on the beach. This lake was encircled by high hills, and the portion of it which we
had come over, was hard and fast for the winter ;
while just here it was perfectly open and free from ice.
We camped here for the purpose of getting one of
those Indians to guide us to | Gus Wright's trail,"
which I was desirous of reaching by a short-cut over
the mountains.
The next morning we started in a canoe for the
upper end of the lake, and resuming our snow-shoes,
ascended the steep and rugged hills lying south-west
of Lake Trembleur, keeping due north all the while.
This was a very rough and disagreeable piece of
road, and we were not sorry to get on to the so-called
steamboat trail. It must be remarked here that a
stern-wheel steamer was laid up for the winter in
Lake Trembleur. This vessel, which I did not see,
had been brought up the Fraser, the Nakosla River,
through Stewart's Lake, and by the connecting
stream, to its present winter quarters. It was owned,
I believe, by one Gus Wright, who purposed to start
a freight business between Lake Trembleur and the 88
Canada on the Pacific.
Tacla Landing, whence it is only a matter of about
fifty miles to the " City of Hog'em," the capital, if I
may apply such a term, of the Peace River gold
mining regions. There are several ways by which
these as yet embryo diggings may be reached from
Victoria. The intending miner may, if he chooses,
take steamer to Port Essington, six hundred miles
up the coast, and thence ascend the Skeena to the
infant town of Hazelton, otherwise more generally
known as " The Forks." This implies the ascent
(and a very difficult one it is) of this rapid, and, as
it has proved to not a few unfortunates, fatal stream,
for a distance of about one hundred and fifty miles.
Leaving the treacherous waters of the Skeena, he
may then proceed either on foot or on horseback to
the Babine Lake, some fifty or sixty miles distant,
crossing the lower extremity of which he keeps on
by the same means to Tacla Landing, thirty or forty
miles further, during which time he must cross a
high mountain range by a pass known as that of the
"Frying Pan." From the landing the mines are
easily reached by a pretty fair trail.
The Fraser River presents another route. One
may take stage to Quesnel, thence proceed on foot or
on horseback across a partly level country to Fort
St. James, whence a passable trail takes one to the
Nation River ferry, from which there is a trail to
Germansen Creek, and the Omenica; or instead of
leaving the Fraser at Quesnel, the tourist may still "Kl
The City of Hog'em. 89
follow that river until he reaches the Giscombe Portage. This must then be crossed, and launching his
canoe in the waters of Summit Lake, the traveller
may descend, aided by a very gentle current, the
waters flowing into McLeod, whence eighty-nine
miles of good and rapid navigation will take him to
the Finlay branch. Here he must ascend the rapid
current ofthe Omenica, for seventy-five miles, when
Germansen Creek will be reached, and if he chooses
to visit the capital, fifty miles more of the same tortuous stream will bring him within sight  of the
spires (?) of " Hog'em." But all these routes are difficult, involving long and fatiguing journeys on foot,
and navigation of a dangerous nature, which the
miner is too often ready to try in craft ill-suited to
the occasion. Hence the numerous and painful accidents which, like those of the fall of 1871, shock the
less adventurous residents of Victoria. But I am
again digressing.
o o o
We reached the steamboat trail which there skirted
the shores of a rather large and beautiful lake, on the
other side of which a high and conspicuous snow
oapped mountain, very clearly visible from Fort St.
James, reared its glittering white summit high in
the cold morning air. Our course was now about
west, and Gus Wright had certainly picked out a
very fair road, the country through which it lay
being passably level; but the walking was heavy, as
there was too little snow for snow-shoeing, and deep 90 Canada on the Pacific.
drifts which we occasionally came across rendered it
heavy work.
We reached Lake Babine after having followed
Gus Wright's trail for a distance of twenty miles,
and found the bay upon which we debouched hard
and fast: open water, hewever, lay about a mile out.
While crossing on the ice to the open, we scanned
the shore anxiously for a canoe, and after a long
search discovered a leaky and worn out " dug-out,"
hauled up on a rocky point. On reaching it, we
found that it was very badly injured, so set to work
repairing it, and making paddles, of which there were
none to be seen. Four of those indispensible adjuncts were roughly and rapidly hewn out of a spruce
tree, and transferring our baggage and provisions to
this wretched apology for a canoe, we embarked, but
found the craft so unsteady, that great care was
necessary to prevent our upsetting.
To make matters worse, the canoe leaked hke a
basket, and we were obliged to put ashore upon an
island to patch her up in the best way we could.
After some delay, we started again, intending to paddle all night in order to reach Fort Babine without
camping; but we were destined to have a taste of
what this immense and deep body of water could do>
when roused to anger by a stiff Sou' Wester. The
afternoon had been unusually dark and gloomy, and
as the short day drew to a close, the deep waters of
the lake assumed a sombre tint, which, deepened by Paddling for Life. 91
the dark and angry-looking sky, was excessively
depressing to the spirits.    As daylight disappeared,
the wind, which until now had been very light, began
to rise in sudden gusts, causing a long and heavy
swell, which now and again, as if indignant at our
audacity, struck our frail craft, and drenched us to
the skin with its cold spray.    The now rapidly increasing gale was happily in our favour, and giving
up all hope of going on that night, we determined
to beach our canoe at the very first opportunity. We
accordingly steered for a deep sandy bay which lay a
full mile to leeward.    But in order to reach it, we had
to weather a rocky point, which projected far into the
seething lake, and upon which, if we had failed to-
clear it, our miserable craft would have inevitably
been dashed into pieces. The chattering tongues of my
Indian crew were now stilled, and the paddles struck
the water with redoubled force, for we all felt that
the safety of our property, nay our very fives, perhaps, depended upon getting past the rocky shore,
which loomed up on our right, cold, dark, and the
very picture of desolation.    Beyond the reach of the-
waves and spray, snow to the depth of nearly a foot
covered  the   surface, and helped to Hght up the
gloomy picture.   A few strokes of the paddle, and
we had cleared the danger, and now headed for the
low shingly beach, where we ran the canoe high up in
the snow and immediately emptying her of the contents, turned her up beyond the reach of the waves. 92
Canada on the Pacific.
The night was now far advanced, and as we could
not pace the beach until day Hght, we with great
reluctance set about camping, an operation which, in
the darkness, proved not only tedious but difficult.
The men were wearied, too, and hungry, and for the
first time lost their equanimity of temper. The
work, in consequence, proceeded slowly, and in sullen
silence. To add to our difficulties, dry wood and
brush to He or sit on were very scarce, and another
day had begun ere a passable fire and some hot tea
had restored us aU to our usual frame of mind. We
then composed ourselves to sleep, and woke as the
first grey streaks of dawn appeared on the morning
•ofthe 11th.
My first care on awaking was to strike a match
under the blankets, and steal a glance at my watch and
barometer. The first indicated the hour of six, and
the second 27'19 inches—a rather low reading. On
sitting up and looking around, the prospect was anything but cheering ; during our sleep five inches of
snow had faUen, our fire was completely out, and the
forms of my three men, curled up under their blankets, were just visible as they lay buried beneath a
warm covering of snow. The wind stiU kept up,
while the yet angry waves beat upon the beach with
.a mournful cadence, which seemed to exert a somnolent influence upon, the quiet forms beside me. A
" hallo !" repeated many times, at last induced them
.to rise from their slumber, and, one by one, after Lake Babine. 93
lazily shaking off the snow, they proceeded to start
a fire. Under its influence, and fortified by a breakfast of smoking hot tea, flanked by a frying pan piled
up with a pyramid of baked beans, from which
peeped sundry luscious pieces of Oregon bacon, our
energies returned, and we hastily launched and
loaded our canoe, and pushed off for Fort Babine,
yet distant about fifteen miles. Lake Babine is-
an immense body of water, probably eighty or ninety
miles long, with a breadth varving from four to ten
miles. It is extremely deep, has numerous islands,
and is bounded, on nearly every hand, by high, rocky
and densely wooded shores. That portion of it which
I saw struck me as bearing a wonderful resemblance
to Lake Temiscamingue on the Upper Ottawa.
At noon the wind had entirely chased away the
dark vapoury clouds which, during the last few days,,
had obscured the heavens, and by three o'clock, when
we stepped ashore at the Company's Fort, a hard
frost had set in, which promised to speedily bind
down the deep waters of the lake with the icy grasp
of winter. A group of wondering Indians were at
the beach to receive us, and a general hand-shaking
had to be gone through before I could venture to
o o
enter the cosy house of St. Pierre, the man in charge,
who then happened to be absent at the fishery situated near the lower end of the lake.    As there was-
no one to dispense the few necessary articles needed
for the rest of my journey to the Forks of Skeena,, Canada on the Pacific.
I assumed the double duties of seller and buyer by
taking possession of the Company's store, and commenced weighing out sundry lots of flour, tea and
sugar, not forgetting the "institution" of British
'Columbia—bacon and beans. Having duly entered
those items with scrupulous care in the Company's
blotter, I prepared for another stage, by sending off
Damare and another man to the Fishery, by the ice,
while I, with two newly hired Indians, got together
supplies for the next stage of the journey. My new
travelling companions were odd looking specimens
in their way. One was an elderly individual of
about fifty who possessed but one eye, the vacant
socket being covered with a green patch which was
far from improving its owner's hang-dog look. His
mate was recommended to me by Damare, as a most
valuable man, being a perfect master of the French
language.    So his patron said.    I found afterwards
O O x.
that his knowledge of French was limited; his sole
vocabulary consisting of the adverbs out and non,
which he used on every possible occasion, regardless
of consequences. Both he and " One-eye," however,
beHed their looks very much, proving to be active
^and willing, the man with the patch especially maintaining a uniform and agreeable temper throughout.
With the exception of the Post at McLeod's Lake,
I think Fort Babine is one of the most wretched
holes I ever saw. It is situated on the north-east
•side of the lake of the same name, and is within **a
A Conspicuous Landmark. 95
twenty-five miles of its northern extremity and outlet. West of the Fort the lake is very narrow, but
again widens out northwards, and from this strait it
was completely frozen over to the Indian village,
whither Damare had gone. Right opposite, to the
eastward, and about two miles across the bay, a trail
takes up through a slight gap in the high hiUs towards .the outlet of Lake Tacla and the Nation Lakes.
This is another way to the Omenica, but is seldom
used by miners. A few miles behind, to the north
east of the Fort, a high mountain forms a conspicuous landmark. The establishment consists of three
or four log houses, and is of Httle importance to the
Company. On the 13th December I left the Fort
accompanied by " One-eye" and the " Linguist."
We had the advantage of a beautiful day, and walked
at a good pace over the ice and along St. John's Bay,
towards its upper end, where, seven or eight miles
from the Fort, the waters of another system of lakes
join those ofthe Babine.
Following a pretty Httle stream for a couple of
miles we again traveUed the ice on a narrow sheet of
water, eleven miles in length, and paraUel to Lake
Babine. Two other good sized lakes belonging to
the same chain were then foUowed, when we took to
the left and made for the Babine lake again. During this short stage the snow had only been nine
inches in depth, but the temperature was low, the
thermometer having generaUy stood at from 20 deg. 96
Canada on the Pacific.
to 25 deg. below zero.    It was a fine bright Sunday
morning when my two men and I descended to the
Indian viUage known as " The Fishery." We straightway made for the Company's store, then unoccupied,,
a miserable, unfinished log shanty, through the interstices and chinks of which the cold, bitirig frost,
penetrated, and chilled us to the bone.  Damare, however, who had arrived the day before, had already
made the place as comfortable as possible, and a big-
fire blazed in the open chimney, while on the hearth
sundry pots and pans contained material for a meal,
to which we all three did justice.    This fishery is
quite close to the outlet of the lake, the waters of
which, after following the circuitous and extremely
rapid River Babine for a distance of sixty or seventy
miles, empty into the Skeena above Fort Stager, the-
point to which the American Western Union Telegraph Company brought the line which was to have-
connected North America with Asia.
We remained in this place  until the  following
x. o
morning, when we parted company; Damare and his
comrade returning to Babine Fort, while I and my
two Babine Indians, together with a third man,
crossed the lake (here not over two hundred yards
wide), and commenced the ascent of a mountain
range, lying nearly north and south, separating the
Babine system from the waters of the Wotsonqua, a
southern tributary of the Skeena. For seven or
eight miles we ascended through a thick forest of: The Susqua Valley. 97
spruce and balsam, some of the latter of great size,
and finaUy reached the summit of the pass, when
the aneroids marked 25 in. with a temperature of 5
deg. above zero.    Three and a half hours before,
o •*
while yet on the ice of Babine lake, the same instruments stood at 27.47 in., and thermometer at 16 deg.
below zero.   This was by far the greatest altitude I
had yet attained, and from this elevated locafity a
most magnificent coup d'oeil of the Susqua valley
was obtained.    Immediately to the right, and distant probably two or three miles, a high and snowcapped peak towered far above, while  before me,
deep down in the valley, the Susqua followed its
westward course for fuUy thirty miles, until deflected
to the north by the huge mountain mass of the
Rocher Deboule range, which formed a bold and picturesque background.    High mountains to the north
and south hemmed in the valley of this now tiny
stream, which, for the first few miles of its course,
flowed quietly enough over a very gradual incline,
but afterwards gathering fresh impetus, dashed on
through a series of rocky canons, to join its sister
stream, the Wotsonqua.   At this great elevation, probably four thousand feet above the sea, the snow was
only three feet in depth, and some stunted cypresses
were the only trees to be seen.    The ground began
to dip immediately after crossing the summit, and
foUowing the trail for a few miles, we descended to
the bottom of a deep ravine, through which flowed a
G 98
Canada on the Pacific.
smaU rivulet. The steep sides of this rocky guUy
not offering level ground sufficient for our camp, we
made it upon the ice, after laying down a plentiful
supply of green spruce branches. The little creek
which could be distinctly beard as it trickled beneath
us over its rocky bed, supplied us with good water
for our tea, thus sparing us the tedious operation of
producing that sine qua non from melted snow. A
capital fire being built upon the edge of the bank,
our camp soon assumed its usuaUy comfortable
appearance, despite its icy floor, which, had it given
way, would have produced consequences both disagreeable and serious.
After breakfast the foUowing morning, I strolled
O O'
down the creek to examine the source of the little
Babine and Susqua rivers, which lay eight hundred
feet below the summit level. Twenty minutes walking on snow-shoes brought me to the narrow strip of
swamp out of which issue the two streams; the one
making a leap eastward, of sixteen hundred feet in
a distance of nine miles, into Lake Babine; the other
seeking the Wotsonqua, which HesfuHy, thirty miles
to the westward, and about 2,400 feet below the
level of this one's source. The steep and towering
mountain mass which bounded the southern side of
the vaUey cast a deep gloom on every side, and the
silence of this dark ravine was positively awful.
Taking a hurried survey of the place, I retraced my
steps, and was right glad to regain the now deserted A Rough Journey. 99
camp fire, the Indians having started during my
absence. Six miles further we took the ice on the
Susqua, and foUowed it for a few mHes. The water
had fallen, consequently the ice was unsupported, and
we broke through several times. The descent of this
mountain stream was very great, in some places the
•aneroids indicating a fall of two hundred and fifty
feet to the mile. While walking along, one of the
Indians feU through and was severely hurt, so we
were obHged to camp, having made a very poor day's
On the 18th we left camp, fully determined to
reach " The Forks " that night. The weather had
now changed, and a sHght fall of snow set in, totaUy
obscuring the bold mountain scenery. On getting
•down a couple of thousand feet below the summit
we found the ground almost bare, and had capital
walking for some distance. At three in the after-'
noon the road again became rough, numerous deep
ravines intersecting our path, necessitating painful
and laborious ascents and descents. Some of those
gulHes were three hundred feet in depth, and great
•care was required in wending up and down their steep
and icy sides. We often had to haul ourselves up by
the branches, but the men stuck to it bravely, and by
four o'clock we were within fifteen miles of Hazel-
ton. Although night was just coming on, we made
a fire by which to boil our tea-kettle, and at five
o'clock renewed our journey in Indian file, my French 100
Canada on the Pacific.
speaking Indian taking the lead. At every resting-
place I enquired into our dead reckoning, but my
questions usually eHciting the most ridiculous answers from the Indians, I remained in complete ignorance as to our whereabouts until we reached the-
very edge of the plateau immediately in rear of the-
village. Midnight had just gone, when, through the
now thickly faUing snow, the Indian pointed to the
scattered collection of log huts one hundred and
fifty feet below, which was dignified by the name of
In front of this silent village the Skeena could be
distinguished by the black line of its unfrozen waters,
down which coursed—tumbling, tossing, and grinding against each other, as if eager for precedence—
huge, white floes of ice. With the exception of this
narrow streak of rapid water, the entire landscape was-
white, and desolate to a degree. On our left, deep
down in the hoUow, we could see several Indian huts
of wretched construction, partiaUy Hghted up by the
fitful glare of their watch fires, while the dismal
chants and " rattling" of the medicine men were
heard, as they performed their heathenish rites over
the departing spirit of some relative, laid low by the
ravages of an epidemic then rife amongst them. A
steep sideHng trail had been cut down the bank, and
we were just preparing to descend, when I, incautiously approaching too near the brink, slipped upon
the icy ground, and reached the lower level before my Invited to Christmas. 101
•companions, who, immensely amused at the exploit,
fallowed in a more leisurely manner. We at once
sought out Tom Hankins' store, where, after a little
-delay, Tom himself appeared, and gave me a hearty
welcome. 1 Just in time for Christmas," said Tom;
and instantly caUed up " Charlie," the cook—a fat,
goodnatured Indian ofthe Hydertribe—who poked
up the fire, and with the celerity of a city waiter, soon
placed before me hot tea and eatables. | Just in time
for Christmas week. We're going to have a time of
it, and you may make up your mind to remain here
for three weeks, until there is good going. It's no
use," said he, as I deprecated such a long delay ; | not
an Indian wiU budge from here until the New Year,
anyhow, so you may keep cool." To confess the
truth I did not feel averse to spending a few days
with such a hospitable entertainer, and, convinced of
the soundness of his argument, I resigned myself to
the delay consequent upon a fortnight's sojourn at
^'The Forks." After partaking of a homeopathic
dose of hot-scotch, we separated for the night, CharHe,
the cook, having provided me with a " shake-down"
on the floor, where I speedily forgot all my troubles,
and slept very soundly till seven, a.m., when I was
awakened by the preparations for breakfast. As we
sat down to that meal, Tom introduced his wife, a
very nice, agreeable person, who seconded her husband's endeavours towards my comfort. CHAPTER VIII.
Physical Features—The Skeena—An Indian Ranche—Eomantie
Bridge—Curious Carving—Christmas at the Diggings—Up the
Skeena—The Wotsonqua—A "Cholera Box"—American Enterprise at fault—A hideous Canon—Characteristics of Miners..
Mm AZELTON, or j The Forks," as it is generally
Q^-~ designated, owes its origin to the Hudson's.
Bay Company, which formerly, and until within
a few years back, had a fur-trading post a mile
or so lower down than the site of the present little
town. About a score of log houses composed the
village, which is situated between the forks of the
Skeena, and its tributary the Wotsonqua. The surrounding country is essentiaUy mountainous, and the
scenery magnificent. Five or six miles to the southeast, a high range of mountains, the same alluded
to already as that of the Rocher Deboule, stands out
in bold relief, and from its great height (probably five
thousand feet or thereabouts,) .appears almost to
hang over the Httle town. To the westward, and on
the opposite side of the Skeena, another very high The Skeena. 103
mountain, its summit probably ten miles distant, and
bare of vegetation, bounds the view in that direction,
and heightens the picturesque aspect of the scenery.
AU around are dense forests of spruce, poplar and
other woods, while the low valleys are, with the exception of some level terraces along the river banks,
rough and much broken up. The Skeena at this
village is probably one hundred and fifty yards wide,
and was rapidly closing up. The distance from
Hazelton to Port Essington, at the mouth ofthe river
on the Pacific coast, is estimated to be one hundred
and fifty miles, and during the greater part of its
course toward the sea, it is obstructed by numerous
rapids, the navigation of which is difficult, and often
dangerous. A mile below Hazelton the Wotsonqua,
a south-eastern tributary, 'enters the Skeena. This
river takes its rise some eighty miles from its mouth,
to the west of Lake Babine; and for the greater part
of that distance flows through a succession of deep
rocky canons. The Susqua enters the latter some
eighteen miles from Hazelton.
Several bands of Indians live and hunt in the vicinity of the Forks. They are generally of a peaceable
disposition, and work for the whites with alacrity
and good-will. About three miles from Hazelton,
and three hundred feet down in the rocky bed
of the Wotsonqua, there is a large Indian ranche, or
viHage, of some twenty houses, caUed the " Achwyl-
get"    Immediately in front of it the Indians have Canada on the Pacific.
thrown a suspension bridge across the rocky chasm,
through which the waters of the Wotsonqua rush
with impetuous haste towards the Skeena. Here
the scenery is wild, and sufficiently picturesque to
please the most ardent lover of nature. The bridge
is built entirely of wood, fastened together by withes
and branches; its height above the roaring waters
beneath is fifty feet, and it sways about under the
weight of a man, to try even the nerves of a Blondin.
Several very elaborately carved and lofty crest
poles stand in front of the principal houses of this
ranche. Those are generally hewn out of large pines,
often sixty feet in height, and from base to top are
carved many curious figures, representing bears, toads,
fish and creatures of mythical origin. Some of the
carving is so weU done as to equal the best work I
have ever seen executed by the New Zealanders,
who excel in that art. The carvers of those poles
often spend many months in their construction, and
the amount of ingenuity displayed and labour
expended varies directly as the rank and wealth of
the chief whose motto or crest they are intended to
represent. At the butt, some uncouth and hideous
animal, a puzzle to the most expert palseontologist,
is cut out of the wood, and as the spar tapers
upwards, the figures diminish in size, and become of
less elaborate design, until, upon the very pinnacle
the ridiculous and grotesquely carved figure of an
aboriginal, pipe in mouth, and capped by a plug hat, An Indian Ranche. 105
entirely destroys the effect of what is, otherwise, very
often, a reaUy fine work of art.
The houses are of great size, but with few pretensions to comfort, and always have a large fire-place
in the middle, round which from fifty to one hundred
persons can find accommodation. The doors of some
of those dwellings were weU worthy of inspection.
One house in particular was entered through the
folding jaws of some nondescript animal, which, as
you entered, snapped and shut down upon you with
a semblance of savage ferocity, almost akin to reality. Those large ranches are generally deserted
during the winter months, when the Indians retire
to the shelter of the woods, where fuelis more easily
obtained, and the trapping of different furred animals can be prosecuted with advantage. A little
below Hazelton there is another Indian viHage, but
of smaH extent, and, like that of the Achwylget, it
was also abandoned by its usual denizens. Those
were the first reaUy large and weU-built dweUings
of Indians I had yet met with, but, as the reader
will see, if he follows me to the coast, they were
insignificant when compared with the immense and
comfortable houses of the tribes living in more
immediate proximity to the sea.
My first visit after breakfasting with Tom, was to
his partner, Mr. McK , who lived in an adjoining
house. These gentlemen were engaged in the fur
trade, and carried on, besides, a misceUaneous traffic 106
Ccmada on the Pacific.
with passing miners, of whom there were some score or
more then wintering at the | Forks." As might have
been expected, there was, besides the dwelHng-houses
and stores, a saloon, which formed the favourite
resort of the residents during their hours of leisure,
when | poker," | euchre " " and forty-five " absorbed
the attention of the jovial and reckless population-
Owing to the want of accommodation at Hankins*"
house, I shifted my quarters to the saloon, and was
located in a log-house, containing but one room and a
closet, where the bar-tender kindly provided me with
a bedstead, on which I hoped to pass, after a civiHzed
fashion, a few really comfortable nights ; but unfortunately for me, I reckoned without my host, and
did not calculate upon the disorganization consequent upon the rioting and festivities of Christmas
week, then close at hand. The weather had again
become settled, and on the morning of Christmas eve
the thermometer stood at twenty-two degrees below
zero. This was, however, a much higher temperature than is usuaUy experienced at this place. I was-
informed that the previous winter forty, and even
fifty, degrees below zero had been, by no means,
exceptional readings at the corresponding period.
