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Early history of Canadian Pacific Railway Moberly, Walter, 1832-1915 1909

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 Early History of
C.P.R* Road .. ..
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N THE brief early history of Canada's first transcontinental railway
which I am about to outline, and
to accomplish the ultimate construction of which I took the first
active steps, the important objects I had in view were as follows:
1. To discover that a practicable line
could be obtained through the mountains of
British   Columbia.
2. To be certain that it was the best obtainable  line.
3. To find where the best, western terminal  point   on   the  Pacific   Coast  would be.
4. To build up a large commercial city
at   such   western   terminus.
To accomplish the above objects I had
for many years a long, very difficult and
often most disheartening road to travel, but
by sticking tenaciously to my purpose I
1. The way for the railway.
2. The  best   commercial  line  to  adopt.
The   western   terminal  point   I   selected
O.        X IIC
was  Burrard  Inlet.
4. The large commercial city I had in
view is noAV the City of Vancouver, and the
transcontinental railway I proposed is the
Canadian   Pacific   Railway.
Years spent in making careful and very
extensive explorations through the western
portion of Canada, especially through British
Columbia, convinced me that the latent natural resources of the country were illimitable, and that railway facilities were needed
to develop them and change a great, inhospitable and rugged wilderness into a large,.
flourishing  and  prosperous  community.
The accomplishment and success of the-
foregoing   important   works   now   speak   for
As it will doubtless be more satisfactory
to you to learn from one who actually and
personally first promoted, and whose exertions insured the accomplishment of the-
above undertakings, and the important results that have followed, than to form
opinions from writers whose ideas and statements were, or are, founded upon hearsay,,
and in many cases inaccurate or prejudiced
data, I will now proceed to relate tne part I
took before either the Canadian Pacific Railway or the City of Vancouver were heard
of, to bring such important institutions into
existence, and insure their prosperity, as
well  as  that  of  the   country  at  large.
In an address to the Canadian Club of
this City, which I gave on the 13th of
March, 1907, on the subject of "Early Path-
Finding in the Mountains of British Columbia, or the Discovery of the 'North-West
Passage by Land,' " and also in a subsequent one I delivered to the members of the
Art, Historical & Scientific Association of
this City, I mentioned many matters and
events that were necessarily connected with,
and form a part of, the subject of this paper, and as everything relating to the many
important events that transpired as. years
passed   on   from   the   time   when   that   great, EARLY  HISTORY  OF  C.P.R,   ROAD
noble and adventurous Frenchman
first launched his canoe at the mouth of
French River, on the beautiful waters of Lake
Huron, to gradually bring about and ultimately form and consolidate the scattered
and disconnected portions of British North
America into a great nation, having an incomparable future before it, must be of
great interest to all Canadians, it was suggested to me by Mr. F. C. Wade, president
of the Art, Historical & Scientific Association of Voncouver, that I should give an
outline history of the first explorations
actually undertaken and made with the object in view of discovering a practicable line
for a transcontinental railway through British North America, or, to speak more correctly, through that portion of the west of
Lake Simcoe, for the railway system of Canada was then insured as far west as that
lake, and to the present town of Collingwood, on Lake Huron. I went through the
preparatory grades of my profession as a
civil engineer, from an axeman upwards, on
the first surveys made for this railway between Toronto and Lake Huron.
The history of Canada from the time the
French first settled in various places in its
eastern and central portions, and made
heroic explorations westerly until they saw
the great snow-capped range of the Rocky
Mountains like a wall rising somewhat
abruptly from the prairie country, and which
latter country was, in my younger days, generally known as the Nor'-West, until the surrender of Quebec, embraces what constitutes
the first or strictly French period.
Shortly after the fall of Quebec, France
ceded her right of sovereignty to Great
Britain, since which time, with the exception of some matters not fully provided for
in the treaty between the Powers, the two
races have dwelt together in peace and
amity, and no portion of the population of
Canada have been more loyal than the
French-Canadians in their efforts to assist,
together with other British subjects, in
building up the great Canadian nation which,
extends from the* Atlantic Ocean to the
Pacific Ocean, and from the United States
to '■•the Frozen Ocean" which washes the
northern shores of British North America.
As years passed by, and the country east
of Lake Huron became populous and prosperous, it was found necessary to build
railways to facilitate transportation, and to
unite the different portions of the country
by constructing a great highway through
Upper and Lower Canada and the easterly
Maritime Provinces, and for that purpose
the Grand Trunk Railway was built, which,
together with other important railways then
also being built, gave an immense impetus
to the settlement and development of the
portion of Canada east of Lake Huron.
