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Blazing the trail through the Rockies : the story of Walter Moberly and his share in the making of Vancouver Robinson, Noel, 1879 or 1880-1966 1914

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26 CENTS  -e^'10 71
THE      STORY      OF
AND    HIS    SHARE    IN    THE
N e w s -Advertiser
Printers and Bookbinders
I   <?  /*/  FOREWORD
"I have been very much interested in Moberly's recollections with
reference to events nearly all of which I pretty well know by heart. I
am so glad to see that he has given you, for publication, an account of his
long and varied experiences in British Columbia, experiences which have
been of great value to the province." In these generous terms of appreciation of Mr. Walter Moberly's services to this province, the Hon. Edgar
Dewdney wrote me two months ago, at the time that the veteran explorer's
reminiscences were appearing Sunday by Sunday. Mr. Dewdney, who
has himself rendered great services, not only to this province, but to the
Dominion at large, as trail-maker, explorer and administrator, knew Mr.
Moberly intimately as a comrade in the early, strenuous days of which
this story treats. Appreciation from such a source is, therefore, of much
value. I quote this extract as most representative of the many letters of
appreciation of Mr. Moberly's services to the province—some of which do
not hesitate to point out that those services do not seem to have been
appreciated by the province—that I have received during the publication of
his story.
I hope, later, to publish in book form the stories of adventure and
achievement of Mr. Dewdney himself, Mr. Henry J. Cambie and other
pioneers of the province, whose reminiscences I have had the pleasure of
recording in the columns of "The News-Advertiser," for such reminiscences, like those of Mr. Moberly, are part of the history of British Columbia and—in the case particularly of Mr. Dewdney—of the Dominion.
In the meantime, I have to express my sincere thanks to Mr. Cambie for
his generosity in allowing me to place at the end of Mr. Moberly's story
two chapters taken from his own reminiscences in order that the
present little book may be a complete record, not only of the explorations and surveys that preceded the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway through this province, but of the actual building of that railway, In
connection with which Mr. Cambie played the most prominent part, bein&
in charge of the tremendous work of driving the steel through the rugged
canyons of the Fraser. I would like also to thank ''The News-Advertiser"
for permission to republish these stories; the S. J. Clarke Publishing Company for kindly lending me a number of the "cuts" used by them in their
recently published history of British Columbia; the Art, Historical and
Scientific Society of Vancouver for permission to use extracts from Mr.
Moberly's lectures, published by the Society in a praiseworthy endeavor
to show public recognition of his work; and Mr. J. Francis Bursill, an
old-timer from the Old Land, well known here under his journalistic name
of "Felix Penne," for much kindly assistance in "getting out" this modest
but "strange, eventful history."
—N. R. ■■   I  CONTENTS'.  .■■' .    |§
Mr. Moberly Commences Explorations       7
Founding of New Westminster     19
Exploring Burrard Inlet     23
Discovery of Eagle Pass     27
Building the Cariboo Road -  35
Indian Legends—A Glimpse in Passing  55
Hon. Walter Moberly Met Brigham Young  63
Making Railway History  69
Five and Fifty Years Ago  93
Building an Historic Railway  101
Memories of Old Vancouver  Ill
Forty-three Illustrations This photograph of Walter Moberly was taken in July, 1871, immediately
after British Columbia had come into Confederation, and just before Mr.
Moberly organized his surveying parties for the surveys which preceded the
building of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the Province.
9 •>*„,:
.sA";-'^'' ---   T
a& We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go the unknown ways.
Pioneers!    O pioneers!
We  primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within;
We the surface broad surveying, and the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers !    O pioneers!
—Walt  Whitman.
N all literature there is no more splendidly picturesque and
romantic life story and none more brilliantly told than that of
the great builder of our Indian Empire, Warren Hastings,
recorded in imperishable English by Lord Macaulay. There
are two superbly depicted scenes described in that essay, the
famous impeachment scene in the Hall of William Rufus and
that scene, so near the end of Hastings' remarkable career,
when the ancient Empire-builder, emerging from the retirement
of his beautiful country seat in Worcestershire, appeared once more before
the Bar of the House, a white-haired nonogenarian, and was there paid a
never-to-be-forgotten tribute by the members of the Mother of Parliaments.
The wonderful old man, bowed beneath the weight of nearly a century of
years, but still mentally alert, seemed to many of those to whom his remarkable life-story had been familiar in their youth to have appeared almost as
from the grave, and they paid him that tribute of esteem that the Anglo-
Saxon is always glad to pay to a life of conspicuous endeavor and high
achievement—even though that life may have been in eclipse at times, as
was the case with Warren Hastings.
It may seem, at first blush, a far cry from Warren Hastings to Walter
Moberly, the subject of this story, and, as Mr. Moberly would himself
admit, it may seem also a case of placing the greater and lesser on the same
plane, for the British race has produced few men combining the statesmanship, the conspicuous ability and astonishing energy of a Warren Hastings,
but it has produced, to its honor, many indomitable explorers of the Mackenzie, Fraser, Dewdney, Moberly, Cambie type—to name a few outstanding names in British Columbia's roll of explorers. Yet one day, quite
recently, the two men to whom reference has been made were associated in
my mind for a particular reason. During the week a case, in which the
Dominion and Provincial Governments figured, which had, as its main
issue, the question whether English Bay may be considered as a harbor or
not, loomed large in the newspapers. In the course of that case many a
notable British Columbian pioneer-—and particularly pioneers of the sea—
gave evidence, some of these old-timers, such as a former skipper of the
historic Beaver, Captain George Marchant, still hail and hearty, being
men who had not figured in the public view for a long time. FROM   BRITAIN'S   PARLIAMENT   TO   VANCOUVER'S   COURTHOUSE.
Mr. Walter Moberly was one of these and it was when his still firmly
knit but spare and slightly bowed figure, with its venerable head and face,
suggesting the pale, intellectual type of man rather than the man of action
and the wilds, appeared in the witness box that the analogy I have suggested flashed through my mind. His likeness to the late Lord Stratheona,
as an old man, is worthy a passing reference. And, as Mr. Moberly proceeded to tell of that day, more than half a century ago, when Commander Richards in H. M. S. Plumper (that warship the by-no-means
impressive name of which has been rendered permanent in the designation
of Plumper's Pass between Vancouver and Victoria) found him with
Lieutenant Burnaby and his men digging for coal near the site of what is
now Coal Harbor, the period of which he spoke seemed as remote to us
present day Vancouverites as that period of storm and stress, of bloodshed
and diplomacy, and juggling with native kings and princesses and their
kingdoms, which marked the administration in India of Warren Hastings,
must have seemed to those men of another generation who stood to receive
him when he appeared for the last time in Parliament. Warren Hastings
was full of years and honors and living at his country seat. Mr. Moberly,
who has been the recipient of a few minor honors, is full of years, but a
comparatively ppor man, yet he, as the most notable of our pioneer pathfinders, has, with other pioneer path-finders, rendered to British Columbia
services which, in proportion, are as valuable to the Province as those of
his greater compatriot were to India and, through India, to the Empire.
It was inevitable that Mr. Walter Moberly should find a place in
this series of stories. His name has been given to several places in British
Columbia, including a depot on the C. P. R. and a school in South Vancouver, and his explorations are among the earliest and most valuable made
in the province. A photograph of him, framed and enlarged, has recently
been hung in the Walter Moberly School, the Conservative Club and the
Vancouver Museum. Opinions do not differ as to the part he has played
in the development of the province, and the fact that he has had the honor
of addressing, among other public bodies, the Vancouver Canadian Club
and the Art and Historical Society upon his explorations, is a tribute to
the estimation in which his services are held by his fellow citizens of Vancouver, a city the site of which he advocated from the outset as the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a railway with the inception and
construction of which his name and the names of Cambie, Dewdney and
others whose lives have been dealt with in the course of these stories, will
always be inseparably associated.
Incidentally I may mention that, of the large family of Moberly
brothers, there are still two living, besides Mr. Walter Moberly, both at
very advanced ages but a little younger than their Vancouver brother, one,
Mr. Harry Moberly, who (retired from the service of the Hudson's Bay
Company after a strenuous life in the wilds, during a brief portion of
which time he traded in opposition to that famous company, and after
whom Moberly Lake, near Fort St. John, is named, now living in retire-
8 ment up north; and the other, Mr. Frank Moberly, who has also been a
great out-of-door man and who is at present living north of Lake Huron.
In 1871, when the C. P. R. started in, Frank Moberly had charge of
the exploratory service of that company from Winnipeg to the Kootenay
Born in 1832—five years before Queen Victoria came to the throne
—at Steeple Ashton in Oxfordshire, England, Walter Moberly is the son
of a retired post-captain in the British Navy and of a Polish lady. His
father fought in many battles in the Napoleonic wars, including that off
Cape St. Vincent and at Borodino. He is the nephew of an ecclesiastic
well known in his day, headmaster of Winchester when the family said
good-bye to England and, later, still better known as Bishop Moberly of
Salisbury. As Walter was only two years of age when his father and
mother emigrated to Canada, he has no recollections of England, though,
curiously enough, his pure English accent would suggest that he had recently
emigrated from the Old Country. His first definite memories are of his
school life at Barrie, on Lake Simcoe, where his father bought a nice little
place. It was here that he first met and became well acquainted with the
future Baroness Macdonald, then a girl and subsequently destined to marry
Canada's most famous premier, Sir John A. Macdonald. Much might
be written about his early explorations in the Huron country (of which
little was known at that time), but his life has been so crammed full with
interesting happenings in this province that most of this early part will have
to be omitted, with the exception of a reference or two. After studying
his profession of civil engineer in Toronto and spending some time with a
well known Toronto firm of engineers, Messrs. Cumberland and Storm—
Mr. Cumberland was chief engineer on what used to be known as the
Ontario, Simcoe a^nd Union Railroad, afterwards the Northern Railway,
the first railroad in Upper Canada—he engaged in many strenuous and
exciting explorations.
During part of this time he was one of the assistants to Sir Sandford
Fleming, a very notable engineer, who is still living in Winnipeg. Mr.
Moberly recalled one curious memory with reference to Sir Sandford.
"He was a very clever sketcher," he observed, "and could sketch and
paint in colors, and yet he could not tell one color from another. Often
he has asked me the color of this or that, and when he knew the color he
would make a beautiful picture." In the year 1854 Mr. Moberly secured
many hundreds of square miles of white pine that he had discovered, and
he spent a large proportion of the years 1855-57 exploring through the
country north of Lakes Huron and Superior between Lake Simcoe and
the Michipicoten River, which discharges its waters into Lake Superior.
Upon his return to Toronto at the end of the year 1857 he learned that
the Imperial Government had sent out an expedition under the command
of Captain Palliser to explore British territory between Lake Superior and
the Pacific Coast, and at the same time he heard that rich deposits of gold
had been discovered in the valley of the Fraser River in British Columbia.
He decided to come out to British Columbia, and, with a letter of introduction from Sir George Simpson to Sir James Douglas, who was then at
the head of the Hudson's Bay Company west of the Rocky Mountains,
he made preparations for the change. EARLY EXPEDITION WEST OF HURON:   GREAT INDIAN GATHERING.
Just one retrospective glimpse before accompanying Mr. Moberly to
the founding of New Westminster. It has reference to his early experiences in the country west of Lake Huron. "Until the early fifties of the
nineteenth century very little was known of the country west of the Huron,"
he observed, "and it was generally supposed to be rugged, cold, inhospitable, more suitable for Indians and wild animals than for civilized settlement and commercial development. It was in the year 1 850, when I was
emerging from boyhood, that I met in Barrie an Englishman from Kent,
and we arranged to undertake a trip from Barrie to Sault Ste. Marie for
the purpose of exploring the north shore of Lake Huron and also for shooting and fishing and to be present at the village of Manitowaning, on the
Great Manitoulin Island, in order to witness the annual distribution of the
presents that the government in those days gave to the Indians who then
inhabited the country around Lakes Huron and Superior.
"We purchased a small bark canoe which we transported by the old
military road from Barrie to the Willow River, down which we paddled
to the Nottawasaga River, thence down it to Lake Huron, then coasting
along the shore of Lake Huron to Penetanguishene, where we outfitted.
After a delightful trip, during which we saw a great deal of the country
bordering the north shore of Lake Huron, we went to see the distribution
of the presents to the Indians. There were several thousand Indians congregated, many of them very fine looking men. War dances were innumerable, and canoe races, in which upwards of 400 canoes took part, were
organized. We visited the Wallace copper mine on the Whitefish River
and also the Bruce mines. We then returned to the site of an old saw
mill about five miles from the village of Manitowaning, where raspberries
grew in profusion and where wild pigeons were numerous. Having shot a
great many of these birds, we embarked on the old steamer Gore and proceeded to Sturgeon Bay and thence in our canoe to the Coldwater River,
where we put the canoe on a wagon and transported it to Orillia, then,
launching it on Lake Couchiching, we paddled back to Barrie. It was
during this trip that I noticed the large forests of white pine that grew
throughout much of that country."
Matters were quiet owing to the Crimean War, when—largely owing
to the advice of Mr. Gzowski, a widely known engineer in the east at that
time and father of Mr. Gzowski, a well known contractor of the Vancouver of today—-Mr. Moberly decided to go west. Spending one last
day at Niagara Falls, he departed for New York and embarked upon
what was to prove- an adventurous and strenuous career. He sailed for
Rio de Janerio. Even at this length of time, when the tides of over fifty
years have ebbed and flowed between, Walter Moberly retains the most
vivid impressions of the splendid harbor of Rio and the varied and picturesque scenes which the city had to show at that time, impressions which
one is tempted to set down here were it not that there is so much of interest
to pack into a comparatively limited space before this story closes. Suffice
it to say that Rio at that time was full of negro slaves, for the slave trade
was at its most lucrative stage. One slaver, a skipper, informed young
Moberly that he had cleared $600,000 as the result of a single voyage
bringing slaves from Africa.
10 *These negroes were as black as ebony, and he informed me that a
negro in good condition would fetch from $2,000 to $3,000," Mir.
Moberly explained. As far as he could judge during the few weeks he
spent at Rio, these slaves were, in the main, fairly well treated and pretty
jolly, though he came across some sad exceptions.
Through the stormy Straits of Magellan and so to Panama sailed the
good ship in which our explorer was bound, and at Panama it was found
that the steamship company operating the said ship had "gone bust." It
was quite a question as to whether they would be able to complete the
voyage, but the captain and the first mate decided to take the vessel to San
Francisco. The passengers, however, lost their passage to Victoria. Eventually, Mr. Moberly managed to get passage on another vessel to Esquimalt
and so, late in the year 1858—the same year that Colonel Moody and
the Royal Engineers landed in the province from England—he set foot
on British Columbian soik
Like Captain Vancouver, Captain Cook was one "of the first that ever burst
into that silent sea" of the Pacific. He just missed discovering the Straits of
Juan de Fuca owing to a storm. The "silent sea" about Vancouver would have
remained in solitude had not such men as Cook and Vancouver been followed
by men  like  Moberly  and  Cambie.
Upon presenting Sir George Simpson's letter to Sir James Douglas,
Mr. Moberly was accorded a very hearty welcome by the notable Hudson's
Bay magnate. "He not only received me kindly, but he offered me a post
under the government," Mr. Moberly explained. "I declined it, however,
as it would have interfered with the objects I had in view. He gave me
a letter that would insure me a welcome and assistance at any of the Hudson's Bay forts I might visit. Until the day of his death I always found
Sir James Douglas a kind and invaluable friend, and I never experienced
anything but courtesy and assistance from the Hudson's Bay factors and
those under them. At that time also I met Chief Justice Begbie, Commander Richards and Donald Fraser, W. A. G. Young and others."
Let it not be forgotten that Mr. Moberly made all his early explorations in B. C. quite apart from the government and entirely at his own
11 expense. It is true that he was fond of exploratory work, but this fact
does not detract from the debt of gratitude which the province owes to the
man who, upon his arrival, spent all that he had saved in seeking to make
known the unknown. It was, however, to be an outstanding feature of this
explorer's life that, partly, it would seem, through a certain something lacking in his make-up from a business standpoint, and partly from the disinterestedness natural to him, he never emerged on the right side financially
from any of the big undertakings he tackled, despite the fact that he carried
them through successfully.
"I thought I might meet Captain Palliser in Victoria and learn from
him the result of his explorations through the Rockies and British Columbia," he observed, "but on my arrival Governor Douglas informed me that
Captain Palliser's party would not reach Victoria until the following
autumn. I left Victoria after a few days' stay, and sailed for Fort Langley
in the Hudson's Bay Company's steamer Otter, and arrived the same day
at the old Fort Langley, where I received a hearty welcome from the Chief
Factor, William Yale, and other officers of the company who were then
stationed or visiting at that important fort.
"My explorations for a Canadian transcontinental railway through
the mountains of British Columbia may be fairly said to have commenced
on the day that I reached Fort Langley in the year 1858, but, allowing for
those I had previously made north of Lakes Huron and Superior, the explorations for such a railway really commenced fifteen or sixteen years before
British Columbia was confederated with the provinces east of the Rocky
Mountains. The winter, cold, dreary and comfortless, had now set in,
with snow and rain. A large number of miners who had been mining in
the neighborhood of Forts Hope and Yale, and on the Lillooet River, were
living in shacks about half a mile below Fort Langley, and they spoke
gloomily of the portion of the country I proposed to explore, dilating upon
its difficulties and its extreme ruggedness and referring to a war between
the miners and the Indians which they said was going on in the canyons of
the Fraser, and in the course of which they said that a number of Indians
had been shot.
"There was a small, stern-wheeler steamer called the Enterprise,
owned and commanded by a most genial and kind hearted American—■
Captain Tom Wright—going up the Fraser to Fort Yale, so I proceeded
up the river in her. The Enterprise was the pioneer steamer to navigate
the Fraser River to Fort Yale. Innumerable old pioneers of the Fraser
River experienced much kindness from Captain Wright—and it is a pleasure
to pay a tribute to him here—when they were starving and without means,
for he not only gave them free passages in these circumstances, but also fed
them when on his steamer, and he had such a pleasant way with him that
he made them feel that they were not under an obligation to him but that
they were conferring a favor upon him by travelling on his steamer. He
was a most amusing character and would keep the passengers in roars of
laughter by spinning yarns and telling amusing anecdotes.
Apropos of Mr. Moberly's reference to Captain Tom Wright and
the pioneer steamer to navigate the Fraser River, I make no apology for
introducing here a few paragraphs dealing in a most interesting and entertaining way with the early navigation of the Fraser. These are culled from
a remarkably interesting book entitled "Four Years in British Columbia
and Vancouver Island," the author being Commander R. C. Mayne, R.N.,
F.R.G.S., sometime officer on H. M. S. Hecate under Commander
Richards. The volume was published more than fifty years ago and there
are only a few copies now extant, among these being copies in the Vancouver and Victoria Public Libraries ana in the possession of Mr. C. E.
Tisdall, M.P.P., of Vancouver, and Mr. John Tolmie, of Victoria, two
old-timers. It is capitally and attractively written and full of valuable
information, both popular and scientific, with reference to the mainland of
British Columbia and Vancouver Island, its people and characteristic
features. The author, who was clearly a man of keen observation, saw
every side of life here in those early days and himself went on many explor-
BBS- v-"fliii^W^SiWl^^pi^M
A model of the historic Beaver, the first steamship to plough the waters of
the Pacific. She came out from England 'round the Horn and under sail, and
was soon known from end to end of the B. C. coastline. This model is in the
Museum at Victoria.
ing expeditions, living with the Indians and enduring the usual hardships
of pioneer life. Incidentally he brought to the writing of the book a good
education and a broad outlook upon life. In reading its pages in the light
of the events and discoveries of the past half century it is very interesting
to compare the actual development in certain places and in certain directions
with the prophecies here and there indulged in by Commander Mayne.
Often these prophecies have become accomplished facts in so striking a
'   I 13 manner that the author, were he still alive, would in many instances have
the satisfaction of saying, "There, I told you so."
I have laid special emphasis upon the value of this book because it
seems to me that it is well worth re-publication. Certainly it is the most
interesting and attractive of the books written upon British Columbia. It
will be seen in a moment that Commander Mayne (with whom IVJr.
Moberly was well acquainted and of whom he speaks highly) ascended
the Fraser on the same boat, the Enterprise, and under the same captain,
Tom Wright.
The following extract is, as will appear, in lighter vein, but, none the
less, it gives a very vivid idea of the troubles with which the navigator of
the turbulent Fraser had to contend in the early days:
"Some fifteen miles from Westminster, Langley is reached. Here
steamers from Victoria are stopped by the shallowness of the river, and
their cargoes, human and material, transferred to the stern-wheel steamers,
boats and canoes which, from this point, do battle with the swift, uncertain
stream. Stern-wheel steamers are peculiarly American. They are propelled by a large wheel protruding beyond the stern, the rudders—for
there are generally two or three—being placed between it and the vessel's
stern. They are admirably adapted to pass between snags and close to
bluffs, where a side wheel would be knocked away, and are affixed to flat-
bottomed vessels drawing no more than 18 to 24 inches of water.
'There is something very exciting in travelling in these steamers.
Struggling up the river against the stream the greatest risk comes from
the overcharged boilers giving way. But tearing down the current at some
12 or 14 knots an hour, bumping over shoals, striking against snags and
shooting rapids is far more animated work. One snag, known as the
Umatilla Snag, because a steamer of that name first struck it, lies in a very
narrow and rapid bend of the Fraser. Upon one occasion, when I was
going up the river in the Enterprise, no less than three times after we had
struggled past that snag the strong current caught and swung us broadside
on across the stream; and it was only by running the vessel's bow into
the muddy bank, without a moment's hesitation, and holding her there by
the nose, as it were, until she recovered breath to make another effort, that
we escaped impalement
'There was something very exciting in this struggle between the forces
of steam and water. Each time, as we hung by the bank, the engineer
might be heard below stoking his fires and getting up as much steam as the
boilers could—or might not—bear for the next effort. The wheel-house
in these vessels is situated forward, so that there is almost direct communication between it and the engine room. By the helm stands the captain,
Tom Wright. *Ho, Frank!' he hails down the tube; 'how much steam
have you?' Frank replies that he has so many pounds. 'Guess, you must
give her ten pounds more or we shan't get past that infernal snag,' is the
skipper's rejoinder, and then more stoking is heard below and the unpleasant
sensation comes over the listener that the boilers are just below his feet and
that, if anything should happen, his fate, at any rate, is sealed. Presently
Frank's voice is heard  again:   'All ready, Cap'n;   can't give her any
14 more.' Hie skipper loses no time. 'Stand by, then,' is his response. Then,
to the men forward, who have made the rope fast to some stump on the
bank to keep the boat from dropping off: 'Let go,' and she falls off for
the second or third time. Her bow cants out a little. 'Ting, ting, ting,'
goes the engine room bell—the signal for full speed ahead. For a time
the lightly built vessel trembles. We watch the trees on the bank closely
to see if she moves ahead. Presently she drops a little; then the stream
catches her on one bow. 'Stand by with the trip-pole,' is heard, and she
swings round. 'Trip,' is shouted from the wheel-house. Into the swift,
shallow water the heavy pole plunges and perhaps she is brought up by it
and run into the bank again, or, if the bottom is hard and rocky or the
water deeper than was thought, away she flies down the river until she is
brought up against the bank or across a snag.
'The perseverance of the skippers in overcoming these difficulties is
really remarkable. Upon one occasion I remember that, after making
four unsuccessful attempts to steam past the Umatilla Snag, all the men
had to be landed in order to drag her past the dangerous spot. Further up
it was found necessary to again resort to the same tedious process, and the
united strength of the crew and passengers with difficulty got her over the
few hundred yards in the space of two hours, Frank below in the engine
room cramming on all the steam he could to help us. Nor is the composure with which the captain meets and remedies an accident less remarkable. A supply of tarred blankets is always kept handy for service and,
if a hole is stove in the steamer's bottom, the captain cooly runs her ashore
on the nearest convenient shoal, jams as many blankets into the crevice as
seem necessary, nails down a few boards over them, and composedly continues his voyage. He is often reduced to very serious straits. I was
assured by a passenger aboard the Enterprise to Hope, in 1859, that he
saw the contents of a cask of bacon* turned onto the fires when additional
steam to pass a troublesome rapid was necessary."
To continue Mr. Moberly's story: "When we left the steamer at
the mouth of the Harrison River, rain and snow were falling heavily, so
we pulled the goods the steamer had left on the bank into a near-by large
Indian house, called in those days a 'rancheree,' and we also found shelter
in it, but the smoke and stench were very disagreeable. Having on my
way up from Fort Langley arranged with a merchant who had a general
store at Fort Douglas to take charge of a canoe of his loaded with goods
and liquors, I hastily collected a crew and late in the afternoon we started
up the Harrison River. At the rapids we had to get out into the icy water
and pull the canoe up, and at dark we reached a large Indian house in
which dwelt many Indian families. We stayed there overnight and thawed
our clothes and half-frozen bodies. A few more miserable days, buffetted
by strong head winds accompanied with heavy snow storms when travelling
Lake Harrison saw us in Fort Douglas, which was a small village composed of rough shacks and a few better buildings for stores and liquor
saloons. The place was crammed with miners, packers and others. I hired
an Indian to pack my blankets across the twenty-nine-mile portage to Lil-
15 looet Lake, and next morning started along a narrow trail through deep
snow that penetrated a dense green fir forest.