From early morning until far into the evening the
miners and every one else at the place were busfly
occupied in getting up shooting matches and other
games, with which to usher in the time-honoured
hoHday ; and at midnight of the 24th, the bursting: Christmas at the Diggings. 107"
of a bomb consisting of 25 pounds of gunpowder
securely tied up in many thicknesses of strong canvas,
announced the day which EngHshmen so much
delight to respect Simultaneously a dropping fire of
muskets and revolvers, accompanied by shouts
and yeUs from the excited crowd, resounded through
the air, and forthwith the major part of the population of Hazelton crowded into the saloon, where
ample justice was done to the occasion in many a flowing bumper, the exciting effects of which were soon
manifested by eager demands for music and dancing..
An old accordeon and tambourine, the only instruments at the place, were caned into requisition, whfle-
the crack dancers took the floor, among whom, and
chief of them all, figured Dancing BiH, of British-
Columbian renown. The fun grew fast and furious ^
the legitimate instruments afready in use, and soon.
rendered almost unserviceable, were not found sufficient to satisfy the terpsichorean tastes ofthe miners 'y
frying pans, pokers, shovels, anything, in fact,
capable of producing sound, were therefore added to.
the Hst, and helped to sweU the din become now
almost demoniacal. To sleep through such an uproar
was, of course, out ofthe question; so, seizing the first
opportunity, I made myself scarce, and sought
refuge in a neighbouring shanty, where I managed
to elude the vigflance of the noisy crowd, and snatch
several hours of quiet rest. These demonstrations
of mirth and loyalty continued for several days, and* 108
Canada on the Pacific.
to avoid them, I was glad of the occasion to make a
short tour of exploration around the base of the Ro-
cher Deboule and up the Wotsonqua, in which I was
joined by Tom, who had now become sick and tired
of the several days' consecutive festivity.
After a short journey up the Skeena in the direction of Kyspyox, with McK for my companion,
when we photographed several places of interest—
amongst others, Hazelton and the mountains in its
vicinity—Tom Hankin and I, accompanied by Charlie and another Indian, started on a Httle tour up the
Wotsonqua, taking with us my camera, which Tom,
facetiously, and as it turned out, unfortunately,
chose to designate by the rather inappropriate name
of the I Cholera Box." In order to explain, it is
necessary to remark that a few months previous Mr.
T., the gentleman in charge of the Mission Station at
the mouth of the Naas River, had paid a pastoral
visit to the Achwylget Indians. With his other impedimenta he had brought a smaU magic lantern
and sHdes, which were duly exhibited to their wondering gaze, not without a certain amount of pomp
and ceremony. After the reverend gentleman's
departure, however, it most unfortunately happened
that a species of cholera broke out among the native
Hazeltonians ; the origin of which they most illogi-
cally attributed to the | one-eyed devil" in the lan-
fern and its exhibitor. Once possessed of the idea,
-which the native medicine men did their utmost to A % Cholera Box." 109*
oncourage, the reasoning and arguments ofthe whites
were unavailing; and as the disease spread', so did
the belief in the occult powers of Mr. T gain
ground.    This was Tom's story, and he added that
perhaps it was just as weU for Mr. T that he had
I mizzled" before serious consequences ensued. With
this unfortunate precedent the reader may imagine
that I was not unnaturaUy a Httle shy of parading
the camera, an instrument bearing a certain family
likeness to the hated lantern, and which my friend
Tom would persist in calling by such an obnoxious
name. As luck would have it, after we were out a
couple of days, the Indian, who made the photographic apparatus his particular burthen, was taken
suddenly ill one evening in camp. We had noticed
certain peculiarities in his behaviour, and had, on
several occasions, observed him eyeing the dreaded
box with looks of evident aversion. When turning
in on that particular evening, Tom remarked in
his sententious way: | I'll bet the treats that feUow's
berth wiU be vacant to-morrow morning." And
when we got up the foUowing day, we found his prophetic speech verified, for no Indian was to be seen
but CharHe, who said the fellow had gone off, evidently in mortal terror of the box and its mysterious
contents. Tom and I thus fell in for equal shares of
the remaining load, whHe CharHe, being a Hyder,
and above such superstitious fears, shouldered the
box without comment. 110
Canada on the Pacific.
Upon several occasions during this little tour, we
-came upon the remains of the Western Union Telegraph Company's line, and at one particular stage of
our trip, followed for several miles the wide and well
cut-out trad which had been opened for that purpose.
The reader may possibly not be aware of the fact
that, several years ago, the Western Union constructed
a telegraph line from Quesnel to Kyspyox, intending
to carry it northwards to Behring's straits, where, by
a cable, it was to have connected with the Asiatic
shores, and, after being carried over the vast Siberian
Steppes, with Europe.   This was previous to the successful termination of the North Atlantic Company's
operations, which, of course, put a stop to further
attempts in this direction. The wide and thoroughly
out-out trad stiff remains, but the poles have been
ruthlessly cut down by the Indians, who stole the
insulators, and made use of the wire for various purposes.    Tons of that  expensive material stiff lie in
f he dreary depths of the British Columbian forests,
whffe immense coils are yet in store at the now
deserted post, Fort Stager, the relics of a vast undertaking, and a silent tribute to American enterprise.
Before returning to the Forks, we foUowed the
lofty banks of the Wotsonqua, and made several
ineffectual attempts to cross it. For miles this stream
flows at the bottom of a hideous canon, which we
found impossible to descend. The scenery was ofthe
very wildest, and, but for the constant fall of snow, "5!
Characteristics of Miners. Ill
Would have furnished some fine photographs. As it
was, we were obHged to content ourselves with a
Hurried examination, obtained often at great risk,
for the perpendicular and rocky waHs of this Styx-
like river were of immense height, and the steadiest
nerves were required to enable one to reach a position from whence the dreary depths of the abyss
could be seen. On our return we found aU hands in
a state of convalescence, and quietly settling down
again to their usual humdrum Hfe.
During conversations I had on different occasions
with  the   miners  then  wintering   at Hazelton, I
O 7
gathered that the operations of the last season had not
been very successful. A few, as usual, had made fair
wages, but the majority had only spent their time
and labour in the chimerical pursuit of wealth, and
had returned, some to Victoria, and a few to this
place, poorer in purse and health than at the commencement of the season, but stiff brimful of hope
and perfectly sanguine as regarding the next spring's
work. The miner is truly a wonderful combination
of pluck and endurance ; although often unfortunate,
he is never discouraged. After years of unrequited
labour, he generaUy returns to the scenes of former
operations with renewed hope, or shouldering his
blankets he roams, very often alone, over rugged
mountains, through dense forests, across rapid and
dangerous rivers, in pursuit of that gold which too
often proves a curse to its possessor.   He is generous Canada on the Pacific*
to a degree, and will share his last crust and spend
his I bottom " doUar in treating a friend. In his
cups, he is sometimes an ugly customer, but in that
respect he is no worse than his neighbours. In nine
cases out of ten, he is a lover of law and order, at
any rate, such was the character given of those operating upon the Omenica by Judge Fitzgerald, who,
during his tenure of office at those diggings, and
aided by one constable only, rarely, if ever, had
trouble in adjusting the difficulties arising in those*
remote localities. CHAPTER IX.
Routes to the Coast—A Chinook Vocabulary useful—Skirting a
Frozen Biver—Kitsigeuhle—Unpromising Quarters—A Greasy-
Caravan—Kitwangar Valley—Kitwancole—Pagan Orgies—Ingenious Carving—An Indian Mart—Lake Scenery—Welpam-
toots—Valley of the Chean-howan—Trail lost—Muskeeboo—
"Yorkshire" Indian—A Trying Walk—Naas Scenery—Alaska
visible—Indian Suspension Bridge—Beyond the Chean-howan
Canon—Valuable Silver Lode—Basaltic Columns—A Native
Bal Masque—Kitawn.
'HILE at the Forks I had many conversations with the miners about the different
routes to the coast. One and all spoke very unfavourably of the Skeena, which, in its entire course
to the sea passes through a rough and mountainous
country. For some distance to where the KUloosth
River enters it, (probably some sixty miles below the
Forks) practicable, and in some cases, level benches
occur, but below, when the Cascade and Coast ranges
intervene, the Skeena flows through deep and rocky
canons, where advance by land is extremely difficult
and sometimes impossible.    As for Port Essington
H 114
Canada on the Pacific.
itself, it was described as a miserable swamp, backed
by precipitous mountains, and having a shoal and
poor harbour, a visit to which would have UI repaid
me for the expensive and tedious journey down the
Skeena. After having given due consideration,
therefore, to the Kitimat route, one which would
have brought me to the coast at a more southern point
than Port Essington, I decided to cross the country
between the Skeena and the Naas, by the latter descend to the sea, where, at its mouth I was informed
a good harbour was to be found.
On the 14th of January I took my departure from
Hazelton, accompanied by four coast Indians, who
engaged with me for the trip at the very moderate
rate of seventy-five cents per day. As a matter of
course we were provided with snow-shoes, and took
a plentiful stock of flour, bacon, beans, tea and dried
salmon—the latter, much superior in size and quaHty
to that caught in the more inland waters of Lakes
Stewart and Babine.   Tom Hankin and McK	
proposed to accompany us for a short distance ; so
after bidding adieu to the miners we started at three,
O 7
p.m., following the ice on the Skeena. Six miles below
Hazelton I camped, Tom and McK.—returning homeward. My new men were perfect strangers to me,
and unable to speak one word of EngHsh. They were,
however, masters of the Chinook jargon, a vocabulary of which elegant language I carried with me,
and by its aid I was soon upon a good understand- Skirting a frozen River.
ing with my companions. I had provided a smaU
cotton tent open at one end. This we usuaUy put up
in front of the fire, and found it extremely convenient; the nights rarely passing without a sHght fall
of snow, the disagreeable effects of which this thin
■* O
and Hght covering completely obviated. The next
morning, after breakfast, the men packed up and commenced the journey in good earnest. I gave them a
two hours start, and then followed in their tracks.
Our way lay along the marginal ice of the Skeena,
which was generaUy open in the middle, and extremely rapid. Now and again when the river
widened,and an interval of slack water was reached;
the ice extended from shore to shore, but this was of
rare occurrence; and from one bank to the other it
was often pUed up in the most fantastic shapes,
under which the fierce current rushed and gurgled.
In these cases we were obliged to take to the rocks,
and often had to pass through the thick wiUows and
underbrush which Hned the shore. East of this
morning's camp, and distant five miles, the Rocher
Deboule range could still be seen towering high
above the wide stretch of level benches which intervene between it and the Skeena. About noon as we
made more southing, the same range began to break
O' o o
away towards the south-east, in which direction a
large valley could be traced for a great distance,
while a mile or so to the south another high range
of mountains trended to the westward as far as the 116
Canada on the Pacific.
eye could reach. During the afternoon we passed
the Indian ViHage of Kitsigeuhle' situated on the
left bank. This ranche was quite deserted, its usual
occupants being then away at a great feast given by
the Indians of Kitwancole, a vUlage lying on our
route which we expected to reach in a day or two.
A Httle below Kitsigeuhle" I came upon my Indians
as they were resting against a huge fallen spruce; all
eyes were turned upon the " Doctor," the most in-
teUigent of the lot, as I came up, and he greeted me
in I Chinook ": " Cloosh spose nisika sleep;" at the
same time pointing to a recess in the steep and densely
wooded slopes of the high mountains, which there-
closed in the left bank of the Skeena. This extraordinary sentence meant that there was a camping
place, and that if I did not follow his advice we
might go further and fare worse. So I assented, and
with a grin of approbation they pitched off their
loads, and went to work with alacrity to construct a
camp. I must confess that it was not without certain misgivings that I assented, for the spot chosen
for our night's resting-place was of forbidding aspect,,
and did not offer sufficient level space for a dog to
coU up in; however, we cleared away the snow down
to the very boulders, with which the shore was
strewn in great profusion. Immediately above high
water mark, the mountain slopes commenced, at an
angle of 60° or 70°, while the dense woods and thick
underbrush effectually barred their ascent. Here we A Greasy Caravan.
•scratched and dug, filling up holes with boulders and
logs, and adding brush/which supplied a carpeting, if
not as elegant, at least as comfortable as the finest
Brussels. After a couple of hours' steady work the
place had undergone quite a transformation, and soon
a cheerful fire, in front of which our cotton tent was
nicely pitched, Hghted up the weird and picturesque
scene. At seven the following morning the men
were up and away before dawn. For three miles
and a half we stiU kept the ice of the Skeena, when
reaching the head of a rapid, we struck to the right,
and ascended a steep hiU, keeping a nor'west course
for the Kitwangar River, which we came to at one
p.m., having cut off a good sized triangular piece of
the rough country between it and the Skeena.
Since we left the river we met many of the Kitsi-
■geulfle' Indians returning from the great feast at
Kitwancole; more than one hundred must have
passed us, and they were, without a single exception, not only the men, but also the women and
ohildren, laden with large cedar boxes, of the size
and shape of tea-chests, which were filled with the
rendered grease of the candle fish caught in the
Naas waters. What from the rancid and putrescent
smell of the grease, and their own filthy persons,
down which the perspiration roUed as they plodded
laboriously along, bent double in some cases under the
•crushing weight of their enormous loads, they could,
ospeciaUy when to windward, be scented from afar. 118
Canada on the Pacific.
Eight out of every ten of them were suffering from
ophthalmia. They passed us in twos and threes;
sometimes a whole famUy, father, mother, and olive
branches, aU loaded to their utmost capacity; little
children even, of tender years, carried burthens of
thirty or forty pounds weight, and tottered along in
silence. One sturdy savage had, in addition to the
usual load of grease, perched on its summit, an
old and decrepid woman, perhaps his mother. This
man could not have had less than two hundred and
fifty pounds weight upon his back; but- they are- a.
tough; hardy set, and great carriers.
At three, p.m., we camped amid some spruce trees
Since we took the land to-day, we had kept generaUy at an elevation of seven or eight hundred feet
above the Skeena, of which the direction, though
itself hidden from view, could be traced by a high
and precipitous range of escarped mountains trending far to the west.    The snow, which  averaged a
depth of only fourteen inches, did not trouble us,
and was trodden hard by the Indians we had passed.
Close to ours was a large camp of Indians returning
to their ranche at the mouth  of the   Kitwangar*
The days were now excessively short, and daylight had barely appeared at seven, a.m., on the
morning of the 7th, when we were again on the
road, stUl benefiting by a fine trail, where we could
dispense with our snow-shoes.    We were now fol- Kitwancole. 119
lowing up the eastern slope of the Kitwangar vaUey,
which was very rough, and intersected by numerous
guUies. The traU kept from a mUe to a mUe and a
half from the river, and soon entered a dense forest
of heavy spruce and pine, through which we plodded
until ten, when the trail turned suddenly river-
wards, and we descended to a beautiful level, in the
middle of which the Kitwangar flowed southwards
to the Skeena, then distant probably twelve mUes.
Just before leaving the high  ground above,  we
O O o *
passed through the centre of an immense encampment of Indians, numbering, at least, two hundred.
They paid no attention to us, and we returned the
compliment, giving them the " cut direct." Before
running the gauntlet of one of those camps we usuaUy
broke off stout sticks from some neighbouring tree,
with which to repel the too inquisitive and impertinent advances of the Indian dogs, which invariably
paid us more attention than their masters, and
whose name was legion.    FoUowing for three miles
o o
the fine level and alluvial bottom, which is from half
to three-quarters of a mile wide and about ten feet
above the river (a beautiful salmon stream which
myriads of those fish annuaUy ascend to the Kitwancole lake), we arrived at Kitwancole, a village
of about twenty large houses, situated on the edge
of the river, and hemmed in to the east and west by
high mountains. The vaUey which Hes north and
south is here about a couple of mUes in width, and
J 120
Canada on the Pacific.
its western slopes are thickly timbered for a long
distance up. Notwithstanding the large numbers of
Indians whom we had met during this forenoon's
march, there were stiU many at the viUage. The
news of our arrival spreading Hke wUd-fire, there
was a general rush of men, women and chUdren from
the houses ; a large and noisy crowd, disfigured by
paint and charcoal, and stUl bearing the traces of
their horrible and disgusting orgies, surrounding and
questioning us as to our intent and business. The
filth of this heathenish throng was something dreadful, while the abominable stench of the candle fish
grease, which they devour in the most inordinate
quantities, completely saturated the atmosphere.
My attention was attracted by several tall and
stately spars, beautifully carved into the most hideous and fantastic forms of creatures impossible to
designate.    One of recent construction, and measur-
O '
ing, I should think, four feet at the butt, had just
been erected; for the large hole dug to receive it had
not yet been filled up. This was the finest I had
seen up to the present, and would be worthy of a
place in the British Museum. The doors of several
of the houses were guarded on each side by large
carvings of dogs and other animals, which added to
the incongruity of the scene. For the last ten days
this viUage had been the place of barter between the
Naas Indians and those of the interior. The former
had carried up grease to the extent of many hundred Lake Scenery.
boxes, which they had exchanged with the Skeena
Indians for blankets and other articles. Their business being satisfactorUy arranged, they wound up by
a big I spree," In which, Hquor being wanting, they
feasted on dried salmon and grease, and danced
themselves into a state of prostration from which
they were only now recovering,
After a short delay we hurried forward, and following the level vaUey for several miles, camped about
three mUes from the outlet of the lake, and twenty-
the six from Skeena. The next morning, an hour's
smart walking over an almost dead level prairie bottom, about half-a-mile in width, brought us to the
outlet of the lake, which is about seven mHes in
length, and Hes nearly south-east and north-west.
Either .side of this picturesque sheet of water is
avaUable for a road, but the eastern shore is the better.
Hitherto, from the Skeena, our general direction had
been nearly due north, but the vaUey now began to
trendnor'-nor'-westerly, and on reaching the upper end
ofthe lake the vista in that direction extended for
many mUes. To the south-east, the high, snow-capped mountain, which was conspicuous to the westward from Hazelton, appeared to tower far above
us to the right, whUe on the west side the vaUey
was stiU bounded by a high waU of mountains
which stretched north-westerly as far as the eye
•could reach.
Beyond the upper end of the lake the land was
_J 122
Canada on the Pacific.
low and swampy, supporting a fair growth of cedars,
and some distance up, on the western slopes of the
valley, a Httle stream came tumbling down through
the cedar swamp, untU within a mile of the lake,
when it seemed to change its mind, and instead of
contributing its tiny volume to the waters of the
Skeena, turned suddenly round in the opposite direction to add its quota to the Naas. We dined on this-
watershed, a keen frost giving zest to the dried salmon which the " Doctor" cooked, and served very
simply, by quickly presenting, first one side then the
other, to the blazing fire, and placing the savoury
brown mass upon a chip, a most exceHent substitute
for a plate. WhUe at dinner several of the Naas
Indians overtook and passed us on their way home.
They rarely stopped to speak, generally passing-,
on without exhibiting the obtrusive curiosity characteristic of the Indians on the east side of the
Rocky Mountains.
Resuming our march after dinner, the trail being-
yet well beaten, and keeping the slopes in order to*
avoid the long grass in the low bottom, we passed,,
three miles and a-half further on, the Indian village
i o
of Welpamtoots, and camped two miles lower
down the vaUey. During this afternoon's walk the
snow was about two feet in depth. The valley of
the Chean-howan, which we had been foUowing
since dinner, was here about half-a-mile wide, sometimes stretching out to a greater extent, and perfectly Valley of the Chean-howan.
uniform, with a gentle descent towards the Naas of
about one in one hundred and twenty. The Httle
river which meandered from side to side of this narrow bottom had cut out a channel from twenty to*
twenty-five yards in width, and six to eight feet in
depth. In places its bed was almost dry, and strewn
with small boulders.
This vaUey had a most singular appearance; the
narrow level portion, between the mountain slopes,
was so perfectly uniform that it seemed as if
some giant had planed it, while the surface bore a
luxuriant crop of grass, with occasionaUy a clump
of cedars, spruce, or immense rough-bark poplars.
The river margin was covered with a dense thicket
of widows, which rendered walking extremely difficult. Our camp was situated some seventy feet above
the river, and was quite unsheltered. We had, however, abundance of dry wood; and the night not
being cold, we slept comfortably, and were on our
way betimes the following morning. The barometer
dropped 4-10ths of aninch since last evening, and snow
had fallen steadily during the greater part of the
night, which rendered traveUing this forenoon very
fatiguing. We pushed on, however, the trail becoming very much worse, the barometer faHing-
steadily, and a constant drizzle of fine hard snow
totaUy obscuring the mountains. After making
poor progress we camped near a large assemblage of
Naas   Indians, who   were   returning   homewards.. 124
Canada on the Pacific.
Here the traU, or what was left of it, disappeared
entirely, and we had now to beat the road through
three feet of snow, very soft, and extremely difficult
to plough through. We were joined by one of the
Indians at this place, who kept us company, and
good-naturedly took his turn at beating the road.
This individual bore the name of " Muskeeboo." He
was a chief in his way, and professed a knowledge
ofthe English language; but he spoke with a strong
Yorkshire accent, very difficult to understand.
We were now fairly in for a speU of very heavy
walking,- there being no trail; the  cunning Nas-
O' O * O
cars carefuUy keeping in the rear, in order to benefit
by our track, which now lay through thick brush,
and sometimes crossing the Chean-howan on the ice,
O *
as it interrupted our line of travel.
On the 11th, at noon, after having followed the
high banks on the right side of the river for some
O o
distance, we again struck the Chean-howan, and
camped upon its banks. Here we were overtaken
by a Nascar chief, who, with his deaf and dumb
nephew, was on his way to Kitlatamox, a viUage
situated on the Naas, about twenty-five miles above
tide-water, The snow was now fuUy three and a
half feet deep, and extremely soft, causing us great
labour in beating the road. The front man had no
sinecure, as at every step, even with large snow-
shoes, he sank down a couple of feet. Muskeeboo
-and I, therefore, took our turn in the van, changing Alaska Visible.
our position every few hundred yards; and although
the thermometer stood at about zero, we were glad
to strip off our superfluous "clothing, and walk in
our shirt-sleeves.   Even in this Hght costume, half-
o *
an-hour of such laborious work sufficed to bring out
the perspiration in beads, which coursed down our
faces, and occasioned intense thirst among us aU, to-
aUay which the Indians scooped up, now and again'
a handful of snow, which they consumed with evident
relish. On the 12th, at noon, we stopped for dinner
on the side of a high hiU overhanging the river; and
while the men were making a fire, and melting snow
o •* o
for our tea-water, Muskeeboo and I ascended the
hiU, to obtain a view of the country to the southwest, in which direction lay Kitlatamox. We were
obHged to furnish ourselves with long poles, without
which the ascent would have been impossible. As
it was, half-an-hour was occupied in getting up to
an altitude of four hundred feet above our fire; but
from that position we had a famous view of the
country for many mUes. The hUls on the west side-
of the Naas could be seen very distinctly, and the
far-off snow-capped mountains of Alaska peeped up
here and there in the blue distance. Six hundred
feet below, the Httle Chean-howan trickled on over
its graveUy bed, which, in the summer season, is the
haunt of many a lusty salmon. The valley at this
point was about nine hundred yards wide, and
thickly timbered with extremely large rough-bark Canada on the Pacific.
poplar, spruce, birch, and a species of red pine, which
grew to a large size. When descending the hiU-side,
which was entirely bereft of timber, and in some
places covered with snow to a depth of four feet, a
sHp occurred, which, however, had only the effect of
startling us. Several score of Indians overtook us
to-day; but on reaching our fire, they stopped, cooHy
intimating their intention to wait for our track.