Until the early fifties of the nineteenth
century very little was known of the country
west of Lake Huron, and it was generally
supposed to be a rugged, cold, barren and
inhospitable country, more suitable for wild
animals and savage Indians than for civilised settlement and commercial development.
It was in the year 1850, when I was
emerging from boyhood, that I met in Barrie
an English gentleman from Kent, England,
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 town of Manitowaning, on
the great Manitoulin Island, in order to see
the annual distribution of the presents that
the government in those days gave to the
Indians that 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, and thence
down it to Lake Huron, and then coasted
along the shore of Lake Huron to Penetang-
nishene  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
congregated,   and   many   of   the   Indian   war-   i
riors   were   very   fine     looking   men.     War
dances  were   innumerable,   and  a   canoe  race |
was   got   up,   in   which   there   were   upwards   \
of   four   hundred   birch     bark   canoes.     We   ;
visited the Wallace copper mine on the White-   !
fish River,   as well  as 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  wild  pigeons  were" innumerable.
Having  shot  a  great  number  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 our canoe on a wagon and transported it
to Orillia,  and then,  launching our cano'e on
Lake  Couchiching,  we paddled back to Barrie.     It  was  during this  trip  that I noticed
the  large  forests  of white  nine  that  existed
throughout  the  country we  had visited.
In the year 1854 I secured the most
available of the above timber by taking up
some fifteen hundred square miles of timber
limits, and I spent a large portion of the
years 1855-1857 exploring through the country north of Lakes Huron and Superior, and
between Lake Simcoe and the Michipicoten
River, which discharges its water into Lake
It   was    when   exploring   this   portion   o
Canada that the idea of getting an extension
of  the  railway  system  that  centred  in   Toronto   first   occurred     to   me,    and   which   I ,
thought   might   in   due   time   be   extended   to I
the   Red   River   in   the   present   Province   of J
On my return to Toronto, at the end ofj
the year 1857, I learnt that the Imperial!
Government had sent out an expedition, un |
der the command of Captain Palliser, to explore British territory "between Lake Superior and the Pacific Coast, and at the same
time I heard that rich deposits of gold had
been discovered in the valley of the Fraser
River in British Columbia. It then struck
me that it might be possible to extend the
railway I had projected from Toronto to the
Red River all the way across the continent,
entirely through British territory, to the
Pacific Coast.
During' several years previous to the year
185S I was intimately acquainted with the
celebrated Canadian artist, Mr. Paul Kane,
of Toronto, and during the Winters of the
years I spent exploring in the Summer
months, north of the Great Lakes, I obtained much and very valuable information from
Mr. Kane regarding the country west from
Lake Superior to Victoria. V. I.
Mr. Kane had, under the auspices of the
late Sir George Simpson, then the governor
of the Hon. Hudson's Bay Company, journeyed from Toronto via Lakes Huron, Superior and thence by the old Hudson's Bay
route via Lake Winnipeg, Fort Edmonton,
the Athabasca Pass, the I*oat Encampment
on the Columbia River, and thence to Fort
Colville, etc.. etc., to Victoria. Mr. Kane
returned generally following the same route,
and had the opportunity of learning a great
deal about the enormous extent and possibilities of the country he had traversed. Mr.
Kane published a book entitled "The Wanderings of an Artist," in which he gives a
very   interesting  account   of  his   travels.
Before I left Toronto, Mr. Kane introduced me to Sir George Simpson^ and when I
explained to the Governor the objects I had
in view in going to British Columbia, he
very kindly gave me a letter of introduction
to the late Sir James Douglas, who was
then at the head of the Hudson's Bay Company   affairs  west   of   the   Rocky  Mountains.
At that ime the Hudson's Bay Company
were lords of the vast territory west of
Lake Huron, and Sir George Simpson's letter was invaluable to me, for, on my presenting it to Sir James Douglas he not only
received me most kindly, but offered me a
position in the Government service, which I
declined, as it would interfere with the objects I had in view, and 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 to be
To accomplish such a grand object as
railway communication through British territory to the Pacific Coast, I decided to
devote my time, and as in those days there
were no rich railway corporations nor governments to apply to for financial assist-
, ance to help me to carry out my proposed
explorations through the rugged and formidable western ranges of mountains that form
the topographical feature of British Columbia, I sold all my timber limits and what
other little property I had to raise money,
and early in the year 1858 I left Toronto
for New York, and thence, visiting Brazil,
Patagonia, Chile, California, Astoria on the
Columbia River and Puget Sound, I finally
reached Victoria late in the year 1858.