"Difficulties and hardships crowded upon one another, but, after many
days spent tramping through the snow, and without a blanket to sleep in,
for I had thrown away my blankets the day before I had left Fort Douglas,
as packing them through the snow delayed me very much, I managed to
penetrate as far as Pavilion Mountain, some distance above the present
town of Lillooet. I tried mining near 'The Fountain,' but it was not a
success and, there not being any provisions obtainable, I was starved out
and so retraced my way back to Fort Langley.    This exploration convinced
Sir James Douglas, the first Governor of Vancouver Island and for many years
head of the Hudson's Bay Company on the Pacific Coast.
me that this route was not favorable for the construction of the eastern
section of a transcontinental railway. I had, however, ascertained that
there were no great difficulties to be overcome in the construction of wagon
roads across the portage between Fort Douglas and what is now the town
of Lillooet and thence up the valley of the Fraser River to Pavilion
'I stayed for a few days at Fort Langley and then Captain Tom
Wright and I started in a canoe to explore up the Pitt River and lake to
see if we could find a better way into the interior than that by the Harrison
River and lake. A short exploration in this direction convinced us of the
impracticability of this route. After this expedition I returned to Victoria
and gave Governor Douglas an account of my explorations. He decided
to improve the Harrison rapids in the way I suggested and also to construct
wagon iroads across the portage, etc., that I had examined between Fort
Douglas and Pavilion Mountain. I then proceeded to make an exploration
through the canyons of the Fraser River between Yale and Lytton, which
presented great natural difficulties, but in both direction and grades I found
that a good line could be obtained for either a wagon road or a railway,
though the work of construction in either case would be very costly."
.. It was upon returning to Victoria after this expedition that Mr.
Moberly met Colonel Moody (after whom Port Moody was named, commander of the Royal Engineers who were sent out by the statesman-novelist,
Lord Lytton, an outstanding figure in early B. C. history) at Governor
Douglas's and arranged to accompany him up the Fraser for the purpose
of founding New Westminster. This incident—quite an historic one in
the history of British Columbia—Mr. Moberly told me with much interesting detail, as also the story of his explorations in Burrard Inlet and vicinity,
the visit of Commander Richards and the naming of Coal Harbor.
^HERE has for many years been a friendly argument between
Mr. Walter Moberly and Mr. J. W. Armstrong, the well-
known New Westminster pioneer, as to which of the twain
was the first white settler on the site of the Royal City. Both
claim that distinction. I wonder if each has sufficient faith inj
the goddess of chance *to* emulate the two farmers, about
whom Judge Bole\told me, who, at Mr. Buchanan Sword's
house at Matsqui,tmany years ago, and after the hearing of
their dispute had proceeded until the luncheon hour, enjoyed lunch and then
agreed to decide the ownership of certain cows by tossing up.
Mr. Moberly visited Governor Douglas at Victoria to report the
result of his expedition, for, although he had declined to enter the service
of the government, he had promised to report the result of his explorations
whenever he returned to the capital. "I was in Mr. Douglas' waiting room
and prepared to tell the head of the Hudson's Bay Company here what
impressions I had gathered. While waiting I chatted with a gentleman
who had also come to see Mr. Douglas. I did not know who he was and
we did not mention names. While we were talking, the late Chief Justice
Begbie came out of the Governor's office. I had met him at a dinner
party. We shook hands and then Sir Matthew introduced me to the gentleman I had been in conversation with as Colonel Moody—Colonel Richard
Clement Moody, to give him his full name. Upon hearing my name the
Colonel at once said: 'I was hoping that we should meet some time, Mr.
Moberly; I heard that you were in the province. I knew your uncle,
Bishop Moberly, well in England."
This was the beginning of much pleasant intercourse between the two.
The Colonel invited young Moberly to go and see him the next day.
"Having given my report to the Governor later that day I went with my
blankets to an old frame building—very much of a barn—somewhere near
where the Bank of British Columbia now stands. I slept there that night
in a sort of loft. Next day I was going down to the Colonial Restaurant,
where there happened to be a very fine French cook and jolly good fellow
—the restaurant was afterwards named the Dryard Hotel—when I met
Colonel and Mrs. Moody and their two children, and they invited me to
dinner. They were living in a frame building pretty near the corner of
Yates and Douglas streets. As soon as we had finished dinner, Colonel
Moody said: 'Do you understand frame buildings, how to draw plans
and put the buildings up?' I replied in the affirmative, and he said: 'Then
you are just the man I want.'    He then told me that he had decided to
19 (0
Z change the site of the future capital from Derby to Queensborough (afterwards called New Westminster). 'Be ready,' said the Colonel, 'to start
tomorrow morning in the Beaver and we will go up the Fraser to Derby,
where Captain Grant and his men are, and there we will arrange everything."
When, late the next day, the historic little steamer passed the site of
what is now the Royal City—"and there was nothing but forest, not even
a shack there then," interpolated Mr. Moberly—they were on deck, and
Colonel Moody waved his hand towards it and said: 'There is our future
capital." "One night I stopped at Langley and then, a supply of provisions and implements having been got together, in addition to a tent and
The Mint,  New Westminster, 1862.
a few other necessaries, next day we entered a rather leaky boat and were
quickly towed down stream by the steamer and left by her on the site of
the future capital." So Mr. Moberly described the first landing there—
he, at any rate, has not the least doubt that it was the first landing and
that there was not the slightest sign of any building, however rough, for
miles either way, as it was part of his duty to explore the site. 'The following day," he explained, "I walked all the way up to a little stream
called Brunette. I tried to get along the beach, but found that it was
impossible, so went through the woods.    A few days later—the news of
21 !»
the proposed change having become common property—men were floating
down the Fraser in boats and canoes, on rafts, and, indeed, in any mortal
craft they could lay hands on or make roughly and quickly to take them
to the site of the new capital. Upon that site there were some of the
biggest forest trees I have seen, and it was clear that there was lots of
strenuous work before us."
«< „        ,»
In response to a question as to whether he helped to survey the site
of the new city, Mr. Moberly replied in the negative, explaining that the
surveyors among the Royal Engineers—of whom, by the way, Mr. George
Turner, whose story has already figured in this series, was one—were
responsible for this work. His work, he said, consisted in the planning,
and, with assistance, the erection of the first dwellings and offices. He
spoke of one D. F. G. Macdonald—better known at the time as "Alphabet
Macdonald"—the son of a notable Scotch preacher in his day and one
who had known Colonel Moody in Scotland. "He was a great card,"
laughed Mr. Moberly, "and a great fellow to yarn and drink whisky.
Cochrane was another Scotchman of quite a different type. I was building
a little cottage for Mac and got in a supply of whisky and,we had some
very entertaining evenings. I was in charge of the building of the houses,,
of the treasury and customs houses, and of clearing off the timber. |fff remember well there was one stump where the customs house had to go. It bulged
tremendously big at the bottom. There were several Canadians who told
me they were accustomed to such work and who startled me by saying they
would get the stump out for $30. They made a great effort, but finally,
when they found that they were not making $1 a day, theyf agreed to take
the same wages as I was paying my men. It cost $80 to get that stump
out." «-;
I asked Mr. Moberly where that great stump and customs house
stood. He thought for a moment, then drew his hand over his eyes with
a deprecatory gesture and said, a little sadly: "So many of the old landmarks by which I have been able to recall places have gone from New
Westminster that I cannot be sure, but I think it must have been very near
'where Holbrook & Fisher's store used to be."
3Q» |
N August, 1859, Mr. Moberly recalls the making of a trail from
the Camp—as the first settlement at New Westminster was
called for quite a while—to Port Moody. "It was a distance
of nine or ten miles, and there was absolutely nothing there at
the time," he remarked. "There was no white man on Burrard Inlet. About that time Lieutenant Burnaby — after whom
Burnaby is named — Colonel Moody's private secretary, had an idea
that there might be coal on the Inlet. I thought even then
that the shores of the Inlet would one day afford a valuable site
for a railway and its terminus. We took some men with us and embarked
in a canoe at New Westminster. We landed first at what is now known
as Point Grey, and near where the Country Club is situated. Next day
we explored False Creek, which, at that time, was, like Burrard Inlet,
bush right down to the water's edge.    The day following we paddled
Captain  George  Vancouver, the first white  man to  proceed  up  Burrard  Inlet.
round into the Inlet itself and camped somewhere near the foot of what is
now Bute street. The following day we proceeded to what is now Coal
Harbor, and set our men to work with picks and shovels digging to see if
they could come upon traces of coal. Meanwhile Burnaby and I explored
right up to Port Moody, up the North Arm and Indian River, and also
up Howe Sound."
23 Figure to yourself, all of you who have enjoyed so many glorious
expeditions by canoe and launch and steamer upon the beautiful waters and
amidst the grand and impressive scenery of the places just mentioned, these
two explorers in their little canoe paddling mile after mile through scenes
now familiar to all of us, but, up till that time, gazed upon by hardly a
white man—several of them never seen before except by an Indian—since
the days when Captain Vancouver and his intrepid men came up Burrard
It was while the party was delving for coal that was not there that*
to their surprise, Commander George H. Richards, with H. M. S. Plumper,
steamed through the First Narrows and, passing Brockton Point, hove into
sight. The arrival of the little warship, Mr. Moberly explained, was the
result of a misunderstanding. Some white men had been murdered on the
Fraser, and Captain Louard, of the Royal Engineers, had captured on
Sea Island the Indians responsible for the crime. These Indians thought
they were going to be strung up at once. Now, the Indians belonged to
the Squamish tribe, the headquarters of which tribe were situated not far
from where the exploring party had encamped, and the Squamish were in
a rather indignant frame of mind. However, there was no serious danger.
Happening to meet an Indian and his squaw in a canoe, Mr. Moberly,
learning that they were for the Fraser River, bethought him of a message
that he wanted to send to the "Skookum Tyee" (as the Indians called
Captain Spalding, the stipendiary magistrate at Westminster) and in the
course of the brief letter let fall an observation about the attitude of the
Squamish Indians, which observation, combined with the fact that he anticipated some trouble as the result of the capture of the Indian murderers, led
Captain Louard to think that the party on Burrard Inlet was in much
danger. So a revenue boat was sent to Nanaimo to tell Commander
Richards that he was wanted in Burrard Inlet at once. Hence the arrival
of the Plumper.
"However, the presence of the bluejackets enabled us to spend a jolly
night," observed Mr. Moberly. 'They landed, as we had done, at the
foot of what is now Bute street, and later brought a keg ashore. Then
we lit a roaring fire of logs as night came on, and our party and the English
sailors spent one of the jolliest nights I remember. Many rollicking old
sea songs were sung and many a rousing chorus echoed through the forest
and many a toast was drunk." There! that is a little vignette which it is
worth while remembering now that, more than half a century afterwards,
the face of nature has been so completely changed by man at that particular spot—the foot of Bute street—and now, too, that nature has taken
to her bosom all but one of the festive party that foregathered round that
camp fire. Before he left next day, Commander Richards named Coal
Harbor. While this name recalls an interesting bit of local history-—and
for that reason, perhaps, it would be a pity to change it—it must be
admitted that, as the name of a pretty lagoon—incidentally immortalized
by Pauline Johnson—it is the reverse of pretty and might with advantage
be changed.
In Commander Mayne's book, to which reference has been made, we
find that the gallant officer, in the course of a description of Vancouver and
its environment, went a little astray in his remarks upon the coal-producing
possibilities of Coal Harbor.
The southernmost, and, as yet, the most important of the inlets of the
Pacific Coast, was named by Vancouver "Bunrard," after a friend in the
Royal Navy. This inlet differs from most of the others in possessing several good anchorages. It is divided into three distinct harbors, which are
separated from each other by narrows, through which the tide rushes with
such velocity as to render them impassable by any but powerful steamers,
TA'./St/fl $.'(.'.
Burrard   Inlet.    First dry-point etching  made in  Vancouver  (Noel   Bursill).
except at slack water or with the tide. The entrance to Burrard Inlet lies
fourteen miles from the sandheads of the Fraser River. English Bay is
the anchorage immediately inside the entrance on the south side, and is of
considerable importance to vessels entering at night or when the tide is
running out through the narrows, affording them safe anchorage where they
can wait comfortably until the morning or turn of tide, instead of drifting
about the place.
"Two miles inside the First Narrows is Coal Harbor, where coal has
been found in considerable quantities and of good quality, although the
25 demand is not yet sufficient to induce speculators to work it in opposition
to the already established mines at Nanaimo."
Perhaps it is a little unfair to quote one of the very few paragraphs
in the book where Commander Mayne was in error. Although he was no
doubt in Burrard Inlet himself more than once, that paragraph must have
been penned later and after someone had been "drawing the long bow a
little about the "considerable quantities" and "good quality" of the valuable
mineral which was to help Coal Harbor to rival Nanaimo in this natural
production. Fortunately for Vancouver—and one expresses the sentiment
without any mental reservation—coal has not been discovered on the site
of the future Pacific metropolis—or, if it has, the quantities have been so
infinitesimal as to make them unworthy of consideration. Had Messrs.
Moberly and Burnaby been successful in their experiment in Coal Harbor
fifty odd years ago, they might have become millionaires, though the chances
are that, in Mr. Moberly's case, anyway, the spirit of wanderlust, of exploration, would have prevented him from making a success of anything else.
3Q> *|
ES, I feel a strong inclination to open this third chapter of his
,f story with the grizzly bear adventure that befell Mr. Moberly
high up in the mountains above the Illecillewaet-
-musicai name
when you have once caught on to the swing of its pronouncia-
tion. No—on second thoughts, that shall be left for a column
or two later. It was quite by accident that this incident
found its way into our chat and, as a matter of fact, Mr.
Moberly was just referring to it in passing as one of the to-be-
expected events of such an exploring trip—"somewhere near there we
killed a grizzly"—-and was passing on to another point in the expedition
when I pulled him up with: "You might tell me about that grizzly, Mr.
Moberly," and then he did so.
That is the only thing I have against this veteran explorer. He is
quite ready to describe his explorations and their effects, but, unless pressed,
he does not refer to adventures by the way, which—to use a newspaper
colloquialism—are often the jam of the story from the average reader's
standpoint. The only thing to do is to look out for a passing reference,
and then, metaphorically speaking, level a revolver at the explorer's head,
and insist that he delivers up that incident at once. Though an entirely
different type of man, Mr. Moberly reminds me, in one respect, of Mr.
Cambie, an equally well-known brother explorer—he is very particular as
to topographical detail. It is true that he does not go so far as Mir.
Cambie insisted upon doing whenever a question of distance arose, namely,
measuring out with a rule on a map the exact distance that he covered from
a certain place to a certain place and its relation to other places, in order
that there might be no exaggeration, but he has insisted more than once
upon drawing a map of a certain part of the country of which he has been
speaking, in order that I should have a very lucid idea of the lay of the land,
and be able the more clearly to explain it. He introduces into these sketches
every little creek that he traversed, or bluff that he scaled—if it bears
upon the matter in hand—and writes its name in a very small, clear
hand, a surprisingly clear hand when one remembers that he is over eighty
years of age and that he has lived the strenuous life in a greater degree
than most men.
Such a little sketch map as I have indicated lies before me as I write,
and it tells me at a glance—what I propose telling to you, in his words as
far as possible, in a moment—the story of the discovery of Eagle Pass.
This discovery was the most important made by Mr. Moberly during all
his explorations in British Columbia more than half a century ago, and its
value to the Canadian Pacific Railway is a matter of Canadian railway
history. Through this pass, today, those wonderful iron horses rush almost
daily, awakening with their booming sirens echoes from mountain and ravine
27 that had from time immemorial given back no echo save the cry of some
wild animal or bird, or the dull reverberations of a storm. In order to
tell this Eagle Pass story, it is necessary to skip several years from the
Burrard Inlet explorations just described, and, as those years included such
undertakings as the building of the famous Yale-Cariboo road, the driving
of the Dewdney trail and other matters, we shall retrace our steps later.
It was in June, 1865, that Mr. Moberly, who had sat for a session
in the Provincial Legislature as member for Cariboo West, having resigned
his seat upon his appointment as Assistant Surveyor-General, resumed his
explorations, and, six weeks after leaving New Westminster, discovered
Eagle Pass. He left New Westminster with Mr. Albert Perry, one of
his assistants, and accompanied also by two Indians, one of them, Victor,
an interior Indian of whom he speaks very highly and who accompanied
him upon other expeditions. This was his first exploration of British Columbia east of Kamloops. The party proceeded to Yale, thence to Kamloops,
then by the South Thompson River, Little and Great Shuswap and Mara
lakes and, after ascending the Eagle River a few miles, went to Seymour
at the head of the North Arm of Great Shuswap Lake, and crossed thence
over the Gold Range to the Columbia River, arriving on its banks at a
point formerly known as Kerby's Landing, about two miles below the
Dalles de Mort (Death Rapids).
Quickly constructing a log canoe, they ran down the Columbia River
to Galena Bay, at the north end of the Upper Arrow Lake, then followed
the Columbia to Skokulei Creek (Salmon's Rest), which falls into the
Columbia River just north of the east end of Eagle Pass. Proceeding in
a westerly direction over the Gold Range, Mr. Moberly climbed a high
mountain—which he named Mt. Moody, after Col. Moody, afterwards
Major-General, of the Royal Engineers—north of Three Valley and other
neighboring small lakes, from the top of which he had a magnificent view
of most of the valley of the Eagle River and Shuswap Lake. It was
from the top of this mountain that he first saw the pass that he felt confident would prove of great importance in later development, and he determined that the name of his friend Colonel Moody should be associated
with an important landmark near. The name of the pass itself is associated with one of the circumstances that actually led to its discovery.
But of that more in a moment.
We will retrace our steps for a few minutes. The brief summary of
this exploration has only occupied two paragraphs, but, as a matter of fact,
the journey was full of incidents, most of which will have to be omitted
here as there is so much to follow. Part of the journey was made by
boat, part by canoe and part on foot, packing. Mr. Moberly had been
speaking of a canoe accident and this led to the question as to the type of
canoes the party used. "We travelled in two canoes made of spruce bark,"
he explained. 'The Indians were expert at making these and they were
yery light, not weighing, at the outside, when empty, more than one hundred
28 in
Earliest picture extant of Government Street, Victoria, with
Hudson's Bay fort.    Indians in canoe. pounds, and easily portaged by one man. They were so lightly made that,
it Was necessary to strew the bottom with cedar bark in case one's foot
should accidentally go through- Of course this lightness had its disadvantages and holes were of frequent occurrence. 5^ej|i We landed we
almost invariably stepped into the water in order that;;|}i^cande should not
hit with any force against the rocks. However, this typ# oi^caiio| was
very easily made and very quickly repaired. We always carried gum,
collected from a tree, and, as this was brittle, mixed some bacor* grease
with it. This, and some rag to paste over the hole, constituted our simple
mending outfit."
Mr*. Moberly recalled that the travelling on the Gold Range was first
rate and through beautiful wooded country, the ground covered at that
time of the year with a thick, soft grass which, he observed, was something
like fur, and sprinkled everywhere at that season with flowers. This mention of flowers recalled another memory—though not of that expedition—
when, somewhere not very far from Hope, he and a companion once lit
upon a splendid clump of rhododendron bushes growing in a sheltered spot.
"How those came there was a mystery to us," he observed, laughing, "as
the rhododendron is not, as far as I know, a wild flower. My friend suggested that, perhaps, an eagle had captured a barndoor fowl that had been
eating the seeds" of the rhododendron and, carrying it off, made a meal of
it at that particular spot, which was many miles away from any habitation.
Anyway, it is astonishing how seeds of domestic plants get carried for
thousands of miles sometimes."
This mention of an eagle recalled another memory of an eagle, which
has nothing to do with the particular exploration under consideration, but
which, as the king of birds is closely associated with the pass that .bears
its name, may be introduced here. "I remember one day, not far from the
Columbia, seeing a bald-headed eagle floating about very high up,"
observed Mr. Moberly, "and then suddenly it swooped down into the bush
so rapidly that I hardly saw it go, almost like an arrow, and it rose into
the air with a rabbit in its claws. About the same time I came across a
very curious case in which another bald-headed eagle figured. This, too,
was on the Columbia. We were on the river in a canoe when we saw an
eagle floating down the stream, apparently dead. We made for it, out of
curiosity^ and found that it had its claws buried in a .big salmon. In some
way one claw had become entangled in the backbone. Both salmon and
eagle were dead and had begun to decompose. They had been responsible
for the death of each other and were floating round and round in an
Since writing the paragraph about those rhododendrons it has occurred
to me that Mr. Moberly fixed their location near the Committee's Punch
Bowl. The location does not seriously matter, but the Committee's Punch
Bowl is worth a passing reference. "Devil's Punch Bowls" are fairly
common, but how did this place get the singular name of the Committee's
Punch Bowl? was a natural question.    "It used to be a great camping
30 ground of the Northwesters," was Mr. Moberly's reply, "and it was there
that they brought the horses over. I remember that there were dozens of
trees there blazed with the names of various traders—some of them very
well known—and the date of their going through. It lies between Mt.
Brown and Mt. Hooker going up from the Boat Encampment where the
boats used to go to meet the horses. The boats used to go up the Columbia
from Fort Colville to the Boat Encampment and there take aboard the
horses that had been brought over from the prairie country. At this Committee's Punch Bowl there was a sort of pond about a quarter of an acre
in extent. The water of that pond looked very dark. The Northwesters
used to be in the habit of carrying with them a good supply of rum, and
at this particular spot they would indulge in some pretty deep draughts—
hence the name."
Returning to the discovery of the Eagle Pass, I asked Mr. Moberly
what it was that gave him the impression that there might be an opening
through the mountains there, as the natural conformation of the country
does not suggest such a pass. "It was the eagles," he replied. "I watched
them as they flew up the Columbia and I saw them make a big bend off.
I knew that eagles always follow along a stream or make for an opening
in the mountains, and I just followed the direction they took, with the
result that I discovered and, I think, very appropriately named Eagle
From the top of Mt. Moody, Mr. Moberly not only saw Eagle Pass
but he saw also the valley of the Illecillewaet (Rapid Water) River extending far into the Selkirk Range in the direction in which he wished to obtain
a practicable route into the valley of the Columbia River in the vicinity of
the western ends of the Howse and Kicking Horse Passes through the
Rocky Mountains. He descended the western side of this steep mountain
and reached the bottom of the Eagle River Valley, near Craigellachie,
where Lord Stratheona (then Sir Donald A. Smith) about twenty years
later drove the last spike to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway—an
incident which will be described later by Mr. Cambie.
At this point Mr. Moberly blazed a tree and wrote upon it with
chalk, red or blue—he forgets which—these words: "This is the route
for the Overland Railway." He returned by the Eagle Pass into the
Columbia Valley at the Big Eddy and posted a notice reserving all the
land in that immediate neighborhood for the Crown. He had thus passed
back and forth through this vital opening in the mountains, provided, as
though by a far-seeing providence, for the express purpose of letting through
the bands of steel that were to guide so many thousands of trains with their
human and commercial freight safely to this great western terminus.
It was now the fall and getting chilly, but Mr. Moberly, Mr. Perry
and the Indians proceeded to force their way up the valley of the Illecillewaet River, heavy rain falling during much of the time. They followed
the North Fork to its source, where high mountains blocked the way, and
intended to cross the Selkirks from the headwaters of the southeasterly
branch—now known as Rogers Pass—but as the winter was close at hand
31 and the Indians could not be induced to proceed, Mr. Moberly was compelled to give up further explorations that year. Thus he left only about
thirty miles of the whole line unexplored from the coast to the west end of
Howse Pass.    All this had been accomplished in less than five months.
During the latter part of their expedition and while in the valley of
the Illecillewaet, the party came across very many bear tracks and frequently saw black bear. "But they always used to make away and it
was not easy to get them," observed the explorer. "However, I shot and
captured one in the Columbia River under rather curious circumstances,"
he added with a laugh. "We had pulled the canoe ashore and were getting
lunch on a bar when one of the Indians called that there was a deer making
across the river some distance down. My rifle was not loaded at the
moment and I had nothing but my revolver. One of the Indians and
myself boarded the canoe and pushed off into the stream at once in pursuit.
As we approached the animal in the water we saw that it was a black
bear. The current was swift and we saw that there might be difficulty in
getting our quarry, but we were seriously short of provisions and this fresh
meat would be a god-send if we could get it. We drew level and the
bear turned and snapped savagely at the canoe several times and tried to
jab the bow with his paw. I leaned forward and, placing my revolver as
near as I could behind his ear, fired and killed the animal. But the current was swift and it looked as if, after all, we should lose him. The
Indian steadied the canoe as much as he could and I leaned over, risking
the possibility of overturning, and managed to grab the bear by his hind
leg before he was swept away from us. We came across a great pile of
drift and were rushed round it, but I hung on for all I was worth, realizing
that I had hold of quite a number of good meals. Finally we drifted upon
a bar and there we cut up, dried and smoked our capture. We dried him
in the sun, smoked him black and got out the bear's grease."