We accordingly pushed on, after anathematizing the
lazy rascals in no measured terms; and fallowing
the river for some distance, took the right bank of
the vaUey, and camped amongst a dense grove of
,pine and balsam, the latter furnishing fine bedding
upon which to lay our blankets—the cunning dogs
of Nascars, who clung to us Hke limpets to a rock,
camping beside us.
On the 13th, at six, a.m.,we moved on; a mffe and
a-half over the hills taking us to the edge of the
vaUey again, down the sides of which we sHd for
about two hundred and fifty feet, and as the day
was breaking, reached the bed of the Chean-howan,
close to an Indian suspension bridge. The uniform
and even bottom, through which the river had found
its way from the watershed, now disappeared entirely, giving place to a deep and rocky gully, the
rugged walls of which rose perpendicularly for a
hundred feet on either side, as we picked our way
laboriously over huge fragments of dolerite which
-strewed the river bed.   At eight, a.m., we emerged Beyond the Chean-Howan Canon.
•from the darkness of the Chean-howan Canon, and
took the ice on the Naas, here not more than sixty
yards wide, and waUed^in by perpendicular trap
rocks, one hundred and fifty feet in_height. We had
now good ice, and traveUed for five mUes, untU we
reached the head of a series of rapids, when we took
the land, and stopped to rest and boU the kettle.
Although we were able to keep the ice since leaving
the Chean-howan, walking was very laborious, the
snow being deep, and saturated with water from the
overflowings. At dinner, we were rejoined by our
pertinacious friends, the Nascars, who came up as we
were leaving the fire. Ascending the left bank of
the Naas, of which we now lost sight altogether, as
it coursed on towards the sea through a canon two
hundred and fifty feet in depth, we made our way
through dense woods, and camped, after making
about fifteen miles, and breaking the traU through
three and a-half feet of snow.
At nine the fallowing morning we descended
again to the river by a winding and precipitous
path, where the utmost caution had to be used, taking the ice three hundred and fifty feet below the
traU, and about ten mUes below the head of the
rapids. A mUe and a-half further, we passed a little
river coming from the Nor'-West, upon which there
js reported to be a large and valuable sUver ode.
We had now good ice for about seven mUes, untU
another rapid caused us to take the woods for a 128
Canada on the Pacific..
short distance; and after clambering over a rocky
point, we again took the river on a narrow ledge of
ice, two feet wide, upon which we very cautiously
crawled for two hundred yards, having, on one hand,
a perpendicular wall of rock, while, on the other,
the swift waters of the Naas seethed and boUed in
a manner which actuaUy caused "the blood to curdle,
as a single false step would have inevitably cost us
our lives. A quarter of a mile below this rapid we
passed some very extraordinary columnar basaltic
rocks, of which the river banks were composed; but
night coming on, and there being every indication
of a heavy snow faU, I had no time to examine
minutely their curious appearance. FoUowing Muskeeboo, who now took the lead, we walked on for
three miles more, and put up in that gentleman's-
ranche at Kitlatamox, where we arrived at half-past
Kitlatamox is a large village, situated on the
banks of the Naas, and about twenty-five miles from
tide-water. It has a population of about three
hundred, who subsist entirely on the salmon and
other fish which frequent this river in myriads.
Muskeeboo's house, unlike all the others, was passably clean, and his famHy—a large one—bestirred
themselves to make things comfortable for my
accommodation. The house was what we would caU,
in the civilized world, a tenement, there being
another distinct family on the ground floor, whHe Kitwanshelt.
Muskeeboo occupied the upper portion, to which
access was obtained from the outside by stairs.
Muskeeboo's portion consisted of one large room,
forty feet by sixty, in the centre of which was a
large square space, covered with earth, on which
some blazing logs barely sufficed to give the necessary warmth, and to light up the immediate neighbourhood of the fireplace, around which were grouped
about a dozen specimens of aborigines. Sundry
chests of rendered " uhlihan " grease, and dried salmon in great quantities, were pUed up against the
walls, which were boarded with hewn pine planks
thirty inches wide. Enormous beams supported the
low flat roof, open above the fireplace, to aUow the
acrid smoke to escape. In addition to his ordinary
avocations, Muskeeboo did a smaU business in groceries, which he disposed of to the other Indians, in
consideration of certain furs, such as martens, foxee,
etc., etc.,—a barrel or two of biscuits and Sandwich
Island sugar being his stock-in-trade.
Nine mUes below the village, and on the same side
of the river, there is another large ranche caUed Kitwanshelt, for which we started on the 16th, having
been detained by bad weather; snow and rain having fallen without intermission during the whole of
the day before. There were three or four miners at
Kitlatamox, then on their way to the Forks of
Skeena. They had recently arrived from Fort
Simpson, and were awaiting the return of the In-
1 130
Canada on the Pacific.
dians from Kitwancole, in order to benefit by their
trail. One of them proposedAto accompany me to
McNeU's, at the mouth of tbe Naas, so he and I,
together with Muskeeboo, left the village at noon, and
after following the ice for the greater part of the
way, reached Kitwanshelt at half-past three, in the
midst of a fearful down-pour of rain. During the
greater part of this distance the banks were rather
low, and four miles below the upper viUage on the
left bank we passed a small river coming from the
eastward. This stream flowed through a fine open
vaUey, walled in on the south by the Cascade range,
which we were now entering. This vaUey, Muskeeboo informed me, afforded an exceUent route to the
Skeena, upon which it debouches above the Kitsel-
lasse Canon. The bottom of this valley, as also that
of an immense flat extending for several mHes below
the outlet of the Httle stream, was composed of scoriae,
probably the result of ancient volcanic disturbance.
The mountains about here were extremely rugged,
and densely timbered for a long way up, but were
much obscured by the heavy mists which hung over
them. On reaching the viUage, Muskeeboo conducted me to a large house owned by a friend of his,
where I found my men already quartered, they having preceded me by a few hours. This viUage is
situated upon a rocky point overhanging the river,
and consists of, probably, a score of houses.
During the course of the evening, and after sup- A Native Bal Masque".
per, we were entertained by the exhibition of a
native dance, in which some fifty men and women participated. They came trooping in, nearly all masked
and dressed in the most curious attire; the men
divested of their nether garments, and the women
rather scantily arrayed, considering the time of the
year. To describe the dance would be impossible*
The motions were vigorous; and if not graceful, were,
at any rate, whimsical, and rather free; the men and
women dancing alternately. There seemed to be a
leader on each side, who did his or her utmost to
•execute the most fantastic steps, which were accompanied by frightful facial contortions, and a monotonous chant, with which they kept excellent time.
After an hour's exhibition they desisted, and retired
Tto their respective habitations, completely worn out,
•as indeed they weU might be, their antics having
been more Hke those of a band of escaped lunatics
■than of rational beings. During the intervals of the
-dance I examined some of the masks, which were
-beautifully made. They were of aU styles, and represented the faces of different animals. I was much
struck with one, a deHcately carved wooden imitation of an eagle's head, with a rather exaggerated
beak and movable eyes, which, during the most
vigorous part of the dance, roUed about in a manner
fearful to contemplate. The house now being quiet,
J made my bed in one of the many vacant bunks
ifouUt against the walls, and soon the steady patter- Canada on the Pacific.
ing of the rain without was the only sound to be*
heard in the now sleeping viUage.
The next morning, on getting up, it was stiU
pouring, and a thick, heavy mistbung over the vaUey,
completely hiding the Cascade range which we had
now to enter and pass through before reaching the
"salt-chuck" (sea), which was yet about eighteen-
miles distant. The unusual comfort of the ranche
had caused us to oversleep ourselves, so that by
the time breakfast was over, and our traps were
packed, it was ten o'clock before we were fairly on
our way again. We were obliged to put on our snow-
shoes, there being no trail, and the snow lying fully
four feet deep along the river margin and on the-
thickly timbered flats which now extended for half
a mUe or more back from the river. As we had anticipated, the walking was now execrable, as the*
snow was saturated with rain, and water covered
the ice to a depth of several inches. In many places-
£he river was quite open, obHging us to keep the
right bank, as we were unable to cross to the opposite side. Our progress was consequently very slow,
and at dusk we were stiU a long way from the Indian viUage of Kitawn, which lay a few miles below
tide-water. We stiU walked on through a steady
down-pour of rain, and reached the ranche at nine
p.m., completely drenched and our snow-shoes entirely
used up from the  effects of the  water through* Kitawn.
•which we had been obHged to wade for the last ten
On our arrival we very unceremoniously entered
one of the houses, and, rousing up the inmates, a fire
was speedily Hghted, by which we dried ourselves. The
master of this establishment was excessively affable
and accommodating, and furnished clean cedar mats,
•on which we stretched ourselves before the fire,
where we slept until morning.    Nothing could be
more dismal than the aspect of affairs on the following day, the 18th January, when I got up and went
•outside to look around.    The rain stiU continued,
and a  dense,  impenetrable mist   hung  over   the
houses and the river, completely obscuring the nearest objects ; and although the high mountains ofthe
•Cascade range towered above in our immediate vicinity, we might have been in the midst of the prairie,
for aught we could teU to the  contrary.    After
breakfast we crossed on the ice to McNeU's establishment, about a mUe distant, and which until recently
•belonged to the Hudson Bay Company, who have
aioW'entirely abandoned their posts on this river. CHAPTER X.
Detained by Rain—Hazardous Canoeing—Camping on the Sea;
Coast—Geographical Outlines—Salmon Cove—Observatory Inlet—An Avalanche—Naas Harbour—South Inlet—A Critical
Five Minutes—Work Channel—Chimsean Peninsula—Birnie
Island—Arrival at Fort Simpson—The Harbour—American
Military Post—Moral and Religious Condition of the Indians
—Canoe Building—Agricultural Facilities.
wYk T NAAS I paid off my Indians and set about
-••&§*■: engaging a crew and canoe to take me to Fort
Simpson. I was detained, however,until the 20th,not
being able to procure Indians except at the most
exorbitant figures, and it was only after considerable difficulty that McNeU and I were enabled to
induce the necessary number to engage for the trip,
which at this season promised to be very disagreeable and perhaps hazardous. In the meantime, on
the afternoon of the 18th, heavy fain again set in,
and the dreary fog, which during the forenoon of the-
same day had partiaUy lifted, settled down yet lower
than before, entirely putting an end to the hopes L Camping on the Sea-coast.
had entertained of seeing the nature of the mountains which He in the rear of McNeH's miserable
shanty. The rain poured in torrents, and found its
way through many a chink and hole in the weather-
beaten roof of the Httle house, which lay back some
little way from the river, and was surrounded by
high wiUows.
On the 20th, having managed to hire eight men
and a very fine canoe, we started down the river for
the open water, which was yet six mUes distant.
The snow had partially melted away, and six inches
of water lay upon the ice, through which we waded
with the utmost unconcern, for use soon renders one
callous to Httle inconveniences of this kind.    The
canoe was mounted on a roughly-constructed sled,
and aU hands, aided by some supernumerary assistants, 1 taiHng on," we made steady progress to the
edge of the ice, which we reached as the tide was on
the turn of flood. The day havingbeen nearly spentin
getting away from the house, I determined on camping, as there was every indication of a heavy blow
and more bad weather.   We accordingly stopped on
a Httle flat piece of ground, close to the water's edge,
where the remains of some scaffolding, used the previous summer for fish-curing purposes, suppHed us
with the scanty means of making a fire.    Two of us
set to work to clear away the snow, four feet deep,
with our snow-shoes, whHe the others made off to
some distant green timber for brush and additional 136
.Canada on the Pacific.
firewood. I found camp-making on the sea-coast,
and in the midst of a pelting rain, a very different
affair from the same operation in the interior, and
oh ! how I wished for a temperature of twenty degrees or thirty degrees below zero. The snow was
of course saturated and very heavy, and the labour
of .clearing a space large enough to accommodate us
aU was by no means Hght. As we cleared down to
the ground little rills of water trickled in all directions, presenting but a poor prospect for a dry
night's lodging. My men, however, brought down
several good loads of green brush, which we spread on
the wet ground, and rigging the cotton tent and sails
by the aid of the masts and paddles, we managed to
protect ourselves to a great extent from the fury of
the winter storm which burst upon us as we were
putting the finishing strokes to our encampment.
It was now four, p.m., and perfectly dark, the
barometer had sunk to twenty-nine inches, but the
temperature was high comparatively, the thermometer standing at thirty-five degrees Fah't. There had
been Httle wind aU day, but now the storm-king
began to* assert his power, and heavy gusts foUowed
each other in rapid succession, driving the pitiless
rain, which soon changed to sleet and snow, in our
faces, and on one occasion carrying off our tent and
sails bodily into the river. With great difficulty we
started a fire, and having again secured our cotton
shelter in the best manner possible, passed the long
■•»«•■ Geographical Outlines.
and weary hours as pleasantly as could be expected
under the circumstances. Every now and then
some sudden and terrific gust would sweep down the
vaUey, and threaten to blow fire, tent and everything into the water; the acrid smoke produced
blew in eddies, and almost blinded us, while the
snow and sleet beat upon our frail covering, which,
not being of the very best quaHty, leaked, and caused
a constant drip, drip, which we could have very thankfully dispensed with. Under such circumstances, a
good night's rest was out of the question, and we
haUed the tardy morning Hght with undisguised
At eight a.m. on the 21st, the glass had gone up
to 29"80 inches, the wind had quite calmed down,
and the clouds breaking, gave us the promise of
a short " speU " of fine weather. We accordingly
packed up and launched our canoe, which was made
of cedar, a " dug-out" in fact, but shaped in a most
graceful mould, and evidently intended to stand a
rough sea. Embarking at nine we paddled towards
the Salmon Cove, distant six miles and a-half. The
traces of last night's storm had almost entirely disappeared, and the sky was nearly clear, a few vapoury clouds still clinging about the mountains,
which I now had the opportunity of seeing properly
for the first time. Opposite our camp the river was
a mUe and a-half wide ; very high mountains rose
from the water edge on both sides, and a mile below 138
Canada on the Pacific.
camp there was barely room to land, the steep, slippery rocks rising almost perpendicularly from the
water, and offering no chance for any creature less
sure-footed than a goat. The scenery was grand, but
fearfully desolate. The wind having entirely gone
down, the long, powerful strokes of my Indian crew
urged our clipper-modeUed craft through the smooth
water -with a noiselessness and speed difficult to realize. Now and again we stopped to enjoy the different phases of the scenery, as each succeeding point
revealed some fresh portion of the panorama; presently we opened out the Salmon Cove, which now
lay to our left. A Httle further on, we caught sight
of the few houses of the English Church Mission
station, which bore from us nor'-west, and was fuUy
three mUes distant. We had now also an unobstructed view of the land on the west side of Observatory Inlet, and could just see Point Ramsden, distant seven mUes. The Naas Entrance, opposite the
mission station, is about one mile and a-half wide,
and there is a fair anchorage in five and seven
fathoms, abreast of the Mission-house. With but one
or two exceptions, the shores were steep and almost
impracticable, and snow-clad mountains rose ort
every hand to an altitude of four or five thousand
feet, presenting an endless view of surpassing beauty
and rugged grandeur. The beautiful bay in which
we now were, is sometimes the scene of terrifie
storms, which generaUy blow either from the east or An Avalanche.
west. The easterly winds are by far the worst,
although coming from inland. Their violence is-
something terrific, sweeping down, as they do, along
the high Cascade range, the deep and narrow gap
through which the Naas finds its way to the sea,,
forming a funnel which the winds rush through
with a violence that nothing can withstand. We-
were in luck, however, the wind being, to use a
saUor's expression, right | up and down," the mirror-like surface of the deep blue waters of the Pacific reflecting with fideHty the surrounding mountains, of which the inverted forms now and agaim
undulated almost imperceptibly, as if in homage to-
the spent sweU of the great ocean beyond.
We were now four and a-half miles from the bottom of Salmon Cove, which lay-to the west-sou'-
west. On our port hand was a smaU level flat
covered, Hke the mountains above it, with heavy
timber. East of this a narrow defile appeared to
offer the only avaUable means of communication
with the interior from this harbour, which is none of
the best, one drawback being the existence of an immense mud-bank extending a long distance out from-
the flat aUuded to, which offers the only convenient
•site on which a viUage could be buUt. Three-quarters of a mUe out Hes a smaU dark wooded island,
and half-a-mfle further to. the sou'-west, another.
WhHe paddling along gently, we saw an avalanche-
occur down one of the high mountains to the east- 140
Canada on the Pacific.
ward ; this phenomenon must be of rather frequent
occurrence in this mountainous neighbourhood. Ihe
♦one we saw took place about two mUes off, and even
at that distance, the noise of the immense mass of
.-snow, as it sHd bodily down the mountain slope, and
over a high precipice on to the trees below, where it
cleared an avenue for itself in a twinkling, could be
heard quite distinctly. My Indians watched the incident with great delight, exclaiming, when it was
all over: " Hiu snow! Hiu snow ! " Several more
avalanches, but on a smaUer scale, were witnessed
by us, and we finaUy paddled up to the end of the
bay, where we landed at noon.
I now determined to send the canoe round to the
Nasoga Inlet, a devour of at least twenty mUes, while
I and a couple of Indians were to camp here, and
make the portage the foUowing day. Before the
canoe left, we boded our kettle and lunched on tea
and dried salmon. Pending the preparations, I got
out my photographic apparatus, and succeeded in
•getting a negative of the bay, which must be lovely
in the summer season, but at this time (21st January) was cold and gloomy, snow lying on the ground
to a depth of three feet. Reserving for ourselves
blankets and provisions for a couple of days, the
canoe pushed off, and we set about making the last
camp but one ofthe season. Mr. T.'s Mission Station
was now hidden by the projecting point at the entrance of the cove, but its bearing was about north Naas Harbour.
by east, and the distance five mUes. I did not derive much pleasure from this examination of the-
Naas Harbour; but after aU, when the barren and
rugged nature of the country which I had just passed
over is taken into consideration, the absence of a
really good and safe harbour is hardly to be deprecated. If, however, the Omenica gold mines should
ever become valuable, I have no doubt that communication between them and the coast may be even-
tuaUy established via the Naas, in order to avoid
the Skeena route, which, at best, is a bad one.
There may yet be an easier way to reach the interior. From the head of the east arm of Observatory Inlet the distance to the Naas River is not over-
twenty miles, and, by Indian reports, traU making
between these two points would not be difficult. If
such be the case, the difficulties of the Naas River
would be avoided, and a road would cross that
river at or near the Chean-howan, whence the Forks
of Skeena could be reached in a distance of seventy-
five miles, thus bringing Hazelton within ninety-
five mUes of the Pacific. This would involve the
construction of twenty-five miles of road from Kitwancole Lake, in an east-south-east direction, to the
Forks, opposite which it would debouch. The portion here alluded to has not yet been travelled by
white men, but the Indians say there are no difficulties in the way of a pack trad. Hardly had the
-canoe disappeared behind the point, when thesky again 142
Canada on the Pacific.
became overcast, and at three, p.m. a steady fall of
-snow set in. As the night wore on, the weather
became squaUy, and strong gusts from the northward occasioned us no smaH anxiety regarding the
• safety of the canoe, which had to pass several mUes
of open and perfectly iron-bound coast, where to land
was impossible. We, however, consoled ourselves
with the reflection that the men knew what they
were about, and arriving at the conclusion that they
had not gone beyond the last haven of refuge, we
turned in for the night. At three, a.m., of the 22nd,
the aneroids reached their lowest readings, whUe
terrific squalls from the nor'ard shook the trees under which we had pitched our tent, fanning the
"dying embers of our fire into flames, and scattering
the red-hot cinders in a manner dangerous to the
safety of our cotton tent, which already bore the
marks of many a stormy night's bivouac. At 8.45
we started on our way across the portage to the
head of Nasoga Inlet. The distance, as the crow
flies, is only two mUes, but owing to the depth and
•clogginess ofthe snow, saturated as it was after the
late heavy rains, our progress was slow. We. followed a Httle salmon stream for a mUe, sometimes
through a perfect network of wUlows, ascending and
descending ravines of no mean depth, and when
about half over we had to feU a couple of trees, upon
which we crossed the brawling little creek. FinaUy,
-after three hours' walking of the most fatiguing kind Sea Lions.
through a dense forest, we reached the other end, and
'descended to the beach at the head of the south inlet. The canoe had not yet made its appearance, so
we prepared to camp; an immense stranded red
cedar, at least five feet in diameter, supplying us
with firewood ready to hand. We accordingly
pitched our tent just beyond the reach of the incoming tide, placing layers of brush, on the wet beach,
on which to sleep. WhHe occupied with the details
of camping, a couple of sea Hons made their appearance close in shore. My Indians fired several ineffectual shots at them, but the brutes dived simultaneously with the flashes of the gun, and bobbing
up again in some other unexpected spot, seemed to
laugh at our futile attempts. At four, p.m., the
canoe arrived; the men had been obHged to put
ashore shortly after leaving the Salmon Cove, and
had not left until very late, on account of the heavy
sea running outside. They had been more successful
then we, for they had bagged a large and fine seal,
portions of which they soon had Hi the pot, and they
devoured nearly the whole before morning. By
nine, p.m., it had completely calmed down again; the
sky had also cleared, but the glass feU steadily until
five, a.m, of the 23rd, when a Hght breeze sprung up
from the nor'-nor'-east. At seven, a.m., we embarked, and paddled beyond the shelter of the high land
we had crossed'on the previous day, when hoisting
.the foresaU, we sped down the inlet at the rate of 144
Canada on the Pacific.
six miles per hour. We soon found ourselves in a
pretty heavy sea, over which our brave Httle craft
careered in beautiful style. On emerging from the
inlet we found a heavy sweU setting in from the
north, and continuing along the ff on-bound coast we
put ashore at noon in a sandy bay, to boH the kettle
and warm ourselves, for the weather was chiUy, the
thermometer having stood at thirty-two degrees during the whole forenoon.
Since we left the inlet, we had passed only two
or three places where there was any possibHity of
landing, the shores being almost invariably steep
and inaccessible, whHe mountains upon mountains
were clustered together in endless variety of form.
Occasionally, a deep inlet could be seen, untU lost to*
view in the intricacies of the mountains on our left,
while numerous islands, of large extent, protected
the inner channel we had taken from the effects of
the angry swell outside, of which we occasionally
caught a gHmpse. For ruggedness, this coast cannot
have its equal. To walk from the Naas to Fort-
Simpson (whither we were now bound), would be a
perfect impossibility, owing to the numerous inlets-
and bays, and the impassable character of the
ground. The whole coast, down to Cape Caution,,
has much the same appearance, and is, if anything,
Starting again, we paddled westward for four
miles through a narrow channel, the width of which A Critical Five Minutes.
barely averaged half-a-mUe. On the north side, we
had a high mountainous island, and on our left, the
rugged shores of the mainland, wfiich we hugged
very closely. Opening out Dundas Island, which
lay sixteen mUes to the west and south, we reached
a rocky headland, at the base of which the seas were
running fearfuUy high, the wind having veered to
north, and now blowing a gale. Before going any
further, a consultation was held as to the feasibility
of attempting this short but hazardous piece of
navigation, and, after a little whHe, it was decided
to risk it. The foremast was accordingly stepped,
the sail reefed, sheet hauled aft in readiness; and
after seeing everything clear (which my men did in
a seamanlike manner), we paddled out for a short
distance, Hi order to clear the eddies caused by the
high island immediately to windward. AU hands
being now stationed in their respective places, in
order to help with the paddles, we put the helm
"up," our cedar "dug-out" obeying the impulse
immediately, and away we bounded over the seething waters at a fearful rate. The captain and another steered and handled their large paddles with
the most consummate skiU, and the way in which
the beautiful Httle vessel answered her helm, as the
steersman laid her broadside on in the immense
hoUows, down which we every now and again disappeared, was wonderful. As we rose from the
trough of the sea, off she paid again, assisted by the
J 146
Canada on the Pacific.
united efforts of the paddlers, flying through the
hissing waves Hke a thing of Hfe, sometimes for an
instant hesitating, as we rushed up the side of a
solid wall of water, and again, gathering fresh impetus, dashing madly down the next huge billow,
the long projecting bow dipping under alarmingly.