I thought I might meet Captain Palliser
in Victoria and learn from him the result
of his explorations, but on my arrival Governor Douglas informed me that Captain
Palliser's party would not reach Victoria
until the following Autumn, and I was unable to get the information I was so desirous   to   obtain.     I  left  Victoria   after   a  few
days' stay, and sailed for Fort Langley in
the H. B. Company's steamer Otter, and arrived the same day at the old and extensive
Fort Langley, where I received a hearty
welcome from the late Chief Factor, William
Yale, and other officers of the company who
were then stationed or visiting at that important  fort.
I may now say that my explorations for a
Canadian transcontinental railway through
the mountains of British Columbia fairly
commenced on the day I reached Fort Langley, in the year 1858, and in connection
with those I had previously made north of
Lakes Huron and Superior, the explorations
for Canada's first transcontinental railway
made by me really began in 1855, or sixteen
years before British Columbia was confederated with the provinces east of the Rocky
Mountains. Further on in this narrative it
will be seen that six years before British
Columbia became a province of the Dominion
I had made discoveries that insured to Canada a capital line for the present Canadian
Pacific Railway through the mountain region
of  Canada principally  at my own  expense.
The Winter, cold, dreary and comfortless,
had now set in with much snow and rain
falling, which made things very discouraging. 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 gave very gloomy
accounts regarding the portion of the country
I proposed exploring, and dilated on the
very great difficulties that its extremely
rugged nature presented, and also that there
was war between the miners and Indians going on in the canyons of the Fraser River,
and that several minu^ci and a n umbel of
Indians had been shot.
As there was a small stern-wheel steam-
er, r.amed The Enterprise, owned and commanded by a most genial and kind-hearted
American—Captain Tom Wright—going up
the Fraser to Fort Yale, 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 when they were
without means and starving, for he not only
gave them free passages, but also fed them
when on his steamer, and also at the same
time had such a pleasant way that he made
them feel that they were not under obligations to him, but that they were conferring
a favor on him by travelling in his steamer.
Captain Wright was a most amusing character, and would keep the passengers in
roars of laughter by spinning yarns and
telling amusing  anecdotes.
At the mouth of the Harrison River, together with several others, I left the steamer. As rain, intermixed with snow, was falling in torrents, we pulled the goods the
steamer had left on the bank of the river
into a near-by large Indian house, called in
those   days
and we also found shelter in it, but the
smoke and stench in it were very disagreeable. EARLY HISTORY  OF C.P.R.   ROAD
Having on my way up from Fort Langley
arranged with a merchant who had a general
store at Port 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 all had to get into the icy
water and pull the canoe up the rapids, and
at dark reached a large Indian house in
which dwelt many Indian families, with whom
we stayed over night, and thawed our clothes
and half frozen bodies.
A few more days of misery, after being
buffeted by strong head winds accompanied
with heavy snowstorms, when travelling
Harrison Lake, saw us in Port Douglas,
which was a small village composed of rough
shacks and a few better balloon buildings
for stores and liquor saloons. The place
was crammed with miners and packers
and others. I hired an Indian to pack my
blankets across the twenty-nine mile portage
to Lillooet Lake, and next morning started
along a narrow trail through the deep snow
that penetrated a  dense  green fir  forest.
After many days spent in walking through
the snow, and experiencing endless difficulties and hardships, and without a blanket
to sleep in, for I had thrown away my blankets the day before I left Port Douglas, as
packing them through the snow delayed me
very much, I managed to penetrate the country as far as Pavilion Mountain, some distance above the present turn of Lillooet, and
having tried mining near "The Fountain,"
which was not a success, and there not being any provisions obtainable, I was starved
out and retraced my way back to Fort
This exploration convinced me this route
was not favorable for the construction of
the eastern section of my proposed transcontinental railway. I, however, ascertained
that there were no great difficulties to be
overcome in the construction of wagon roads
across the portage between Port Douglas
and the present town of Lillooet and thence
up the valley of the Fraser River to the
Pavilion   Mountain.
On my return to Fort Langley, Captain
Tom Wright and myself 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
After making this exploration I returned
to Victoria and gave the Governor an account of my explorations, and he decided to
improve the Harrison rapids in the way I
suggested, and also to construct wagon roads
across the portage, &c, 1 had examined between  Port  Douglas   and  Pavilion  Mountain.