"And now for that grizzly incident, Mr. Moberly," I suggested,
"and then you shall be released from this inquisition for a while." "We
were high up above the valley of the Illecillewaet when we killed him,
somewhere near the snow line," replied the veteran. "He was a splendid
silver-tip grizzly." (Mr. Moberly's eyes brightened at the recollection
and, as he related the incident, it was clear that he lived it over again, that,
in fact, he had almost forgotten, for the moment, where he was and found
himself in memory once again up that mountain side above the Illecillewaet
Valley.) 'We sighted him early one morning away up a stream that was
coming from a glacier, and we sneaked up under cover of the chapparele."
(I queried the meaning of that word, which the narrator had used once or
twice before, and he said that he first heard it used among the Tierra-del-
Fuegans and it meant low brush.) 'The moment he smelt us he started
up the mountain side. We jumped out of cover and climbed a little fourteen or fifteen-foot bluff, and Perry fired and hit the grizzly. At once he
turned, enraged, and rushed down the mountain upon us. I have shot
many bears of all kinds and have seen many shot, but none of these bear
incidents stands out in my memory like this one, the grizzly looked such a
32 1
magnificent sight as he approached and quickly raised himself, fully twelve
feet high, upon his hind legs, furious. Seen under those circumstances a
grizzly is almost an awe-inspiring spectacle. Another shot broke his back
and paralyzed his hind legs, but, even then, as he lay on the ground, he
showed fight. I went near him and, one after another, fired all the bullets
from my heavy military revolver—one which I had when I was in what
were known as Denison's Dragoons in Toronto—against his head, but not
one entered that tough skull—they all glanced off.
"When the grizzly was dead, I discussed the possibility of taking
the head and skin with us and preserving them, but the Indians were very
opposed to this, saying that we should have no luck hunting if we did, and
I realized also that it would be by no means an easy task, as the country
was rough and trailless and the winter was approaching. So, regretfully,
I gave up the idea. Thereupon the Indians tore pieces of red flannel from
their shirts and decorated the head, having first cut it from the body. Then
Victor climbed a fairly stout spruce tree, some fifty or sixty feet in height,
cut the extreme top off, descended for the head and, with much difficulty,
fixed it upon the top. He then cut all the branches off as he descended
and scooped the bark off to prevent the raccoons getting at the head.'
"over fifty years ago."
It was with difficulty that Mr. Moberly was persuaded to tell this
incident in any detail—like Mr. Dewdney and others of these early pathfinders and hunters—and like some who are path-finders and hunters today
—he has taken the adventurous side of life in the wilds very much as a
matter of course—he leaves the tall stories to the amateur hunters and
anglers. I am glad, however, to have been able to record this one. To
those of you who have read these lines and have been "mighty hunters
before the Lord" yourselves, it will constitute a vivid mental picture and
even with those of us who know parts of the wilds chiefly by reason of
what one may term amateur hunting expeditions—in contradistinction to
hunting expeditions where a man is largely dependent upon his gun for his
next meal—it should make the blood course faster.
"I wonder if that spruce tree with the grizzly's head atop still stands,"
soliloquized the old explorer, more to himself than to me, as he rose to go.
"It is probable that no one has been there since. But you say it was an
exposed spot," I hazarded. 'Yes, yes," he agreed, smiling a trifle sadly,
"and that was over fifty years ago."
3Q» -SI
HE CARIBOO ROAD! There is a magic, a thrill of adventure in the name, a suggestion of—well, of the caribou themselves. And it is good, indeed, to know that these fine wild
animals are still by no means rare in the country through which
the present road passes, and also that much of that wonderful
old road itself is still useable. Only the other day a pioneer here, who
was up there last fall, was telling me that he sighted a caribou on the
road then. The meeting was brief, my friend was unarmed, and the
caribou, which, curiously enough, did not seem particularly startled,
disappeared very quickly.
THE CARIBOO ROAD! The epic of the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway through the defiles and canyons of this wild province
has yet to be written, though Pauline Johnson in her "Prairie Greyhounds"
has sung with a rhythm and a happiness of expression (which seems somehow to suggest the swing and the power that mark their progress) of those
wonderful trains that are the counterpart on land of those "swift shuttles
of an Empire's loom that weave us shore to shore" on sea.
There is another epic, too, that will have to be written—the epic of
the Cariboo Road. And though the epic of the building through of the
bands of steel that connect ocean with ocean will be full of the atmosphere
of wonder and work—and weariness, too, sometimes—that poem which
shall tell of the making of the first great highway through the wilds of
British Columbia, of the greatest piece of road-building that Canada has
ever seen, of one of the most able pieces of road-building through some of
its fastnesses that the world has seen, yes, of the forging of the Cariboo
Road, will be even more instinct with romance and the gospel of the strenuous life, for the making of that road marked what was really—though much
had been done before—the vital beginnings of the development of this
Hie conquest of any new country may be read in the history of its
roads. That sentiment has probably found expression before. Such conquest may have been warlike or peaceful, but the roads that went with it
are the sign manual that it has been thorough. I read in one of G. A.
Henty's books the other day that the Marois of New Zealand—among
the most intelligent of the native races still surviving—with the advent of
the first settlers to their country became partially educated and learned that
the Romans had conquered the various wild parts of their colonial Empire
largely by means of the splendid roads they drove through those countries
as they conquered them. The Maoris, failing to realize the inevitability of
the British conquest of New Zealand, dimly realized that this road conquest
35 was a vital part of the settling up of the country and opposed it for "all they
were worth-^-opposed such road building so strongly, indeed, that the
shedding of much blood marked certain stages of the, in the main, peaceful
conquest of New Zealand. The conquest of British Columbia has been
peaceful, but nature has placed obstacles in the way, the removal of which
in order to make access comparitively easy, has cost millions of dollars
and untold labor—aye, and many lives, also.
THE CARIBOO ROAD! It is a theme upon which any writer
with even an apology for an imagination could rhapsodise for a long time.
What morals could be drawn from it, too. It is impossible for those who
do not know the wild and rugged country through which the road passes
to realize the stupendous nature of the task which the builders set themselves,
or for those who have not known the road itself in years that are past or
have not studied the road of today with an eye to what it owes to that first
road to realize the labor and the skill that went to its making. But those
men who actually built that wonderful road did not rhapsodise about it—
they made it. They made it at a cost of about $ 1,000,000. And it was
nearly 500 miles in length from Yale to Barkerville. And you could
have placed the whole populfH'on of the province of that day in the New
Westminster of today.    The population was well under 35,000.
Just pause for a moment and think of the pluck of Sir James Douglas,
Colonel Moody of the Royal Engineers—let it not be forgotten that the
sappers and miners of that splendid body to whom B. C. owes so much
built the first eight miles of that road—and the other men associated with
the inception and building of the road.
Hie expense alone, when it is remembered that the population of the
province was small, was a tremendous item and much of the money had
to be borrowed. But the work was done and quite a percentage of it has
lasted to this day, half a century afterwards. There were few who made
much money out of the undertaking and one at least, Mr. Moberly, finished
"broke" and with heavy liabilities. There are a few men associated with
much money out of the undertaking and one at least, Mr. Moberly, who
the building of that Cariboo Road still living and of these Mr. Walter
Moberly is the most notable. He is a veteran of over four-score, white-
haired and—well, not feeling so young as he once did. It is not easy for us
young fellows to picture him to ourselves as he looked in his prime, but he
must have been, like Mr. Cambie and Mr. Dewdney and Mr. John
McLennan and a few others of the stalwart old brigade, a stalwart man
and a man of his hands as well as of his head. Let us, then, take off our
hats to the Men of the Old Brigade.
Here is the story, in Mr. Moberly's own words, of the building of
this historic road:
"It was in the years 1860-61 that the existence of a very extensive and
extremely rich auriferous portion of the Crown Colony was discovered to be
situated in the part of it now generally known as the Cariboo section of the
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h country, and I decided, for the time being, to defer my further explorations
for a transcontinental railway and devote myself to the undertaking of constructing a great arterial highway through the central portion of the colony,
that would open up and develop its resources in the most effective and
substantial manner.
"My various explorations heretofore made, through the different sections
of the colony I had visited, had convinced me that the best route to adopt
for the great wagon road I projected was by the valleys of the Fraser and
Thomson rivers, although the formidable canyons along the valleys of those
rivers presented natural obstructions that, for a country having a very small
revenue, were most uninviting, and appeared to be almost insurmountable.
From careful observations I also felt confident that the great mineral region
of the country would be in the belt immediately west of the Rocky Mountains. I was also satisfied that it was by the valleys of the Fraser and
Thomson rivers that the mountain section of Canada's first and greatest
transcontinental railway should reach the coast.
"Ever since the arrival of the corps of Royal Engineers, under the
command of the late Major-General Richard Clement Moody, sent out by
the Imperial Government in the year 1858 to maintain law and order, and
to generally supervise and control all such measures and works needed to
establish the colony on a firm and lasting basis. I had been on the most
intimate terms with Colonel Moody. I had fully explained to him my
views regarding the construction of a Canadian transcontinental railway,
and also my belief that the great wagon road to develop the colony should
be built through the canyons of the Fraser River, etc. I also had many
conversations with the late Sir James Douglas, who was the first governor
of the mainland of British Columbia, but Sir James considered the physical
difficulties presented by the canyons of the Fraser and Thompson rivers of
too formidable a nature, and for that reason he had caused to be undertaken the construction of a wagon road over the different portages between
Lake Harrison and the present town of Lillooet, on the Fraser River. This
route was a broken land and water one that necessitated much handling of
the freight passing over it, and was not at all likely to be able to accommodate and meet the coming needs and prospective commercial demands
of the country.
"The rich discoveries of gold in Cariboo afforded me the opportunity
of pushing forward my project of building the great arterial highway by
the valleys of the Fraser and Thompson rivers. I saw Colonel Moody and
we proceeded together to make a careful examination of the canyons, and
before we parted he was convinced as myself that it was the route to adopt
for the highway. We arranged to meet the following winter in Victoria
and press our views on Governor Douglas.
'The discoveries of gold induced prominent citizens of Victoria to
combine in the endeavor to get roads constructed from the heads of Bute
Inlet and Bentinck Arm direct to Quesnelle mouth, in order to draw the
trade of the Cariboo districts away from the Fraser River route and centre
it in Victoria. These projects I opposed and then commenced the long
struggle between the people of Victoria and those of the mainland to capture
the trade of the Cariboo districts.
38 Old view of Victoria overlooking  harbor.
"When I arrived in Victoria in the early part of the year 1862, I found
that Colonel Moody had preceded me, and that all the people of that city
were much excited about the gold fields of Cariboo, and the projected roads
from Bute Inlet and Bentinck Arm, and that Governor Douglas was greatly
in favor of subsidizing a wagon road, projected by the late Mr. Alfred
Waddington, from the head of Bute Inlet to Quesnelle mouth, and that the
Governor was also about to grant a charter to Mr. Gustavus Blinn Wright
to construct a toll road, assisted by a subsidy from the government, from
Lillooet to Fort Alexandra, from where Mr. Wright proposed to continue
the connection on to Quesnelle mouth by means of a stern wheel steamer he
was about to build for that purpose.
"My project for building the Yale-Cariboo wagon road looked very
unpromising.     I saw both Mr. Waddington and Mr.  Green,  the latter
Old  view of Victoria showing  James  Bay—since filled  in.
39 &
gentleman being at the head of the project of getting a road from Bentinck
Arm, whilst Mr. Waddington, as before mentioned, was at the head of the
Bute Inlet project. I proposed to them that they should abandon their
projects, and all of us cobmine and get a charter for a toll road to be
constructed over the Yale-Cariboo route. They were too sanguine of their
prospects to entertain my proposition, and, as they considered my proposed
undertaking of getting a wagon road built through the canyons of the
Fraser River, etc., impracticable, they declined my proposition.
"After Colonel Moody and myself had had several interviews with
Governor Douglas we managed to convince him that the Yale-Cariboo
route was the best to adopt for the general development of the country, and
that it was imperative that its construction should be undertaken at once.
"At this time I met Mr. Charles Oppenheimer, who was at that time
at the head of the great mercantile firm of Oppenheimer Bros., having their
Sir Joseph William Trutch (afterwards first Governor of British Columbia)
was in charge of the construction of the Cariboo Road from Chapman's Bar to
Boston  Bar.
establishments at Yale and Lytton, where they carried on a very large and
lucrative business. Mr. Oppenheimer and a friend of his, Mr. T. B. Lewis,
proposed to join with me in obtaining a charter for the building of this
wagon road, provided we could obtain the right to collect very remunerative
tolls for a series of years and a large money subsidy from the governemnt
to assist in defraying the cost of its construction.
'We, therefore, entered into an agreement for that purpose under the
firm name of Oppenheimer, Moberly & Lewis, and Mr. Oppenheimer
withdrew from his firm in order to devote his whole attention to the work
we proposed to undertake, and shortly afterwards, on the Governor's granting us the charter, which empowered us to collect very remunerative tolls
and also to be paid a large cash subsidy as the work of construction progressed, we proceeded to the mainland to commence the work. Governor
Douglas at that time fully expected to obtain a large loan from the Imperial
Government, for which he had applied.
"The manner in which the different sections of this road were to be
constructed was as follows:
Captain G. M. Grant, with a force of sappers and miners, together
with a large force of civilian labor, was to construct the section extending
from Yale to Chapman's Bar.
The late Sir Joseph Wm. Trutch was, by contract, to construct the
section from Chapman's Bar to Boston Bar.
The late Mr. Thomas Spence was to construct the section from Boston
Bar to Lytton.
The firm of Oppenheimer, Moberly & Lewis was to construct the
section from Lytton until the road formed a junction with the wagon road
to be built by Mr. G. B. Wright from Lytton to Fort Alexandria.
"My department in this undertaking was to locate the road and supervise its construction. Mr. Lewis was to keep the books and accounts, and
Mr. Oppenheimer was to look after the purchasing and forwarding of the
supplies and the finances. When we arrived at Yale a large number of
men seeking employment on our work could not get beyond that point, as
they were without money, food, clothing and boots, and as they had to
walk from Yale to Lytton along the pack trail we were obliged to make
them advances of all those articles. I had already paid the fares of a large
number of men from New Westminster to Yale, which cost me between
$2,000 and $3,000. Mr. Oppenheimer had arranged before he left
Victoria to have large quantities of supplies and tools forwarded to Yale,
and I also sent a quantity of the same things that I had on hand to the same
"We now began to experience our first difficulties, as the pack trail
between Yale and Lytton was only partially completed, which necessitated
all freight between those places being conveyed partly by water through
the dangerous canyons and partly by pack trains, which caused very heavy
transportation charges and losses of supplies. Some idea may be formed
of the cost of transportation in those days when, in many instances, it cost
as much as fifty-five cents a pound to convey our supplies from Yale to
Lytton. There were not enough boats on the river to meet the demands
for transportation, and the number of pack animals was altogether inadequate, as the greater number of those engaged in packing were employed
in the very lucrative business of conveying freight through to Cariboo, and,
therefore, did not find it so profitable to convey it for us over a comparatively short distance to our works. We had to employ large numbers of
Indians to pack supplies on their backs and the high prices they charged
enriched them. When Mr. Lewis and myself travelled from Yale to
Lytton we were compelled to walk, as we were unable to get saddle animals.
This journey we accomplished in two days, but owing to the extremely rough
trail, our feet were blistered and very sore.
"At Lytton I made my headquarters in the court house, which Captors
H. M. Ball, who was the gold commissioner, sheriff, etc., of the district,
I very kindly placed at my disposal. I now established my first road camp
a short distance out of Lytton, and as the men arrived I set them at work.
A few days afterwards I established another camp at Nicomin, a small
stream about twelve miles above Cook's ferry, which was a short distance
below where Spence's bridge was afterwards built.
"By this time the work was going on at a great rate, but as I could not
get a sufficient number of white men I was obliged to let a contract for the
construction of the road from a "slide" a short distance above Nicomin to
Cook's ferry to a body of Chinese, with the exceptoin of that portion around
a rock bluff below Cook's ferry.
"I had now been at work some time, and by the terms of our charter
there was a large amount of money overdue and but a very small sum had
Portion of Cariboo Road, giving fine idea of the system of cribbing.
been paid by the government, which hampered me very much in carrying
on the work in the most efficient manner, and necessarily caused heavy and
unlooked for expenses being incurred. By borrowing considerable sums of
money on my personal credit I managed to keep the work going on, and, at
the end of the third month after the charter was signed, paid all the men
their wages in full. As soon as I had paid these wages, a very large number
of the men, entirely disregarding the terms of their contract with me to work
for the whole season, and nearly all of them indebted for clothes and other
necessities I had furnished them with when they were in a destitute condition,
left the work, and I lost the value of what I had advanced them.
42 1
"This contemptible proceeding on the part of these men, which was
brought about by the reports of fabulously rich deposits of gold having been
discovered on Antler and other creeks in Cariboo, reduced the force of
men needed to ensure the prosecution of the work in accordance with our
contract with the government, and compelled me to employ, much against
my wishes, a large force of Chinese laborers. It will thus be seen that
the bad faith and unscrupulous conduct of the white laborers was the cause
of the employment of Chinese labor in constructing the Cariboo wagon road.
All the other contractors on this road experienced the same treatment from
their white laborers that befell me.
"I found all the Chinese employed worked most industriously and
faithfully and gave no trouble. I may here mention an amusing incident
that occurred in connection with these Chinese. One day when I was on
my way from Cook's ferry to Lytton I stopped at the large Chinese camp,
when they told me they were anxious to celebrate some festival, and asked
me to try and get them some live pigs when I was in Lytton. I found that
the only pigs that had been brought so far into the interior were two small
animals owned by a man who was mining on the opposite side of the
Fraser River. He asked an exorbitant price—if I remember correctly it
was $200 each—so I did not buy them, and on my return to the Chinese
camp told them the reason why. They were bound to have the pigs at any
cost. I gave them an order to get the pigs, and as I was so pleased with
the way they did their work, at the same time I gave them an order to get,
at my expense, two kegs of the fiery whisky they drink, which cost me as
much as the pigs cost them.
"On the day they had the celebration I went to their camp and was
at once surrounded by the Chinamen, who provided me with a meal in which
roast pork was the principal dish, which I enjoyed, but, on the other hand,
I had to take many drinks of the abominable whisky which, in tin cups,
they held all around and pressed upon me, and would take no refusal.
"Time passed on and unpaid for work continued to be done, when at
last Mr. Oppenheimer returned. He had succeeded in getting a considerable sum of money from the government, but nothing like what should
have been paid. Mr. Lewis got discouraged and disgusted, and was of
the opinion that we could not depend upon the government, and wished to
stop the works. I, therefore, bought out Mr. Lewis's interest in the charter.
It was arranged between Mr. Oppenheimer and myself that he should at
once return to Victoria and endeavor to get some more money from the
government, and that I should put matters in as satisfactory a shape as
possible with the money he had brought, and then be guided by circumstances as to my future proceedings.
"I had now got large camps of men at Nicomen, and at a point between
that place and Cook's ferry, another established a few miles above Cook's
ferry, and one near Ashcroft Creek, and as it was imperative that it should
be decided where the Yale-Cariboo road should be located in order to
43 OS
4) form a junction with the wagon road then in course of construction from
Lillooet over Pavilion Mountain, I took a splendid horse I had, a blanket
and what provisions I could cram into my saddle bags, and started alone
j to explore through Maiden Creek Valley to where the town of Clinton
is now built, and also the valley of the Bonaparte River to the Second
Crossing, which was so named because the old pack trail to Cariboo, over the
Loon Lake Mountain, crossed the Bonaparte River the second time at
that point.
"I proceeded from Clinton by way of a small stream that falls into the
Bonaparte, and thence passing along the foot of Castle Mountain, which
was so named from its resemblance to a vast feudal castle of the Middle
Ages, I finally reached the Second Crossing of the Bonaparte, where I fully
expected to recruit for a day at the wayside house that in the early days had
been built there.
'The weather for the last few days during my journey had been very
rainy, the mosquitoes and horse flies in swarms, and sleeping, or rather
trying to sleep, on the wet ground, made matters exceedingly unpleasant,
and as I had only my horse for a companion I felt very lonely. My pro^
visions were all gone and as I was very hungry I was anticipating how much
I would enjoy a good meal of}; bacon and beans and some hot coffee, and,
possibly, bread. I was woefully disappointed, for when I arrived at the
Second Crossing I found that the house and other buildings had been burned
down and the place was completely deserted. Finding a few half-grown
onions in what had been a garden, I devoured them, and then, building a
good fire, I dozed through a miserable night, very much pestered by
mosquitoes and drenched with rain.
"A short examination of the topographical features of the surrounding
country convinced me that the better route to adopt for the wagon road
would be the valley of Maiden Creek, and that the junction of the Yale-
Cariboo wagon road with the road being built from Lillooet over the
Pavilion Mountain should be where it is, at Clinton.
"Having accomplished the object of my explorations I decided to
return by the trail over the Loon Lake Mountain, as I had learned from
different packers that there was an abundance of good grass around Loon
Lake, which is situated on a plateau near the top of the mountain. I, therefore, ascended the steep mountain by an execrable trail through the woods,
and, as the heavy rains had made the trail a ditch, full of stones and boulders, and the flies being indefatigable in their persecutions, travelling up this
mountain was most unpleasant. After weary hours I at last emerged out
of the forest, and came on a prairie covered with green grass, when, just
as I was about to unsaddle my horse to let him have a good feed, I espied
a column of smoke at the far end of the prairie, and soon made out a large
train of pack animals and packers that were encamped there. I instantly
remounted and cantered joyfully for the fire, and, on approaching it, was
hailed by a well-known voice with the words: "Hello, Moberly, is that
you?" to which I answered: "Yes, Mac, have you got anything to eat in
your camp?"    The answer came back at once, "Yes, and plenty to drink,
45 too; come on, old man, and regale yourself. What the devil brings you
here?" My friend was the late Captain Allan Macdonald. He was the
son of one of the former prominent officers of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company, and was born at Fort Colville.
"I had a very sumptuous meal of the staple food of the country—bacon
and beans—and an unlimited supply of the grand old creamy Hudson's
View along the Cariboo Road.
Bay rum. I had made Mr. Macdonald's acquaintance on the steamer
Panama, in 1858, when I was on my way from San Francisco to Victoria.
The next time I met Captain Macdonald was many years afterwards, when
he was stationed at Fort Osborne, in Winnipeg, with the military force
under the command of the late Colonel Osborne Smith, and the last time
I saw him was some years ago, when on his way back to the Narrows of
Lake Manitoba, where, as Indian agent of that district, he resided.
"I remained over the day at this place, and, as the afternoon was fine,
we found that the small stream which flows out of Loon Lake abounded
with brook trout, so we improvised a sort of drag net out of an old horse
blanket and managed to catch a plentiful supply of large trout, upon which
we feasted.
46 "The following day I resumed my journey along the trail, which has a
very steep descent, on the southwesterly side of the mountain, to the First
Crossing of the Bonaparte River. At this point there was a small log hut
very extensively known through the colony at that period at 'Scotty's,' the
owner of it being a rather quaint Orkneyman, who kept a few cows and
was supposed to furnish meals to travellers. I here met one of my packers,
whom I had instructed to be at this point in order that I could tell him where
I proposed to establish another large camp of workmen to push forward the
construction of the road along the valley of the Bonaparte, etc.
"Being very hungry I requested 'Scotty' to provide us with a meal,
whereupon he produced a frying-pan full of stale flap-jacks and a can of
milk. Each flap-jack was about three inches in diameter and half an inch
in thickness. Having demolished as many of the unsavory cakes as were
necessary to appease our hunger, and drunk several cups of milk, I asked
"Scotty" what I had to pay, when he demanded fifty cents for each cake
and fifty cents for each cup of milk. This exorbitant charge so enraged
my packer, who talked in such forcible language to "Scotty," that I had
great difficulty in preventing a personal encounter between them. We left
this miserable hut as soon as possible, my packer vowing that he would get
even with "Scotty" some day.
"In one of Sir James Douglas' trip in the interior of the colony I
had the pleasure of accompanying him, when he told me of the origin of
some of the names of different places in the colony, and the following is the
Indian legend he related regarding Maiden Creek, through the valley of
which I had decided the wagon road should go:
"At some time in the misty past there lived at the mouth of Maiden
Creek a very beautiful Indian girl, who had a lover living at Cache Creek,
to whom she was engaged to be married. The lover proved false and nn*v
ried another woman, which so distracted the poor girl that she died of a
broken heart, and was buried near the mouth of Maiden Creek, and out of
her breasts grew the two rounded hillocks that are to be seen at that place
and which resemble a woman's breasts."