Five minutes of this exciting work took us again
into comparatively smooth water, where we rested
for a few minutes to light up the tobacco pipe, the
inseparable companion of the voyageur. The canoe
and its burthen now presented rather a curious
appearance, the spray and water we had shipped
speedUy evaporating under the cheering influence
of the sun, which had now made its appearance,
left everything coated with a thick layer of sea
Three miles further, we sighted the Work Channel, or | Canal," as it is sometimes called. This is
an arm of the sea, which extends inland in a southeasterly direction for thirty-five miles. It has a
width of from one to two mHes, and terminates
within three-quarters of a mile of the right or north
bank of the Skeena, to which access can be had
from this direction, by a short but rough portage of
less than a mile in length. StHl keeping on for a
few mUes, we rounded the north-west point of the
;Chimsean Peninsula; and running in between the
mainland and Birnie Island, caught sight of the
' o o
now welcome Fort, where the rough and disagree- Arrival at Fort Simpson.
able portion of our journey was to terminate.   From
Birnie Island to the Fort was but three mUes, which
we soon accomplished, and our tight little craft
grounded on the muddy beach at the Fort precisely
at four, p.m.    Several miners, on their way to the
-Omenica, via the Naas, curious to find out who we
were, stood on the beach where we landed, and in
.answer to their inquiry as to where we came from,
they received the laconic answer, " Fort Garry."    A
stare of incredulity was returned, and I hastened on
-to Mr. Morrison's quarters, where the most cordial
welcome-awaited me from that gentleman and his
wife, whose kindness and attention I shaff never
forget.   My traps being brought up to the Fort, I
was soon installed in the most comfortable of quarters, to await the arrival of the Hudson's Bay Company's steamer "Otter,"  then due on her whiter
trading voyage.     On the foUowing morning, my
crew received thefr pay, which they soon got rid of
amongst the many inveterate gamblers  of  Fort
Simpson, who not only fleeced them of the money
received for their trip, but also gave them a sound
•thrashing, probably foUowing   out   the principle
sometimes adopted in more civilized communities of
knocking a man down, and then kicking him for
I had been particularly struck with the great
decrease in the depth of snow since leaving the
Naas, and was very agreeably surprised to find, 148
Canada on the Pacific.
on my arrival here, perfectly bare ground; but Mr.
Morrison told me that here, at no time during the
winter, does snow ever He for any length of time,
or to any great depth.
Fort Simpson is in latitude 54 deg. 33 min. north,,
and longitude 130 deg. 24 min. west. The harbour-
is an exceUent one, and of rather large extent.
It is sheltered from the westerly winds by Finlayson Island, and a large reef of outlying rocks.
The north-west winds alone can affect it, and
these only to a slight degree, while on every other-
hand it is completely land-locked In the immediate vicinity, the land is not very high—
one or two hills, from eight hundred to fourteen
hundred feet in height, in the rear of the Fort, being
the most conspicuous points. AU around Fort Simpson harbour, the rare and wonderful occurrence of a
sandy beach is to be met with, and, I believe, as far
as Metlah Catlah, a mission station some eighteen
or twenty mUes down the-coast, the same phenomenon is repeated at intervals.. Those are, I believe,,
the only instances of actual beaches occurring in all
the immense extent of iron-bound coast extending
from the northern boundary Hne to Cape Caution,
a distance of three hundred nautical miles. There
is exceUent anchorage within a cable's length of the
beach, below the Fort, and vessels can He there Hi
perfect safety with seven fathoms of water, and good
holding ground  beneath them.    Some forty-five? American Military Post.
■miles north-west of Fort Simpson, is situated the
late American miHtary post of Tongas, now abandoned by the troops, whose quarters have been
removed to Sitka, the capital of that valuable acquisition of the United States, Alaska. Although
deserted by the miHtary, the forsaken wooden
shanties of Fort Tongas are stUl watched over by a
civH functionary, and the stars and stripes yet wave
above the door of the soHtary individual on whom
•devolve the not very onerous duties of custom-house
In front of Fort Simpson there is an excellent
hard and uniform beach, where the American
.steamer, which used to ply between Portland (Oregon) and Sitka, has been laid up for repairs. The
Fort itself belongs to the Hudson's Bay Company,
and is bufft in the form of a quadrangle, flanked at
*each corner by wooden towers of Insignificant pretensions. The dwelHng-houses, stores and offices of
the Company are inside; and a double entrance-
gate, studded with iron, completely cuts off communication with the Indians who Hve in the immediate
neighbourhood. The Indian population here numbers about five hundred souls. Some hundred or
more houses of various sizes, but aU buHt upon the
same principle, afford shelter to the lazy inhabitants
•of this viUage, who, unHke the inland Indians, are
never pushed to extremities for the want of food;
the Pacific, which washes the very thresholds of 150
Canada on the Pacific.
their dweUings, affording a never-failing supply of
salmon and halibut, besides other fish; while the
adjoining beaches are covered with sheU-fish, such
as clams, cockles" and mussels, in endless profusion.
The moral character of the Chimsean Indian is
decidedly low. In their domestic relations, they are
indifferent; and I think it may be said of them
generaUy, that the marriage tie is knotted with a
view to being sHpped with facUity. Attempts have
been made to Christianize these Coast savages, but
have not been crowned with success, a Christian
Indian being usuaUy looked upon with suspicion by
the knowing ones among the coast traders. Eighteen
or twenty miles from Fort Simpson, a Mr. Duncan„
a missionary of the English Church, has established
a station for the promulgation of the gospel amono*
the Chimseans; but whether or not his efforts have
met with the success they deserve, this deponent
knoweth not. According to the best authority, the
total population of the Chimsean Peninsula is about
fifteen hundred; but pulmonary and other complaints,
are rapidly reducing the number.
The connoisseur in ship-buUding might here indulge his fancy to his heart's content; for about the
beach and houses, innumerable cedar canoes, of every
size, are to be seen, every Indian being generaUy the
owner of one, if not more, of these Hght and graceful
craft. The finest and best canoes are brought from
the Queen Charlotte Islands, where the yellow cedar Canoe Building.
grows to a great size. The Hyders, as the Indians
inhabiting those islands are caUed, excel Hi many
mechanical arts. They carve most beautifully, and
some of the specimens of canoe-buUding cannot be
surpassed in graceful appearance, and capabiHties
for speed. The Chimsean Indians usuaUy purchase
those large canoes from the Hyders, who bring them
over from their insular home in the early part of
the summer, during the prevalence of fine weather.
They are sometimes, however, overtaken by sudden
storms during the passage to the mainland, when
they generally display the greatest skill in handling
their comparatively tiny craft. In the art of working such metals as gold, sHver and copper into a
variety of ornamental articles, they exhibit as much
ingenuity and skiH as are met with in cities among
regularly-trained artizans—some specimens of bracelets, rings, and other articles, which I saw at Fort
Simpson, being really weU done. In physique, the
Hyders are superior to the Indians of the mainland,
and Hi features they bear no sHght resemblance
to the Japanese, whose descendants they probably
There is Httle land about Fort Simpson avaUable
for culture; but the Hudson's Bay Company grow
a few vegetables, and, from aU accounts, the climate
is not too severe, nor are the seasons too short for
the raising of cereals. CHAPTEE XI.
On board the "Otter"—A "played-ont" Boiler—Rose Spit-
Graham Island—-Masset Harbour—Clams—Mineral Wealth—
A Nor'-Easter—Dundas Island—Fort Simpson again—Porche"r
Island—Arthur Channel—Seaforth—Bella Bella—Dean Channel—Bella Coula—The Old Route to Fraser River—Perilous
Anchorage—King Island—Safety Cove—Queen Charlotte
Sound—Beaver Harbour—Description of Scenery—Discovery
Passage—Alberni Canal—The Canada Pacific Route—Cape
Mudge—Port Augusta—Off Nanaimo.
3N THE morning of the 31st January, while
^■)jj§£, stiU in bed, I was agreeably surprised to hear
the famiHar sound of a steam-whistle; and on getting
up, the waiting-man informed me that the long-
looked-for "Otter" had at length made her appearance, and had just dropped anchor in front of the Fort.
Presently, Captain Lewis, her commander, came
ashore, and informed us that, as soon as the cargo
for this place was landed, he would run over to
Masset harbour, on the northern island ofthe Queen
Charlotte group. That evening, after bidding fare-
weU to Mr. and Mrs. Morrison, I embarked at eight
' O
HJJI*   ' A " Played-out" Boiler. 153
o'clock, and making my way to the snug cabin of
the " Otter, found a berth ready for my use. The
next morning, at five o'clock, the rattling of the
chain cable, which was* soon foUowed by the peculiar
sound of the screw, announced our departure from
Fort Simpson. At eight beUs, when off the north
•end of Dundas Island, the steward announced breakfast, to which Captain Lewis, the chief engineer,
and I, sat down. On questioning Mr. Elliot, the
•engineer, regarding our slow rate of speed, he informed me that the boHer now Hi use had been in
the " Otter" for the last twenty years, and was
about " played out," so much so, that fourteen lbs.
of steam was the maximum allowed, adding that a
slight explosion might be expected at any time.
The " Otter" was a sound, staunch oak vessel of
200 tons, built in England, and brought out under
canvas, via Cape Horn. Her captain was a fine old
gentleman, who could boast of an almost perfect
knowledge of the Pacific coast, from Puget Sound to
Sitka. Captain Lewis had the supervision of aU the
Hudson's Bay Company's posts on the coast, from
Tictoria upwards, and between that and the navigation of the " Otter" his time was pretty well
occupied. We had a splendid day for our voyage,
the weather being clear, with a Hght air from the
north-east, which we took advantage of by setting
the foresaU and mainsail. With the exception of a
slight ground swell, the sea was quite calm, while 154
Canada on the Pacific.
the air, although slightly frosty, was most exhilarating.    The thermometer stood at 32 deg. Fahrenheit.
O °
untU ten, a.m., when it rose as the wind veered to
the south-west, the barometer then beginning to
fall. At one o'clock we were off the Rose Spit, a
very dangerous sand stretching far out from the
north-eastern extremity of Graham Island, the low
wooded shores of which were just beginning to show
in the hazy distance. The contrast in the appearance of the mainland and Graham Island was very
striking. Astern, and forty mHes distant, the cold,
bleak and serrated contour of the coast range could
be traced from north to south, presenting a most
uninviting appearance, while the stiU more dreary-
looking mountains of Alaska intercepted the northern horizon. At three, p.m., we neared the entrance
to Masset Harbour, and were soon surrounded by
numerous canoes, which came out to meet us^.
Twenty minutes later, the anchor was let go,
abreast of the Indian viUage, and within two hundred yards of the shore; the passage from Fort
Simpson having occupied exactly ten hours.
Masset being a very bad and unsafe anchorage,
Captain Lewis at once set to work discharging
goods for the use of the Hudson's Bay post here,
and taking in, in return, sundry kegs of dog fish
oil, skins of the fur seal, and other furs. The harbour here is merely an arm of the sea, about a mile
in width, running into the interior of the island for ■jP"!3|
Masset Harbour. 155-
fifteen or twenty miles. Unlike the inlets on the-
mainland, the banks of this one are very low; and
the tide rushing up and down with great velocity,
there is sometimes created, with wind from the
opposite direction, a very nasty and confused sea,
dangerous to vessels lying at anchor. It was for
this reason that Captain Lewis was desirous of getting away from this rather unsafe place, and every
exertion was accordingly made to hasten our
departure. On Sunday, whHe the steamer's crew and
a gang of Hyders were loading up, hi anticipation
of bad weather, the Captain and I went ashore, to
take a stroU through the viUage,  and along the
O O    ' o
beautiful beach, which extends for many miles along-
the northern shore of the island. The Indian
ranches here were exactly similar in appearance to*
those on the mainland, and were ornamented, Hke
them, with carvings in wood.    Passing east of the
•*" O CD
village, we entered a forest of fine large timber, and,
continuing through it, reached the gravel beach-
beyond. Traces of a recent storm were yet visible
in the huge pUes of clams lately thrown up by the
surf, and now covering the beach for mHes.
Although now in the very heart of winter, the
weather was comparatively mffd, the thermometer
ranging from 36 deg. to 40 deg. Fahrenheit, neither
were there more than three inches of snow in the
sheltered places, while the rare occurrence of ice was
an additional proof of the mUdness of the cffmate.. 156
Canada on the Pacific.
On the more southern islands of the group, the seasons are even milder; but the country is of a mountainous nature, abounding in mineral wealth—rich
and vast deposits of anthracite coal, veins of copper,
and, very recently, gold, having been worked to
advantage. Yellow cedar and pine are found in
large quantities; on the other hand, the soil in many
places is well adapted for agriculture. This group
of islands is certainly rich in undeveloped wealth,
and wiU at some future day form a very important
portion of the British possessions on the Pacific.
Early on the morning of the 4th, a heavy northeast gale, accompanied by rain and snow, set in,
preventing our departure for the Skeena, whither
we were now bound. We, therefore, remained at
anchor all day; but the next morning, at two
o'clock, steamed out of Masset Harbour. For three
hours we had the advantage of a smooth sea, until
Just before daylight, when, emerging from the shelter of the island, we met the fuH force of a stiff
south-easter, which kicked up a tremendous sea, and
caused the " Otter " to pitch and roU in fine style-
Coming on deck as the first faint streaks of dawn
were beginning to pierce the gloomy clouds which
now covered the entire firmament, a strange and
novel scene met my gaze. The Httle "Otter" was
staggering along, close hauled by the wind, under
double-reefed fore and mainsails, now and again
-burying her bows beneath the confused sea, which Port Simpson again. 15T
the conflicting efforts of an ebb tide and southerly
gale had now raised. Captain Lewis, who was executing a sort of double-shuffle on the sHppery deck,
in answer to my inquiry as to when we should
reach the Skeena, shook his head:—| No Skeena
for us this day! I'm afraid we shaU have to bear
up for Fort Simpson yet," said he, casting a critical
look around the troubled expanse of waters; " this
beggarly wind is hauHng more to the eastward, and
we can't fetch the passage." In fact, we were now
heading north-east by north, a course which, had
we been making no lee-way, would have taken us
to the yet unexplored passage between North and
Middle Dundas Islands. As it was, the set of the
current was driving us fast to the northward, and
we were finally, and with great reluctance, com-
peUed to bear away for the passage between Zayas-
Island and the North Dundas. Easing off the sheets
a Httle, we now ran before the troubled seas, and
soon got into the smooth water under the lee of
Dundas Island. At noon we crossed the head of
Chatham Sound, and brought up, in ten fathoms,
opposite the Fort in Port Simpson Harbour, at two,,
p.m. During aU this time the barometer was rapidly
going down; and shortly after making aU snug, the-
gale increased in violence; terrific squaUs, accompanied by sleet and rain, swept down the rising-
ground behind the Fort, causing the " Otter" to
careen, and twisting her round Hke a feather.    Our 158
Canada on the Pacific.
holding ground was good, however,* and with forty
fathoms of chain out, we took it cooUy. Morrison
soon came on board, when we " spliced the mam
brace," and wished success to the iU-fated | George
Wright," then out, to the northward, on her last
and disastrous voyage to Sitka. This unfortunate
vessel must have foundered or gone ashore during
this very gale, which had not yet attained its height.
On the morning of the 5th, the barometer stood at
28-68 inches, and the storm still continued. By-
and-by the wind veered by south and wrest, causing
a rise in the mercury, and giving us hopes of a
•speedy cessation of bad weather. It was not, however, until the morning of the 6th that we again
got up steam, and made a fresh attempt to continue
our voyage.
At six, a.m., steam being up, we left Port Simpson;
and running between Finlayson Island and the
mainland, steamed down Chatham Sound, passing
Metlah-Catlah at 9.15, and reaching WHla-Claugh
at eleven o'clock, where we took on board some
passengers and freight—among the former the Rev.
M. Tomlinson, of the Naas, then on his way to Victoria. It had now calmed down, but the surrounding high land was completely enveloped in mist,
which quite cut off the view of the Skeena, close to
which we then were. Willa-Claugh consists of one
•or two wooden shanties, jammed up against a dark
precipitous mountain, and presents a most forlorn Arthur Channel.
appearance. It is situated on the north side of the
North Skeena Passage, and about twenty mUes from
Port Essington. The land on every side is steep,
and rises Hi places to a height of two or three thousand feet above the water, offering no level beaches,
while the late rains, having completely washed away
aU traces of snow from the green timber, invested
the dark mountains with a yet gloomier hue. Six
or seven miles to the south-west lay the huge black
mass of Porcher Island, which interposed its rugged
wooded peaks between us and the ocean outside.
Where we now lay, with forty fathoms of dark-blue
water beneath us, the surface was as smooth as that
of an inland lake, and the now placid waters of the
Pacific kissed the dark frowning rocks at the base
of Tree Point, without a murmur of dissent.
At two, p.m., having taken on board aU our passengers and freight, including the clergyman and a
fur-hunting Jew from Victoria, who was returning
home with a few bales of deerskins  and some fur
seals, we steamed slowly down  Arthur  Channel,
sighting the Ogden passage for a few minutes,  and
then shaped a mid-channel course down the Grenvflle
-Canal,  a passage between the mainland and Pitt Island, fifty miles long, and from half-a-mUe to a mile and
a-half in width. On each side of this deep arm of the
sea, the mountains rose, sometimes sheer to a height
of two thousand feet, and, in some instances, reaching
-an altitude of nearly four thousand feet above the 160
Canada on the Pacific.
water; their dark sides shrouded in an almost palpable mist, which hung like a paU over them, and
wet our decks Hke rain. About eleven, p.m. we
passed the entrance to the Douglas Channel, at the
upper end of which the Kitimat River enters the
Pacific. The dawn of day metus as we began to feel
the influence of the ocean sweU rolling in through
MUbank Sound, which we crossed by 8.40, a.m, and
running down the Seaforth Channel, dropped anchor
in the beautiful little harbour of BeUabeUa precisely
at eleven o'clock. Here we took an ox on board, and
after an interchange of commodities with the man Hi
charge of the Hudson's Bay Company's post, were
again under weigh at forty minutes past twelve, a.m.,
en route for BeUa Coula, via the Gunboat Passage.
** O
Ten miles of very intricate navigation through a
channel across which, in some places, one might have
thrown a stone, brought us into Dean Channel, another deep inlet varying in width from three quarters of a mile to two miles, and waUed in on either
hand by huge mountains, the summits of which
were lost to view in the dense mists above. On
entering this fiord, we were met by a furious wind,
which swept down through the Cascade Range with
sufficient force to almost arrest our progress, but, as
we had the advantage of smooth water, the " Otter ""
made headway, and at seven o'clock we rounded the
north end of King Island, bringing up in twenty
fathoms abreast of Bella Coula River at 9.45 p.m. Bella Coula.
The Hudson Bay Company have here a small post,
where a trifling trade is carried on with the Indians. The post of Bella Coula is situated at the
furthest extremity of the Bentinck North Arm, and
is about fifty-five mUes from the south end of King's
Island. It may be fairly said to He within the Cascade Range of mountains, which tower above it on
three sides. The level and low bottom on which
the post is built extends far inland between high
mountains, and through it flows the shallow little
Bella Coula River, which is navigable for canoes a
* O
long distance up. In former years this was the
route to the Frazer River, and pack animals were
wont to perform the distance from the salt water
to Alexandria in ten days. For some reason this
route has been condemned, but from the accounts
given by parties familiar with it, I should think
there would be no great difficulty in constructing a
road. As an eligible point for arailroad terminus, BeUa
Coula, however, labours under two serious disadvantages which are insuperably objectionable. During
the early part of summer, the snows from the surrounding mountains flood the river, which sometimes overflows its banks, inundating the flat on
either side to a depth of four or five feet. The
second objection is that the anchorage is far from
being good. Almost unfathomable depth of water,
in the immediate proximity of a flat which dries in
great part at low tide, renders the anchorage difficult 162
Canada on the Pacific.
and insecure. So sudden does the water deepen off
this shoal, which is the result of the accumulated
sHt of ages, that a small vessel may have her anchor
down Hi twenty-five or thirty fathoms, and still
touch the mud-bank astern. Ours was a case in
point, for, at low water, I could almost have jumped
off the "Otter's" taffraU to the mud-bank below,
while a stone's throw from the bow there were probably ninety fathoms. Another objection to the
place is the Hmited amount of space, the flat not
being over a mUe in width. On the other hand a sail-
ing ship might pass weeks at the entrance to Fitz-
hugh Sound, while waiting for a slant of favourable
wind to run up; for to beat against the terrific force
of the whiter storms which blow up and down these
narrow fiords, with almost irresistible violence, would
be simply impossible.
We remained here for twenty-two hours, during
which interval a quantity of firewood and some very
inferior furs were shipped. At half-past seven
o'clock on the evening of the 8th the anchor was *
again weighed, and we ran down the inlet, bound
for Fort Rupert, the most northern of the Hudson
Bay Company's forts on the Island of Vancouver.
We had ha tow a large canoe filled with a dirtier lot
of Indians than even the filthy wretches of Kitwun-
cole. They were bound for some viUage down the
coast, and Captain Lewis had kindly proffered them
a tow rope as far as our respective routes coincided. Beaver Harbour.
.At 9.50 p.m. the.north-east end of King Island was
jpassed, and by three o'clock on the foUowing morning its southern extremity had vanished in the mists
astern. Shortly before breakfast we passed Safety
Cove, and at ten o'clock, Cape Caution was distant
six miles, and bore east by south. We now set all
our available canvas, and "flattening" everything aft,
-shaped a course for Cape James, the north-eastern
,part of Hope Island. We were now crossing Queen
Charlotte Sound, which fully maintained its reputation for bad weather, a stiff south-easter, laden with
moisture, causing quite a heavy sea, and, in the case
of some of the passengers, an unpleasant feeling in
the epigastric region, as the cadaverous hue of their
countenances betraved. At noon, we threaded the
intricate Shadwell Passage, where some years ago
an American man-of-war was lost, and, at a quarter
to one o'clock, were heading east-half-north down
Goletas Channel, bringing up in Beaver Harbour, at
3.45 p.m., opposite, and within a cable length of
Fort Rupert.
The cHmate and general appearance of the land
.had undergone a decided change since crossing
Queen Charlotte Sound. With the rugged mountains of the mainland, we had left the snows and
frosts of winter, and seemed now to be getting into
another climate, as we gaHy steamed do wn the beautiful
waters which wash the eastern margin of Vancouver
Island. The vast scale upon which nature has bunt up 164
Canada on the Pacific.
the repellent shores of the mainland, now left to the*
north, was changed for one less pretentious but of
far more pleasing aspect. The narrow passage between Hope and GaHano Islands had the appearance
of the beautiful scenery of the Thousand Islands of
the St. Lawrence, while the shores of Vancouver,.
which we now had on our starboard hand, although
rocky, wore an agreeable aspect, and contrasted most
favourably with the recoUections of the gloomy-
scenes through which we had lately passed. Not a.
particle of snow was now to be seen, and the aff had
a balmy feeling very exhiHrating to the spirits.