"It was in the year 1862 that the smallpox swept away great numbers
of the Coast Indians and had been, during the summer, gradually extending
its ravages into the interior of the colony. A few days before I left my
camp at Nicomin to make the long exploratory trip before mentioned, as I
was standing at my tent, which was on the opposite side of that little stream
to where the large camp of my employees was situated, and who were just
on the point of sitting down to supper, I noticed an Indian leading a horse on
which another Indian was seated, who had a veil over his face. Afte'
crossing the stream they were evidently intending to camp about fifty fee
from my tent. I walked over to the Indians, and, being suspicious that
something was wrong, lifted the veil from the face of the Indian wearing it
and saw that the poor fellow was badly smitten with the smallpox.     I
47 instantly told them that they could not stay there in the vicinity of my men
and that they must return to Lytton where the government had a doctor
appointed to vaccinate the Indians. They told me they were without money
and had not any food, so I went to my store tent and filled a large sack
with provisions, which I gave them, together with a letter to the doctor t*
have them properly attended to, and then compelled them to go. When I
was on my way to Bonaparte River I learnt from the man in charge of
Cook's ferry that these two Indians, instead of returning to Lytton, had
come to his house and gone on to the mouth of the Nicola Rievr, at which
place there was an Indian village, from which I had procured a number of
Indians with their little horses to pack supplies between the camps above
Cook's ferry.
'These Indians camped in a little bay on the Thompson River, about
a mile below my largest camp. On my way down from Ashcroft Creek to
this camp, which I did not reach until some hours after dark, I heard the
dismal wailing of Indian women on the mountain side above the trail I rode
along, which was a certain indication of death having visited their community. On arriving at the camp I learnt that none of the Indians from
the little bay had been up for several days, and it was supposed the smallpox had reached their encampment.
'The next day I proceeded on my way to Nicomen, and, as I rode
along the mountain side, I saw several Indian horses grazing on the "bunch
grass" that then grew in profusion in the valley of the Thompson River,
and in the little bay below me the tents of the Indians, but I saw no signs
of human life about the tents. I therefore dismounted and went to the
tents, where I discovered the horrible sight of the putrefying bodies of the
Indians, some in the tents and others among the rocks that lined the river
bank, through which they had evidently tried to drag themselves to the
river to assuage their burning thirst, or to plunge into the river. All the
Indians in that encampment had been dead several days.
"I now proceeded to the ferry and went to the Indian village at the
mouth of the Nicola River, where the same melancholy and disgusting sight
was met that a few hours before I had seen at the little bay on the Thompson River, for all the Indians were dead. I hurried on to my camp at
Nicomin, fearing that the smallpox had broken out among my men, buft
was greatly relieved to find that such was not the case.
"During my absence very good progress had been made in the work
of construction, but, as I received no news from either Victoria or New
Westminster, and as my men were getting clamorous for their wages, I
demanded certificates from the government official who was in charge of the
supervision of the work, which he declined to give, and, on my pressing
him for them to enable me to draw the money now overdue, and telling
him that if he would not grant them, I should be compelled to stop the
works, he showed me a written order he had received from headquarters
instructing him on no account to grant certificates until further orders.
48 'This peculiar order appeared to me to be tantamount to an effort on
the part of the government to force me into such a position that the government could claim that the charter was forfeited, and enable them to take
immediate possession of the road. I afterwards found out that it was owing
to the Imperial Government refusing to grant the loan to the colony that
Governor Douglas had applied for, and the government had not any money
to pay the amounts that any certificates it granted would call for.
"Cariboo Cameron," a noted character of the Cariboo gold excitement days.
He struck it rich, but subsequently lost all his money in the east and came back
to British Columbia in his old age, a poor man. His -wife was one of the few
white women at the gold diggings, and when she died he made a remarkable
journey out of the Cariboo, dragging her body on a sleigh. Mr. Cambie has a
dramatic memory of Cameron, of how once when travelling on a steamer on
Shuswap Lake, the language becoming profane and the company rowdy, Cameron opened his cabin door and fell on his knees praying in the doorway,
whereupon "Father Pat," of Kootenay fame, held a religious service.
"I now felt certain that there was something seriously wrong at the seat
of government about financial matters. I therefore started on horseback for
Yale, leaving Lytton in the afternoon and arriving the following morning
at Yale, where I only stopped long enough to hire a canoe and six Indians
to convey me to New Westminster, where I arrived at 8 o'clock the following morning. As soon as Colonel Moody's office opened I sought an
interview with him, when I learnt that Governor Douglas was at his house
and that I would have to see him, as Colonel Moody declared he was not
in any way responsible for the non-payment of the different sums of money
as they became due, or for the order with which the government superintendent over my work had been furnished, instructing him not to grant me
any certificate.
J Jf^f
"I saw Governor Douglas and made a new arrangement, by which the
sum of fifty thousand dollars was to be paid to me in a few days. This
money he could get from the Bank of British Columbia, which was then
commencing business in British Columbia. I also made arrangements for
future payments, and then, knowing how important it was that I should be
back at my works as soon as possible, I got the Governor to let me have
on account a few thousand dollars then in the treasury at New Westminster
and in the collectorate at Yale, amounting in all to six thousand dollars,
and, having very unfortunately left a general instead of a specific power-of-
attorney with the Attorney-General to sign for me for the balance of the
fifty thousand dollars, I left by steamer to return to the road camps.
"When I reached Yale I was surprised to meet a large number of my
men who had engaged to work the whole season, and others who had only
engaged by the month. They had heard of my going down from Lytton in
a great hurry, and some irresponsible creature had circulated a report that
I had left the country. My return astonished these men. They were
desperately hungry, so I took them to a restaurant and ordered a good meal
and told them to meet me after breakfast at the office of the gold commissioner. On their arrival I paid off all those who had worked the full
time for which they had engaged, and after well rating those who had left
the work before the term for which they had engaged expired, by which
action on their part they had forfeited all wages coming to them, I paid
them half their wages and obtained employment for them for the rest of
the season with Captain Grant, who, with the Royal Engineers and a body
of civilian laborers, was then constructing the first section of the wagon
road between Yale and Chapman's Bar.
"The next day I proceeded on my way to the road camps, which, after
my arrival, I reorganized and then returned to Lytton, as I expected that
the $44,000 agreed to be forwarded to me by express would have arrived.
I reached Lytton on a Saturday evening and found that the mail and
express had not arrived, but I received a letter from a friend, sent by special
messenger, to inform me the government would not send me the money, and
that the day after his messenger arrived at Lytton a capias would reach that
town by mail instructing Captain Ball, the sheriff, to arrest me for the
amount of an account due for some supplies furnished by a party in
Victoria, and that a writ had been obtained owing to a notice emanating
from the Attorney-General that the charter, out of which I could easily have
cleared $100,000 if the government had acted in good faith, had been
forfeited as the work was not going on properly.
'The letter I received from my friend also informed me that Captain
Grant had been instructed to proceed to Lytton regarding the steps to be
taken by the government about my works. The unfortunate general power-
of-attorney I had given the Attorney-General, by a breach of faith on his
part, placed it in his power to act as he did, and that power-of-attorney was
used by him for a very different purpose to that intended when I gave it
to him.
50 "This unscrupulous act on the part of the government I afterwards
found out was owing to the refusal of the Imperial Government to grant a
large loan to the colony, upon which Governor Douglas relied for building
the Yale-Cariboo road and the extension of the Harrison-Lillooet road
northerly from Lillooet, and as I was the one to whom the largest amount
would have to be paid, it was decided to sacrifice me and carry the other
Scene on the Old Cariboo Road.
contractors through, especially as the government would gain a large and
very expensive portion of the constructed road I had built without paying
anything for it, which was a very convenient and profitable thing for them,
but it was a disgraceful and dishonest transaction on their part.
"The day when the capias would arrive in Lytton would be a Sunday.
I, therefore, knew it could not be served upon me until the following morning. On Sunday morning I had breakfast with Captain Ball, the sheriff,
and as we sat at that meal his mail arrived and I saw him open a letter,
which, I felt convinced, contained the ominous document, but he said
nothing, nor did I.
"I was now thoroughly disgusted with the bad faith I had met with
from the government, and the duplicity of the Attorney-General, and felt
certain I could not struggle any longer against such adverse circumstances;
but, as I knew what vast importance it was to the colony to get this road
51 completed as soon as possible, I decided to take a course that would
prevent the stoppage of the work and let my personal interest be sacrificed
and the general interests of the country be protected, particularly as I had
been the principal cause of leading Governor Douglas to undertake this
great work which had placed him in a very serious dilemma.
"The following morning I went down to breakfast with the sheriff,
when he served me with the writ, and was rather surprised when I read the
letter I had received the previous Saturday by private express, advising me
about the capias. He said: "Why did you not get on your horse and cross
the southern boundary into the United States?" My answer to him was:
"That I had been the promoter of the Yale-Cariboo wagon road and I
intended to stick to it until it was an accomplished work, no matter what
obstacles had to be overcome."
"I was now hourly expecting the arrival of Captain Grant, whom I
knew would be sent up by the government to act in the matter, and immediately on his arrival I borrowed a few hundred dollars from a friend and
paid the amount off for which I had been arrested, and 'called upon Captain
Grant, when we discussed the whole matter over in the most friendly
manner, and I gave him in writing my relinquishment of all my charter
rights, and also the surrender of all supplies, tents, tools, etc., on the works
(which had cost me upwards of $6,000), for the benefit of the government,
and simply requested him to do his utmost to have the wages of all my men
paid and also the sub-contracts I had let, a course to which he cordially
assented and he afterwards compelled the government, much against their
intention, to have this arrangement faithfully carried out.
"Captain Grant and myself now proceeded to my different road camps,
of which I put him in full possession, and when everything was out of my
hands Captain Grant proposed that he should appoint me to carry on the
works for the government for the rest of the season. This proposition I was
glad to accept, for I had not a dollar left, and then Captain Grant told the
men that from that time they would be paid their wages by the government
and that I was in full charge of the works, and, furthermore, that he would
do his utmost to get their back wages paid, but he could not absolutely
promise more, as that matter rested with Governor Douglas. Those wages
were ultimately paid in full; they amounted to about $ 19,000.
'When this business was closed up at the end of the year, the country
had gained a large and most expensive portion of the Cariboo wagon road
built, which cost them nothing, but it left me a ruined man, with heavy
personal liabilities, which took all the money I could make during eight
subsequent years to finally pay off.
"As soon as Mr. Charles Oppenheimer heard of my arrest he left the
country to avoid a similar fate and did not return for some years. He had
to settle all the then outstanding liabilities of our old firm before he came
back, which cost him a large sum of money.
52 "The following year, 1863, a Mr. William Hood, from Santa Clara,
California, undertook the contract to complete the unfinished portion of the
road between the big rock bluff above Cook's ferry and Clinton, and he
employed me to superintend the work for him.
This same year Captain Grant, Mr. Trutch and Mr. Spence finished
the section of the road between Yale and Lytton, and Mr. Spence built the
suspension bridge across the Fraser River, which afterwards bore his name.
British Columbia's first Legislative Assembly, 1864. Mr. Moberly is seen
third from the right. Those present, reading from left, are Henry Holbrook,
Charles Brew, C. W. Franks, George A. Walkem, H. M. Ball, Peter O'Reilly,
J. A. R.  Homer, W. O. Hamley, A.  N. Birch, Walter Moberly,  H.  P. P. Crease.
"In 1864 I was employed by the Colonial Government as their
engineer to go to Cariboo and locate the northerly portion of the wagon
road from Fort Alexandria (to which latter point Mr. G. B. Wright had
built the road the previous year) to Richfield, and to look after its construction between Quesnelle mouth and Cottonwood River, which was then
built by Mr. G. B. Wright. I constructed a temporary sleigh road from
Fort Alexandria to Quesnelle mouth, and another from Cottonwood River
to Richfield via Lightning Creek.    I also located a line for a wagon road
53 from Cottonwood River via Willow River as far as Richfield, and I supervised the construction of a branch road into the valley of the Horse Fly
River, then known as "Captain Mitchell's Road." I also explored a line
for a proposed branch wagon road into the valley of William's Lake.
"At the end of the year 1864, having been requested by the people of
Cariboo to represent them in the Legislative Council about to meet at New
Westminster, I resigned my position as government engineer and was duly
elected to represent the above-mentioned constituency.
"On the 1 3th of March, 1907, I had the honor of addressing the
Canadian Club of Vancouver on the subject of "Early Pathfinding in the
Mountains of British Columbia, or The Discovery of the Northwest by
Land." In that address I related how I managed, during the session above-
mentioned, to get the money granted that enabled me to complete by the
end of the year 1865, discoveries that, in connection with extensive explorations I made from the year 1855 between Lake Simcoe and those made of
the extensive central portion of Canada by the expedition under the command of Captain Palletier, insured a practicable route for a great Canadian
transcontinental, terminating in the City of Vancouver, and as I have now
given you a brief history of the Cariboo wagon road, you will be enabled
to form an idea of the great difficulties that had to be overcome to bring
about the development and present prosperous condition of British Columbia.
■i^BWMHiiiiiliHB Tl\
|R. WALTER MOBERLY has developed in an unusual
degree the sense of historical accuracy. In conversation with
him this is very patent to one who has had a considerable
experience of interviewing all sorts and conditions of men—
and women. There is a sort of instinct—probably bred by
experience — which, almost unerringly, tells one when a man is
romancing. A man who has played as big a part as Mr Moberly
has in the building of a province, and who, in the doing of it,
has passed through so many strange and exciting experiences,
might be pardoned for a little romancing, though, truth to tell, the actual
facts of his career are more romantic than any fiction could be. Yet it is a
fact that in the course of the telling of these various chapters of his life's
story, nearly all the exciting or humorous stories have tumbled out quite
accidentally; have, indeed, been just suggested by a word let fall casually.
In the main Mr. Moberly has been intent upon telling of the chief events,
the explorations, the building of roads and so on, and has had to be tempted
into the by-paths of anecdote.
We have nearly arrived at a period in his life which suggests an interlude!—a rather strenuous and varied interlude, it is true, but still an interlude^—between two notable periods. With the close of his history of the
building of the Cariboo Road, and with the telling of the discovery of
Eagle Pass, two events which subsequently played so large a part in the
development of the province, practically ended the first important period.
Shortly afterwards the adventurer bade "good-bye" to British Columbia,
and for several years roamed through different States of the Union to the
south, playing a part (with other men of the Cariboo mining excitement) in
a silver and a gold excitement, visiting Utah, and having several conferences with that notable Morman, Brigham Young, in Salt Lake City, and
finally, with the advent of Confederation, being sent for to Ottawa by Sir
John A. Macdonald as the only man who knew all about the country
through which the C. P. R. would have to be built, in order that he might
play an important part in that—for Canada—epoch-making event.
Before proceeding with the telling of this story in consecutive fashion
let me gather up one or two loose ends.
There is one exciting experience of Mr. Moberly's life that is verbally
pretty well known, and it must certainly find a place here, namely, how he
nearly lost his life by drowning in the Fraser River in the winter of 1861.
I first heard of this adventure from the Hon. Edgar Dewdney (who was
living on the site of the recently-established city at the time), but I have
heard it several times since from other very old-timers.
"Well, I was wintering in the township of New Westminster, and staying
at what was called the Colonial restaurant—it was the winter of '61," Mr.
55 Moberly observed. 'The Fraser River was frozen over as I had never seen
it before and have never seen it since. Those survivors of that period will
bear me out in that statement. For quite a time steamers could not get
up the river, and they used to come up Burrard Inlet to what is now Port
Moody, and then passengers and freight would go across land to New
Westminster, and we could drive on the Fraser right up to Langley, but I
do not know how much farther, as that was the farthest I went then. The
snow was deep, and there was splendid sleighing. It seems to me that the
winter climate of this part of B. C. has become much milder than in those
days, as I recollect other very heavy winters, though none to compare with
the winter of '61. ip::
"We were having a game of shinny—they call it hockey now, I think
-on the river just above New Westminster. It used to be played a great
deal in Canada with a ball and a crooked stick. We were playing on
skates, because the snow just then was only a very light layer. There was
an opening in the ice where the current was particularly strong, and it had
been frozen over the night before. The ball was struck down to this place,
and I went after it. I was at the thin ice before I realized where I was,
and through I went. Somehow, as I fell through, I instinctively took a quick
breath. When I came up my head struck against the ice. Curiously
enough, I had considered what I would do should I ever go through an ice
surface on the Fraser, and I turned and at once swam with all the power of
which I was capable against the current. The water was ice-cold. I opened
my eyes and saw a little glimmer of light ahead of me, and thought that
must be the place I had gone through. I took a few strokes with all my
might and managed to get to the hole, and saw Henderson, who was purser
on the old steamer Moody, looking over. He and others seized me and
dragged me out." Mr. Moberly chuckled at the recollection, but he added:
"I was too frozen to smile, then, as they rushed me off to the nearest shack
where the warmth and a change of clothes soon put me right as rain."
Now for another loose end. Do you remember Mr. Moberly's
grizzly-bear adventure that took place in the mountains above the Illicille-
waet Valley? If you read it you will remember that, after the grizzly had
been killed, Victor and two other Indians who had accompanied Mr.
Moberly and Mr. Perry, showed a marked disinclination to attempt—
what the explorers first thought of attempting—the taking of the head and
skin with them on the trail, and that, finally they decorated the head with
red flannel from their shirts, and, Victor ascending a tall tree, placed it
firmly upon the top, removing all bark and branches as he descended, in
order to preserve it from the depredations of raccoons or other wild climbing animals. Mr. Moberly told me that some Indian superstition lay at
the back of this action, and, as a result of this information, I visited Mr.
Charles Hill-Tout, the well-known anthropologist and farmer at Abbots-
ford up the Fraser Valley. He told me that he had read of the incident
with interest, and he explained the reason of the strange proceeding. This
explanation is such an interesting glimpse into the Indian mind that, coming,
as it does, from an authority and one who has lived much with the Indians,
I make no apology for introducing it here.
'This practice of paying respect to the animals slain by them is a very
common one among our Indians," Mr. Hill-Tout explained, "and it applies
particularly to the killing of the bear, which was one of the greatest of their
mystery animals. Every Indian greatly desired a bear as his totem or
familiar spirit. The man who possessed a bear as his totem was given
power by the bears to hunt and slay these animals readily, but there was
always the obligation upon him that he should, having killed a bear, prepare
it for food with reverence and consideration. For example, he would have
to be very careful with the offal and not leave it for smaller animals to
prey upon.    This had to be carefully buried, or, preferably, thrown into a
Charles Hill-Tout, author of the work upon the Indians of British Columbia in
the  "Native  Races  of the   British   Empire"  series.
running stream, and the head must always be painted with red' paint or
some substitute. In the case of Mr. Moberly's Indians you will notice that
they tore portions from their red flannel shirts. Then they had to place the
head either—as in the case of his story—upon the top of a young tree, or
upon some big boulder or rock where it would be out of reach of wild
animals. No Indian would ever dream of touching or in any way disturbing such an object.
Naturally I questioned Mr. Hill-Tout further upon this interesting
practice, and elicited additional information. "In the case of the salmon,"
he said, "whenever they began to run no Indian was allowed to fish or kill
until the first salmon of the season had been reverently brought to the chief
of the tribe, who would gather all his tribesmen together a.nd bid his wife
cook the fish in a new basket specially made for the purpose. Then he
would distribute a small bit to every man of the tribe who was ceremonially
57 clean, for none who were ceremonially unclean could ever be allowed to
touch a bit of that first fish. After that any member of the tribe was free
to kill salmon, but it was understood that they were always to return the
head and entrails back to the water."
Questioned as to the reason of this practice of returning the unused
parts of the fish to the water, Mr. Hill-Tout observed: "It was to enable
the fish to come to life again, and, in this connection, there is a rather beautiful little story among the Indians, which tells us how the salmon first came
from the ocean to our streams. It seems that long ago there were no salmon
m the rivers, and Khals, the culture hero of the Indians of this coast district,
determined to go out to the salmon islands in the Pacific and induce the
salmon people to visit the rivers and streams and allow themselves to be
caught by the Indians as fish. He set sail with his brothers and some
priests of the coast tribe, and, after many days' rowing, arrived at the home
of the salmon people somewhere in the Pacific. They were people just like
the Indians, and the visitors were made welcome. Just when the midday
meal was being prepared one of the visitors noticed that two of the young
people of the salmon tribe, a youth and a maiden, went down into the
water and disappeared. Shortly afterwards two salmon were caught, and
when they were being distributed to the visitors, the chief of the salmon
people asked them to be very careful to keep all the bones together. After
the meal one or two of the young men came round and collected the bones
left over, and these were taken and thrown into the sea. Shortly after
this the young man and maiden who had entered the water were seen to
'This happened each day and excited the curiosity of one of the
visitors, who determined to put his suspicion to the test. Believing this
entering of the water and catching of salmon to be intimately connected, he,
at the meal next day, hid a piece of salmon bone under his blanket. Presently, when the young people came up out of the water, it was seen that the
youth was holding his blanket up to his jaw. The chief went forward and
the youth told him that all the bones could not have been returned to the
water because his jaw bone was missing. The chief asked the visitors if
they had returned all the bones. A search was made and the missing bone
was found thrown a little way beyond the circle, where the visitor had
thrown it. The chief threw it into the water, the young man returned into
the water and came out whole. By this means the visitors knew that the
salmon they had been eating were the salmon people. So Khals asked the
chief if he would visit their coast and permit his people to catch them as
salmon. This the chief agreed to upon certain conditions, the principal
being that they would always throw the offal and bones back into the
"This became a common practice even with animals. The Indians
believe that the spirit part of the fish and animals is even more real than
the corporeal part. They believe that the destruction of other parts of his
carcass besides his flesh, which may be used for food purposes, would make
the bear very angry and that he would take his revenge upon the Indians
58 "^sv
for the indignity placed upon his remains. They believe that, if the animals
allow themselves to be killed for food, then it is the duty of those who kill
them to treat with reverence what they do not use." Incidentally Mr. Hill-
Tout mentioned that each color has its special significance for the Indian,
black for war, red for ceremonial, and so on.
And now to return to Mr. Moberly's story. I happened to mention
the building of the Dewdney trail to Wild Horse, and Mr. Moberly recalled
that he first met Mr. Dewdney in New Westminster at the very beginning
of things and while he was erecting some of the first wooden buildings in
the forest clearings. "I remember well how Dewdney and Lee undertook
that hay-making expedition on to Sea Island, about which he told you so
entertainingly," Mr. Moberly said, laughing heartily at the recollection.
"They were going to cut and collect the wild grass for Col. Moody's horses.
I remember that, on our way round to Burrard Inlet upon that expedition
about which I have told you, when Commander Richards named Coal
Harbor, Burnaby and I called upon Dewdney and Lee and we all laughed
over the fact that they were, in addition to the making of the hay, going
to make their fortune out of cranberries. We also called at the big Indian
rancheree which was situated on the north shore of the North Arm."
Mr. Moberly and Mr. Dewdney were associated in the building of
the first portion—about seven miles—of the road from Hope through the
canyons, and Captain Grant and his men of the Engineers went on with it.
It was intended to carry it on to Princeton in the Similkameen, but the
Cariboo excitement broke out and next year all forces were at work upon
the Cariboo Road. It was at the beginning of this excitement that Mr.
Moberly first met his old friend—who is still with us, hale and hearty,
despite the fact that he is nearly fourscore years of age—Bob Stevenson,
a notable survivor of the Cariboo days, who was among those who first
brought out from the interior the news of the discovery of gold. Mention
of Bob Stevenson recalled to Mr. Moberly's memory a remarkable rattlesnake story which Mr. Stevenson has made peculiarly his own and which,
for that reason, Mr. Moberly would not have printed here. But recollection of that story recalled a rattlesnake incident which happened to Mr.
Moberly himself between Osoyoos Lake and Colville. "The girth of my
saddle had got loose—I was using one of those Mexican saddles," he
explained, "and I dismounted to tighten it. As I was doing this I wondered
what the devil was knocking at my leg. I looked down and found that
I had stepped on a rattlesnake in such a manner that about a foot of the
snake was at liberty and that it was dabbing away at my leather legging—
which had saved my life."
Briefly summarizing his explorations immediately following the Eagle
Pass expedition, Mr. Moberly said: "In '66 I finished the explorations
round the bend of the Columbia and build a trail into French Creek and
had some improvement work done on the Dewdney trail. I went through
to the Kootenays and across to the Columbia, visiting the different Passes,
in order to connect with the explorations of Palliser and Hector, who had
explored the Howse, Kicking Horse and Crow's Nest Passes, ending their
59 explorations when they struck the Columbia. I went back to Wilson's
Landing, and up to French Creek and crossed over to Shuswap Lake
to arrange with the chief of the Indians about the reserves there."
I think I must give with a little detail Mr. Moberly's story of the
primitive way in which the arrangement was made with that particular
Indian chief. He laughed heartily as he said: "Judge Cox (who was
an Irishman and a great character) had been through before and, as far
as I could make out then or afterwards, he had reserved the whole blessed
country right through from the mouth of Cache Creek to the Rocky Mountains, and the people were driving their cattle in and there was likely to be a
lot of trouble because the Indians were collecting toll. I had been commissioned to endeavor to come to an arrangement with the Indians. I had a
big talk with the Indians (they were the Shuswaps), and gave them a
good blow-out, and then I conferred with their chief, old Nesquinault, who
was a cunning old beggar. We were camped 200 or 300 feet from the
beach, and while the Indians were sitting round the fire at supper I asked
Nesquinault to take a little walk with me down the beach. He did so,
and I told him, when we sat down, that we wanted the Indian reserve
matter settled, and I showed him where the boundary should go. I then
took out of my pocket $200, which I had with me in $20 pieces. I put
$100 on each knee. The money shone in the moonlight, and I told him
that. I would put that in his pocket the following morning if he would
agree. Next morning all was settled. I then told all the Indians that,
if they would come to Kamloops, I would make them all presents, and
they came. Nesquinault was exceedingly fond of horses and a very good
judge of them, so I made him a present of a very fine animal with |
Mexican saddle and silver trappings. He no sooner realized that it was
his than he was in the saddle."
Incidentally Mr. Moberly spoke very highly of a young man named
Fitzgerald, who was clerk to Judge Cox at the time and who a few years
ago earned tragic fame by heroically losing his life while in charge of a
handful of the North West Mounted Police, who died from starvation and
exposure in the Yukon. It was Fitzgerald who, referring to the capture
and hanging at Quesnele of the Indians responsible for the destruction of
the Waddington party—the story has already been told many times, and
it will be remembered that the Indians were captured through a piece of
treachery and a promise that was broken—remarked: "It was a great
piece of diplomacy, wasn't it?" to which Mr. Moberly replied: "No; it
was treachery and murder." Mr. Moberly holds that the Waddington
party of whites brought their fate upon themselves by their treatment of
the Indians, and that the subsequent trial and hanging of the Indians was
a blot upon all concerned.
"After completing the negotiations with Nesquinault I came to Westminster and wanted to get a wagon road built through Eagle Pass and
trails into the Kootenay," the explorer observed, "but I found that Governor Seymour had chartered a steamer to bring in immigrants from California. I told him that he had done the worst thing for the country that
he could, as it would result in bringing a big gang of gamblers and other
— 1
a undesirables into the country. We had something of a row, and he said
he would abolish my office of assistant surveyor-general. I said: 'You
can do so with pleasure, as I am going to take my passage to California
on this steamer that you have been good enough to charter to bring in
immigrants.' He asked me not to leave and he would put any engineering
work that came along into my hands, but I replied, "There won't be any
engineering if you don't open up the trails.' Anyway, I wanted to go
and see what was doing in the States and where, probably, the transcontinental roads would go over there. They were just starting the California
"It was just about when I left that, Governor Douglas's term being
up, Governor Seymour was appointed governor of both Mainland and
Vancouver Island. Governor Douglas went to Europe and I did not see
him again until '71, when he came back to Victoria. He was then living
in the old house—still standing, I believe—next to where Dr. Helmcken
is still living." Mr. Moberly added, in reply to a question, that when he
visited the doctor some time ago, he went and looked at the Governor's
old house and recognized again the little, old brass knocker which he had
raisemso many times in the days of long ago. Governor Douglas he recalls
as a splendid looking man, very dignified, but very good-hearted and most
popular. "I consider that our province today owes more to him than to
any man," Mr. Moberly asserted.
Vn *\
ND so it befell that, at the beginning of the year 1867, after
a number of the most strenuous years of exploration and road
building in all his varied career, Walter Moberly bade "goodbye" to the province of his adoption for what proved to be
four years wandering and excitement in California, Nevada,
Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington; but, as he steamed
away for San Francisco and saw the shores of British Columbia fade from view, he was confident that his absence would
be a temporary one, for he felt sure that Confederation was only a question of time and that the transcontinental railway for which he had paved
the way by his valuable explorations, and the realization of which was the
lode-star of all his earlier and middle life, would then become an affair of
practical politics.
"San Francisco was a busy city even then, nearly fifty years ago,"
he recalled, "and it was rendered very picturesque by the many clipper
ships that were loading or discharging there all the time. As soon as
I arrived I decided to take a trip into the interior to Grass Valley in order
to visit an old friend, a Cornishman, who was part owner of one of the
mines. I did so, and then returned to 'Frisco. In those days a great deal
of grain was shipped in sailing vessels. I came into personal touch with
two very decent fellows, a Southerner and a Northerner—this was several
years after the close of the Civil War—-and the three of us agreed to
take a pretty big warehouse for the storage of grain in sacks. These two
knew the shipping men well and we got the storage of much of their goods
and grain, and we used to ship grain as return cargo. I managed the
warehouse, and the others saw to the outside business.
'This continued for some time, but in '69 I gave it up and, it being
the time of what was known as the White Pine excitement, I went as far
as Elko, just where the road used to branch off to White Pine and up the
Owyhee River, with a view to mining. Near there Oppenheimer, who,
you remember, had been associated with me in the building of a portion
of the Cariboo Road and who went away to California while that was in
progress, had bought a ranch. I stopped with him a short time, and it
was then that the White Pine excitement broke out, and I, with fifty or
sixty others, went up there in the direction of Silver City in Nevada to
open a store at a silver mining camp that had sprung up into a little mining
city in no time and was named Mountain City.
"I arrived at the very beginning of the excitement there and, as a
civil engineer, was asked to lay out the city." The way in which Mr.
Moberly came to be appointed deputy state surveyor in order that he
63 could make use of his profession in Mountain City—as a foreigner he was
not supposed to practice—and how he got an American friend elected
state surveyor in order that the latter might appoint him his deputy and
that the two might share the profits, is an interesting story, but there is not
space for it just here. "Anyway, both of those high-sounding titles were
mostly sound and had not much substance," interjected the explorer, "but
our official appointments helped us somewhat financially."
"Oppenheimer opened the store and, besides laying out the place,
I laid out mining camps and pre-emptions. There were some of the old
Cariboo mining men there, such men as Bill Hazeltine (of whom Mr.
Dewdney told you), Bill Sellers, who used to be on Beaver Lake; Frank
Laumeister, who used to be a big merchant in the Cariboo in the early
days and one of whose daughters married Jim Bouie, who used to keep
the store at Lytton, and others. Well, this Mountain City excitement lasted
nearly a year and then 'bust,' because the claims were not really rich.
During its existence a fair amount of law and order was maintained. The
miners formed a committee and this committee formed districts and passed
mining laws, some of them very good ones. There was a good deal of
claim jumping, but I do not remember any very serious fracases." After
this experience Mr. Moberly returned to San Francisco for a brief spell
and, when the Salt Lake mining excitement broke out, cleared off to that.
He went with a friend from San Francisco.
"Even then, though in its comparatively early days, Salt Lake City
was a fine place," Mr. Moberly recalled, "and the opening up of these
mines gave it a great impetus. I did not stop there long, but my stay was
very interesting and I got to know a number of leading people, as I wanted
to find out all that I could about possible railway development. I became
acquainted with one of the prophets, as they were called, and he proved
a very decent fellow. Indeed I formed a very favorable opinion of the
Mormons generally, as practically all I met proved kindly and hospitable.
A great many were English, and most of the women were English or
Welsh. This particular Mormon was the proprietor of the Salt Lake
House, the principal hotel there, and it was he who introduced me to
Brigham Young, the head of the Mormons, who I'met several times at his
house and with whom I had several long conversations. He knew that I was
anxious to gain as much information as possible about the railway possibilities, and he went out of his way to oblige—which was pretty decent,
as I was a complete stranger to him."
Naturally I asked Mr. Moberly to give me an idea of the impression
the famous Mormon made upon him and the style of his residence. "I probably did not see him at his best, as he was suffreing from gout at the time,"
Mr. Moberly replied, "but he made a very decided impression upon me.
A stoutish, square-built man about 5 feet 10 inches in height, he did not
strike me as in any sense handsome, but he had a firm face and there was
something about the man and his conversation which at once suggested
intellect. At that time he would be somewhere in the sixties. I remember
he said to me a few minutes after we had been introduced, 'I expect you
64 f\
have heard all sorts of stories about us and our country, most of them
exaggerated, and let me tell you at once that you can go through our country just as you like without getting into any trouble.' I remember he lived
in one of the finest residences in the city, but it did not strike me as being
at all luxuriously furnished." Mr. Moberly, speaking of the military fort,
recalled with a smile the occasion when the United States sent a considerable force, including a fine lot of horses and cattle, to invade the territory
of the Mormons and how the latter quietly surrounded and captured the
lot and sent them home again without killing any of them and unharmed.
Incidentally, he mentioned that Brigham Young showed keen interest in
British Columbia and asked many questions about the development and
form of government in this province.
And now Mr. Moberly plunged into another mining city, this time
in Utah and some forty miles from Salt Lake City. "It was in the Ophir
Canyon," he explained, "and was called Ophir City. It was little more
than a large mining camp when I got there and took up a considerable
number of claims. My friend and I started to sink a shaft two miles
below the city, and we used to go for our supplies to a store kept by one
of Brigham Young's sons. This son also ran the stage into Salt Lake
One of these days, perhaps, Mr. Moberly will set down on paper or
let someone else do so, some of his experiences in and impressions of Mountain City and Ophir City and of several other mining excitements that he
took part in during his four years of wandering in the States. Some of
his adventures he told me, and I should like to record them, for they would
make good reading, but they would make this story too long. It will be
remembered that our explorer had had instructions to keep Ottawa in
touch with his whereabouts, as he was the only man living who had a
fairly thorough personal knowledge of the interior of British Columbia and
where the proposed transcontinental railway should be located. It was
while he was mining at Ophir City that he received by stage the expected
telegram, which had been sent from Ottawa to Salt Lake City, requesting
him to go to Ottawa at once to see Sir John A. Macdonald, the premier.
But just here it will do no harm to retrace a step and record an
incident that should have been recorded when Mr. Moberly was telling of
his experiences at Mountain City. He was there when he received—by
stage also—a telegram from Sir Joseph Trutch from Ottawa. It had
come by the Wells-Fargo express from Elko, and asked if Mr. Moberly
could meet him at Elko on his way back to British Columbia from Ottawa
as he had important news. Sir Joseph had just been to Ottawa as one of
a delegation (consisting of himself, Dr. Carrall of Cariboo, afterwards a
Senator, and Dr. J. S. Helmcken, still living at a great age in Victoria)
sent there to complete the negotiations for Confederation, already under
way, and he was now returning. This delegation and its work is, I notice,
mentioned in Sir Charles Tupper's recently published "Recollections of
Sixty Years in Canada," and Sir Charles also has a reference to Mr.
65 "When I received that telegram at Mountain City I knew that, if
I was to see Sir' Joseph on his way through—and it was important that
I should—I should have to ride the eighty miles between where I was and
Elko without more rest than a change of horses. I started at 4 o'clock
one afternoon and rode the rest of that day and all that night and well on
into the next day and got to Elko pretty tired out an hour before the train
arrived. The country was pretty open and, though there were no roads,
you could safely ride at a gallop over most of it, and I had one of the
best horses m that part of the country. 1 had breakfast with Sir Joseph
and Mrs. Trutch, who accompanied him, and then they had to leave. He
told me all about the negotiations to date and asked me to be sure and
keep in touch with civilization in order that a telegram could reach me.
The contract was that they should commence construction of the C. P. R.
in two years and finish it in ten years. Those were the terms of Confederation."
Returning to Ophir City. 'When I received the telegram telling
me to go to Ottawa, I bought a gallon of whiskey and returned to the
camp and told the fellows to drink my health. I made them a present of
my mining claims, which were not very valuable, anyway, and told Young
to get the stage to stop for me in the morning, as I was going to Salt Lake.
A week or so later I was in Ottawa. The first person I went to see there
was Colonel Bernard, who was a brother of Lady Macdonald and private
secretary to Sir John, and while I was talking to him Lady Macdonald
came in. I had not seen her since she was a girl." In reply to questions
I elicited from Mr. Moberly that he knew the great premier's clever wife
well as a girl. 'They came from Jamaica, where her father used to be
chief justice," he observed, "and they came to settle in Barrie, where
we lived when I was a boy. My mother went to England to visit her
sister, and they took our house. My headquarters were at Toronto at
the time, but whenever I went to Barrie for a holiday I used to stay with
them. And many's the good gallop Baroness Macdonald and I have had
together when she was a girl," added the veteran, laughing, and with his
eyes lighting up at the recollection. "She was a splendid horsewoman,
even as a small girl, and was always clever and, though not beautiful, she
was a fine-looking girl and popular." Lady Macdonald at once invited
her old friend to lunch at Earnscliffe, as she said Sir John was anxious to
see him and they could have a long talk there without being disturbed.
The two had met before when Sir John was Attorney-General during
the old Grand Trunk times. I asked Mr. Moberly for a recollection of
their conversation upon this occasion. "I told him that I could show him
exactly where to locate the C. P. R. from the sea coast to the prairies,"
said Mr. Moberly simply, and he added, with a short laugh, "and I think
they realize now that it was an expensive pity that they allowed part of
the route that I proposed to be humbugged away from the rest of the line.
There is not one inch of the C. P. R. on the proper line from Revelstoke
to Rat Portage, and they have paid through the nose for this to the extent
of hundreds of thousands of dollars." "I told him," continued the old
man, after this passing criticism,   'You can commence the construction of
M the line six weeks after I get back to British Columbia.' I remember
adding: 'Of course I don't know how many millions you have, but it is
going to cost you money to get through those canyons.' I told him that
I would like to leave at once for B. C. in order that I could land the first
party of engineers in the province the day we went into Confederation."
"And, by gad, I did it, too, though they wanted me to stay," Mr. Moberly
added with a satisfied emphasis.
"I saw Sir Sandford Fleming before I left. I had known him for
many years. I had gathered a few engineers when I left Ottawa, but
I told Sir John that I preferred to employ engineers whom I knew out
here, and he replied that I might employ just whom I liked. He added:
'There is a young man here I would like you to give a job to if you can,
but do just as you like.' This young man came to me some months later
in Victoria with a letter of introduction, and I engaged him. His name
was Martin Benson, and he proved one of my most valued assistants.
I returned to Victoria by boat from 'Frisco and" arrived in the summer of
'71. That was in June, and by July I had my first parties for making
the surveys organized. I was now going to take a preliminary survey, as
we call it, to be followed by location surveys.
Describing the commencement of this work which was to have such
a momentous effect upon the future of the province in which we live, Mr.
Moberly said: "I had two parties. I sent one from Hope to get into the
Columbia, and the other from Kamloops to get into the Eagle Pass. Mr.
D. C. Gillette, an American engineer of much ability whom I had known
for a long time, was in charge of the Hope party, and Mr. Edward
Mohun, an engineer who had a wide and excellent reputation in B. C,
and who, after being connected with the Land and Works Department, is
now living retired in Victoria, was in charge of the party which went in
from Kamloops. I went up to Hope and saw the party off and then to
Kamloops and saw the other party off. Mr. Roderick McLennan, an
engineer from the Intercolonial Railway, had charge of the North Thompson and Yellowhead surveys, and I took charge myself of the Eagle Pass
E now enter upon, perhaps, the most important chapter of Mr.
Moberly's life story, as it was the most important chapter
in the history of the Province of British Columbia, for it
marked the first definitely organized and comprehensive steps
toward the actual planning of the route of the bands of steel,
which were for the first time in the history of this continent
to connect the Atlantic with the Pacific. All that had
gone before in our explorer's life, strenuous as that
life had been, was but the introduction to this great work which he had
had before him as his goal from the start. Even the building of the historic Cariboo Road was but an incident—though a very vigorous and
dramatic one—compared with the task which he and those associated with
him had before them now that Confederation was an accomplished fact
and that the first practical steps in the realization of that great undertaking
which was to be known to future generations by the magic letters "C.
P. R." were to be taken.
"let's abuse the c. p. r."
We have got used, in England, to the saying that it is a farmer's
privilege to grumble at the weather. In Canada it is the privilege of the
public to grumble at the C. P. R. We abuse that unfortunate company
because it had the foresight to secure (when it had the chance) much land
en route; we abuse it in Vancouver because it happens to own much waterfront; we abuse it because of the rates it charges, and, I have no doubt,
if we could, we should, in some indirect way, make it responsible for all the
rain we get during the winter. And in our criticism—sometimes, no doubt,
justified—of that company, which (like all others of its kind) has not a
soul to be saved nor a body to be kicked, we are often inclined to overlook the stupendous nature of the task tackled in those early days, first by
the Dominion Government and then by the late Lord Stratheona and his
associates, a task tackled, often, with inadequate resources and under the
stress of political agitation; we are inclined to forget that the building of
that railway—which, while inevitable, might have been accomplished years
later had it not been for the type of men associated with its inception and
building—has made possible our present development; yes, and in our
desire to dispose of. corporations and their monopolies, lock, stock and
barrel, we are inclined to forget that the land granted to this particular
corporation, like the land in Vancouver which has made so many wealthy,
was not worth a tithe of its present value when it was granted. However,
we must have something to abuse, so far be it from me to attempt to lighten
the load which this most wonderful of modern railways and railway organizations has to bear. After all, we do occasionally recognize with a certain grudging pride that the C. P. R. is something which no other country
in the world has managed to produce.
69- r
But do not let us forget those early days and those tremendous early
struggles which saw the preparation for and the building of the Canadian
Pacific Railway through the wilds of this mountainous province, struggles
to overcome nature which the average tourist, as he is whirled through
glorious mountain scenery, only vaguely guesses at. And do not let us
forget any of the great pioneers of that work, and particularly (in the
preparatory, exploratory and survey work) Walter Moberly and (in the
actual surveying and building of the most difficult part of the line through
the canyons of the Fraser) Henry J. Cambie.
Walter  Moberly some years ago.
It will be necessary, in the interests of the historical accuracy of this
story, to touch upon a phase of the building of the railway through B. C.
which has controversial elements and which, I find, has been touched upon
in passing in several publications (books and pamphlets), dealing with
different phases of the province's development, the particular point at issue
being the abandonment by the powers-that-were at the time of the building
of the railway of much of the longer but easier route explored and recommended by Mr. Moberly, and the resultant continuous heavy expense and
loss of life caused by endless avalanches, snow blockades, etc., through the
70 Rogers Pass portion of the Selkirks and the present heavy expense involved
in the great engineering feat which the C. P. R. has now in progress in
the boring of the longest tunnel on the continent, the tunnel beneath Mount
Sir Donald in the Selkirks, a work undertaken expressly for the purpose
of obviating, in future the dangers and expense referred to.
For the present let Mr. Moberly tell his story in his own words. It
will be recalled that the explorer had sent out his initial survey parties,
one under Mr. Gillette to the Howse Pass, and another, under Mr. Mohun,
to Eagle. Pass, while Mr. Roderick McLennan was in charge of the surveys of a line via the North Thompson and Alfreda Rivers and through
the Yellowhead, and Mr. John Trutch was in charge of the surveys between
Burrard Inlet and Kamloops.
"At Kamloops I parted with my survey party under Mr. Mohun
and also with Mr. McLennan's party and that of the late Dr. A. R. C.
Selwyn, the director of the Geological Survey of Canada, who accompanied Mr. McLennan to the Yellowhead Pass," continued Mr. Moberly.
"I now proceeded with a few horses and three Indians on my way to
Howse Pass. I went by the trail via Osoyoos Lake to Colville, where
I chartered the old steamer Forty-nine, and loaded her with supplies, which
I purchased, and sent up to The Big Eddy, at the east end of the Eagle
Pass, where I had instructed Mr. McLennan to winter, and then proceeded on my way via the trail to Wild Horse Creek, the valleys of the
Kootenay and Columbia rivers, to Kinbaskit's Landing, where I overtook
Mr. Gillette's party. The old Forty-nine was a stern-wheeler, built by
Capt. White, of Colville, during the Big Bend excitement in '65 and '66.
"I sent a few horses through the woods, along the east bank of the
river, to the mouth of the Blueberry River, which has its source near the
summit of the Howse Pass, and then embarking my party and supplies on
board a flotilla composed of some half-rotten and leaky boats, old log
canoes and a few Indian bark canoes, we floated down to a point a short
distance south of the mouth of the Blueberry River, where I at once set
some men at work to build log huts to winter in, and the survey party
running a preliminary survey up the valley of the Blueberry River, and
then, taking some horses and three Indians, I started to cross the Rocky
Mountains to their easterly foothills, where I expected to meet a party
near Mount Murchieson, under the command of my brother Frank, who
had charge of the exploratory surveys between Red River and the easterly
foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
"From the summit down the easterly slope of the Rocky Mountains
the descent was very gentle, and I anticipated there would not be any
difficulty in getting a line easterly by the valley of the Red Deer or Saskatchewan rivers, but that probably the better line to adopt would be an
air line near Mount Murchieson, passing through Winnipeg and reaching
the northwest corner of the Lake of the Woods. I now knew that on the
whole of my proposed line from Vancouver to Winnipeg the only really
difficult point to settle was the descent from the summit of Howse Pass to
the Columbia River, as the descent from the summit for three or four miles
was very steep.
"Everything now indicated a very heavy fall of snow, and as I knew
from experience what that meant at such a high elevation as the summit of
the Howse Pass is, I retraced my way to the survey party and found that
they had the trial line partly up the steep grade, and I caused it to be
pushed on with the utmost despatch to the summit, and then commenced
to make a trial location down the side of the mountain, but, just as we
began this survey, the snow began to fall so heavily that we could not see
through it with our instruments, nor could we retain our footing on the
steep and slippery side of the mountain, and, as the snow continued to fall
all day, I saw that I could not get this all-important portion of the line
properly surveyed, and that to remain any longer on the mountain would
cause the death of all our animals, I reluctantly ordered the party to proceed to the depot until better weather set in.
"I remained a few days at the depot waiting for the Columbia River
to freeze in order that the ice would be strong enough to travel on, and,
having got snowshoes made, and men set at work to build boats that I proposed to use in connection with the surveys I intended to make the following year around the Big Bend, I instructed Mr. Gillette, as soon as the
weather permitted, to push forward the survey of the line down from the
summit of the Pass to the bank of the Columbia River. (The next summer when I reached the Howse Pass, on my way to the Yellowhead Pass,
Mr. Gillette informed me that the result of the surveys he had made satisfied him that a good line could be obtained through the Howse Pass, and
he was of the same opinion as myself, that a great mistake was made by
the engineer-in-chief in abandoning that line in favor of the Yellowhead
"Accompanied by my ever-faithful Indians and the late Hon. Mr.
Todd, I started for a long snowshoe walk to New Westminster, and proceeded down the Columbia River to the latitude of Gold River, in order
to see if I could get a line through the Selkirks by a high pass between the
headwaters of Gold River and those of Gold Creek, or if it would b^
possible to connect those valleys by a tunnel. If I could get a line this
way it would very materially shorten this distance between Revelstoke and
the Howse Pass.
"After a very fatiguing journey through the Selkirk Mountains by
this high pass, in which we were very nearly buried beneath an immense
avalanche that came roaring down the steep mountain side when we were
near the summit, we reached the almost deserted mining town on French
Creek that I had before visited in the year 1 866, when I constructed a
trail between it and the Seymour Arm of Lake Shuswap.
"I here met several old acquaintances, and the following afternoon
went on to McCulloch's Creek, which was entirely deserted, and the
remains of the few buildings still standing were in a very dilapidated condition. Two more days' travel against a strong head wind, which was
excessively cold, brought us to Mr. Mohun's winter quarters at The Big
Eddy, just before Christmas Day.
"I spent a few days with Mr. Mohun's party waiting for the plan
and profile of the line surveyed through the Eagle Pass, which I found
showed that a very good location could be obtained, and then having
arranged with Mr. Mohun to push forward the survey through the Selkirk
Range by the valley of the Illecillewaet River, and the Pass by its south-
Major Rogers, after whom  Rogers' Pass is named.
easterly fork, which was discovered by my assistant, Mr. Albert Perry,
in 1866, and was subsequently very improperly named Rogers Pass (it is
a well-known fact among contemporaries, like Mr. Cambie, who were
engaged in the building of the C. P. R., that Major Rogers did not see
the Pass until many years later and, as a matter of fact, never passed
through it before the railway was built), I resumed my way westerly
through the Eagle Pass to the Great Shuswap Lake.
"The weather had now turned quite warm, which caused the ice on
the Eagle River to be unsafe in places, but, as travelling through the thick
underbrush, etc., covered with deep, soft snow, was very fatiguing and
disagreeable, we preferred risking the way by the ice, and consequently
all the party, at different times, experienced the discomfort of one or more
cold baths.
"When we reached the Sicamous Narrows we found there was no
ice, and crossed the narrows in a log canoe, and then resumed our way
along the south shore of the Salmon Arm.
"I was anxious to examine a gap in the low range of hills between
the Salmon Arm and the main or easterly arm of Shuswap Lake that I had
noticed when first exploring through that lake in the year 1865. This gap,
now known as* Notch Hill, would, if practicable for railway construction,
much lessen the distance that a line for a railway would otherwise have to
take to reach Shuswap Lake.
"Directing the members of my party to remain on the shore, while
I tried to cross Salmon Arm on the rather rotten ice to see if it was strong
enough for them with their packs, which contained all the plans, profiles,
field books, etc., connected with the exploratory surveys so far made by
me, and the loss of which would have been a serious calamity, I started
on my adventurous trip.
"When about half way across the Arm, I fell through the ice, and,
being encumbered with rather heavy clothing, I had a long and hard
struggle to save my life. When nearly exhausted and benumbed by the
ice-cold water, by spreading my snowshoes under my body in order to
cover as large an area of the rotten ice as possible, and thus prevent its
breaking under the weight of my body, I managed at last to scramble out
and reach the shore, where my Indians were in a half-frozen and miserable
plight. |||
"We pursued our way along the south shore and when we were at
a point opposite Notch Hill we found the arm clear of ice, and made a
raft and crossed to the southerly end of the Notch. The next day we
walked through the Notch, when I found it would be the best route for
the railway, and in due time reached Cache Creek, from which place there
was telegraphic communication with Ottawa, and I sent a telegram to the
engineer-in-chief to the effect that a good, practicable route for the Canadian Pacific Railway was a certainty from Burrard Inlet to the prairies
east of the Rocky Mountains, and that the surveys had progressed in a
satisfactory manner.