After deHvering some cargo, and receiving the*
returns of Fort Rupert, we continued on, stopping for
a few minutes in Alert Bay, where we picked up a
passenger.    The weather  had now  become rather
moist, and towards the morning a steady rain set in.
We kept on, however, in spite of   the darkness,
entering Johnston's Straits at ten, p.m.    This arm of
the sea has a width of from three-quarters of a mile-
to a mUe and a-half, and on the Vancouver Island;
side there are some high mountain ranges which rise*
.to an altitude of four and five thousand feet.    At 8>
a.m., on the morning of the 10th, we entered Discovery Passage, passing through the Seymour Narrows at half-past nine.    When running through
this, the narrowest passage between Vancouver Island and the numerous islands which He between
it and the mainland of British Columbia, we had **v
Alberni Canal.
'the advantage of perfectly smooth water, the tide
being on the turn, and there being little or no wind •
O ' O 3
but there are times, especiaUy when tide and wind
opposeeach other, when a very heavy sea renders boating dangerous.    The distance between Maud Island
o o
on the east and Wilfred Point on the Vancouver
side of the Narrows, is little more than four cable
lengths, and the reader may imagine with what
force the tides rush through this contracted space.
About two and a-half cable lengths from Maud Island, or say two-thirds of the way across, there is a
sunken rock caUed " The Ripple," which has three
fathoms and a-half of water over it at low tide. It
is across this narrow strait that the raffroad from the
mainland must be taken, if the destiny of Vancouver
Island be ever joined continuously with that of the
continental portion of the Dominion. In the event
of the Alberni Canal (to which access is had through
Barclay Sound on the west coast of the island) being
-chosen for the terminus of the road—a very unlikely
selection—a line about eighty miles Hi length would
He required from the Seymour Narrows to that
point. But as Victoria wiU, Hi aU probabUity, be
the terminal point on the Pacific, there wHl be need-
•ed about one hundred and sixty mUes of raUway Hi
-order to connect that rising Httle town with the
_great bridge at the Narrows—for a great and serious
undertaking it wiU be to build a bridge sufficiently
^strong to answer the purpose, on account of the 166
Canada on the Pacific.
depth of water, and the strong tides which rush up
and down at a rate ranging from five to eight
knots per hour. Eight hundred and seventy-five
yards of such rapid water, in depth from ten to forty
fathoms, with, in all that distance, but one resting
place, twenty-one feet below the surface at low
water, wHl be no sHght difficulty to overcome. The
distance between the Seymour Narrows and the
mainland, on the western shore of Bute Inlet, is probably twenty-five miles, and between those points
several bridges wiU be needed to connect them,
thence, by foUowing the steep and rocky shores of
the Bute Inlet for a distance of about fifty mHes;
the mouth of the Homalco River, situated at the
head of the inlet, wHl be reached. From this very
imperfect description of that portion of the Canada.
Pacific Road, included between the mouth of the?
Homalco River, and the shores of Vancouver Island*,
a distance of, say seventy-five miles, the reader may
infer that the expense of road construction wUl be
very great, perhaps greater than the advantages to-
be derived from the immediate connection with
Vancouver Island might warrant; however, the gentlemen who represent Vancouver Island in the Par-
Hament ofthe Dominion, wiU be enabled to do their
"mffeage" without breaks, and with a certain
amount of comfort, which is an advantage not to
be overlooked.
At ten o'clock we met the fuU force of the- flood Port Augusta.
tide, which, aided by a rather strong south-east
breeze suddenly sprung up, considerably retarded
our progress. At one o'clock we were abreast of
Cape Mudge, eleven mffes below the Narrows; but
the captain, finding we could make nothing of it,
decided to run back to the shelter of Duncan Bay,
where we remained until two o'clock the foUowing
morning. We then got under weigh, and steamed
to Comox, dropping our anchor in Port Augusta at
seven a.m.
This is a beautiful harbour, and the gently rising
ground near the beach looked very inviting, lighted
up, as it was, by the bright February sun, which
gHded the snowy summits of the Beaufort range
of mountains, distant   ten miles.      The  weather
was also perfectly delightful, the morning   being
Hke those we have  on the Ottawa towards the
close of April.    At seven,  a.m., the thermometer
stood at 48 deg. Hi the shade; and the change from
the almost Arctic appearance of the coast north of
Queen Charlotte Sound, to the smUing, spring-Hke
landscape now seen from the | Otter's" deck, was
difficult to realize.    After taking in some freight,
on account of the  Hudson's  Bay  Company, we
weighed once more for Nanaimo, the Newcastle of
Vancouver  Island;  at ten,  a.m.,  passing through
Bayne's Sound, and keeping Denman's Island on the
port hand.   When a few miles past the latter, we
sighted Mount Baker (height 10,700 feet), which
I 168
Canada on the Pacific.
bore about due east magnetic, and was then distant
one hundred and twenty geographical mffes. Off
Qualicum River we began to feel the influence of
the balmy western breeze from the Pacific, which
enabled us to make sail. This was one of the most
deHghtful afternoons  imaginable.     The  Canadian
reader wHl be, doubtless, surprised When I say that
we loUed away an hour or two upon the " Otter's "
deck (this was the 11th February), basking in the
bright sun, and fanned by the most delicious of
breezes. It was Hke running down the trades, and
brought back recoUections of former voyages in the
sunny seas of the southern hemisphere. The appearance of the land, within three mUes of which
we were now running, was very pretty, and devoid
of ruggedness.
f.TJST AS the sun was sinking behind the hills,
Hi the rear of Nanaimo, we entered that
harbour, and, for the first time during the voyage,
ranged up alongside a substantial wharf, and immediately under the Coal Company's derrick. The " Sir
James Douglas" was here, and a large American
barque lay beneath a coal "shoot," taking in a cargo
of that valuable commodity for San Francisco. The
'Goal Company deHvers the mineral for $5 and $5.50
per ton; and, I beHeve, it sells Hi the San Francisco
market at $12—thus leaving a large margin of profit to the carriers.
Vancouver Island has large deposits of excellent
coal, winch is found Hi many places from Fort
Rupert down to Nanaimo, which wiU doubtless, ere
long, prove a source of great wealth to the island.
As a minute description of the geological character
of Vancouver Island may be read with interest, I 170
Canada on the Pacific.
give an extract from Dr. Hector's Report upon that
subject. Speaking of his visit to Nanaimo, the
Doctor says:—
"At this place, coal has been worked by the Hudson Bay Company since 1854, and the total output
up to January, 1860, has been about twelve thousand tons. Through the kindness of Mr. NichoL
the gentleman in charge of the works, and Mr.
Pearce, of the Land Office, I am able to show a plan-
of the workings, and also a map of the neighbourhood, Hi which I have inserted my own observations
of the geology. At the time of my visit there were
three pits in operation, giving employment to thirty
miners and a number of labourers. The former are
principaUy Scotch and Staffordshfre men, who have
been brought out to the country at the Hudson's
Bay Company's expense; but the greater number of
the latter are Indians, smaU tribes of whom come
and settle at the mines, and work for a short tune,
tiff they tire of the uncongenial Hfe, when they
leave, to make room for another band. The irregu-
lar supply of labour, from this cause, adds greatly to*
the uncertainty and expense of the workings. When
working Hi the best seams at Nanaimo, a miner can
put out two and a-half tons per day. The shipment
from Nanaimo in the month of January, 1860, was*
two thousand tons, the trade having at that time
been suddenly extended by the demand consequent
upon the establishment of gas-works at Portland,. Geology of Vancouver Island.
Oregon, and several other places. This extension
of the market was supplied from a large stock that
was lying on hand at the time; but, from having
been exposed to the action of the weather for many
years, it was of very inferior quality. In spite of
this, however, I understand that the demand has
continued steady throughout last year, and that the-
coal has been much used in Cahfornia for making-
gas, instead of that brought from the Eastern States,
as heretofore.
" Coal from the same description of strata has-
been also worked to some degree on the opposite-
side of the Gulf of Georgia, at BilHngham Bay, and
also at Cooze Bay, in Washington territory. Although it has been found in many other locahties
along the coast, as I shaU mention, after describing-
the formation, these are the only places where it
has been worked to some extent. The whole formation associated with the lignite or coal beds is
very extensively developed along the Pacific coast,
and has generaUy been considered as of tertiary age,
excepting from the first accounts sent home, which,
as there were no fossils, induced geologists to consider them as carboniferous. Some fossils transmitted to the Jermyn street Museum, many years
ago, were first rightly recognized by the late Professor E. Forbes as being cretaceous; but the locahties  were undescribed,   and, in the   absence of 172
Canada on the Pacific.
sections, it was impossible to deduce anything from
them regarding the age of the coal beds.
" The observations I have now to offer respecting
these strata will, I believe, put their age beyond
doubt as cretaceous; but rightly to understand the
value to be attached to them requffes me to give,
first, a sketch of the physical features of the district.
" The southern part of Vancouver Island, where
the town of Victoria is buUt, is composed of meta-
morphic rocks, with occasional beds of crystalline
limestone. This district, and also the central portion of the island, is, as may be expected from the
formation, everywhere hilly, and even mountainous,
with only limited patches of fertile soH Hi the valleys. However, the scanty soil on the rocky hUls
supports a fine growth of timber, so that they are
almost invariably wooded to their summits. In the
immediate neighbourhood of Victoria there is,
nevertheless, a good deal of fine open land, dotted
with smaU oak trees. On passing to the north,
through the Canal de Nuro, the islands of the archipelago, between Vancouver Island and the mainland,
■are composed of strata of sandstone and conglomerate, which form lofty cliffs, overhanging intricate
but beautiful inlets. The junction between these
two formations was not observed; but I think it is
«6uth of San Juan Island, and from thence across to
Vancouver Island by Sandwich Point, and thence ~—-
Geology of Vancouver Island.
northwards a Httle way back from the coast, leaving-
a narrow shp of fine land.
" These sandstone and conglomerate strata have a
uniform strike of from N.N.W. and S.S.E., and in
passing along the shore of Saluma Island they were
observed to form several well-marked synclinal
troughs, tiU, on passing through the Plumper Pass,
they dip gently to the N.E., under the waters of the
Gulf of Georgia. Section No. 1 (on the map) merely
shows the pHcations of the strata as observed on
passing along the shore once in a canoe, and again
in a steamer,—the nature of the beds not being-
ascertained beyond the general fact that they are
thick-bedded sandstone and conglomerates, with
sometimes strata of clay shale. The sandstones are
much acted on by the weather, and at the water-
line the sea has generaUy worn Hi them caves and
hollows. The conglomerates form the highest beds
of the series, and are of immense thickness.
" After passing the Plumper Pass, in proceeding
north through Trincomalee Channel, GaHano Island,
to the west, presents cliffs about eight hundred feet
high of the sandstone and conglomerate strata, with
a gentle dip to the east; sometimes spits or low promontories of the strata run paraUel with the coast,
enclosing narrow bays. The west side of the channel, on Salt Spring Island, is a low shelving coast,
heavHy timbered to the water's edge, and exposing
outcrops of grey and blue clay shales, which dip to 174
Canada on the Pacific.
-the east. The portion of this island which is occupied by these shales is the finest land for settlement
I have seen on the coast; but the southern part is
mountainous, rising to the height of 2,300 feet. It
is on the north part of Salt Spring Island that the
saline springs are situated, from which it gets its
name. They seem to escape from the shales, and
occur Hi spots clear from timber, and covered with
.green moist vegetation, abounding Hi saliferous
plants. Round the orifices from which the brine
escapes there have formed conical mounds of granu-
ar calcareous scinter, stained with iron; but in
summer there is said to be an abundant deposit of
pure white salt.
I North of Salt Spring Island the strata preserve
the same strike and general appearance all the
way to Nanaimo, the island forming long spits of
-•sandstone and conglomerate, with precipitous shores
to the west. Just below the rapids the shales were
again noticed resting on the sandstone, and both
■dipping to the west. At very low tide a thick
seam of lignite is exposed at this point and on the
island opposite, and to the east I found a thin seam
in the sandstones at Nanaimo. The sandstone country occupies a broader belt along the shore of Vancouver Island than further to the south, but immediately to the north the strike changes to nearly east
and west on Newcastle Island, and on Fossil Point
the lowest beds were seen to rest on igneous rocks,
o * Geology of Vancouver Island.
which continued to occupy the coast for the few
-miles I went further to the north. At the head of
the Gulf of Georgia the sandstones are again said to
o o
form the islands that crowd the narrow channel which
separates Vancouver Island from the mainland, and
also a great extent of both shores. From Comox to
Valdez Inlet, which is situated in this locality, some
of the fossils I have were procured by Mr. McKay
of the Hudson Bay Company. Also at the extreme
north of the island, at Fort Rupert, Mr. Lord, of the
Boundary Commission, observed the sandstones and
thick beds of Hgnite dipping out to sea.
f* At many points along the eastern shore of the
Guff of Georgia these strata have been detected with
the associated Hgnite beds. North of Howse Sound
the mountains closely hug the sea coast, but south
of that they retire along the north shore of Burrard's
Inlet to the S.E., so as to be sixty miles inland at
where the boundary meets them, thus leaving a
,very heavily timbered tract, which forms the only
level country in British Columbia east of the Cascade range. Most of this district is covered by shingle
terraces and other superficial deposits which obscure
the underlying strata, but at Burrard's Inlet, eight
miles north of the entrance to Fraser River, Hgnite
and sandstones containing fossH leaves have been
sent home by H.M.S. " Plumper." Also on Fraser
River, near Fort Langley, and on its tributary, Pitt
River, the Hgnite has been observed, and again at 176
Canada on the Pacific.
Bellingham Bay, south of the boundary Hne, so that
it is probable that they underlie the greater part ofthe
"Three hundred yards from the shore, in the
channel that passes between Newcastle Island and the
FossH Point, is a row of islands composed of very
fine conglomerate, that might be termed "gravel
stone," in beds that dip to the S.S.E. at fifteen
degrees,  these   beds  contain   small   fragments  of
O * CD
carbonized wood.
" A quarter of a mUe further on, in the direction
of the dip, on the north end of Newcastle Island,
there are high cliffs of sandstone which preserve the
same direction. They seem to be rather more disturbed than the strata that form the islands in the
channel, but this appearance is exaggerated by the
great amount of false bedding. The strata of sand-
stone continue to preserve the same direction of dip
aU along the coast of Newcastle Island, but gradually
becoming more horizontal towards the southern
extremity. At Exit Channel occur the seams of coal,
the lowest of which has been worked to a considerable extent, while the existence of the other has only
been found by boring. The outcrop of these two
seams has been ascertained on the east shore of the
island, where they have the same character and
relative position, thus showing that they are continuous to that extent The lowest bed of Hgnite is-
called the Newcastle seam, and is worked by levels- Geology of Vancouver Island.
driven into the outcrop as it rises with the high
bank from the shore. The coal or Hgnite is six feet
thick, with a floor of sandstone, and the roof of a
very tough conglomerate of very smaU pebbles. The
strata have a dip of twenty degrees, so that the
method employed succeeds weU for taking out smaU
" This mine was not being worked when I visited
it, but there were large heaps of the coal waiting for a
market, that had been lying there for some years,
so that I could judge the effect of the weather on it
with great facffity. The surface was turned to a
rusty brown, and the masses showed a tendency to
break up with a slaty fracture: otherwise the exposure had worked but Httle change.
I Along the shore of the island, to the south, the
strata  of argillaceous  sandstone  are   seen to  dip
steadUy Hi the same dffection, but with less and less
inclination, tUl at the southern extremity they are
almost horizontal.   On Douglas Island there is said to
be another seam of coal from the shale along with
which the fossH leaves are generally procured.   I
had not an opportunity of visiting it, however, myself.    On the coast of Nanaimo Harbour, the strike
ofthe strata is quite different, but yet they preserve
the same character and sequence, Exit Channel seeming to mark a great fault.    The Httle peninsula on
which the Hudson Bay Company's estabhshment
stands, and where the coal was first discovered, is 178
Canada on the Pacific.
also another dislocated portion of the strata, as may
be seen by reference to the map.
"At Nanaimo, as on Newcastle Island, there are two
seams, the "Newcastle" and the "Douglas," the
first of which is everywhere about six feet in thickness, with sometimes a floor of fire-clay, but more
generaUy of sandstone, and the roof consisting of
the fine conglomerate bed, about sixty feet thick, on
which rests the Douglas seam, with an average
thickness of from three and a-half to four feet. The
roof of this seam is sometimes of iron-clay shale, but
more often of the same tough  conglomerate that it
o o
rests upon. On Chase River, one and a-quarter
mHes to the south, the outcrop of a seam has been
discovered and worked to a smaU extent, which they
consider to be the Newcastle seam, and as it occurs
right in the line of strike, and they have ascertained
the outcrop at several points, it is probable that the
beds of coal are continuous thus far at least.
"In the mines they have met several 'stone
faults,' where the floor rises up and throws the coal
seam out for several fathoms. It is generaUy represented, however, by a carbonaceous parting. These
faults are a source of great expense in the working,
as the conglomerate to be pierced is exceedingly
tough and compact, so that the blast only brings it
away in small pieces. The extent or character of
the workings can be ascertained better from an- Geology of Vancouver Island.
inspection of the map, however, than by any description.
" In proceeding along the coast towards the mouth
of Nanaimo River, the strata consists of argiUaceous
* O
standstones, with a simUar character to those of the
southern part of Newcastle Island, and preserving a
steady though gentle dip to the E. by S. A short
way above the entrance to the river, Hi the sandstones, there is a thin seam of coal, the position of
which was pointed out to me by Mr. Nichol, as the
river was too high to aUow us to see it.    Continuing
o o
to ascend the river, which is of small size, we found
low exposures ofthe sandstone, still with the dip to
the E., and at FossH Bank, three or four mUes from
the mouth, they are overlaid conformably by dark
purple clays, fiUed with septaria, which yield cretaceous fossils. The dip of the beds is ten degrees to the
E. by N, and the clay strata were clearly seen to
•rest on the hard-bedded sandstones. I found ino-
ceramus, bacuHtes and some other fragments of fossils, of which other specimens are also among those
obtained by Mr. Bauerman at this place. I was told
at Nanaimo that ammonites have frequently been
found there of large size, and from Mr. McKay I
obtained a number of fossils, some of which he collected in this locaHty; but others, having the same
■appearance, and also contained in septaria, he procured from Comux and Valdez Inlet, at the head of
•the Gulf of Georgia; but these two sets of specimens 180
Canada on the Pacific.
have been unfortunately mixed together. For av
couple of miles the Nanaimo River flows through
these clay strata, and then turns again from the
S.W., and in ascending the sandstone strata were
again found to recur, as in the lower part of the
river, but with a more rapid dip. At the Canon
these sandstones form precipices about one hundred,
feet in height, forming a narrow gorge six hundred.
yards long, through which the river flows. The
beds dip at fifteen degrees to the E.N.E., and are very
like those of Newcastle Island.
I From under these sandstones in ascending the-
river, hard beds of the gravel conglomerate cropped
out with great regularity, separated by soft beds of
red and greenish clay.    These probably  correspond
to the group with the lignite at Nanaimo,   but I
failed in finding any trace of it beyond fragments of
carbonized wood.    The strata from the fossH bank
up to the river, as far as I went, are shown in sections.
I The total thickness of the beds from the Hgnite
to the clays at Fossil Bank, I estimated at six hundred to seven hundred feet, but I had no opportunity of making any exact measurement. Between
Nanaimo River on the coast there is a tract of very
fine country, and it is probably occupied by the septaria clays, which, as I mentioned before, are seen a
Httle south of the rapid.
"At BelHngham Bay,the sections given on the map> Geology of Vancouver Island.
were taken by Mr. Pemberton, and show that the
lignite occurs Hi large quantity at that place. Lieutenant Trowbridge, in describing the strata there,
says they are two thousand feet thick, and including Hi all one hundred and ten feet of the Hgnite
coal. His sections are probably, however, aU of the
same group of strata, being at different points in the
strike, which gives rise to the apparently enormous
" The analysis of the coal from Bellingham Bay,
vphich is generaUy considered inferior to that of
Nanaimo, is given in the Pacific Railway Report, as
Carbon 4763
Bitumen 50'22
Ash  215
| This coal has been sold Hi San Francisco at $18
to $22 per ton (75s. to 91s. 6d. sterling).
1 Lignite coal has also been worked for the same
market from Coon Bay, which has the foUowing
Carbon 46-54
Gaseous matter 5027
Ash  319
" Conrad states that shells from this locaHty are of
At Binicia, above San Francisco, coal
"Miocene age, 182
Canada on the Pacific.
also occurs, and was wrought for some time, but the-
dip was too steep.
" In Newbury's report on the geology]of this part
of California, I have not seen any notice of where
Binicia lignite occurs in his sections; but between
Binicia and the sea, he describes three thousand feet
of strata, the lowest beds being of sandstone and
shales, resting on and penetrated by serpentine and
trap (the same which are so highly charged witk
ores of copper and mercury further to the south).
These are followed by green and brown shales, coarse,.
soft sandstone, fine sandstone and shales, with pec-
ten, natica, mactra, and filaria, and these conglomerates and tufas, the whole lying at an angle of"
thirty degrees. Towards Binicia are thin-bedded!
clays, with shark's teeth. Up Feather River, a tributary of the Sacramento River at Chico Creek, a calci-
ferous sandstone  is  described  containing  nucula,.
O *
mactra, and other tertiary forms, but from the same:
place are baculites, inacerami, and ammonites,,
which Meek considers as proving the existence of
upper cretaceous strata at that place; so that it is
probable that there are strata of both ages, but
included in the same disturbances, and it is not
unlikely that the section from Binicia to the sea
may also include cretaceous strata.
" The existence of coal or Hgnite on the Pacific
coast, of quality fit for the purposes of raising steam}
is of great commercial importance, and that obtained P55S55
Geology of Vancouver Island.
from Nanaimo is as yet admitted to be the best in
the market.
" If these beds are, therefore, discovered to be persistent, so that they can be worked to advantage on
a large scale, there is Httle doubt that this coal, even
though it be an imperfect substitute for the finer
coal we are accustomed to Hi this country, wHl form
a valuable source of wealth to the new British colony.
Already it is extensively used by the British navy
on that station, and it was found to requffe only a
sHght modification in the method of feeding the fires
to make it highly effective as a steam generator.
" As beds of coal of similar quality exist in the
Islands of Japan and Formosa, we would thus have
the supply of fuel at the extremity of the Hne ofthe
great sea voyage, if the route from England by the
Canadas, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, to
China, and the east, were adopted, a natural fitness
not to be overlooked in considering such a scheme." CHAPTEE XIII.
Nanaimo—San Juan—The Boundary Dispute—Victoria—Esquimault—Olympia—Opposition Stages—A Humiliating Breakdown—Washington Territory—A Model Hotel—Beach Portland—On board the "Oriflamme"—Astoria—Arrival at San
|HE little town of Nanaimo has increased since
the Doctor's visit. The pits, and all the
appliances for the extraction and shipment of coal,
are on a true English scale, and extremely creditable
to the enterprising firm which conducts the business.
There is a substantial Hon tram-road, about haff-a-
mile long, by which the coal is rapidly and econo-
micaUy transferred from the pit's mouth to the
wharf, where, by a special contrivance, simffar to
that used in English ports, it is dumped into the
ship's hold.