"I was now perfectly certain, within a possible deviation of a few
hundred feet, or a shortening of the line by a tunnel through the Selkirk
Mountains, between the valleys of Gold River and Gold Cerek, where
the location of the Canadian Pacific Railway should be from Vancouver
through the mountain region of Canada, for I had examined every part
of it myself. The objectionable Pass, now known as Rogers Pass, I had
not been through, but formed my- opinion about it from Mr. A. Perry's
report made to me in  1866.
"In due course I reached Victoria, after a long and tedious journey,
that had consumed much time, and, as I knew there was a great deal of
extremely difficult work, of the very greatest importance for me to do the
next season, and for which I had to make various extensive preparations
that would require my personal supervision in many different places scattered throughout an immense territory, where travelling and transportation
had to be done almost entirely on the backs of animals, I did not go to
Ottawa, as it would have been only a useless waste of time.
J 'The important surveys I proposed making during the year 1872
were as follows:
"1. A careful location survey from the Columbia River through
the Howse Pass.
"2. A trial survey through the Selkirk Range by the valley of the
Illecillewaet River and Rogers Pass.
"3. A trial survey across the Selkirk Range by the valleys of Gold
River and Gold Creek, to ascertain what length of tunnelling would be
required to connect those valleys.
"4. A survey from Revelstoke around the bend of the Columbia
River to connect with the survey via Gold River and Gold Creek, and
with the survey through Howse Pass.
"At this time I was so confident where the best line for the Canadian Pacific Railway ought to be located that I had decided to go on
with the location surveys after making the above surveys and getting the
approval of the engineer-in-chief, which I never doubted for a moment
would be given, and had I been allowed to carry out the above work,
which Mr. Gillette's report to me about a line through the Howse Pass
fully justified and endorsed, millions of dollars would have been saved to
the country, and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company would have had
a far better, less expensive and safer line to operate than the present line
through the Rogers and Kicking Horse Passes, and been able to make
better time over it.
"Soon after I reached Victoria I forwarded my reports, etc., to
Ottawa, and requested the engineer-in-chief to allow me to increase my
engineering staff. I shortly afterwards received a telegram from the
engineer-in-chief informing me that a trial location through the Howse Pass
was considered most important. This telegram led me to infer that the
line I had taken so many years to explore and discover, and which I was
quite confident would be the best to adopt for the proposed Canadian
transcontinental railway, would be adopted.
"I at once let contracts for large quantities of supplies to be forwarded immediately, and delivered to me at Kinbaskit's Landing, on the
upper Columbia River, to which point I had instructed the engineer at
Howse Pass to have boats built and sent, to convey the supplies to the
various points along the Columbia River where they would be required.
"I now engaged the additional engineers and men required to carry
out the extensive surveys I proposed to make during the summer of the
year 1872, and, having equipped them and closed all business affairs in
Victoria, I embarked the party on board a steamer that was to sail for
Olympia at 3 o'clock on the following morning, proposing to accompany
the party myself.
"At 1 1 o'clock that night I received a message from Lieutenant-
Governor, the late Sir Joseph W. Trutch, requesting me to see him at
once at Government House, and on my arrival there he handed me a telegram he had received from the engineer-in-chief, desiring him to inform me
75 /Ifff
that the Yellowhead Pass had been adopted for the Canadian Pacific:
Railway and that I was to take charge of and make the survey through
it, and convey my survey parties and supplies to it by way of the Athabasca Pass.
'These instructions completely staggered me. I knew that there was
not a person living at that time who had such a knowledge of the country,
its great possibilities and requirements, as myself, and I could foresee the
future inevitable consequences that would follow by locating the Canadian
Pacific Railway on a line far distant from the southern boundary of the
Dominion, and thus leaving the future trade and commerce of the immense
belt of the richest and most important portion of the country, extending
from the Pacific Coast to the Red River, and from the 49th parallel of
latitude to a great distance north of it, to be tapped and drawn away into
United States channels by American railways. It was very disappointing
to me after all the years and money I had spent to prevent the possibility
of such an eventuality, and at the same time to obtain the best commercial
line for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
"I was now in a very false position, for I had let the contracts for
the large quantities of supplies needed for the surveys I proposed, and
knew ought to be made, and the supplies were already well on their way
when I received the order to abandon the surveys for which they were
"I left Victoria for Portland to meet the contractor who had undertaken to furnish the supplies at Kinbaskit's Landing, and at Marcus, near
Colville, and tried to get out of the contract by offering him a large sum
of money. He showed me the contracts he had entered into with the
packers who owned the pack animals then transporting the supplies, and
also stated that the supplies would be useless to him at Kinbaskit's Landing,
which I was well aware would be the case. He, however, agreed to take
back the supplies that were to be sent up the Columbia River to the mouth
of the Illecillewaet River for the survey of the line through the valley of
that river and Rogers Pass, etc. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a
quantity of hardware I had agreed to take, and which was then not far
from the Columbia Lakes. It was intended to be used in the construction
of boats and engineers' houses, etc., that would be needed during the location and construction of the railway through the district in my charge.
'These supplies were rendered superfluous by the abandonment of
my line, and I was censured by the engineer-in-chief and subsequently by
the members of the Royal Commission that was appointed to investigate
the expenditures incurred in connection with the exploratory surveys made
for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Both the engineer-in-chief and the commissioners being quite ignorant of the country, etc., where and for what
purposes these supplies were to be used, I think a sufficient answer to their
fault-finding with me is that when the Canadian Pacific Railway took the
railway out of the hands of the government, and got its location from Vancouver to Revelstoke back to my line, and then got entangled in the Rogers
76 ^p-
and Kicking Horse Passes, they used during the location and construction,
through only a portion of my former district, a very much larger quantity
of similar supplies.
'To have these large quantities of supplies available for the surveys
through the Yellowhead Pass, and to transport my engineers and men and
their outfits from the Columbia to the Athabasca River, it was imperatively
necessary that I should obtain possession of the pack animals then conveying the supplies to Kinbaskit's Landing before the packers who owned the
animals knew of the change that had been made in the surveys by the
adoption of the Yellowhead Pass, and of the 'fix' I was in for pack
animals to convey the supplies from the Columbia River to the Yellowhead
Pass, for there were no other pack animals nor packers available, and if
the packers knew how I was then placed they would have either extorted
very high transportation charges or have done the same for their animals.
"I hurried on from Portland to Wallula by steamer, thence via Walla
Walla to Colville, where I engaged Captain A. T. Pingston and a party
of boat men to navigate the boats I had ordered to be built during the
past winter at the depot at Howse Pass, and had instructed Mr. Gillette
to have them sent up to Kinbaskit's Landing. I then went on, travelling
on horseback, to Wild Horse Creek, the Columbia Lakes, etc., to Kinbaskit's Landing, where I found the boats awaiting me.
"On my way up I overtook the different trains of pack animals, which
I purchased, and engaged all the packers, thereby getting possession of
upwards of four hundred pack animals, all in splendid condition, with their
rigging complete, and experienced packers to handle them. I thus got out
of the serious 'fix' I was in regarding transportation.
"My next and most serious difficulty was to open a pack trail along
the right or easterly bank of the Columbia River, where the navigation was
too dangerous to convey the supplies in boats. The country through which
the trail had to be constructed was rough and heavily timbered, which
made the work of opening it tedious and expensive, and, as the misbehavior
of the men obliged me to dismiss them, my working party was very small,
and the construction of the trail proceeded with exasperating slowness.
"When the trail was opened to Kinbaskit Lake, I was sorry to lose
the services of Mr. Gillette. Mr. Ashdown Green took his position as
engineer in charge of the party. I now left with three Indians for the
Yellowhead Pass, as I expected to meet the engineer-in-chief, who had
informed me that he proposed, during the autumn, to journey through the
Yellowhead Pass. A description of his journey was written by the Rev.
George M. Grant, principal of Queen's University, Kingston, and entitled
'Ocean to Ocean.'
"Previous to my leaving Victoria I had engaged and instructed Mr.
William Cameron McCord, an able, trusty and experienced mountaineer,
miner and frontiersman, to equip a party of axemen and a pack train, and
open a pack trail by the valleys of the North Thompson and Abreda rivers
77 "*!5
. 186 J. Canoe with malls, Yale, B.Gj
1881. Cariboo Mail Stage, Spuzzum, B. C.
1901; •"Imperial Limited'' Mail Train) Kicking: Horse Canyon, B. C.
Imperial   Limited. to and through the Yellowhead Pass, where I promised to meet him as
soon as I could get away from the Columbia River.
"On leaving Kinbaskit Lake with my Indians, who carried very light
packs containing only a pair of blankets each, a little tea, salt and flour,
we ascended and crossed over the high mountain spur that rises to a great
elevation between the waters of the Columbia and those of the Wood or
Portage River, and made in as direct a line as possible for the Athabasca
Pass, between Mounts Brown and Hooker. This line of travel we took
in order to avoid the long way by the valley of the Columbia to the boat
encampment, and thence by the old trail of the Northwest Fur Company
of Montreal by the valley of the Wood River to the foot of Mount Brown.
"The steep ascent of this mountain side from Kinbaskit Lake was
extremely toilsome, and we suffered dreadfully for want of water. The
exposed, scantily-timbered, rocky face of the mountain, with the sun beating down on us and making the rocks hot, combined with myriads of black
flies, rendered this climb trying in the extreme.
"When we got high up the mountain, and just before entering a very
elevated pass, we had a magnificent view over the northerly portion of the
Selkirk Range, and also of the easterly side of the Gold, and the westerly
side of the Rocky Mountains, and, as the sun was shining brightly, the
sky blue and the atmosphere clear, the innumerable peaks and sea of
mountains visible, covered with snow and glaciers glittering in places,
together with the deep green forests which clothed the lower portions of
the mountain ranges, and the Columbia River, like a silver ribbon, wending
its way through the deep, narrow gorge far below us, impressed me with
•what stupendous grandeur primeval Nature is endowed. .
"I have read descriptions of the mountains of British Columbia as
given by different 'globe trotters,' who rush through the country at the
bottoms of some of the valleys traversed by the railways, which, although
affording truly grand and striking scenery, are not to be compared with
those that can be obtained from higher altitudes. I would recommend
these globe trotters to climb up above the timber line and then expand their
gushings in describing the unexplored and more inaccessible places.
"We camped on the bank of a lovely stream flowing through a parklike valley, or rather opening through the mountain spur, at an elevation
above the sea of probably six thousand feet. The following morning, we
pursued our way for some distance through this valley, and then reached
the northerly steep declivity of the mountain, down which we went, following the dry bed of a watercourse which had been cut by the water from
the melting snows during the early part of countless summers.
"On reaching the bottom of the valley of the Wood River we had
to wade for some distance through the stagnant water containing some
reddish-brown substance—probably decomposed iron ore—of a disagreeable nature, and shortly after reached the Wood River, into which we
plunged to free ourselves of as much as possible of the nauseous substance
which painted us. We followed along the south bank of the river for
some distance and then constructed a raft and crossed to the north bank,
79 which we followed until we reached the foot of Mount Brown and found
the trail of the old fur traders going up the steep mountain, and then we
camped and cooked a porcupine which we found at this place.
"The next forenoon, when we had nearly gained the summit of the
pass, in the vicinity of 'The Committee's Punch Bowl,' we shot two fine
caribou. As our footgear was in a sadly dilapidated condition, and our
feet very sore, we decided to camp and make moccasins out of the green
hides, and dry and smoke the caribou meat to provision us for the rest of
the journey, and cache a quantity of the meat on a platform we constructed
at the top of three trees, which we stripped of their bark and branches to
keep it out of reach of those thieves of the forest—the wolverines—and to
supply us with meat on our return journey.
'We now travelled along the easterly side of Mount Brown, and
leaving the Athabasca Pass, crossed a high ridge and then, following a
well-beaten Cariboo trail, descended a steep declivity on the north side
of the ridge, over a large deposit of perpetual snow, in which we saw some
recent tracks of caribou, and arrived in a beautiful valley surrounded with
grand and magnificent scenery. Here we camped at a small spring that
is the true source of the Fraser River. Shortly after we camped, one of
my Indians shot two caribou and I shot one.
"For some considerable distance next day the travelling was fairly
good, but in the afternoon we got into thick timber and the valley became
narrow, down which the river, which had rapidly increased in volume,
dashed and roared at a great rate through the canyons.
"Shortly before we camped we noticed a bush fire, which was, so
my Indians informed me, in the neighborhood of Yellowhead Lake, and
was a certain indication that white men were in that neighborhood, for the
Indian is careful not to burn the forest which the white man so recklessly
and wantonly destroys.
"At the break of day the fire, fanned by a wind from the north, had
approached rapidly in our direction, and the valley was filled with smoke.
To remain in the thick timber meant being burned to death, so we made a
hurried detour by a bare place on the side of an adjoining mountain, which
enabled us to get behind the blazing and roaring fire. After travelling some
distance along the side of the mountain we descended to the valley to
resume our way through the blackened and smouldering remains of what
had been, a few hours before, a dense, beautiful green forest.
"My feet had not recovered from the chafing they got when we were
accomplishing the first portion of this journey, and, as we proceeded through
the smouldering remains of the forest, they became very sore and painful.
In the afternoon we reached a smaller stream than the one we had been
following, and which flowed from the eastward, and I knew it must be the
Fraser River. We all plunged into it to wash off the ashes and other filth
with which we were covered and begrimed, and to relieve our sore and
blistered feet.
80 ■H-"
"Shortly after reaching the bank of the Fraser River, I heard the
tinkling of a bell, which I knew must be attached to a mare, known as
the bell-mare, that always leads the mule trains, for the mules will always
follow the bell-mare when travelling, and when turned out to grass will
not stray away from her.
"We waded across the Fraser River and met the pack train, which
I found was conveying supplies to Mr. McCord's camp of trail-makers,
then on the shore of the Yellowhead Lake, a short distance east of us.
Spence's   Bridge—a  remarkable structure  built  across the Thompson   River  by
Mr. Spence, and  named  after him.
I asked the man who was in charge of the train—the cargadore, as he is
designated—what his name was, when he informed me that it was Mac-
Brown. I told him that I fiad met many different Macs in my life, but it
had never been my luck to meet a MacBrown before. He gave me the
following explanation of how he had obtained his uncommon name. When
Mr. Roderick McLennan, who was the previous year in charge of the
exploratory party, was up the North Thompson River and the Yellowhead
Pass, he was engaging men, and Mr. Brown, who was an American from
the State of Maine, and wished to obtain employment, observed that Mr.
81 McLennan appeared to have a strong feeling in favor of men who had
the prefix of Mac to their names. Mr. Brown thought his chance of obtaining employment would be greatly enhanced if he became a Mac, and,
therefore, on his applying to Mr. McLennan, he gave his name as Mac-
Brown and was employed.
"Taking a riding horse out of the train, I soon reached Mr. McCord's
camp and heard that Mr. Mohun had the line surveyed west of the Tete
Jaune Cache as far as Moose Lake, and I at once sent a letter to him
Suspension Bridge.
requesting him to meet me the following day at McCord's camp. I now
found the engineer-in-chief had not yet passed through the Yellowhead
Pass on his way to the coast.
"I remained the following day at Mr. McCord's camp to see Mr.
Mohun, and to doctor my feet, and then, taking some of Mr. McCord's
horses, I proceeded with my Indians along the much-obstructed trail over
the summit and down the valley of the Nuette and Athabasca rivers to
meet the engineer-in-chief, and to ascertain where the best place would be
82 -=-s
m to build a depot on the banks of the Athabasca River to winter my parties in."
"When I reached a point a few miles west of Jasper House, I came
on fresh tracks of men and horses, which convinced me and my Indians
that they were those of men from the east, or, as the Indians designated
them, Moneasses, a not altogether complimentary term. I at once retraced
my way and reached the Snaring River some time after dark, when I camped
and sent on my Indian hunter with a note to ascertain if the travellers were
those I was seeking. Late in the night the Indian returned and brought
me a note from the engineer-in-charge, which gave me the desired information, and the following forenoon I overtook the party as they were entering
the valley of the Nuette River.
"Hie first person I overtook was that estimable gentleman, the late
Dr. George M. Grant, whose writings are extensively known. The doctor
was on foot with a long stick in his hand, driving some worn-out and very
dilapidated pack-animals. The other members of the party were supposed
to be ahead, so I pushed on to overtake them, but, as they had missed the
trail, they were in reality behind us. I, however, went on for a few miles,
improving the trail as I progressed, and, coming to a meadow where there
was good grass for the animals, I awaited the arrival of the party.
"After lunch I pushed on with my Indians, clearing the trail of fallen
timber as I went, and stopped near a point at which we would have to
cross the river, The party did not arrive for some time afterwards, and
I sent an Indian back to ascertain what had caused their delay.
"Next morning being Sunday, and the grass being very poor and
scanty, I proposed that we should go on to Mr. McCord's camp, where
we could find plenty of food for man and beast, and generally be 'in
clover.' My suggestion was acted upon, and we reached the camp early
in the day and had a good rest and I was enabled to give the engineer-in-
chief an account of my proceedings since I left Victoria, and the difficulties
I had passed through and was experiencing in getting my parties and supplies out from the Columbia River.
"Fresh pack animals and riding horses and packers.were now provided for the whole party, and next morning we all started for Mr. Mohun's
camp, which proved to be farther away than I anticipated and consequently
I did not reach the camp until some hours after dark, and the rest of the
party kept dropping in at different times during the succeeding three or four
hours. They were in an excessively bad humor and blamed me for not
telling them how far they had to go, when I did not know myself, as they
had heard at Mr. McCord's camp as much as I had regarding the trail.
"I was now getting very anxious about my men and animals, who
were making their way through the rough and inhospitable country between
Kinbaskit Lake and the Yellowhead Pass, and explained to the engineer-
in-chief the urgent necessity there was for my immediate return to the
Columbia River to look after them. He expressed himself as being much
dissatisfied that I had not got the survey farther advanced, and appeared
to think I should have accomplished what it was impossible to do,  and
84 even said I should not have attempted to take my party and supplies through
the Athabasca Pass, which he himself had indicated, when I was ordered
to abandon the surveys on the Eagle Pass line and take charge of the surveys of the Yellowhead line.
"I felt so disgusted with the engineer-in-chief for abandoning the line
I knew was the right one to adopt, and then at his finding fault with me
for not pushing forward the surveys of the Yellowhead line faster when
I had done my utmost to carry out his instructions, that I was on the point
of leaving the service, which I should have done there and then had I not
known the very critical position my men and animals were in on their way
by the Athabasca Pass, and how much they relied upon me to see them
safely through.
"I now returned to Mr. McCord's camp, and the following day
reached the Aathabasca River near the site of the old Henry House. The
weather had now become very cold and everything indicated a snowstorm. I hurried on through the valleys of the Athabasca and Whirlpool
rivers. I met a large herd of caribou and a bear on my way through the
valley of the Whirlpool River, and, in the evening of the third day from
McCord's camp, reached the place where we had killed the caribou and
cached the meat to supply us with meat on our return journey. Grizzly
bears had, however, eaten up all the meat, and we had a very meagre
"Before daylight the snow began to fall heavily, and I pushed on,
expecting to meet my party and pack animals at the foot of Mount Brown,
but they were not there. Being greatly disappointed at, to me, the unaccountably slow progress the whole outfit had made since I left them at
Kinbaskit Lake, we travelled all day until we reached a point not far from
the Boat Encampment, and then endeavored to cross the mountain spur
between the Wood and the Columbia rivers, in order to shorten the distance, but, as night came on, and the underbrush was dense and the fallen
timber very obstructive, we were compelled to stop in the bush, where our
half-famished horses had nothing to eat. Early next morning we heard
the sound of a mule bell, and, by returning to and wading down the river,
soon heard the sound of chopping, and on a high bank on the south side of
the river found that Mr. Green and the survey party he had charge of
were at work constructing buildings to winter in, as he had concluded from
my long absence that they would have to pass the winter on the Columbia
"I knew now that it was touch and go if we could go through the
high Athabasca Pass, but I determined to take the risk, and at once
instructed Mr. Green with his survey party and the necessary pack animals
to start at once for the Athabasca River, and also order all the packers in
charge of the large* trains of pack animals and supplies to get everything
forwarded over the summit of the Athabasca Pass in order that they
could, during the winter, be conveyed by dog-trains along the frozen Whirlpool and Athabasca rivers to the depot I had instructed Mr. McCord to
build about a mile and a half below where, in bygone years, stood the
old Henry House.
85 'With Mr. Green's survey party and my little outfit of Indians,
I started back from the Athabasca River, and, as I travelled much faster
than he did, I pushed on ahead in order to get back and have the survey
of the line from the summit of the Yellowhead Pass made by Mr. Mohun's
party before the snow fell. I arrived where Mr. McCord had commenced
the construction of the buildings for the different parties to winter in, late
in the night of the third day after leaving Mr. Green's party. I was
astonished to learn from him that the survey party under Mr. Mohun had
started on their return to Victoria.
"This was to me at that time incomprehensible, as I had given the
engineer in charge of the party definite instructions about the work I wished
to have done during the winter, by pushing forward the surveys in that
inclement season of the year, and which I had promised the engineer-in-
chief that I would have carried out.
"Next morning at the break of day, with my two Indians and nearly
worn-out horses, I started to try and overtake and bring back the party.
On my way I met a messenger from the engineer-in-chief, telling me he
had changed his mind regarding the surveys of the line through the Yellowhead Pass, and instructing me to bring out my parties and most of the
pack animals and report at Kamloops, and place the supplies and some of
the pack animals in the hands of a man in whom I had confidence.
"These peculiar orders it was simply impossible for me to carry out.
The winter had set in with heavy falls of snow in the Athabasca Pass,
through which mp men and animals were struggling to reach the Athabasca Valley, where grass for the animals could be obtained, and when
they did reach it they were in a weakened condition. In the valley of
the North Thompson and Albreda rivers and the Yellowhead Pass the
grasses would all be covered with snow except the lower portion of the
valley of the North Thompson River, and had I attempted to carry out
the orders sent to me by the engineer-in-chief, I should certainly have lost
all my animals and, perhaps, the lives of some of the men, which was a
responsibility I would not assume, and, therefore, was compelled to remain
in the Yellowhead Pass.
"It is impossible for me to express how much I wished at this time
to discontinue my connection with the engineer-in-chief, and I should have
done so if I had not thought it would be unfair to all my employees, who
had served me so faithfully, and to the Dominion Government.
|P "I subsequently learned that it was instructions from the engineer-in-
chief to Mr. Mohun after I parted with the former at Moose Lake that
caused Mr. Mohun, on reaching the divide in the Yellowhead Pass, to
discontinue his survey and return to Victoria.
"I kept my party at work until the end of December, when the snow
had reached the Fiddle River, and then went into winter quarters at the
depot, and had some log huts built at Fiddle River for Mr. McCord's
party to winter in. I sent to Edmonton requesting Mr. Richard Hardisty,
the chief factor in the Hudson's Bay Company then in charge, to send
me dog sleighs to bring the supplies at the headwaters of the Whirlpool
86 =r-
> River to the depot, all of which was done, and having completed the
plotting of our season's work, I sent the plans off to Edmonton with a
letter to Mr. Hardisty requesting him to have them forwarded to Ottawa.
"As soon as these documents were sent off, I set the trail party at
work, continuing the survey of the line in the direction of the latter place,
as I was led to believe from a printed report of an explorer sent out in
1871 by the engineer-in-chief, which he had given me at Moose Lake
the previous autumn, that a 'level sandy plain' extended from the Fiddle
River to Lac St. Anne. I soon found that the description given in that
report and the nature of the country between the Athabasca and the
McLeod rivers were very different, as there was a high ridge—a spur of
the Rocky Mountains between those two rivers—that made it difficult to
get into the valley of the McLeod River. As the line had been gradually
ascending this ridge, crossing several formidable ravines, I directed the
engineer to go on with the survey and get into the valley of the McLeod
River as soon as possible, and I would explore the country ahead and to
the eastward.
"I found a good line could be obtained by keeping much farther to
the eastward, without any trouble, but decided to continue the line we were
surveying to Victoria. When the line was within a short distance of the
McLeod River, I was a short distance ahead when a half-breed met me
and handed me a letter from the engineer-in-chief. It informed me that
he had received the package forwarded by Mr. Hardisty, and directed me
to discontinue the survey easterly and to return to the coast with my party.
It also informed me that Mr. Marcus Smith, C.E., had been appointed
to take charge of the exploratory surveys in British Columbia. This was
joyful news for me, for I saw the way clear to get out of the distasteful
occupation of making useless surveys.
"Shortly after receiving the above despatches, I received a letter from
Mr. Marcus Smith, informing me of his appointment and requesting me to
try and find a line feasible for a railway west from the Tete Jaune Cache
into the valley of the Horsefly River, or into the basin of the Quesnel
"We all started on our return journey, and on our way back, when
we got east of Moose Lake, I directed Mr. Green to make a short survey
along the south bank of the Fraser, whilst I went up to the head waters
of the canyon, and those of the North Thompson River, to see if I could
find a pass in the direction Mr. Smith desired.
"Taking my three Indians with me, I proceeded to explore the country at the headwaters of the Canoe River, and very soon found there was
no pass in that direction. I then went to the forks of the Albreda and
North Thompson rivers, and up the valley of the latter. I found the
country densely timbered and difficult to travel through until we reached
a high elevation. I pursued my way until, at a very high elevation, I was
surrounded by high-capped peaks and glaciers that presented an impenetrable wall of rock, snow and ice.    I returned to the forks of the Thomp-
88 son and Albreda rivers, where my Indians found an old log canoe, which
they patched up, and we decided to run down the North Thompson River
in preference to walking to Kamloops, as we found that Mr. Green and
the survey party had preceded us. The Indians were expert canoe men,
but knew nothing about that river, nor did I, except that the 'Black
Canyon' was considered a dangerous place for boats or canoes. We swept
down the river in fine style and when we got into the canyon the Indians
handled the canoe to perfection. We pursued our way, and soon after
dark came to the place where the party were encamped on the 'Blue
THE C. P. R.
"Here we left the canoe, and, taking my horses and Indians. I pursued my way, in advance of my party, through a lovely valley to the mouth
of the North Thompson River, where I met my commissariat officer, Mr.
A. G. Hall. I instructed him to hand over all the pack animals, etc., to
Mr. Marcus Smith's agent at Kamloops, and bring me duplicate receipts
for the same, and to take all further orders from Mr. Smith. Thus ended
all my explorations and surveys for the Canadian Pacific Railway through
the mountain region of Canada, and these instructions were the last I gave
in connection with that great national railway.
Hudson's bay tribute.
' As usual for many years, I took up my quarters with my never-
. failing friends, the officers of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company, in Fort
Kamloops, where I remained a short time. The factor provided me with
horses and Indians to take me down to Yale, as that was probably the last
opportunity the Hudson's Bay Company would have, in British Columbia,
of-doing me a service and showing their appreciation of my long social
intercourse and business transactions with the company since my arrival in
British Columbia in the year  1858. ' <7[,
"Ort arriving at Victoria I met, and soon formed a very friendly
acquaintance with the late Mr. Marcus Smith, which lasted until his death.
We shortly afterwards left Victoria for Ottawa and in due course arrived
there. I was, as I fully expected, very coldly received by the engineer-^
in-chief. He, unnecessarily, caused my detention in Ottawa after the
auditor had passed my accounts in a manner satisfactory to me. He caused
the accounts to be sent to another auditor to be gone over again, and I had
to wait because I could not get my hard-earned pay, and actually had to
borrow money to pay for my board and lodging.
"After several months the engineer-in-chief sent me a cheque for my
pay to the time of the completion of the first auditing and would not pay
me anything for the time I had to wait for the second auditing, nor would
he pay me anything for the expenses I had incurred during the whole time
I had been in Ottawa. I protested at this unjust treatment, but without
avail. The unjust treatment I received was not in accordance with the
written terms of my engagement, made in 1871, and I was defrauded out
of a large amount, which the Dominion Government still owes me.
"I made my headquarters in Winnipeg for the purpose of getting a
personal knowledge of the country west from Lake Superior to the Rocky
Mountains, which I obtained, and also of the line the engineer-in-chief was
trying to have adopted via Selkirk, the Narrows of Lake Manitoba and
thence northerly. I did my utmost, in various ways, to get the line adopted
back to my line in order that Winnipeg should be on the main line and
the valley of the Columbia reached, which would necessitate the line passing
through the Eagle Pass and thence to Vancouver. My exertions finally
led to the adoption of the present line from Revelstoke to Vancouver,
where it terminates at the magnificent harbor of Burrard Inlet and has
brought into existence the flourishing and beautiful City of Vancouver,
which is destined to be the finest commercial and most progressive city of
the Dominion of Canada, and from which other important railways will
radiate-^the city part of whose site I pre-empted in 1859 when I had
diggings made to try and find coal in 'Coal Harbor.'
sjy^2 ORE than half a century ago two comparatively young white
men, accompanied by two Indians, turned the bow of their
canoe from Burrard Inlet and up the North Arm. It was a
glorious day in the August of 1859, and, as vista after vista
of sparkling water, towering mountain and green forest opened
to their view, what time they paddled northward, exclamations of pleasure and satisfaction escaped them. It was a big
canoe and all four were powerful paddlers, so that the light
craft skimmed over the surface of the water at a fine pace and the afternoon saw them bursting upon those beautiful, lagoon-like parts of the Arm
which open out near its head.
They landed near the spot where, more than fifty years later, the picturesque Wigwam Inn and its pretty grounds were to lend a comfortable,
Walter Moberly, present day.
human touch to their rather rugged environment and suggest to the approaching visitor or guest rest and refreshment. Climbing up the bank, the party
of four proceeded along the bed of a shallow stream for, perhaps, a quarter
of a mile, into a declivity in the mountain, until their progress was arrested
by one of the most beautiful bridal falls to be found in this part of the
world. The white men stood for some minutes lost in admiration. The
Indians (who were Capilanos) had probably seen the falls, which have
since become so familiar to many visitors, before. Hale and hearty and
in the full flush of early manhood, the two explorers proceeded to climb to
93 the top of the mountain, a pretty tough scramble, to see if they could find
the Chickamen  (money) stone.
Fifty-five years, full of varied and adventurous happenings, rolled
between and then, upon a recent Sunday, a white-haired, white-bearded
veteran of eighty-five was heartily welcomed at the landing before the
Wigwam Inn by genial Mr. Dickens, whose pretty residence nestles
near at hand,  the only other habitation within  a wide radius.     Anon,
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the old man stood with his host and his friends at the foot of those delicately traced falls, the water of which has been falling, falling, falling
without ceasing ever since that first yisit, and will be falling, falling long
after Mr. Walter Moberly and the youngest of you who may have read
the story of his strenuous life have passed to the bourne from which no
traveller returns. Lieutenant Burnaby (whose name is perpetuated in a
well known municipality near Vancouver) passed to that bourne many
years ago. He was the white man who accompanied Mr. Moberly upon
that first voyage of discovery up the North Arm at a time when no white
man lived nearer than New Westminster, which itself was but a series of
clearings and roughly erected wooden buildings. And Mr. Moberly had
never revisited the falls until this Sunday to which reference has just been
made. It was upon the advice of the Indians that gold was to be found
up the mountain at the back of and above those falls, that Moberly and
Burnaby spent sometime searching for the Chickamen (which, in Chinook
jargon, means money) stone.
And sor my friends, we have nearly arrived at the end of the story
of British Columbia's most notable pathfinder. We have arrived at the
end, that is, of the public work he was responsible for, the work which led
to the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It is true that he was
still only in the forties when he left this province and for many years made
Winnipeg—then a city of 8,000 or 9,000 inhabitants and unconnected
by railway with the rest of Canada—his home, and that for the next
thirty years he lived a very active and interesting and, often, adventurous
life, which, some day, may supply material for another series of stories.
These particular chapters of that life are, however, concerned almost
entirely with the explorations and preparations for the laying of steel which
was to link ocean with ocean. But, as the reader who has read so far
will probably be interested to know what Mr. Moberly did after leaving
the service, I will give a brief summary before concluding.
The year that followed his arrival at Winnipeg, Mr. Moberly spent
in general exploration work in the country round about, and then, as his
next considerable task, he contracted to build the first sewers that Winnipeg ever had. "Perhaps that sounds a bigger undertaking than it really
was," laughed the veteran when telling me about the contract, "for there
were not many thousands of people in Winnipeg then." "But," he added
with satisfaction, "many of those wooden pipes of white pine and spruce
are in use today, and I remember shortly before I left Winnipeg—I think
it was in '96—being shown a section of one which had been taken up,
and it was as sound as the day that it was put in." Veteran pioneers who
were resident in Winnipeg at the time when this contract was fulfilled have
told me of the very fine and conscientious job Mr. Moberly made of it,
though, as in the case of most things he has touched, he made very little
He then took the contract to build a short line of railway along the
Grand Rapid. Steamers used to run from Winnipeg to the foot of the
Grand Rapid and then the freight was carried over this tramway to the
steamers at the other end. At that time several big railways were endeavoring to get a charter to come into Winnipeg. The nearest railway approach
was hundreds of miles away on the American side at Moorehead on the
Red River, and travellers came to Winnipeg from Moorehead on steamers
by that river. Moorehead was reached from St. Paul. Mr. Moberly made
several visits to Ottawa during these years and spent two winters there.
Once when he returned to Winnipeg he did so with the intention of getting;
a charter through for the Southwestern Railway, a railway that was to
run in a southerly direction from Winnipeg. He got it through and the
railway was built. Mr. David Young was the secretary, and General
Hammond, a Southerner, took charge. Mr. Moberly made the track
surveys and then fell out with Young and left the service of the company.
Shortly afterwards that well-known railway magnate, Mr. James Hill, took
control of the road.
During his several visits to Ottawa, Mr. Moberly saw a great deal
of Sir John A. Macdonald, who was then in Opposition, dining with him
nearly every Sunday and discussing railway matters at length. "Perhaps
I cannot claim to have suggested to Sir John the idea of taking the building of the railway to and through British Columbia out of the hands of
the Dominion Government and forming a company to conduct the undertaking," observed Mr. Moberly, "but I know that frequently in conversation with him I favored the idea and that we often discussed it. I told
him that I had no confidence that a government would ever carry it through.
Mackenzie was at that time trying to do so in driblets and by the use of
water stretches. I have spent hours again and again discussing this matter
with Sir John, and I always laid particular stress upon the certainty that
British Columbia would go out of Confederation if the railway did not
go through." In reply to a question, Mr. Moberly said that he knew
Premier Mackenzie well and, while in Ottawa, used to visit at his house
and play whist with him.     "He was a very quiet man out of politics,"
95 observed the explorer. "I remember he said to me more than once,
'Moberly, you seem to be a lot of speculators in B. C I wonder what
he would have said if he had lived to see the B. C. of today and its
speculation," laughed the explorer.
Mr. Moberly told me of one amusing dinner party at Sir John's
Ottawa residence at which he was present and at which a one-time singular
parliamentarian and premier of British Columbia figured—Mr. Amor de
Cosmos. "This was a dinner given by Sir John in honor of the members
from British Columbia," observed Mr. Moberly, "and among the members present were Mr. Amor de Cosmos and the Hon. Edgar Dewdney—
Mr. Dewdney will remember the humor of the situation well, I expect,
As you know, Mr. de Cosmos, who was a striking looking man, changed
his name from Smith to Amor de Cosmos (or Lover of the World), by
which name he was ever afterwards known. The story of the change was
also known, and at that particular dinner the company included Captain
Hamilton, a brother of Lady Dufferin. Mr. de Cosmos had not put in
an appearance, and Captain Hamilton, who was interested in the story,
was inquiring all about it when de Cosmos came through a door at the
captain's back and at the other end. of the room and took his seat quietly.
"Sir John was facing and saw him enter, but Captain Hamilton did
not and continued to chat about the change of name with a good deal of
humor, and to the general discomfiture of all who knew that the subject
of the conversation was now at the table." Mr. Moberly laughed heartily
at the recollection which this conjured up. "I can see Sir John now,"
he said, with reminiscent gusto. "He was at the head of the table and
Captain Hamilton about two removes down the table, and Mr. de Cosmos
only a few removes further down on the same side. It was clearly impossible to call the captain's attention to the fact by speech, and the diners
on either side the captain had not noticed the new arrival. So Sir John
slowly slid down his chair in an apparent effort to pick something up, until
his long nose was nearly level with the table, and, reaching under the table
past his left hand guest, he gave the captain a kick. The latter started,
Sir John slowly resumed his position and—Mr. Amor de Cosmos, who
must have been perfectly aware of the incident and its cause, never moved
a muscle of his face."
It was during these few years of which we have been speaking that
Donald A. Smith (later known as Lord Stratheona), then Chief Commissioner of the Hudson's Bay Company and resident on Silver Heights,
Winnipeg, ran for a seat in the Dominion Legislature and, after a very
exciting contest, was returned by a majority of nine, his opponent upon
that occasion being Governor Morris. Mr. Moberly, who knew the G.
O. M. of Canada well personally, and who had shortly before completed
the sewer contract to which reference has been made, threw himself into
the fight with great enthusiasm. The transcontinental railway was the
issue upon which the election was fought, and the North Ward of Winnipeg turned the day in favor of the future peer. In this ward were resident many of the men who had been working for Mr. Moberly during the
96 carrying out of the sewer contract, and he spent much time canvassing there
for his candidate. This ward polled a solid 35 majority for Donald A.
Smith and enabled him to carry the day, though he was defeated the following year. There are certain moments when a man is sorely tempted to
throw discretion to the winds for the sake of a really good story, and here
is just such a moment. I have read over this rather bald paragraph and
have been sitting for five minutes wondering whether I should or should
not tell the real underlying story of that victory, as Mr. Moberly told it
to me. It would make fine reading. But, while not definitely pledging
me to secrecy, he does not desire it as there are people still living, etc.—
so discretion shall win the day this time.
Incidentally  Mr.   Moberly told me  of pleasant times spent at Sir
Donald's residence at Ottawa, called "Bank Cottage,"  because it was
Lord Stratheona, the G. O. M., of Canada, in his old age.
situated near the Bank of Montreal, where open house appears to have
been the order of the day. Mr. Moberly acted as architect and contractor during the years that followed in Winnipeg, and erected quite a
number of buildings there. Then came the Klondyke excitement and he
decided to return to his old love, Vancouver, which he did in the late
nineties. A dozen years or so earlier the first train had run through to
the coast, and for the first time Mr. Moberly now travelled through this
province over a railway towards the building of which he had done so
much preparatory work. Still keenly interested in railways, he went to
work later to get a charter from the Provincial Government for a proposed
railway to Alaska, the Vancouver-Northern-Yukon Railway. Through
the efforts of himself and others this charter was procured. The line was
never built, but the Pacific Great Eastern, which is now being constructed,
97 is being built in the direction the other line would have gone in. He has
been associated with other undertakings, but, from a public standpoint, this
is the end of his story.
Just here let me make a quotation from a substantial and beautifully
printed and illustrated and authoritative volume entitled "The Selkirk
Range, British Columbia" (by A. O. Wheeler, F.R.G.S.), which contains
many extracts from Mr. Moberly's official reports and which pays more
than one tribute to his work. "Mr. Moberly took no further part in great
public enterprises. The good work that he did and the prominent part
that he took in opening up and giving access to the resources of the interior
of British Columbia have never been fully recognized. To realize the
difficulties he encountered, the years of toil, hardship and privation he
endured, it is necessary to visit the wilderness of mountains, the trackless
forests and jungles and the dangerous waterways comprising the territory
over which he worked, and, even then, the strides of civilization have been
so great of recent years that it is difficult to picture these wilds as they
were when they were only inhabited by Indians and by wild beasts and
when the influx of the white man was a slow and difficult process." Incidentally I may mention that there is chapter and verse for most of the
statements with reference to the explorations and surveys made by him in
preparation for the building of the railway, this being contained in the old
Crown Colony reports and the reports of the surveys for the railway made
by Mr. Moberly to Ottawa and published by the C. P. R.
The last camp that Mr. Moberly made when running the last
line in the surveys he made for the future C. P. R., was at Tete Jaune
Cache in the Yellowhead. I asked him to tell me the origin of this curious
name. "Yellowhead," he replied, "was the nickname of a trapper who,
in the early days, was in the service of the North West Company, and
his headquarters were at what is now known as Tete Jaune Cache, the
French for Yellowhead. There he had the cache where he cached his
beaver skins. It used to be called Leather Pass, for it was a great country for moose and these and other skins were collected at Jasper House,
an important trading post in the early days. Then, in the spring, they
would float these skins down to Fort Assiniboine."
And so I might wander on, introducing little tid-bits of interesting old-
time information which the veteran has given me during our chats and
which I have made notes of and placed aside for use in this last chapter—
but one must stop somewhere. In taking leave of the octogenarian explorer
I would like (very lightly and without asking his permission, for he is now,
as he has been all his life, a man of sturdy independence) to suggest, as
the writer of the volume from which I have just quoted also suggests, that
the services rendered by Walter Moberly to the Province of British Columbia have never been fully realized or recognized. Mr. Moberly himself
would be the last person to desire one to touch here upon personal circumstances, but, when it is recalled that he spent all his own money upon the first
Vb voluntary explorations in this province, that he lost heavily, through no
fault of his own, over his Cariboo Road undertaking, which has been of
such importance to the province, that he emerged from his C. P. R. explorations and surveys a comparatively poor man—all public works of inestimable value to British Columbia—and that he is now in very poor circumstances, though he has admiring friends, some of them prominent in the
public life of the city and province, who would not see him want, it reflects
but poorly upon the generosity of the province which owes him so much,
and which has enabled so many infinitely less deserving men to acquire
wealth.    It is, alas, too familiar a tale in the world's history.
But let the story of the pathfinder's life close upon a different note.
For one concluding moment let us shut our eyes and try to visualize what
the forging of this greatest railway of the world, in order that it might
connect ocean with ocean, has meant to British Columbia; let us picture
in our mind's eye the "sea of mountains," of which we have talked so much,
untouched by the sophisticated magic of those two parallel bands of steel;
let us think of the hardship and courage and, often, of the sacrifice that
went to the praparing of the way and the building of the road; and then
let us read this wonderfully expressive poem by the Mohawk poetess,
Pauline Johnson, who pitched her tent and sang all her later songs among
us, entitled "Prairie Greyhounds":
"C. P. R. 'NO. ■ WESTBOUND."
"I swing to the sunset lands—
The world of prairie, the world of plain,
The world of promise and hope and gain,
The world of gold and the world of grain,
And the world of the willing hand.
"I carry the brave and bold—
The one who works for the nation's bread,
The one whose past is a thing that's dead,
The one who battles and beats ahead,
And the one who goes for gold.
"I swing to the 'Land to Be,'
I am the power that laid its floors,
I am the guide to its Western stores,
I am the key to its golden doors,
That open alone to me.
I "C. P. R. 'NO. 2,' EASTBOUND."
"I swing to the land of morn;
The grey old east with its grey old seas,
The land of leisure, the land of ease,
The land of flowers and fruits and trees,
And the place where we were born.
99 "Freighted with wealth I come;
For he who many a moon has spent
Far out west on adventure bent,
With well-worn pick and folded tent,
Is bringing his bullion home.
"I never will be renowned,
As my twin that swings to the western marts,
For I am she of the humbler parts,
But I am the joy of the waiting hearts;
For I am the Homeward-bound."
I HE life story of Mr. Henry J. Cambie, explorer and railway
builder, I have recorded in another place and hope soon to
publish, together with other pioneer stories, in book form.
But, in order that the tale of the preparations and building
of the Canadian Pacific Railway may be completely told,
he has kindly allowed me to add here the closing portion of
his story. Mr. Cambie is an Irishman—a taste of the brogue
still clings to him and he cannot lose his Irish sense of humor.
He is very nearly eighty years of age, and, despite all that he has gone
through, he is still, like Mr. Dewdney, fresh-complexioned and hale.    Inci-
Henry J. Cambie, present day.
dentally he is one of the select band of Vancouver's most highly esteemed
citizens and, upon a recent occasion, at the annual banquet of the Vancouver Pioneers' Association, Mr. Cambie, Mr. Moberly and Mr. Abbott,
another notable British Columbian to whom the C. P. R. owes much and
whose name is commemorated in the city and province in various ways, sat
together at the head of the table——a striking white-haired triumvirate.
Mr. Cambie, a man who has done things which only a minority of men
out here have attempted; who, forty years ago, was exploring through hundreds of miles of territory where a white man had never trod;   who, by
101 general consent, is admitted to be the Grand Old Man of railway construction work in this province, is almost irritatingly modest—from the
interviewer's standpoint, at any rate. "Please make it very clear that,
though I explored and surveyed and planned much of the course of the
Canadian Pacific Railway through a large portion of this prvoince, the
only part that was built under my direct supervision was that running
through the canyons of the Fraser," he said. The "only" part! Those
of you—that means nearly all of you—who know those rugged Fraser
canyons with their towering masses of rampart-like rock, through which,
and cut into which, the metals wind their sinuous way, alternately far
above or close beside the turbulent Fraser as it rushes to the Pacific, will
realize that this part of the work was the piece de resistance in driving the
line through the province.
Then again, what are you to do with a man who tells you, modestly
enough, when talking to you privately and not for publication, a story
of daring and determination in connection with planning the line round a
certain bluff at Kamloops, a story well worthy of, record, and who, when
you come to ask him later for further details for publication, refuses them
point blank, and, what is more, will not have the incident recorded. And
all, forsooth, because he happens to be the principal actor in that drama.
It is enough to make an nterviewer who has any respect for himself tear
his hair. "I think now it is time that we arrived at the driving of the
last spike by Lord Stratheona," observed Mr. Cambie upon quite a number of occasions while I was questioning him for details of the trials and
tribulations which the engineers had to endure in the course of those
strenuous years of building—all by hand, be it remembered—the C. P. R.
through British Columbia. I put off the arrival at that spike as long
as possible.
"The Hon. Edgar Dewdney," Mr. Cambie observed in the course
of one of our talks, "had much influence with the Dominion Government
and with Lord Dufferin, and this influence showed itself very soon, for
immediately after Lord Dufferin had returned to Ottawa, I had a telegram
from the premier, Mr. Mackenzie—who was also Minister of Railways—
to survey the Fraser River route. I think I still have that telegram. I was
to survey it from Yellowhead Pass to Port Moody. A start was made
that year and the work was completed the following year. Upon this
survey we had the finest staff of engineers that ever worked in this country,
and I would like to give the names of a few of them: Mr. H. P. Bell,
lately connected with the Ottawa Ship Canal; Mr. C. E. Perry, lately
of the National Transcontinental Railway to the south of James Bay; Mr.
George FJ. Keefer, lately resident engineer to the department of public
works at New Westminster; Mr. W. T. Jennings, of late years prominent
upon many public works in Ontario and elsewhere; Mr. Joseph Hunter,
late engineer for Mr. James Dunsmuir, and still with the Canadian Collieries; Mr. Brunei and Mr. Gamsby. All these, except Mr. Hunter and
myself, have passed away during the last five years. I was, I think, the
oldest of the crowd.
'The information gathered by this survey practically decided the
Fraser River route as the one to be adopted.    The then government of
102 Canada, however, having come into power in 1878 and established a
national policy, was not in a position to proceed with the construction of
a transcontinental railway at once. Accordingly, in order to gain further
information with regard to the country and possible routes, I was sent
to explore the line by the Skeena valley and the Peace and Pine rivers east
of the Rockies. For that purpose I selected Port Simpson as the proper
terminus for such a line, and in company with Dr. G. M. Dawson, representing the Geological Survey1; Mr. Henry McLeod, an engineer
of high standing who still lives in Ottawa, and Dr. G. M. Gordon, the
principal of Queen's University, went in canoes up the Skeena River,
then by way of Babene and Stewart Lakes to Fort McLeod, where we
patched up an old boat which had been abandoned by the Hudson's
Bay Company, and drifted down the Parsnip and Peace to the Rocky
Hon.   Edgar   Dewdney,   pioneer,   explorer,   administrator.
Mountain Canyon, a distance of about 150 miles. There we met a
family of Indians hunting and they helped us to portage round the canyon
to the Hudson's Bay post known as Hudson's Hope, where we made
a raft and drifted another 1 30 miles to Fort Dunvegan. The last part
of the trip was in the beginning of August. Hie berries on the southern
slopes of the hills were beginning to ripen and the number of bears we
saw—grizzlies and others—surpassed anything I had ever known or heard
of. Often we' would see on the banks of the river three or four bears
together. However, we had no time for hunting and to have gone ashore
with a raft would have lost half a day. We did get one or two black
bears, but we were not armed to attack grizzlies.
103 Here followed an attractive account of Mr. Cambie's interesting
and adventurous exploration, but that must be left for another place as
this closing chapter is to deal with the actual construction of the great
railway through the canyons of the Fraser.
"I should like to pay a tribute first to some of the fine body of
engineers who were associated with me on the work of construction in the
same way as I mentioned just now those with me on the surveys—and first
and foremost I should mention the chief engineer, Mr. (afterwards Sir
Sandford) Fleming, who had directed the surveys for the transcontinental
railway from its inception—and was the adviser of the government of
Canada in the selection of the route via the Yellow Head Pass. And it
might not be amiss here to state some of the salient reasons for so doing.
"In the first place that is the lowest pass through the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia—south of the Peace River. In the second place
it is the only one from which the Pacific Ocean can be reached without
any adverse grades—that is, descending gradually all the way to the sea,
via the Fraser River; or by a line via the Thompson River, with one rise
of 300 feet over Albreda Summit—so that it had the best grades. In the
third place it was in what was called the fertile belt, all the way from
Winnipeg to Edmonton, and the country further to the south was then considered to be barren or nearly so. And in the fourth place it was much
farther from the American boundary than the other passes, and there would
be less difficulty in borrowing money for its construction as a military road,
than had it been near the boundary, as in the cases of the Crow's Nest
or Kicking Horse passes.