On the morning of the 12th, Mr. Green, the
purser, and I paid a visit to the pit, and were preparing to descend, when a warning whistle caused
us to return to the | Otter," which had just finished San Juan—Victoria.
coaling. We had barely jumped on board when the
Hnes were cast off; and leaving the wharf, we
steamed through the Dodd Narrows,  and down
o ■*
Trincomalee Channel, between Admiral and Pender
Islands, and into the Swanson Channel. In the
afternoon we passed the picturesque island of San
-Juan, which, had the late arbitration decided fairly,
would now belong to Vancouver Island, instead of
being the property of our jealous neighbours. The
Haro Straits, between six and seven mUes wide,
which separate San Juan from Vancouver Island,
could be effectually commanded from San Juan by
heavy ordnance; and the passage of ships from the
Pacific to Bute Inlet might be seriously interfered
with in the event of hostiHties between Canada and
the States. At five, p.m., after rounding Discovery
and Trial Islands, we entered the intricate channel
leading into the harbour of Victoria, and ranged, up
alongside the Hudson's Bay Company's wharf at
six, p.m.—thus completing another stage ofthe long
journey from Fort Garry.
As Victoria has been described already by various
writers, it is sufficient for me to say that it is a Httle
town of five or six thousand inhabitants, was origi-
naUy located by the Hudson's Bay Company, possesses a small harbour, can boast of gas, has a
theatre, any number of saloons, and one or two fair
hotels, of which the Driard House is the best. A
.short distance to the westward of Victoria Hes the 186
Canada on the Pacific.
commodious harbour of Esquimault, where vessels of
large tonnage can always anchor.
Finding that the steamer "Prince Alfred" had just
left for San Francisco, I determined to proceed to*
California by the way of Puget Sound and Portland,
in the State of Oregon. On the morning of the
18th February, I accordingly took passage on board
the American steamer "North Pacific," which leaves
Victoria twice a-week for Olympia., a little town
situated at the very extreme end of the Sound, and
distant by water from Victoria about one hundred
and twenty nautical mUes. The day was beautiful',,
but a stiffish north-east breeze coming from the
snowy Cascades, rendered an overcoat necessary.
This vessel was built after the fashion of American
river steamers, and had the usual tier of high cabins,,
and a spacious saloon, which was well filled with passengers. In two hours and a-half we crossed the
strait, and, rounding Point Wilson, turned into Port
Townsend, distant thirty-five mHes from Victoria.
Some of our passengers disembarked at this little
viUage; and, after a few minutes' delay, we pushed
on, touching at some intermediate points, and reached
Olympia at two, a.m. on the 19th. A considerable
lumber business is carried on in the little settlements bordering on the Sound, and, at nearly aU the
ports we touched, vessels of large size were loading
sawn lumber for San Francisco and South American
ports.    Several large  barques passed us outward Olympia.
bound for Valparaiso and San Francisco, which seem
to be the principal markets for the Puget Sound
In the morning, those of our passengers who, Hke
myself, were en route for Portland, went ashore, and
breakfasted at a restaurant in the principal street of
the town, before taking the stage for Tenino, fifteen-
miles distant, and the most western point which
the Northern Pacific road has reached. Having-.
whHe on board the " Northern Pacific," secured a
through ticket for Portland, for the sum of $13.50
O ' .
(gold), I proceeded, after breakfast, to the stage office,
and depositing my vaHse in the care of the stage-
driver, started on foot, giving that functionary to*
understand that he would overtake me on the
Olympia claims, I beHeve, to be the capital of
Washington Territory, and has the appearance of
having reached its present estate with too rapid
strides. Its principal revenue appears to be derived
from the stir and business created by the passenger
traffic between Portland and Victoria. There are
several very fair shops, and the place has the neat
and trim appearance which Americans generally
succeed so weU in giving to theff towns.   FoUowing
o o o
the main street for half-a-mUe, the road ascends a
pretty steep hill, and enters an extensive pine forest.
The soH is very Hght and sandy, offering but small
inducement to farmers.   Indeed, the chief trade of. 188
Canada on the Pacific.
this territory appears to be lumber, which is divided
into two branches, viz., the milling business, carried
on separately; while that of procuring logs is conducted by men who devote their attention to them
alone, and usuaUy get them out by contract with
the miUers. A couple of miles beyond Olympia, the
road crossed a smaU inlet, where some extensive
mills were Hi fuU operation. Beyond this I passed
through a moderately level and partially burnt
country, diversified by occasional open tracts, where
now and again a settler's home could be seen.
Six mUes on, a waggon laden with | Celestials,"
and bearing upon its white canvas covering, in
gigantic letters, the words,"Opposition Stage,"passed
me, and, immediately after, the legitimate convey-
- ance, drawn by two horses, came up. The driver,
reining up, desired me to get Hi as quickly as possible, as he wished to get past " the darned opposition cuss." The occupants of the vehicle in which I
now found myself seated were, an Oregon cattle-
owner, reputed very wealthy, a California gentleman
• on his way home to San Francisco, and last, though
not least, the ex-Governor of Washington Territory.
We bumped along at a faff speed, overtaking and
passing the " opposition," to the driver of which the
Oregon man mahciously offered a tow-rope. We
had hardly made a couple of hundred yards past
•that vehicle, when the tire of our hind wheel snapped, and almost immediately after, the wheel itself A Humiliating Break-down.
became so ricketty that we were obliged to stop, the
"opposition" driver passing us, and sarcasticaUy
volunteering to detain the train at Tenino untU we
came up. We had now no alternative but to proceed on foot, so, each man shouldering as many of his
personal effects as he could conveniently carry, we
plodded on through the dense pine woods, and
reached Tenino at half-past one. The conductor very
obligingly detained the train for fifteen minutes,
until we swaUowed a hasty dinner, for which the
moderate sum of fifty cents was charged
Tenino was merely a temporary city, and consisted
of the unfinished station and buildings of the Northern Pacific Road, now brought to this point from
Kalama,  another town of raffway growth situated
sixty miles  to the   southward,  and on the right
bank of the Columbia River. At this time the terminal point ofthe road was stUl kept secret, but the general opinion pointed either to BeUingham Bay, situated,
one hundred and sixty mHes to the northward,
or to Sinahomis, a harbour on Possession Sound.
Although a daHy train -was run upon this road, the
time aUowed to reach Kalama was five hours, on
account of the unfinished state of the permanent
way.    The road was not ballasted, and extreme caution was necessary in some places.    The country
through which this piece of road passes was heavffy
timbered, and for the greater distance passably level -r
some rather shaky trestle bridges were also crossed. 190
Canada on the Pacific.
Throughout, the soil was wretched, being generaUy
of a sandy or graveUy character; altogether, Washington Territory has not much to boast of, excepting
its pine and coal, the latter being much inferior to
that of Vancouver Island. Between Tenino and the
-Columbia River, the country passed through was
-sparsely settled, and inferior in every respect to
what I had expected from the glowing accounts
given of it by the partisans of the Northern Pacific
Road. Before reaching Kalama, the railroad follows
the low banks ofthe Columbia River for several
mfles, over alluvial flats, which appear to flood
-during high-water.    Kalama is a town of some two
o        o
years' growth, and possesses a large and handsome
hotel, situated high up on the steep hiU, on the side
of which the town is buUt. The Kazano House
was a model of cleanliness, and a really sumptuous
repast was served up Hi the most approved modern
style by Chinese waiters. This house is built entirely of wood, but is of great size, and .fitted up in as
comfortable a manner as could be desffed.
The next morning, at five, am., the passengers
for Portland, myself among the number, embarked
on a very comfortable stern-wheel steamer, and
ascending the Columbia River, reached Portland
on the WiUamette, at half-past nine. Proceeding
at once to the Oregon Steam-ship Company's office,
I secured a berth on board the side-wheel steamer
I Oriflamme," advertised to leave for San Francisco, Portland.
on the foUowing day at four p.m.    For this I paid
§30 Hi gold, and proceeding with Mr. S , of San
^Francisco, to the St. Charles Hotel, we put up Hi
■that large and commodious estabHshment.
Portland, the capital of Oregon, is situated upon
"the left bank of the WiUamette, and about one
hundred mUes from the mouth of the Columbia
River, which is joined by the former a few mffes
below the city. It is handsomely and regularly
bunt, and has some good streets and very fine
buildings. The population is about ten thousand.
Among the pubhc buddings worthy of notice is
the market-house, which, for neatness and cleanliness, far surpasses simHar institutions I have seen
in the largest cities Hi Canada. A considerable
trade Hi lumber, grain and cattle is carried on here,
and ships of large tonnage load alongside the weU-
constructed wharves. On the opposite side of the
WiUamette, the terminus of the Oregon Central
Railroad is situated. This line foUows the right
bank of the river for a considerable way, and is
intended to connect with the California and Oregon
Road. It is already constructed as far as Eugene
"City, some one hundred and twenty mHes to the
southward. On the Portland side, a branch of the
same Hne is projected to Astoria, at the mouth of
the Columbia River.
On the 21st February, at four, p.m., the " Ori-
flamme"   cast off  from the wharf,  after having 192
Canada on the Pacific.
embarked about one hundred and twenty passengers
for San Francisco. We reached Astoria the next
morning at ten, a.m., and took on board a pilot for
there is a dangerous bar which, about seven mUes
below the town, obstructs the entrance of the Columbia River.
Astoria is a dead-and-alive kind of place, and,
by aU accounts, is retrograding. The Columbia is
about five miles wide opposite here, and several
ships were lying just inside the bar, waiting for a
slant of favourable wind to run out. At half-past
ten we cast off, and steamed for the bar, which
was fortunately now quite smooth, the weather having been settled for the last few days. The channel is not very wide, but as its direction is first westward, and then suddenly changes to W.S.W., sailing
ships often require to waitsometimeforasuitablewind
to cross. During the prevalence of south-west gales,
a heavy sea sets in, which breaks completely across
the channel, and renders the entrance to the Columbia River extremely dangerous. Many ships have
been lost here, and the place is consequently much
dreaded by mariners. We were fairly outside at
noon, when the square foresail and topsail were set,
and we were now on our way down the coast for
San Francisco. On the 23rd, at ten, a.m., we passed
Cape Blanco, then ten mUes distant. The weather
was fine, with a Hght breeze from the northward, and we passed the "Prince Alfred," bound to Arrival at San Francisco.
Victoria. At noon, to-day, the wind freshened, and by
four, p.m., it was blowing a brisk gale, with a rather
heavy sea running. Passed Cape Mendocino at
eleven p.m. The weather the foUowing day was
perfectly delightful, with a nice breeze from the
north. We entered the Golden Gate at eight, p.m.,
and reached the quay at San Francisco in an hour
and a-half, the voyage from Portland having occupied seventy-seven hours and a-half, of which four
were lost by detention from fog whHe in the Columbia River. On landing, I put up at the Grand
Hotel, and left Oakland, en route for Ottawa, on the
26th February, reaching the capital of the Dominion
eight days later, the round trip having occupied seven
months and a few days.
EY NARRATIVE closes with a few remarks
upon the great question of the day—one
seriously involving the future prospects and interests
of the Dominion—namely, that of the Canada Pacific
Railway: its route westward from Fort Garry, its
passage of the Rocky Mountains, and its most eligible terminal point upon the Pacific Coast.
The decision as to the rightful proprietorship of
the Island of San Juan, lately made by the Emperor
of Germany and his coUeagues Hi the arbitration,
wiU probably assist materiaUy in forming a correct
judgment as to the proper terminal point on the
Pacific waters for the Interoceanic highway. Previous to the promulgation of the " fiat," the petty
interests of New Westminster and Burrard's Inlet
were, perhaps, suffered to influence, or, at any rate,
to suspend judgment in this most important matter.
The denizens of the Fraser River VaUey sought, by
every means Hi their power, to divert the course of The Canada Pacific Route.
the raUroad to New Westminster. The sea-girt
dweUers of Victoria blustered, and endeavoured to
show up, in the most glowing colours, the advantages
derivable from the selection of Esquimault as the railroad port; and, between the two, the Dominion
Government had, doubtless, sore trouble. Now,
however, the destinies of San Juan being no longer
a matter for speculation, the petty and selfish interests of individuals wiU be disregarded, and the
wise legislation of the Great Dominion, drawing
o * o
much good out of a trifling evH, wiU, doubtless,
sacrifice smaU and local interests to the general welfare, and choose the Bute Inlet for a terminus, until
the great work of binding together the mainland
with Vancouver Island shall be accomplished, when
Esquimault, which is considered by naval authorities
—the best in such matters—the safest and most
accessible harbour north of San Francisco, wiU be
at last uninterruptedly connected with the interior
-and eastern portions of the Continent.
Besides Esquimault and Burrard's Inlet, several
■other points have been brought forward as eHgible
for termini. A brief description of those places wiU,
•therefore, not be out of place.
The head of the Alberni Canal, situated up Barclay Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island,
has been suggested. The promoters of such a scheme
were, doubtless, ignorant of the dangers of the iron-
4gfft western shores of Vancouver, and of Barclay 196
Canada on the Pacific.
Sound in particular. So much do sea-faring men,
not only officers of the Royal Navy, but old and
experienced hands in the coast trade, understand
and appreciate the dangers of this horrible coast,,
that, without one exception, aU those to whom I
have spoken or written upon the subject, emphati-
caUy denounce the choice of such a locaHty. Right
across the principal entrance to Barclay Sound, and
at intervals of one mile and a-half, stretch three-
clusters of sunken rocks, over which, in heavy
weather, the deep sea of the Pacific breaks with a
sullen roar; but during the terrific gales which
sometimes rage from the north-west or south-west,,
the whole distance across, from Cape Beale to Storm-
Island (about seven nautical mHes), and within
which those sunken dangers occur, is a seething-
mass of troubled waters, among which the rocks-
referred to could be with very great difficulty distinguished. From twenty to fifty fathoms are found
across the entrance; but the " fetch " of the Pacific
is here so great, that whether or not buoys or
beacons, if placed, would remain for any length of
time in theff positions, is problematical. The whole
coast is here ffon-bound, every point and headland
of the Sound having to bear the brunt of the terrific-.
sweUs which roU in upon theff rocky and perpendicular sides with a violence unparaUeled in any
other part of the globe; and the slightest error in,
reckoning, which a stranger, entering for the first- The Canada Pacific Route.
time, could not easUy avoid, would inevitably result
"in immediate and total destruction.
Bella Coula, situated up the Bentinck North Arm,
"has also been spoken of; but to it I have afready
referred in my journey down the coast. As for the
rivers Skeena and Naas, the geographical positions
they occupy, apart from the consideration that to
reach them from the east a railroad Hne would
require to be carried, in a great measure, over some
of the most unproductive and barren portions of
Northern British Columbia, is sufficient to place
them beyond further consideration.
From what I have seen of the coast of British
'Columbia, Bute Inlet, owing to its accessibiUty from
the interior by the Chilcotin VaUey, and from the
fact of Vancouver Island being within practicable
distance, appears to be the most suitable point on
the mainland where the Canada Pacific RaUway
should debouch. Premising, then, that Bute Inlet
wffl be chosen for a terminal point, we shaU now
-consider the problem of how to reach it from Win-
nepeg, the capital of Manitoba, distant, in round
numbers, sixteen hundred miles.
In the Canada Pacific RaHroad Report of 1872,
the route projected from Fort Garry westward, via
Thunder HHl, the elbow of the North Saskatchewan,
and the open plain country south of the North Sas-
'katchewan, spanning the latter near the White Mud
IRiver, and thence to Lac Brule", Jasper House, and 198
Canada on the Pacific.
the Tete Jaune Cache, does not pass over the best
and most avaUable land for settlement. Again, the
difficulty of reaching Bute Inlet from the Tete
Jaune Cache appears to be very great. The extreme
roughness of the country between the Cache and
Quesnel, either by Lac la Hache or the North Fork
of the Fraser, would seem to bar progress by either
route. However, it is within the bounds of possibility that a practicable route may be found; but
even were such a route discovered, I emphaticaUy
maintain that the portion of the road between
Thunder Hill and Jasper House, is not well chosen,,
with a view to successful settlement, and the economic construction and future maintenance of a.
If the Dominion Government desire to construct
a road which wiU open up the best land in the-
North-West, and if it be their wish to maintain it
with economy, and little trouble from the great snow"
difficulty without and within the mountains, a question almost entirely obviated by the Peace River
country route (for I venture to assert that the greatest
depth of snow to be encountered, either on the
south branch of the Peace, or near McLeod Lake,
wHl not be anything like the deep snow met with
on the Lower St.  Lawrence, through which the
f, CD
Grand Trunk now passes), they must push the line
through the country indicated   in the foUowing The Canada Pacific Route.
article published by me in the Ottawa Citizen of
24th October last :—
" At the present juncture, when the so-called Canada Pacific RaUway scandal is occupying the
attention of legislators and the public generaUy, it
may not be amiss to offer some remarks upon the
route or routes available for the very important
highway destined not only to bring the remote
shores of the Dominion within easy reach of each
other, but also to open up the vast and now unoccupied lands of the North-West.
" That the route across the Rocky Mountains, via
the Tete Jaune Cache, wiU be finaUy adopted, or, if
chosen, that it wiU fulfil the conditions requisite, in
order to meet the emergency of the case, is not the
general behef. Against the selection of that route,
there appear to be two rather powerful arguments.
FHst, the difficulty of reaching the Bute Inlet from
the Tete Jaune Cache; and secondly, the unsuitabi-
lity of the section of country east of the Rocky
Mountains crossed by that Hne for settlement.
" In order to reach this momentous.question without circumlocution, we shaU at once enter into a
comparison between the route projected via the Tete
Jaune Cache pass and one proposed by the writer,
by way of Lac la Biche and the Peace River, crossing the Rocky Mountain range either by a supposed
practicable and low pass, situated Hi about latitude
55| deg. N., or through the comparatively low gap 200
Canada on the Pacific.
in the Rocky Mountains by which the great Peace
River finds its way from the British Columbian
slopes at an elevation of about one thousand six
hundred feet above sea level, to the eastern side of
the range.
I Before going further, let us premise that Bute
Inlet is the point on the Pacific coast which it is
most desirable for the Hne to reach in order, at some
future and not far distant period, to bring Vancouver
Island and Victoria into direct communication with
the interior of the continent. Taking it for granted
that a practicable route does exist from the Tete
Jaune Cache, via the North Fraser and Fort George,
to Bute Inlet (a distance of four hundred and fifty
mUes), or from the Tete Jaune Cache to the same
point, via Lac la Hache (also four hundred and fifty
mHes)—both distances taken from Progress Report
of 1872, see page 17—we shall at once discuss the
merits of that section of the Canada Pacific comprised between Portage la Praffie (Manitoba) and
the Cache.
| From Portage la Prafrie, in a north-west direction, and for a distance of about two hundred and
twenty mUes, the projected route passes over a very
fine country. In the vicinity of the pretty poplar-
wooded Riding Mountains, to the south, and almost
within reach of the beautiful Lake Dauphin, and
over the Swan River, until, when between the
Thunder and Porcupine Hills, it takes a westward The Canada Pacific Route.
course for the Saskatchewan, distant a hundred and
ninety-two mHes. We shall now make the Thunder
HiU a common point of departure for the two routes
under discussion, for east of that prominence the
Hne has passed over the best avaUable ground.
Resuming, then, our course for the Tete Jaune
Cache, we strike almost due west for a hundred and
ninety-two mHes over a very easy country, but for
the most part open, sparsely wooded, and containing
many lakes, of which the waters are saturated with
the sulphate of soda. From the crossing of the
.South Saskatchewan to that of the northern branch
of the same river, at the White Mud Creek, above
Edmonton, three hundred and fifty miles of country
are crossed, nine-tenths of which is a treeless prafrie,
exposed to the fury of the cold northern blasts,
rough and broken in many places, where good fresh
water, excepting Hi the vicinity of the rivers, is
extremely scarce; salt and brackish lakes are of
frequent occurrence, and very much frequented by the
nomadic tribes of the plains.
" Crossing the North Saskatchewan, we now leave
the open plain country, and enter a vast swampy
region, which, with tbe exception of some few dry
ridges, extends to the Athabaska River.   As a mat-
O        '
ter of course, this tract of country, which the Hne
intersects for a distance of some one hundred and
seventy miles, is wet, cold, and quite unsuitable for
■successful settlement.    From the  southern end of 202
Canada on the Pacific.
Lac Brule", which we have now reached, about one^
hundred miles take us to the Cache, which distance
can be overcome by easy grades. A great portion
of the section of country just described offers immense tracts of fine land, suitable, so far as the soil
itself is concerned, for both agricultural and grazing
purposes. But the drawbacks afready briefly referred
to—namely, the scarcity of wood and water—are
insuperable obstacles in the way of successful and
permanent settlement. It is true that occasionally
smaU copses of poplars (the trees rarely exceeding-
eight inches Hi diameter) are met with ; nevertheless, the extent of wooded compared with prairie
land is so disproportionate, that but a widely-scattered community of settlers would be needed to-
clear off all the avaUable timber in a very few
I On the score of fuel, it may be urged that the
coal, which underlies a great extent of the Upper
Saskatchewan country, may offer a good substitute
for wood, and be used to advantage.    There is no*
' O
doubt that coal, in quantity enormous, but Hi quality,
perhaps, doubtful, is to be found, especially west of
Fort Pitt; but those who seek these regions with a
view to settlement cannot be expected to turn all
theff attention and devote all their energies towards
the painful and laborious extraction from the bowels
of the earth of the wherewithal to keep body and
soul together, during the long and severe winters The Canada Pacific Route.
which are the rule, when the thermometer often
sinks to 40 deg. below zero. It is one thing to
cross those beautiful prairies during the summer
season, when the hHls and dales are in the full flush
of exuberant verdure, another to travel them Hi
winter, in face of the biting northern blasts which
sweep the boundless wastes of these interminable
plains with a rigour and severity almost Arctic in
their intensity.
| We shaU now return to the Thunder Bill, the
point where the proposed route to the Pacific, via-
Lac la Biche and Peace River, branches northwards
from the one just described. TraveUmg west northwesterly for about one hundred and fifty mHes,.
within the Hmits of the true forest, we reach Fort
h la Corne. Somewhere Hi this vicinity, a crossing
of the Saskatchewan must be sought; and gaining
o       «* o o>
the north side of that river, the Hne of route would
cross the Netsetting River, and, keeping south of
Green and PeHcan Lakes, seek the easiest way to
Lac la Biche, through a thick wood country, supporting a growth of spruce, larch and poplars, abounding Hi lakes teeming with fish, and removed from
the presence of the roving Indians of the plains.
From Lac la Biche (in latitude 55 deg. north, where
wheat has been successfully cultivated for years) to
the western extremity of Lesser Slave Lake, is a
distance of about one hundred and seventy nines,
through a fairly level country, covered with forest. 204
Canada on the Pacific.
This section is comparatively unknown, but, from
Indian reports, is presumed to be level. From this
point sixty-five miles of fine gently-rolling timbered
country will take the Hne to the Smoky River
which can be crossed some thirty miles from its
mouth. From the last-mentioned river the Hne
would intersect and open up a vast and fertile
region, situated to the south of the great Peace
River—a region probably comprising an area equal
in extent to Manitoba, well wooded, with abundance
■of fresh water, of exceUent soH, and in aU probabi-
Hty possessing unlimited quantities of good coal.
The general elevation of this large tract of country
is about one thousand eight hundred feet above sea
level. The climate is most salubrious, and, by all
accounts, as mild, if not milder, than that of Red
River. On the extensive plains bordering upon
the Peace River, both north and south of it, snow
rarely exceeds two feet in depth, and never packs.
Up to the month of December, the plains are often
nearly bare; and although winter usuaUy sets in
^with the month of November, the early opening
of the spring in April compensates for the short faU.