"Sir Sandford had taken an interest in my welfare since my boyhood
and I cannot say how much I regretted his retirement. He was a statesman among engineers, with a broad outlook, and was even then advocating
a Pacific cable from Canada to Australia as a link with which to bind
the Empire together. The cable was not laid for twenty years later, but,
in the meantime, he kept it continuously before the public.
In the early spring of 1880 contracts were awarded to Mr. Andrew
Onderdonk for the line from Emory's Bar f!© Kamloops Lake and, later,
from Port Moody to Emory's. Upon some of these sections other people
had tendered lower than Mr. Onderdonk, but, with the consent of the
government, he took over their contracts. Immediately after the route
via the Thompson and Fraser rivers to Port Moody had been finally
selected, and the work placed under contract, Sir Sandford Fleming retired
from the position of chief engineer and was succeeded by Mr. Schreiber,
who, though over 80 years, is still actively engaged on the line of the
G. T. P. and is probably the oldest engineer in Canada still in harness.
During the construction Mr. Marcus Smith had charge of the work
from Port Moody to Emory's Bar, I had charge from Emory's Bar to
Boston Bar, Mr. George H. Keefer had charge from Boston Bar to
Lytton, Mr. Henry McLeod from Lytton to a point some miles beyond
Spence's Bridge and Mr. L. G. Hamlin from that point to Kamloops Lake.
Sir Joseph Trutch, who had previously been governor of British Columbia,
104 came out as government agent and counsel to the engineers in many business matters. Mr. Marcus Smith died many years ago; Mr. Keefer died
during the past year; Mr. Hamlin was frozen to death in the Klondyke,
and Sir Joseph Trutch passed away in England a few* years ago. Only
Mr. McLeod and myself are now living.
"Mr. Onderdonk, the contractor, was not quite thirty years of age,
but very clever, a good organizer, possessed of a great deal of tact and
backed by unlimited capital in the shape of Mr. D. O. Mills, a well-
known millionaire. He had as his engineer Mr. E. G. Tilton, who, I
believe, is at present engineer of a road from Los Angeles to Utah. At
the outset we were asked by the government to reduce the cost of the
work as much as possible and Mr. White, my principal assistant, who is
now chief of the Canadian Northern Pacific, and I, spent many anxious
hours trying to do so." (Mr. White, by the way, was one of the
veteran guests of honor at the recent Vancouver Pioneers' banquet to which
reference has been made.) "No such mountain work had ever been
attempted in Canada before, and we were confronted by new problems almost every day. One of our great troubles was the old wagon road,
which ran for miles alongside the railway and which had to be kept open,
as it was the only means of access to the upper country and continued
so until the railway took its place. As a matter of fact, if you were to
block the railway above Yale even now there would be no other means
of access to the interior. The difficulty of keeping this road open can only
be appreciated by people who have seen prairie schooners. These usually
consisted of two wagons, coupled together and drawn by nine yoke of
oxen or teams of mules, the whole well over 100 feet long. It will be
gathered what these meant going round curves. I remember upon one
occasion near old Spuzzum suspension bridge that a blast had been fired,
filling all the road. A fine old fellow named Dave McBeth, who was
well known in B. C. and who died in Vancouver only the other day, was
foreman. He got the slide partly cleared away, when a coach came along
driven by that notable whip, Steve Tingley. Among the loose stuff, a
rock, of which Dave was unaware, had been left, and the coach, in
which was Judge McCreight—who is still living—upset. The judge was
irritated and told Dave, much to the amusement of the other passengers,
that if he was ever brought before him he would have no compunction
in condemning him to be hanged for his carelessness in allowing such an
accident to happen."
Mr. Cambie has a habit of pulling up every now and again as he
narrates a humorous reminiscence, "not for publication." Of course these
are some of the best stories. Here is an ancedote which I rescued. "It
was on May 24, 1880—Victoria Day—that we had sports in Yale, and
a nephew of mine went to a room where we had our surplus baggage stored
to get a pair of running shoes. He found that his valise had disappeared
and, upon further search, it was discovered that several other valises had
gone—among them a trunk of Mr. McLeod's clothes. Suspicion fell
upon the cook of the camp, who had been discharged the day before.
So a constable was sent up the road in search of him.    The first thing
105 the constable saw when he had gone some distance was an Indian riding
up Jackass Mountain and wearing McLeod's tail coat. The Indian
told the constable, «in Chinook, that he had just purchased the coat and
that it fitted hjm very well. He was also wearing Mr. McLeod's plug
hat, which had been stored away. Hie thief was caught, brought back
to Yale and tried before Judge Crease. Mr. McLeod, while in the witness
box, was asked to identify the clothes and, almost with tears in his eyes,
called the judge's attention to the prisoner's feet. The prisoner was wearing a pair of red silk socks which, Mf. McLeod explained, had taken
his wife half a year of evenings to knit for his evening wear. These
socks convicted the cook."
Glimpse of Vancouver harbor and shipping.
'The same day I met the bishop and Mrs. Sillitoe," added Mr.
Cambie, "who had just arrived in British Columbia and were on one
of their pioneering trips. In reading Mrs. Sillitoe's recollections in this
series of stories, while I was much interested, I could not help regretting
that she did not tell you more of her personal adventures, as her experiences
would certainly rank ahead of those of most of our pioneer women. I am
afraid that her modesty stood in her way. She was very popular wherever
she went, whether it was in the city, on the trail or in the mining camp,
and she, like her husband, was very musical and had a particularly good
And now we come to the actual construction of the line.     "Mr.
Onderdonk had a lot of very fine superintendents," observed Mr. Cambie,
106 "who pushed the work along as fast as it was possible to do. Notwith-.
standing this, the great amount of tunnelling and rock cutting and the
difficulty of getting what we wanted into the work caused the progress
to be very slow, so that the track was not laid up to the Cisco cantilever
bridge until four years had elapsed. Teaming on the wagon road was the
only way in which heavy stuff could be brought to the scene of operations in
many parts, and, therefore, most of the work which is now done by steam
shovels and power drills, had to be done by hand. From Savona to
Sicamus the line ran along Kamloops Lake, Thompson River and Shuswap
Lakes, so that it could be reached by steamers at almost any point and
this part of the work progressed much more rapidly than the other. The
rails came by ship to Port Moody and supplied all the line up to Craighillachie, and, in fact, we could have got farther if we had had more
rails on this Pacific side. The line from Winnipeg westward to Craighillachie had all been constructed and the track laid with Winnipeg as
the base." (It is worthy of note that only a Scotchman—or possibly
an Irishman—can correctly pronounce this jaw-breaking name of Craig—
etc.—etc.) "Craighillachie is 340 miles from Port Moody and is in
Eagle Pass (sixteen miles from Sicamous). Eagle Pass had been discovered by Mr. Walter Moberly when he was trying to locate a road to
communicate with the gold mines in eastern Kootenay. At Craighillachie
we met the track which had been laid from Winnipeg through to that
point and during the construction we really knew very little about what
they were doing on that side, because there was no direct mode of communication between us. Our letters, if we had written them, would have
gone round by San Francisco to St. Paul and then back."
I asked Mr. Cambie to give me some idea of the class of labor used
on the work during construction, and he replied that, in the main, a much
higher type of workman was engaged then than is the case now on such
work. "Outside the Chinese there were very few foreigners in the country," he explained, "and most of the men on the construction work were
English-speaking, many of them Englishmen. I was often surprised at the
great number among them who were well informed men who had drifted
through most parts of the world, many of them highly educated. They
were good workmen, too. Onderdonk supplied excellent camps and good
sleeping quarters and the food in his camps was of really good quality and
well served. 1 often dropped in and had a meal in the camps. The wages
were $2 and upwards per day. At the start, however, the labor was
not satisfactory. In the spring of 1882 Mr. Oderdonk found that the
white labor that he had got from San Francisco—the only source of
supply at the moment—consisted for the most part of clerks out of employment, broken-down bartenders and others of that ilk, men who had
never handled a shovel before and who often appeared on the scene attired
in fashionable garments in a rather tattered state, who might even be seen
in the cuttings with patent leather shoes, much the worse for wear and
trousers sprung over the foot.
"So he determined to import a lot of Chinamen—the first large
number of Chinese coolies to be imported into this country at one time—
107 and he got two ship loads, 1,000 men in each. They came in very bad
weather and had to be kept below hatches most of the way, so, as soon
as they got upon the work and began to take violent exercise, they developed scurvy and were decimated, fully one-tenth of their number dying.
Being fatalists, as soon as a man was stricken with scurvy the others would
not wait upon him or even give him a drink, and the government agent
at Yale had great difficulty in getting them buried when they died. In
fact many of their bodies were so lightly covered with a few rocks and a
little earth that one became unpleasantly aware of the fact while walking
along the line."
"By the way, it may be interesting to mention that Yale at this time
attracted much attention in different parts of Canada. It was a curiosity
in the matter of vice flaunting itself before the public along the main
streets and I recollect quite a number of articles being written in the papers
about this unfortunate feature of Yale life."
Mr. Cambie's own particular section of the construction work by the
Government was completed in the early spring of 1 884, when he entered the
service of the railway company and proceeded to Kamloops to take charge
of the work for the company, whose line from the east was then being built
from Field westward. He took charge from Savona to Shuswap Lake,
and Major Rogers from that point to Craighillachie. On the work constructed for the company to the east of Savanah many of the superintendents and contractors were the same who had been at work on what were
called the government sections. "I should have stated that Mr. Tilton
only remained about two years and after he had left Mr. Onderdonk
got out Mr. M. J. Haney as manager and superintendent of construction," interpolated Mr. Cambie. "Mr. Haney, who resides in Toronto, has since become a well-known contractor and very wealthy man.
Then we had, a contractors under Mr. Onderdonk, Mr. A. G. Ferguson, who built a large number of the tunnels, and who, assisted by
Mr. Dean, our well-known yachtsman in Vancouver, had the best
organized work I think I ever saw; Mr. James Leamy, who died
about a year ago, and who was for many years timber agent for the
Dominion Government with reference to the railway belts in B. C.; Mr. J.
B. Harrison, for years afterwards a member of the City Council of Victoria, who died many years ago; Captain Troup, now superintendent of
the C. P. R. coast steamships; Mr. Hugh Keefer, who is still with us in
the quarry business; Mr. E. Choate, who framed all the bridges, and Mr.
D. MacGilliveray, who erected them and who afterwards became a prominent contractor in this province, and also in Ontario, where he died—his
family are still with us in Vancouver; Mr. George Monroe, who still lives
in the city, and Mr. A. Macdonald, the man who laid the track and ballasted it, and who was overtaken by a train and killed a few years ago
while crossing a bridge on a velocipede.
"Major Rogers, whom I spoke of just now as having charge to the
east of my work, was an original character. He was a man of wonderful
energy, and Rogers Pass, the pass through which the line was afterwards
built through the Selkirks, bears his name. His powers of profanity were
very great and, in consequence, he went by the cognomen of 'The Bishop.'
In response to some pressure as to the difficulties of laying out the
work—apart altogether from the difficulties of construction—Mr. Cambie
admitted that these were great. He instanced particularly the Cherry
Creek bluffs on Kamloops Lake. "In fact quite a stretch of it was laid
out by a very small portion of our engineering staff," he observed, "consisting of two sailors, who sprung ropes from rock to rock or from tree to
Driving of last spike of Canadian Pacific Railway by Sir Donald Smith
(afterwards Lord Stratheona) at Cralgellachie, British Columbia, in 1885. Sir
Sandford Fleming and Sir William Van Home are seen on the right of Lord
Stratheona, and Mr. Cambie, bearded, is upon his left.
tree, and a few engineers, who, steadying themselves with these ropes, went
along in their bare feet to lay out the work, with a precipice, and then
Kamloops Lake of unknown depth, immediately below them. Yes, I was
one of those engineers. The only one of our engineering staff who came to
grief was Mr. Melchoir Eberts, who was killed close by the old Alexandra
suspension bridge, in January, 1881. He was hurrying to get his work
in shape in order to go away for a month's leave, and was climbing over
a bluff, which was then covered with snow and crusted with ice. The
poor fellow slipped, went head first down a steep slope until he struck the
grade and brought up against a stump overhanging the Fraser River.
When found a little while afterwards he had a large number of wounds
about his head, any one of which would have proved fatal."
An example which Mr. Cambie instanced of the difficulties which
had to be faced was this one: "We had to increase the curvature beyond
anything we had ever seen up to that time on a main line of railway, and,
in order to get round the face of some of the bluffs, we had to construct
what we called grasshopper trestles, that is trestles with long posts on the
outside, standing in steps cut in the rock, and on the other side a very short
post, if any, because very often we had half a roadbed. These things
have since been done away with and their places taken by retaining walls."
Questioned as to loss of life generally during the construction work,
Mr. Cambie replied: "There was very heavy loss of life, more especially
upon the construction work through the canyons of the Fraser, where all
the work was in rock and where there was great difficulty in getting good
cover when shots were fired. A great many men, too, were drowned, but
I have no idea how many men lost their lives, though I believe the Provincial Government kept reports."
"Early in November, 1885, the track which had been laid from
the east met that which had been laid from the west. And there gathered at Craigillachie to witness the connection of the track and the completion of the transcontinental railway Sir Donald A. Smith (afterwards
Lord Stratheona), vice-president of the railway; Mr. van Home (afterwards Sir William), general manager; Mr. Sandford Fleming (afterwards
Sir Sandford) and Mr. Harris of Boston, directors, with Mr. Harry Abbott
(afterwards general superintendent of the Pacific Division). Mr. James
Ross, manager of the construction of the line through the Rockies and
Selkirks, with many of his associates, was also present, but they were
strangers to me. Those who had taken part in the construction from the
Pacific Coast eastward were represented by Mr. Haney, manager of construction for Mr. Onderdonk, with Mr. Marcus Smith, Major Rogers
and myself representing the engineering staff.
"Lord Stratheona drove the spike, while Major Rogers, with a bar,
held up the tie in which it was driven. The party gathered round to see
what was done, and were photographed. A funny incident occurred last
year in connection with this picture. The 'Montreal Star' published a print
of the group, giving the names of the more prominent members of the party,
with a special arrow pointing to my head as that of Lord Mountstephen,
the president of the road. They evidently supposed that, as president of
the road, he should be there, but he happened at that time to be in England.
Immediately after the spike had been driven the directors' train started for
Port Moody, and the engine which hauled us was driven by Bob Mee—
he died this year—who hauled a passenger train either in or out of Vancouver every day for many years."
While recording incidents of the construction work, I omitted one
incident which savors of the miraculous. "Mr. W. Evans, who ran
an engine for Mr. Onderdonk, and who has been for years inspecting
engine driver from Vancouver to Revelstoke, was, in the autumn of 1 884,
going east with a long train.    Three or four miles beyond Keefers, and
110 just opposite Jackass Mountain, he met a slide of rock on the track. The
engine ran up on to it, turned partly round and dropped about forty feet
into a pile of rock debris—with which it slid about 200 feet to the
Fraser River. The extraordinary feature of the incident is that no one
was seriously hurt, and the engine was quite uninjured—not even a headlight broken—though one could hardly expect a cat to get down there
alive. The engine was hauled up and repaired, and started out again in
three weeks' time, with Evans again in charge, and a short distance above
Ashcroft went through a trestle, when he again escaped unhurt, though
two men with him were killed. So far as I know, Evans has not met with
an accident since. I have a photograph of the first of these two incidents,
showing the engine with its cowcatcher in the river."
"Sometime in  1885  the managers of the C.  P.  R. made arrange-
North Vancouver today; forest ten years ago.
ments with the local government and with the private owners of lots round
Coal Harbor, in what is now Vancouver, for certain grants of land at
this point as an inducement for them to extend their line from Port Moody
to this point. At the same time they arranged for a subsidy for a branch
line to New Westminster, and in October, 1885, I came down from
Kamloops with two survey parties to locate these lines. For a long while
Port Moody remained the terminus and the line to Vancouver was a
branch line."
Feeling that a few rambling recollections (coming from so reliable a
source) of Vancouver's early days would constitute a fitting termination
to this story, I pressed the explorer and railway builder for them. "I will
just run off a few memories of Vancouver in my own way,  then," he
111 replied, "and you need not ask me any questions, because, if you do, it
will set me off upon so many side tracks of memory, as I recollect incidents
humorous and serious, of the old days and old-timers, that we shall certainly not finish this week, and I think a long-suffering public have already
had more than enough of my reminiscences. Such memories as I may
give you today can only interest old-timers here, as there will be nothing
of the exciting or strenuous about them to appeal to a larger public."
"I found this a very different place from what it had been in 1874.
Quite a little village had sprung up at the corner of Carrall and Water
streets.    The Sunnyside Hotel at that point was a comfortable establish-
Meeting of Vancouver City Council after the great fire which  practically
obliterated the city in 1886.
ment, run by Mr. Harry Hemlow, who is still here. 'Gassy Jack's' old
place stood in the middle of Carrall street. The owners of the Hastings
Mill had refused to permit him to sell liquor on their property, so he had
gone just outside it, the boundary line being the centre of Carrall street.
Mr. Joe Manion had an hotel on Water street a few doors from Carrall.
There was a good road to Westminster, via Hastings, and also a good
road via Mount Pleasant. A syndicate of Victoria gentlemen, with whom
was associated Messrs. Oppenheimer Brothers, then of Yale and Victoria,
had purchased all the holdings of the Hastings Mill Company, and was
clearing that portion of it between Carrall street and Gore avenue. The
timber was slashed, but the trees were lying on the ground, and this made
112 ' " ws
I it very difficult to get about, except actually on the roads. In this clearing
one magnificent tree stood on the bank where the approach to the Grand
Trunk Pacific wharf is at the present time. Some of the loggers here had,
in 1882, asked the Princess Louise to see it felled. She could not come
at the time and requested them to preserve the tree for her sake. Sir
William van Home afterwards gave it into my charge and it was cut
down some years afterwards during my absence, as being a menace to the
people doing business round that part. The roots had been burned by the
fire. Forest trees are never safe when left for any length of time standing
by themselves.
"By the direction of our managers, in December, '88, I got tenders
for clearing a portion of the townsite. They expected me to get it done
for a little more than they were in the habit of paying in the east, probably
$15 or $20 per acre. They were taken aback very much at the prices
asked and did not allow me to proceed with the clearing until Mr. Harry
Abbott, who superceded me as far as the company's work was concerned,
appeared on the scene. I located the line from Port Moody here and as
far west along the shore of English Bay as the western boundary of lot
526. That is about half a mile beyond the present terminus of the Kit-
silano tram line. Later a special Act of Parliament was passed making
Coal Harbor the terminus of the C. P. R. line. The clearing of the
townsite was nearly all done by Mr. D. B. Charleson, as superintendent
for the C. P. R:
"Upon arrival here after the driving of the last spike, I found my
old friend Mr. R. H. Alexander in charge of Hastings Mill, and also
dispensing justice to the unruly. Mr. Jonathan Miller was government
agent, constable and gaoler. He was afterwards postmaster of this city
for many years. Mr. L. A. Hamilton was here as agent for the C. P. R.,
and he it was who had the laying out of the townsite and the naming of
the streets. He called the first street Abbott, after the general superintendent; the second -street, Cambie, after your humble servant; the third
street, Hamilton, after himself, and then he had to fall back upon such
unimportant persons as lieutenant-governors, members of the legislature,
and so on. Homer was named after the member for the district. Richards
after the hon. A. N. Richards, who had been lieutenant-governor of the
province shortly before; Seymour after the last lieutenant-governor of the
mainland before the mainland and Vancouver Island were made one province. I do not know how Hastings came to be named—that was before
my time. Granville street was named after the old Granville townsite.
Lord Granville was, I believe, a member of the British Government at
the time of the naming. Smythe, Robson and Davie were all premiers of
B. C, and Nelson was a lieutenant-governor.
"I also found here at that time looking out for desirable lots, Mr.
Innes and Mr. Graveley, who became partners shortly afterwards. Also
Dr. Lefevre and Mr. R. G. Tatlow, the latter afterwards finance minister
in the McBride administration. Also our genial fellow citizen, Mr. C.
Gardner-Johnson. Then there was Mr. A. G. Fergusson, who had done
so well with his tunnelling for the main line of the railway that he was
114 able to put up the first buildings of any pretensions in what is now the City
of Vancouver. One of these was a fine building at the south-east corner
of Carrall and Powell streets, which was burned down in the fire, and
another was a store building at the corner of Cordova and Carrall, known
as the Boulder saloon.    This was erected after the fire.
"The prominent officials when the road was opened in 1 886 were
Mr. W. P. Salsbury, local treasurer, who is still with us; Mr. D. E.
Brown, general freight and passenger agent, and now of Brown & Mac-
aulay, and his assistants, Mr. George McL. Brown, now general agent
for the C. P. R. in Europe, with offices in London, and Mr. H. Connon;
Mr. A. J. Dana, who has been purchasing agent ever since;   Mr. L. R.
J. W. Home's real estate office after the Vancouver fire.
Johnson, master mechanic; Mr. R. Marpole, who had the general direction
of the Pacific Division under Mr. Harry Abbott, and who generally
resided in Kamloops, and myself, engineer of the Pacific Division.
"After the line was opened to Vancouver—in May, 1887—the
Bank of B. C. opened an o&ce here with Mr. J. C. Keith as manager
and Mr. R. G. Harvey, now of Loewen & Harvey, as his assistant. This
was Vancouver's pioneer bank.    I lived for upwards of a year at Black's
115 Hotel, Hastings, but in May, 1 887, much to the amusement of my friends,
I went out into the country and purchased two lots at the corner of Georgia
and Thurlow streets. 1 could not, however, induce the city to clear a
track so that I could reach that property until near the end of that year
when I at once started building and moved out there in 1888. I had
to lay the first sidewalk on Georgia at my own expense, as the city would
not do it, and when I got the telephone there the company dunned me for
more than a year to pay for the poles from Granville street down to my
place, as they told me that no one else in that generation would ever go
to live west of Granville street.
"My first office in town was in a little two-storey building on the
east side of Granville street, where the northernmost section of the Hudson's
Bay Company's store now stands. This little house belonged to a contractor, Mr. H. A. Bell, and I think I am safe in saying that it was then
almost the only house on Granville street south of Hastings. When
I looked out of my windows my view was limited to the foundations of
the C. P. R. Vancouver Hotel, and to the frame of my own house in
the wilds.
'The fire which occurred in 1886 wiped out all the little town then
existing, and it was a very terrible fire, but I think it has been somewhat
exaggerated, as there were then not a dozen buildings of any size in the
town. Such as they were, however, they were wiped out. I was in
Kamloops with my family at the time.
"On May 24, 1887, we had horse racing on Granville street, which
had just been cleared, and the stumps taken out from Georgia to Pacific
street. And that reminds me that there was one other house south of
Hastings on Granville, a very rude sort of building in which Mr. Charleson
boarded the promiscuous gang of men who were clearing the townsite.
Downstairs was an eating room, and upstairs at night the men lay like sardines round the walls. This building is still standing with a pretentious brick
front, and is, I think, the next building to the north of the Cecil Hotel.
There are still standing between Davie and Pacific streets a number of
wooden houses which were brought bodily from Yale when the C. P. R.
Company moved their shops from Yale to Vancouver the first year that
they operated to this city, they having previously used the machine shops
erected by Mr. Onderdonk for his construction work. These houses were
for years—and may be yet—known as Yale Town.
"At the same time that we were building a branch from Port Moody
here we were constructing one into New Westminster. Mr. John Hendry
was then Mayor of that city, and afforded us every facility in his power,
as also did his successor, Mr. Dickinson. Early in 1886, as mayor,
Mr. Dickinson turned the first sod of that branch alongside the old building at New Westminster, which had been the first Parliament House of
the Province of British Columbia, and was opposite the gate of the penitentiary. Upon that occasion Captain Bole—afterwards Judge Bole—
turned out with his company of artillery, and, when the sod was turned,
fired a salute. A number of Chinamen had climbed up into an apple
tree near the spot in order to look down at the proceedings.     Captain
116 Bole's cannon, by design or by accident, was pointed right at them, and
when it was fired, the Chinamen, whether from fright or from some other
cause, I don't know, dropped to the ground in a shower, like apples when
a tree is shaken, much to the amusement of the crowd. I have seldom
seen anything funnier."
And upon this humorous note I think we will leave Mr. Cambie—
for is he not an Irishman?    No, there is just one other note—also humor-
ous. I asked the G. O. M. if he had ever taken part in public life or run
for office, and this was his reply: "Once upon a time after I had settled
down at Vancouver they decided to put the waterworks under a commission, and the members of that commission were to be elected. I was
one honored in that way. Being at Montreal at the time of my election,
I telegraphed my thanks to one of the newspapers in the form of an advertisement. When I returned to Vancouver I found that the by-law had
been repealed and that my services were not required. Never had I
dreamed of public office, and I felt, after that incident, that a kindly
fate had determined that I should escape this toil of the snarer, at any
rate, and I have managed to do so ever since."
So I left the explorer and builder of the great railway through the
canyons of the Fraser, laughing heartily.
117 f
ft gii.   imtif


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