" I shaU here give several extracts from a letter
written by a gentleman of reHabihty, who has lived
•in the Peace River country for seven years. Speaking of the climate, he says :—
- "' Le chmat est certainement salubre. Les vents
-qui regnent en maitre ne sont genefalement pas The Canada Pacific Route.
froids; ils soufflent presque toujours de l'ouest a Test,
et du sud-ouest au nord-est. Les orages ne font point
de de*gats. En hiver m§me, la temperature est tr&s
vari^e, ce n'est que dans le mois de Janvier et une
partie de Mars que quand le vent est nord, U fait
bien froid.
11A Athabasca, au contraire, le froid est intense
et de longue duree. La neige n'atteint ordinaire-
ment pas plus que deux pieds, encore n'est elle pas
dure, Voir Stant toujours sec et le del serein.
1' Dans les c6tes, dans les prairies, la nature offre-
une foule de fruits que les Europeens m&me ne de"-
daigneraient pas sur leurs tables. Des poires, des-
cerises sauvages, des pembina, des raisins d'ours, des
fraises, des framboises. ... II me semble que
le pommier rdussirait L'orge murit tous les ans.
Je pense que le ble* seme* en automne murirait tr&s
souvent, comme le hie" du printemps. Une annde
j'ai seme" des haricots le 24 de Mai, le 30 de Jufflet
ils etaient bons & manger. Les pois reussissent ge'ne'-
ralement, legumes toujours bien.'
I Of the mineral resources, he says:—' In many
places tar exudes from the ground. The purest and
whitest of salt can be coUected in enormous quantities. Pure sulphur is found below Fort VermiHon.
Bituminous springs abound, while the Smoky River,,
as its name indicates, proves the existence of vast
beds of pit coal.'
" This magnificent country, rich Hi mineral wealth,, -206
Canada on the Pacific.
-with abundance of timber, possessing millions of
acres of the finest pasture land, watered by numerous
smaU rivers, is intersected by the noble Peace River,
navigable from the Rocky Mountain Portage to the
' Smoky River (a distance of two hundred and fifty
miles), and probably very much further, for the
largest river steamers.
"We shaU now, once more, pick up the Hne of
route, and keeping a Httle south of west, cross the
Rocky Mountains by the Pine River Summit Lake
Pass, if it be practicable.   If, on the contrary, insurmountable obstacles impede our progress Hi that
-direction, we must keep to the right, heading the
Pine River sufficiently to enable us to cross it at the
most ehgible point, and make for the Peace River
VaUey, by following which, and making a detour of
one hundred and twenty-five mUes, we shaU reach
McLeod Lake,  after having  passed through the
Rocky Mountains at an elevation rarely exceeding
one thousand eight hundred feet above the sea.
This detour may, however, necessitate very heavy
works of construction, the Pine River, owing to its
deep vaUey, being itself, probably, the first serious
obstacle.    Between this river and the upper end of
the Portage, probably thirty miles, the country is a
dense forest, and apparently rough.     The White
Fish River has, besides,  perhaps to be   crossed.
Above the Portage, and partly within the mountains, there are sixty or seventy miles of rough and The Canada Pacific Route.
expensive road to be constructed. Occasional level
terraces can be made use of; but precipitous mountain sides, especiaUy above the "Rapide Qui ne Parle
Pas," wHl occasion heavy and expensive work, whUe
the tortuousness of the river may requfre many
1 The waters of the Peace River above the Portage
being, however, navigable for stern-wheel steamers"
of Hght draught, some sHght improvement being
made at the Finlay Rapids, as far as the outlet of
McLeod Lake, would greatly simplify the operation
of road making, by furnishing cheap and easy
means of transport along one hundred and forty-five
mUes of the Hne of route. From McLeod Lake, or
its vicinity, one hundred and forty mHes of country,
chiefly unavailable for farming purposes, in some
places rough, for a great part level, and probably
nowhere exceeding two thousand four hundred feet
above the sea, will bring the Hne to West Arm or
Black River, whence the famed Chilcoten VaUey,
and thence the Bute Inlet may be reached.
I When we consider that the Hne just pointed out
is via the Pine River Summit Lake Pass only fifty
mffes longer than that by the Tete Jaune Cache, or,
the Pine Pass being impracticable, that the route via
the cfrcuitous Peace River VaUey and the Parsnip
- only exceeds by one hundred and eighty miles the
YeUow Head Pass route, that it wiU pass out of the
region of deep snow, and open up the best and 208
Canada on the Pacific.
most avaUable country of the Nor'-West for settlement, avoiding much rough country and the hideous-
Fraser River altogether, there can be no doubt as
to the most eHgible Hne for the great Interoceanic
highway, to give it the conditions essential to its
success as a commercial and political undertaking,.
Canadian Pacific Railway Route,
via Tete Jaune Cache.
From Portage la Prairie to Thunder)
HiU...     f
From Thunder Hill to the crossing \
of the South Saskatchewan f
From  South  Saskatchewan  to   the
crossing near the White Mud	
From White Mud to South end of)
Lac Brule j
From Lac Brule to the Tete Jaune \
Cache j"
From Tete Jaune Cache to Bute Inlet, "N
either by Lac la Hache, or the I
North 5*raser River and Fort ?
George and Chilcoten )
Fine country for settlement 	
Much open country, salt
lakes, little wood	
Nearly all open country,
salt lakes, hilly, and
much exposed	
Swampy, cold, unfitted for
Unsuitable for agriculture ,3760 ft
The Chilcoten Valley is
the only available district for settlement in
this, section
53 miles shorter than the Peace River route, via Pine Eiver
Summit Lake.
178 miles shorter than the route through the Peace Rivet
VaUey.   The Canada Pacific Route. 20&
Canadian Pacific Railway Route,
via Peace River.
From Portage la Prairie to Thunder)
Hill j
From  Thunder  Hill to  Fort  a  la)
Corne |
From Fort  a  la  Corne  to Lac la)
Biche |
From Lac la Biche to west end of)
Lesser Slave Like f
From west end of Lesser Slave Lake \
to Smoky River j
From Smoky River to Pine River)
Summit Lake j
From Pine River Summit  Lake to)
Lake McLeod   j"
From    Lake    McLeod    to     Ques-)
nel  f
From Quesnel to Bute Inlet,   via\
Chilcoten j
Fine      country     for      settle
Fine country, for the most part
Thick    wood    country,    many
lakes abounding in fish	
Wooded    country,    not    much
known, but reported level..
Fine country, well wooded and
Beautiful country, prairie, woods,
|   coal	
Not     available    for     agriculture	
Very little  of   it   available for
N ■■•■     -   1
T MAY be of interest to offer a few remarks
(^regarding the Indian population of British
Columbia, a passing aUusion to the aboriginal inhabitants of the nor'-west coast of the Dominion being
aU the more deserving of notice from the fact that
they very much outnumber the white population of
that Province.
The population of this interesting race in the Province is estimated at about thirty thousand, but
from the extreme difficulty of taking a correct census in such a vast and rugged country as British
Columbia, those figures may be taken as merely
approximate. One cannot but be struck with the
Mongolian cast of countenance of the coast Indians
of British Columbia. Also among the tribes with
whom it is not customary to alter the cranial formation by pressure Hi infancy, the skuH is found to
possess the flat central ridge pecuHar to the Mongo-
Han races. The Indians of British Columb
Within the memory of the Hudson's Bay " oldest
inhabitants" in this region, Japanese junks have
been known to drift across in a disabled state.
What more natural than to suppose that this
portion of the Pacific Coast was either populated by
that means, or that in former times those visitors
left their impress on the aboriginal race ? There
is another mixture in the blood on the west coast of
Vancouver Island, and a very marked one—the
Spanish, owing to the Spaniards having long ago had
a settlement at Nootka. Strangely enough, the
Spanish cast of countenance does not show in the
women, who have the same flat features as their sis-
-ters to the eastward. Nor is it so noticeable among the
young men, many of whom, however, have beards, a
most unusual appendage among American Indians, and
of course traceable to the cause referred to. The features are more observable among the older men,
-many of whom, with their long, narrow, pointed
faces and beards, would, if washed, present very fair
models for Don Quixote.
A point of some interest in speculating on the origin
ofthe present inhabitants is, that in several parts of
theProvince there are spots thickly strewn with stone
cairns. Many of these have been opened by parties
-of gentlemen interested Hi such subjects, and have
been found, Hi every case, to contain human remains.
The Indians are very jealous of any desecration
•of their dead, but they had no objection to these 212
Canada on the Pacific.
researches, observing | That they did not belong
to their people." The present natives never bury
theH dead. Until very lately incremation was
general among the northern Indians, but they, in
common with many other tribes, now box up their dead
in highly ornamented chests, curiously carved and
painted, and place them Hi smaH huts at a short distance from then vHlages. Others again put the
deceased in his canoe, with aU his hunting necessaries, and trice him up into a tree. This strong
apparent difference suggests a pre-existing race.
These people are spread aU over the seaboard and
inland waters. Owing to the thick and impenetrable forest which covers the country down to the
very water's edge, they have been driven to subsist-
principaUy by fishing. There are several distinct-
languages, large groups of smaU tribes speaking
dialects of the same language. To furnish an Hi-
stance of the numerous sub-divisions into which the-
British Columbian Indian race has been spHt up,.
some of those tribes inhabiting the country adjacent
to the Skeena may be instanced: the Babine
Indians, the Kissgarrase, the Culdoah, Kyspyox, Kit-
tumarks, Kitsigeuchly, Kitwangar, Kitsellase, Kit-
wuncole, KiUoosa, and further down the Skeena, the
Kitsumkalum. These enumerated belong, with the*
exception of the Babines, to the Skeena. On the-
Naas and its tributaries, and in fact on every inlet
of the coast, the subdivisions are just as frequent,. The Indians of British Columbia.        213
c-Although, however, the same dialect may be common
to many, they do not seem to be bound together
hy acknowledged relationship or alHance. It is
perhaps as weU for the white population, which is
.scanty, and the settlers away from the main towns,
who are few and very far between, that among the
Indians it is, most emphaticaUy, | every one for him-
.self." They are spHt up into innumerable smaU
tribes, there being a vHlage or ranche Hi nearly every
indentation or inlet on this much broken coast.
Each has its chief, who does not seem to possess
much authority, and many have intertribal feuds, of
long standing.
Besides the right of fishing Hi the waters imme-
-diately surrounding theH settlement, each tribe has,
in common with several others, a right to share in
the salmon and " Oolahan" fishing which takes place
annuaUy at the nearest river or inlet where the fish
run up at certain seasons. On these occasions there
is sometimes a jollification in the form of a whisky
feast, and when mad drunk with the poison sold by some
-white ruffian, against the law, murders are often committed. If the murderer belongs to a different tribe
from that of the victim, it at once becomes a
famHy question, and on the first opportunity a Hfe
wfll be taken on the other side, and so on, backwards and forwards, for the retaHation may not
square the account.   TheH idea of arithmetic is most 214
Canada on the Pacific.
fimited, and the consequence is that these feuds;
become interminable.
As the people of British Columbia object to their
fellow subjects carrying on these " little games,'"
and as, moreover, aU these Indians are thievish and
treacherous, and would think nothing of killing the
white settlers leading soHtary Hves at great distances-
from civilization, the majesty of the law takes the
form of man-of-war visitations. For a long time two
smaH British war steamers have been detached from
the Pacific Squadron for this special service. A
periodical run up and down the coast by one of
these gunboats has a very salutary effect. It is-
strange how the movements of these ships are
known among aU the Indians. The fact of the-
"Sparrowhawk" leaving for the north was always-
known before her arrival; there is no communication except by canoe, and yet she invariably found,
herself "expected." The special duties of these?
ships consist in their acting as the police of the-
coast, more particularly of the inland waters, Hi pre-
■ venting the sale of spHituous liquors among the na-
| tives; in impressing them with the feeling that they
are being watched over; in the protection of outlying settlers; in the adjustment of disputes, and the
prevention of bloody quarrels among the different
tribes, and, Hi some cases, in rendering assistance at
shipwrecks on the dangerous west coast of Vancouver Island.   The Indians there are among the finest The Indians of British Columbia. 215
specimens, physicaHy, of the whole British Columbian coast. Splendid boatmen, they venture out in
their fine canoes to great distances Hi pursuit of fur
seals and sea-otters. They are more treacherous,
bloodthirsty, savage and bold than those Hi the
more placid inland waters, perhaps from the fact
that they receive fewer visits and therefore know
that theH misdeeds are less likely to be found out.
Some years ago the " Sutlej " frigate sheUed one
of the vHlages, the Ahowsett, for an outrage on a
smaU trading craft. Of course the Indians aU clear-
ed out into the bush and the casualties were smaU.
Subsisting, however, as they do, almost entirely on
fish, the destruction of theH canoes is a fearful punishment. It would be easy to exterminate them aU
Hi that way. The "Sutlej's" sheU, however, did some
damage in the long run, as several un exploded ones
having been found in the forest Hi the rear of the
vfllage, some of the ingenious Indians proceeded to
extract the fuzes with cold chisels to get at the
powder, the natural result being that some half a
dozen of them came to grief.
In the beginning of 1869, a British lumber ship
safled from a port Hi Puget Sound. Not very long
afterwards a trader on the west coast found the
wreck of a ship on the beach at Hesquot. On going
along the beach he found a number of headless skele-
tons, which raised his suspicions. After a careful
search he found the remains of what had evidently 216
Canada on the Pacific.
been a very large man, also headless, but stiU the
flesh clothed the bones sufficiently for him to notice
that the body had a hole through it as of a buUet-
wound. He also found the skull of a woman and
part of her body. On his inquiring of the Hesquot
Indians what aU this meant, they told him that the
ship had been wrecked, and that aU the bodies had
drifted on shore headless. He reported the fact with
his suspicions of foul play on his return to Victoria,
and the result was the sending of H.M.S. " Sparrow-
hawk" to investigate the matter, two magistrates going Hi her. On her arrival a number of the Indians
surrounded the ship in their canoes, from among whom
the trader, who accompanied the expedition as interpreter and witness, selected a number whom he suspected ; they were ordered on board and kept prisoners, while a body of armed marines landed
as a protection to the magistrates and medical officer. The viUage was searched for any
of the clothing or property of the unfortunate crew,
and some papers, logs, etc., were found, which proved
the vessel to have been the | John Bright." The
party then proceeded to the scene of the wreck,
where the remains were exhumed, and medical testimony was taken before a coroner's jury formed
from those present. The jury afterwards sat on
board, and the suspected Indians with their Tyhees,
or chiefs, were examined, but nothing could be eH-
cited beyond the fact of the wreck.   Every one was The Indians of British Columbia.       217
moraHy convinced that murder had been committed,
but how was it to be brought home to any among
all those faces of injured innocence, aH swearing
black and blue that the sea was responsible for it
aU. Nothing was found out the first day. One
juror, a burly pioneer of civHization, who had gone
round in the capacity of special constable and grave-
digger, was strenuous and earnest Hi his advice to
Captain Mist to " clear them darned skunks out,"
that " they had aU had a finger in the pie." It appeared he had been on a " prospecting tour " among
those fellows before, and could not say much for
their morals. Knowing their superstitions he went
down that evening to smoke his pipe Hi the engine-
room, which had been turned into a jaH for the
nonce, and sitting down by one of the high-flavoured
red blanketed individuals—one who had some experience of civHization and could speak a little EngHsh, he began at him : " Now, John, what's the use of
your keeping dark about aH this ? We know all
about it! and that's why we're here; a little bird
came to Victoria and told our big medicine-man (the
Doctor of the f Sparrowhawk') aU about it S Now,
come,' dflett wawa' (speak straight) !" John glared
in horror and said he would " speak straight," and
then pointing to another red-blanketed statue, sitting on its haunches, he said, " That's the man who
killed the captain." The other feUow immediately
rapped out, | And that man," pointing back, " is the 218
Canada on the Pacific.
one who kdled the captain's wife." The next
morning the whole tribe swore to this, theH story
being that the crew left the ship in a boat, leaving
the captain, whose leg was broken, on board with
his wife. The ship drifted on shore, and they landed
either by the smaU boat, which capsized on beaching, or on a piece of the poop. The captain was
shot by Katkeena, and on his wffe running for protection to the old chief, John shot her. The two were
tried at Victoria, and sentenced to death. They were
taken back Hi the " Sparrowhawk," and executed
in the presence of the whole of the men of the tribe,,
who seemed rather pleased than otherwise. The
mystery of the absent heads was probably explained
by an account which came in a very roundabout
way from a tribe Hi Washington Territory. It appeared that at a " potlatch " or feast some Hesquots
told the story. The ship drifted ashore in a gale,
and the crew deserted in the long-boat, leaving the
captain and his wife, who landed alone, apparently.
The Indians said to each other, " Come, there are
only two left; if we kfll them, we can take everything out ofthe ship, and they won't know anything:
about it in Victoria. The unfortunate couple were
then murdered, but at that moment the crew came
out of the bush, having succeeded in landing a Httle
further north. To conceal the first murder, which
would probably never have been committed had
they known there were so many survivors, they The Indians of British Columbia.       21 !>
massacred all the remainder, tied stones to their
necks and threw them into deep water. The chafing, assisted by decomposition, having worked the
heads off, the headless trunks floated ashore. To
this day the fate of the unfortunate chfldren of the
captain and that of theH nurse, is a mystery, for
none of thek remains were found. Rumours of little
white girls among the Indians came to Victoria once
or twice, but nothing definite could be traced.
The Governor often goes in one of the ships on a
tour among the different tribes. On these occasions
disputes between the natives, or between the Indians and the miners, are settled. It was on an official tour of this kind that the late Governor Seymour died on board the | Sparrowhawk" Shortly
before his death he succeeded in effecting a peace
between two tribes who had been applying the rules
of subtraction in an unscientific manner to each other
for some time. The ceremony took place on board,
and is described as interesting. Whisky was at
the bottom of the row, as it most generaUy is, and
strangely enough, the individual who supphed the
stuff was captured a few days before in his schooner.
The occasion was a marriage between a Chimpsean
and a Nishka woman. A whisky feast foUowed,
and during the firing of guns and pistols, a Chimpsean was shot. His people cleared out, vowing vengeance, which they took some time after, by killing
two  Nishkas,  whom   they caught fishing off the- 220
Canada on the Pacific.
mouth of the Naas. Now, of course, the Nishkas
considered that the debt was the other way, and
took an early opportunity of securing repayment and
something more. So things had gone on tHl one
tribe had taken some half-a-dozen more lives than
the other, and accounts were considerably complicated. It was at this juncture that the Governor
arrived. The difficulty of getting one tribe to go to
the other's* village was overcome somehow, and the
Nishka principal men went down to Fort Simpson.
On the foUowing morning a large number of Chimp-
■sean canoes, with banners flying, went off to the
" Sparrowhawk" The Nishkas were ranged along
the starboard side of the deck, and the Chimpseans
were placed facing them. Of course the Europeans
looked on with considerable curiosity, and, no doubt,
through their ignorance of the language, lost a rare
treat of flowery and figurative eloquence. After a
considerable period of silence, accompanied by an
.apparently indifferent scrutiny of each other, a
grunt came from the starboard side, which was
-quickly responded to from the port. Then sonorous, soft
and Hspy sentences again from the Nishkas, answered
by one or two " hah's," with dignified and ponderous nods. GraduaUy arms began to be raised, and
the speeches flowed low, dignified and monotonous,
answered by sententious nods, and Hstened to in
deep silence and with wrapt attention. Every one
was heard to the end without interruption.   Aftejr The Indians of British Columbia.        221
considerable " speechification" on both sides, an
agreement was come to as to how many blankets
were to be given by the tribe which had taken
most Hves, as compensation to the other tribe. Ten
blankets is generaUy considered the price of a man's
Hfe in Indian currency. The ratification of the
treaty of peace then took place—a herald advanced
from each side with a dried sea-Hon's throat fiHed
with swan's down, and proceeded to smear each one
of the opposite party with a handful of it, each one
taking off his hat to undergo the operation, tHl they
all looked as if covered with snow flakes. This is
the Indian symbol of peace, and they aU wear the
down tiU it drops off. Each chief affixed his mark
to a document, which was drawn up and sealed Hx
the presence of the Governor, after which they aU
sat down together to a coUation of tea, molasses and
ship's biscuits—a clay pipe and leaf of tobacco being
served out to each to finish off with. Their idea of
tea is pecuHar, as they mix it half-and-half with
molasses ! The Nishkas landed afterwards as guests-
of the Chimpseans.
In the olden days the commanders of the gunboats used to deal out summary justice to a much
greater extent than is done now, and with very good
effect, generaUy, as it is absurd to wade with judge, jury
and a fuU court of lawyers through a slough of barefaced lying. The " cat" was found a most effectual
means of reforming thieves.     There is rather an 222
Canada on the Pacific.
amusing story told of that period. A gun-boat,
commanded by a fine feUow, since dead—a man who
did much for the colony in its infancy—got into a*
hornet's nest on one occasion, and finding it perfectly useless to remain under the heavy fire of enemies
concealed in the bush, backed out. So narrow was
the creek that she could not turn. Like sensible
men, they made a virtue of necessity, and only an
idiot would have accused them of showing the white
feather. At this time, as is often the case Hi new,
and, perhaps, particularly in mining countries, the
principal occupant of the editorial chair, Hi Victoria,
was somewhat given to use his pen Hke a Southern
Islander's war-club, instead of a surgeon's knife.
This Jehu, or, perhaps, more truly Phaeton, who
drove the curricle of the press much to his own
-satisfaction, must needs make merry on this, and
served up a highly-flavoured and considerably hashed
account of the afiair, laying great and undue stress
on the " discretion" part of valour, and thereby
very nearly caught a tartar. The editor was poHtely
asked to lunch with the bespattered captain, and
guilelessly went. The ship had steam up, and
started immediately on his arrival, when something
.strange in the preparations on deck attracted his
notice, and swiftly roused his suspicions. They
were rigging the gratings, and he was going to have a
hot lunch', but it was to be on his own back! He was
off Hke a flash of lightning overboard and swimming The Indians of British Columbia.       223
for the shore. Of course the law was brought into
play, and the captain had to pay heavy damages.
StiU it is a question whether he did not chuckle
over the fright of our gaUant quiU driver. Lucky
for him that his story did not end with nine tails !
By aU accounts the Indians of the coast, as weU
as those inhabiting the interior of British Columbia, are steadily decreasing in numbers. The ravages of disease, and the immoderate use of bad
whisky, which, despite the efforts of the preventive service, is yet dealt out to them Hi great
quantities, are doubtless the causes. Their reckless,
filthy, and loose mode of Hving must also tend
to shorten theH days. Eruptive complaints carry
them off by scores. The fearful quantities of
oolahan grease which they devour, to an extent
incredible to those who have not witnessed their
feats of gluttony, would, I should thHik, be cause
sufficient for the speedy dissolution of any decently-
constructed white man. I have known my own Indians (those travelling with me) devour two or three
pounds of rancid grease at a meal, the stench of
which was worse than that of any slaughter-house.
The inland Indians, though they Hve under very
different cHcumstances to those of the coast, present
the same Mongolian cast of features, and resemble
the latter Hi many other points.
The Indian population is much more numerous
•on the seaboard than in the interior.   Between the 224 Canada on the Pacific.
British American boundary Hne and Sitka, Alaska,
I beheve the coast to be quite as numerously peopled
as further south jj but there, the Indians do not enjoy
the same privileges as theH Columbian brothers do,
for the Americans are too apt to apply the same
rules on the west coast of North America, as they
have hitherto been guided by in theH relations with
the plain tribes.' APPENDIX II.
(jTS) EFORE entering into a brief description of the
(g^y Peace River country, or the western portion
of the Fertile Belt of the British Nor'-West, some
remarks may be offered upon that portion of British
territory lying north of the Rocky Mountain House,
and west of the North Saskatchewan.
The Rocky Mountain House (latitude fifty-two
degrees, twenty-one minutes) is nicely situated on
the left bank of the North Saskatchewan upon a
wide and level shingle terrace. It is one of the
most securely built of the Hudson Bay Company's
establishments, and is of quadrangular form, with
high and strong pahsades outside the dweUing-
houses and other offices. Viewed from the exterior,
the appearance of this fort is anything but inviting;
o 226
Canada on the Pacific.
it resembles a moderately sized gaol more than anything else, and the narrow, strongly-protected entrance, with one or two diminutive side-doors, and
an occasional sHding wicket, suggest very forcibly
the precautions which the inhabitants consider advisable in their deaHngs with the Blackfeet, who are
the principal frequenters of this trading post. These
gentry, when they make their periodical visits for
the purposes of trade and barter, generaUy pitch
their tents in close proximity to the establishment.
When I last visited the Rocky Mountain House, in
the November of 1871, there were twenty-five lodges
of Piegan Indians in from the plains, who thronged
the courtyard inside, and required very careful
supervision to prevent the exercise of their thieving
propensities, which are very strong. On this occa-.
sion I photographed a group of the principal men
amongst them.
Looking westward from the fort, a few distant
peaks of the Rocky Mountains are visible here and
there above the top of the thick forest which covers
the Saskatchewan VaUey and the neighbouring foot
hiUs. A few hundred yards below, the river takes
a sudden bend northwards, and the Clearwater, a
beautfful mountain stream, weU worthy of the appropriate name it bears, enters it. From the Rocky
Mountain House to the Brazeau Range, and past the
latter to the commencement of the Kootanie Plains,
distant about ninety-five mHes, the furthest point I The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    227
"have reached Hi this direction, the features of the
Saskatchewan Valley and adjoining country are
rough, and travelHng, either on foot or on horseback,
is very irksome and laborious, owing to the hHly
nature ofthe country, the numerous swamps, and large
burnt tracts through which the trails are cut. The
scenery, however, is very beautiful, especiaUy between the Bighorn Creek and White Goat River,
and can hardly be surpassed elsewhere in the mountains for rugged grandeur. Further on, in the very
.heart of the mountains, the Saskatchewan derives its
waters from some immense glaciers. The mountain
valleys are quite fiUed up at this point by a huge
mer de glace many mHes in extent, above which, at
irregular intervals, rocky and fantastically-shaped
peaks stand up Hke islands Hi the midst of an eternally frozen sea. The eastern portion of this immense ice field abuts upon a beautiful lake several
-■mHes in extent, the shores of which are covered with
forest down to the very water's edge, whHe immediately behind, huge mountains, elevated six thousand feet above the blue waters of this ice-fed lake,
stand up in aU the pride of theH sullen grandeur.
East of this glacier lake is the Howe's Pass, by
which, at one time, hopes were entertained that the
Canadar Pacific RaUway might pass. As one might
;naturaUy be led to imagine, the chmate of this Upper Saskatchewan country is not by any means a
:genial one, and H my memory serves me aright, I 228
Canada on the Pacific.
saw the mercury indicate thirty degrees below zero
on the morning of the 9th of November, 1871, when
camped just within the Brazeau range. The Saskatchewan River, at the Rocky Mountain House, is about
one hundred and thirty yards wide, and its vaUey
displays sandstone cHffs, in which occasional coal-
seams appear. From this point for a considerable
distance northward, this appears to me to form the
boundary between the Fertile Belt and the cold,
swampy and broken country which extends westward to the base of the Rocky Mountains.
To my thinking the western and northern Hne of
the FertUe Belt would, taking the Rocky Mountain
House for a starting point, foUow the Saskatchewan to the White Mud river, thence northerly almost to Fort Assiniboine, from the latter to the outlet of Lesser Slave Lake, and keeping this sheet of
water for its southern Hne of demarcation, strike
west by south over the Smoky River, almost to the-
base of the Rocky Mountains, or to, say, the one hundred and twentieth and a-half degree of west longi-
tude, then north for one hundred miles, and then
eastward to the Athabasca, at the point where the
Clearwater enters that stream ; finaUy, a south-east
course would bring it to the Saskatchewan, sHghtly
east of Fort a la Corne. AU the country, or nearly
aU, to the west and north of this rather curiously curved,
line may be set down as of no great importance for
cultivation.    The southern boundary of this zone is* The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, Sc.    229
•difficult to define, the forty-ninth paraUel may suffice for present purposes, but wHl include much unfertile, arid, and treeless country, totaUy unfitted for
permanent habitation.
The gradual dip northward of the continent
immediately east of the Rocky Mountains is
something remarkable. Its general elevation near
the Rocky Mountain House is about three thousand three hundred feet above sea level, whHe
at Fort Assiniboine two thousand two hundred
feet may be taken as the level of the high land
behind the fort, and at the Peace River, one thousand eight hundred feet is about the maximum elevation. The greater part of the belt of country
•drained by the western tributaries of the North
Saskatchewan and by the Athabasca and its affluents, as far north as Lesser Slave Lake, and east to
the longitude of Fort Assiniboine, may be faHly set
down as valueless for cultivation. It is a cold and.
•-swampy tract of country, considerably elevated, and
much of it mountainous. Between the Smoky
River and the Athabasca, some very high hills, probably offshoots of the Rocky Mountains, stretch
■eastwards until within thirty nines of Lesser Slave
Lake; one of these spurs, that more immediately to
the south, I crossed at an elevation of about three
thousand five hundred feet above the sea. Another
and still higher spur lay fifteen miles to the north-
•west, and between them the Swan River flowed on
m 230
Canada on the Pacific.
its way towards the Lesser Slave Lake.   A more-
forlorn piece of country than that lying between
Fort Assiniboine and Lesser Slave Lake cannot well-
be imagined: a tract of broken rocky land, covered
with swamps, and valueless for every purpose but
the chase.
In the bed of the Swan River, elevated, probably,
two thousand five hundred feet above the sea, at the
place we forded it, a lignite seam, twenty-four
inches Hi thickness, was seen. This was, doubtless,
the connecting Hnk between the lignites of the
Saskatchewan and the strata more to the north.
This formation (Hgnite) extends over a vast area
of the -Nor'-West, having been recognized on the
southern branches of the South Saskatchewan, as
well as on the Athabasca and its tributaries, and
the Mackenzie and other rivers flowing into it.
The meridian of 111 degrees west longitude may be
assumed as the eastern boundary of the lignite formation of the British Nor'-West, although lignite
strata were long ago discovered on the Souris River,,,
at a place known to the half-breeds as La Roche
Perce"e. This locaHty is about seven mHes north of
the forty-ninth parallel or boundary Hne, and in
longitude 104 degrees west; but the seams there
probably belong to the Missouri tertiary lignite-
basin. Four thin seams are here mentioned by Dr..
Hector, and some of them were apparently very fine
in quahty, and had much the appearance of cannel The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    231
coal. The stratum seen at the Swan River appeared
to be of an inferior kind, and burned with difficulty.
About sixty miles west of the Swan River, there
must be immense quantities of coal on the Smoky
River; for that stream, for many mHes of its course,
presents the extraordinary appearance of a " black
country," owing to frequent clouds of smoke arising
from the eombustion of the mineral upon its banks,
and Hi the vicinity.
On proceeding a little more to the north, and on
gaining the watershed of the Peace River, a decided
change is at once perceptible, not only in the appearance of the country, but also in the climate.
After passing the Httle belt of swampy ground lying
between Lesser Slave Lake and the Peace River, the
ground dips gently; and on gaming the edge of the
vaUey of the latter stream, the general elevation of
the land appears to be only seventeen hundred feet
above the sea level, and perhaps is even less.
Within an area bounded by the Smoky River, the
Rocky Mountains and the parallel of 56J degrees
north latitude, there Hes the future garden of the
West, now lying faUow, but yet gorgeous with many
of the choicest prairie flowers, and replete with the
finest wild fruits peculiar to both woods and plain
Beneath its serene sky, the lovely hHls and dales,
with many crystal mountain-fed rivulets between,
afford the choicest soH on the continent, from which
the husbandman wiU eventuaUy extract with ease 232
Canada on the Pacific.
abundant harvests. In this favoured spot, sheltered
on the west by the majestic peaks of the finest
mountain range of the North American Continent,
there appears to be a singularly happy distribution
of praHie and wooded land. Here you have magnificent rough-bark poplars and spruce of immense
size; there, within a stone's-throw almost, an undulating praHie. Immense treasures of fuel He but a
Httle way beneath the surface, awaiting the advent
of the pioneer of civilization, the snorting steam-
horse, to be conveyed eastward, for the use of the
less fortunate dweUers of the Saskatchewan and
Manitoba. Through the very heart of this " happy
vaUey," the noble Peace River presents one of the
finest natural channels of inland navigation to be
seen on the continent, by which easy communication
with the northern sea might be opened if necessary,
and the products of the rich fisheries of the Arctic
easHy and economicaUy conveyed to the South and
East. In connection with this matter of northern fisheries, it may here be stated that, if the
Canada Pacific road be eventuaUy pushed through
the Peace River country, a branch road of three
hundred and fifty mHes in length, over a very easy
and level country, would suffice to bring to the main
Hne, with but one transhipment, the cargoes of the
largest sea-going vessels.
A few mHes below the mouth of the Smoky River
the land is very much cut up by deep gulhes—the The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    233
result of erosion on the argHlaceous strata—which
extend to a great depth below the surface of all the
Peace River country. AU the tributaries of the
Peace River present the same characteristics, cutting
deeper and deeper through the clayey banks, until,
at their junction with the parent stream, they emerge
through ravines six or seven hundred feet in depth.
On the north side of the Peace River, between the
site of the old Fort and Dunvegan, the country is
nearly perfectly level, with here and there a few
erratics strewn over the surface. The sloping valley
banks are occasionally rough, and some of the most
curiously-formed conical mounds of gravel occupy
the slopes. On the south side, the more undulating
nature of the surface, with occasional mounds and
ridges, attests the bygone action of the sea. At the
site of the old Fort, opposite Smoky River, there are
several fine level terraces I but generaUy, between
that and Dunvegan, the vaUey slopes Hregularly to
the water, often displaying sandstone cliffs, ruinous
and broken, and sometimes several hundred feet Hi
height. The bed of the Peace River is for the most
part strewn with numerous boulders and gravel of
lime stone and sandstone (the latter often forming
most exceUent whet-stones), whHe above St. John's
the detached slabs of sandstone, which are found Hi
profusion along the water's edge, afford the best of
.grindstones. The country thHty or forty mHes
south of the Peace River is described as far superior 234
Canada on the Pacific.
to that we passed through., The half-breed hunters
and residents about Dunvegan speak of it with rapture. There they can roam on horseback over vast
stretches of prairie in pursuit of game, which sup-
pHes the scanty Indian population with food. They
speak of deHghtful lakelets of fresh water, almost
hidden from view by the luxuriant foliage of the
sylvan groves in which they are sometimes situated,
whHe numerous flocks of feathered game dot the
surface of theH tranquH waters.
The chmate of this favoured land is singularly
mud, notwithstanding its high latitude; but a few
very simple causes may be assigned for this apparent
anomaly. The immediate proximity of the Rocky
Mountains to windward is an important element to
be taken into account in considering the climate.
For one effect of mountain ranges being to drain the
winds which cross them of their moisture, it foUows-
that the warm breezes of the Pacific partially lose-
the moisture with which they are saturated, whHe
crossing the elevated and snowy peaks of the Rocky
Mountains, and reach the low country to the east,
divested Hi great measure of theH protecting screen
of vapour. This abstraction of moisture exposes the
places to leeward more fuUy to the influence of terrestrial and solar radiation. Hotter summers and
colder but drier winters are the natural result. The
high bills south of the Smoky River also act in the
same way, by intercepting the vapours which accom- The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    235-
pany the south-west winds, and thus help to render-
the chmate, probably, the best Hi the Nor'-West.
The low gap in the Rocky Mountains, through which
the Peace River flows eastward, also helps to mitigate the chmate to leeward, by permitting, to a
sHght extent, the passage of the warm west winds,,
which tend to lessen the severity of the sprino-
months, and melt the snows at a season when the
eastern part of the continent is yet buried beneath
its winter mantle. The early opening of the spring
upon the Peace River is weU estabhshed, not only
by meteorological registers, but by the accounts of
the present residents. On the other hand, the winter
months are not a whit more severe than on the Saskatchewan or Red River, while the atmosphere is
very much drier. Witness the fact that snow rarely
exceeds two feet in depth, and never packs, thus
offering wonderful facilities towards the economic-
maintenance of a raHroad. Mr. Macoun, the botanist,
who accompanied me through the country,, states
that the flora on the Peace River indicate a climate
almost as warm as that of BeUeviUe, in Ontario;
and he further remarks that two-thHds of the species
observed between Lesser Slave Lake and Fort St.
John are identical with those of Ontario. Curiously
enough, the north side of the Peace River VaUey is
CD      I **
generaUy bare of trees, while the southern slopes,
are thickly timbered. This is accounted for by the
fact that the early effects of the spring sun are to- 236
Canada on the Pacific.
speedily melt the snow, and the steep slopes, in
consequence, soon suffer from want of moisture. On
the southern banks, however, from being kept much
longer in the shade, moisture remains, and the
growth of trees and other vegetation is thereby promoted to a greater extent. From Dunvegan to the
Rocky Mountain Portage, the southern banks of the
Peace River are generaUy densely wooded, and the
forest gradually extends southwards, until, when behind Fort St. John, the wooded region is probably
thirty or forty miles in width. The ground becomes
rougher Hi the same ratio, and behind Fort St. John
rises towards the mountains. The Indians, however,
aver most emphaticaUy that further south the prairie
•extends right up to the mountains, which, according
to their accounts, exhibit prairie vegetation far up
theH eastern slopes. The north side of the Peace
River is generaUy open, and although woods prevail
to some extent, much praHie occupies the country
even remote from the river, a fair horse trail taking
the traveller from Dunvegan to Fort VermiHon in
five or six days.
We shall now consider a very important subject,
namely, the elevation above sea-level of the Peace
Biver during its course through the country just
described, and through the Rocky Mountains. The
reader will bear Hi mind that the statistics I am
now about to offer are derived more from data previously determined than from the meteorological The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    237
observations taken by me during the journey. The
high scientific authorities from whom those data
emanate wiU be sufficient guarantee for the elevations of Dunvegan on the east, and Fort George on
the west side of the Rocky Mountains.
Sir John Richardson, David Thompson, and Colonel Lefroy put the elevation of the former place,,
respectively, at seven hundred and eighty, one thousand, and nine hundred and ten feet above the sea.
The Royal Engineers have estimated the altitude of
the Fraser River at Fort George to be one thousand
six hundred and ninety feet above sea. In my deductions as to the actual elevation of the Peace River
between these points, I have made the datum level,
not the mean of the three estimates of the altitude
of Dunvegan, but the highest of the number, Hi order
to ensure a result which, if proved erroneous (as it
very Hkely is to some extent), after a careful system
of levels, wHl be, at least, above the truth. The mean
faU of the Peace River, from the foot of the Rocky
Mountain Portage to Dunvegan (a distance estimated
at one hundred and eighty mUes), is assumed to be
eighteen inches per mile, an aUowance I reaUy believe to be much too great. This gives the foot of
the Rocky Mountain Portage an elevation of one
thousand two hundred and seventy feet. Simultaneous observations of the atmospheric pressure at
the foot and head of the Portage being impossible
when I passed over it, a reHable estimate of the •238
Canada on the Pacific.
difference in level between these points has not been
obtained; but, as nearly as I can judge, that difference
is about two hundred and forty feet. Having judged
the course of the river, from the Finlay Rapids to
the head of the Rocky Mountain Canon, to be about
seventy miles, and from the Finlay to the Little
McLeod River seventy-five mHes, those quantities,
multipHed into twenty-four and eighteen inches respectively (the assumed descent of the main stream
and south branch), place the elevation of the mouth
of Little McLeod River at one thousand seven hundred and sixty-two feet; and assuming the level
of Lake McLeod to be one thousand eight hundred
feet above the sea, the difference (thirty-eight feet)
may be taken as the faU of the Little River, a rapid
stream, which, including Pack Lake, is about fourteen mHes Hi length. A. pretty fair barometric section was obtained from McLeod Lake to Lake
Stewart, a distance of, say, eighty mHes. Adopting
one thousand eight hundred feet as the elevation of
Lake Stewart, the section referred to fits in very
well; and the faU of the Nacosla or Stewart River
from the lake of that name to its confluent point
with the Fraser at Fort George, being estimated at
one hundred feet, exactly satisfies the conditions
required. But those deductions have been carefully
checked throughout by the aneroid at every possible
point, the variations of atmospheric pressure being
taken into account, as far as possible; and so many
V The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    239
precautions have been used in drawing inferences,
that, unless some very grave error has crept in, the
figures now given cannot-be very far from the truth.
The elevations, are shown Hi the section, and are as
foUows, viz.:—
Dunvegan     1,000 feet above sea.
Foot of Rocky Mountain Portage, 1,270 "      "      "
Head " " " 1,510   "      "      "
Finlay Branch     1,650  "      "      "
McLeod Lake  1,800 "      "      "
Stewart's Lake   1,800'"'      "      "
Before leaving the question of the elevations of
the principal points on the Peace River, some remarks as to the adaptability of that river vaUey for
a raHroad Hne may be opportune. There is no
doubt that this valley presents the lowest avaHable
pass in the Rocky Mountains for a line of communication from the East to the West. It has, however, one or two serious drawbacks—the circuitous
route which it would oblige a raflway to take, and
the extreme roughness of some portions of the line,
from the crossing of the Pine River until the mountains are passed altogether. These local difficulties
may, however, not be so great as they appeared to
me; and if necessity should compel the roadway to
be hewn out of the very mountain sides, whHe passing the heart of the range, yet I beheve the avoidance of the Fraser River, and much more rough
■country through which it would be necessary to 240
Canada on the Pacific*
take a Hne via the Tef e Jaune Cache, would more
than compensate for the increased distance and
heavy work of the Peace River VaUey route.
But I beHeve that it may not be necessary to follow
the Peace VaUey at aU. From many Indian reports
which reached me, I am inclined to favour the
beHef that a pass or depression in the Rocky Mountains exists in about latitude fifty-five and -a-half
degrees north, and some thirty or forty miles south
of the Portage Hill. Somewhere about this locality
the Pine River is said to have its source in a lake
which also sends its waters westward into the Parsnip or south branch of the Peace River. If this,
route be found practicable, then the line of road will
not pass near the Peace River Valley at aU, but wHl
intersect the beautiful and partially prairie lands,
lying immediately south of it, and McLeod Lake
wiU probably be reached by a route one hundred
and twenty-five miles shorter than the other. This
route which may or may not be practicable, I
brought under the notice of the chief engineer of
the Canada Pacific, upon my return to Ottawa last
March, but whether or not steps have been taken to
ascertain its feasibility, I do not know.
Having now briefly touched upon the topographical features of this section of the North-West, a few
passing remarks on its geological characteristics may
prove interesting to the reader. The Rocky
Mountains within British territory may be said to The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, <&c.     241
He about N.N.W., and S.S.E., and are composed of
three distinct ranges, which appear to converge
more closely as they extend northward, until at the
great transverse trough through which the Peace
River flows, they so dovetaH into each other as to
present the appearance of one huge longitudinal
Although I have already referred to the Rocky
Mountain Portage HH1 as being a part of the outer
range, yet, I think, it may be considered as forming
but a portion of the foot hills, for westwardly, and
for many miles higher up the Peace River, there are
hardly any mountains worth mentioning, until within a short distance of the " Rapide qui ne parle pas."
I am inclined to put the extreme breadth of the
transverse section of the Rocky Mountains through
which the Peace River flows at about thirty mHes
only. However, it is difficult to say where the hills
end, and the actual mountains begin; at any rate the
three great longitudinal vaUeys, so well defined in the
more southern portions of the huge range, are with
difficulty definable Hi the Peace River valley.
According to Dr Hector, and within the field of his-
explorations, immense thick-bedded strata of Hmestone, associated with fossHs of Devonian or Carboniferous age, together with sandy shales, compose
the first range. The same limestones and shales
occur Hi the second range, and generaUy present a
huge  vertical waU to  the  westward.    The third 242
Canada on the Pacific.
range is composed of the carboniferous Hmestones
resting on slates.
There is every reason to beheve that the
same geological features characterize that portion
of the same general structure through which the Peace
River flows, in so far, at least, as its component
parts are concerned. Numerous fossils, two at least
of which bore great resemblance to Lonsdalia and
Lithostrotion, being seen on the banks of the Peace
River amongst the numerous limestone boulders
with which the river bed is strewn.
It is curious to speculate upon the physical features of this portion ofthe North American continent
at the period when one continuous sea stretched
from the Arctic southwards, and not only washed
the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountain range, but
also filled the Peace River gap, a trough originaUy
formed by dislocation and subsequent separation of
the mountain masses.
A mile or so before reaching the upper end of the
Rocky Mountain Portage, the traveUer from the east
passes over a series of weU-defined terraces, three in
number, which well mark ancient sea Hnes. A most
■curious fact in connection with these terraces is that
the highest of the three, as far as I can remember,
has about the same elevation above sea level as the
country on the north side of the river, east of the
Portage HiU.
It is possible, then, that, when the waters of the
1      ; The Fertile Belt, Rocky Mountains, &c.    243
ocean washed the upper terrace, the Portage Hill
was a peninsula connected with the Bull's-head (a
hHl to the north) by the narrow strip of dry
land where the traveUer now attains his greatest elevation in making the portage. A sea level eighteen
hundred feet higher than the present one would fulfil these conditions, and would also suffice to submerge the eastern Laurentian axis between Hudson's
Bay and Lake Winnipeg, or at least convert it into
.a chain of islands. " At that time," according to Dr.
Hector, " the coast Hne would have left the Rocky
Mountains Hi latitude fifty-six degrees N. near Peace
River, and have foUo wed what is now the watershed
between the Saskatchewan and the rivers flowing
more to the north, tiU it reached the one hundred
.and seventh degree west longitude. Fromthispointthe
Thickwood, Eagle and Thunder-breeding bills would
have formed the headlands of a great bay into which
poured the waters of the Saskatchewan, then independent rivers, and debouching where they make the
acute bends now known as theH elbows."
Submergence of the continent to this extent (assuming the land to have been equaUy depressed on
the west side) would have almost sufficed to make
uninterrupted water communication, along the section exhibited, with the Pacific, or to convert the
•country between the McLeod Lake and Lake Stewart into a series of islands. A depression of twenty-
eight hundred feet would undoubtedly have caused 244
Canada on the Pacific.
the formation of an estuary entered from the west
by the Fraser River Valley, and connected with the
^eastern sea by the Peace River Gap, then a narrow
rocky inlet, similar in appearance to the numerous
indentations which now characterize the coast of
British Columbia.
Although it may appear presumptuous on my
part to speculate freely upon the age ofthe coal or
lignite found in the eastern part of the Peace River
country, yet, as the carboniferous limestone of the
Rocky Mountains probably underlies that section
to a great extent, the hypothesis that true coal exists within that area may be brought forward.
Curiously enough, a fossH in some respects resem-
bHng the tooth of the Holoptychius Hibberii found
Jby Mr. Horner in the cannel coal of FifeshHe, was
found associated with the specimen of the coal to-
which I have referred.   Purchased
FROM   J*4-
\vX-o—t>-^R ,-w>
Place of Purchase,
Later Catalogued Prices
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130°        129
Il^ks UI
erase: r        river
H A  C  0 $  L A
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12$°  West  Longitude
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