I now made an exploration through the
canyons of the Fraser River between Yale
and Lytton, which presented great natural
difficulties, but in both direction and grades
a good line could be obtained for either a
wagon road or railway, though the work of
construction in either case would be very
When I returned again to Victoria I met
Colonel Richard Clement Moody at the Governor's office, and arranged with him to
take charge of the first works required to
be done in founding the City of Queenbor-
ough — now New Westminster — and at
once returned to the Fraser River with
Colonel Moody and went to work with a
number of men to clear the timber off the
townsite, erect some necessary public buildings, &c, and on completing the works entrusted to me I left the service of the Government in which Colonel Moody wished me
to remain, and then in company with Mr.
Robert Burnaby, who had been private secretary to Colonel Moody, we proceeded to
Burrard Inlet with a few men to try and
find coal at Coal Harbor—hence its name.
We explored the country all around Burrard Inlet, and then along the easterly shore
of Howe Sound and up the. valleys of the
Squamish and Cheakamis Rivers, and ascertained that a favorable line for a wagon road
or railway could be obtained as far as we
went, but as it was not in the direction for
the western section of the transcontinental
railway I wanted to get a line for, I did not
explore up the Cheakamis River beyond the
50th parallel  of latitude.
At the latter part of the year 1859 I returned to Victoria and met Captain Palliser,
the late Sir James Hector and the other
members of the Imperial expedition before
referred to. I obtained a great deal of
valuable information from both Captain Palliser and Dr. Hector, but was inexpressibly
disappointed, as Captain Palliser reported
that   it   was
for a railway through the mountains of British Columbia. I had now for a number of
years carried on explorations through the
most difficult portions of the Dominion west
of Lake Simcoe to traverse at the time^ I
made them as there were no roads, and with
the exception of the trail across the Har-
rison-Lillooet portages, no trails. All these
explorations, which cost a great deal of
money, I had made entirely at my own expense and consequently I now found myself
"dead  broke."
The rough experiences I had up to this
time gone through when exploring in British Columbia's '' Sea of Mountains,'' led me
to think that it was possible that Captain
Palliser might be mistaken in reporting so
unfavorably regarding a feasible line for a
railway, and therefore I applied to Governor Douglas to let me have money enough
to defray the expenses I would have to incur to thoroughly explore the country west
of the valley of the Fraser River to the
Rocky Mountains, and bounded by the 49th
and   52nd   parallels   of   north   latitude.
Captain Palliser's unfavorable report
caused Governor Douglas to refuse my request, and I was then unable to go on with
my explorations, but I was determined to
resume them as soon as I had an opportunity to do so, for I may say that to find a
line for my proposed railway had now become the ambition of my life, for I had
now   got   a   tolerably   good   idea   of   the   im- EARLY  HISTORY  OF  C.P.R.   ROAD
mense value and importance, both commercially and politically, my proposed railway
would be to the British Empire, to
the Dominion of Canada and to British Columbia.
In the years 1860 and 1861 I was
engaged in constructing a trail for pack
animals and a portion of a wagon road
between Fort Hope and Princeton and availed myself of the opportunity of making explorations in that section of the country, and
also of making more extensive and accurate
explorations of the valleys of the Fraser
and   Thompson   Rivers.
All the explorations I had now made
convinced me that the proper line to adopt
for a great trunk wagon road to ensure
the substantial development of British Columbia was by the valleys of the Fraser and
Thompson Rivers, &c, and that it was by
this route my proposed transcontinental railway should also be built, provided I could
find a practicable line from K°mloops to
the   valley   of   the   Columbia   River.
As I now saw there was no prospect ot*
my being able to get the money needed to
make an exploration of such a difficult
and then practically unknown and inaccessible country as that east of Kamloops to
the Rocky Mountains was, I decided to defer my efforts in that direction to a more
favorable time, and in the meantime embark
in the rather unpromising undertaking of
getting a wagon road built from Yale to
Cariboo. In an address to the Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver
in March, 1907, I gave the History of the
Cariboo wagon road, and at the end of the
year 1864 I saw that the opportunity had
arrived that would enable me to get the
money granted by the Government to continue my explorations east of a meridian
passing   through  Kamloops.
I was in Cariboo completing the wagon
road to the Cottonwood River, &c, &c, at
the latter end of the year 1864, and as two
members were to be elected, one for Cariboo East and the other for Cariboo West, to
represent those districts in the Legislative
Council, I decided to contest the election for
Cariboo West and the evening before the
nomination I forwarded to the Governor my
resignation of the office I held, which was
that of Government Engineer in charge of
all works, surveys, &c, going on in that
part  of  the  colony.
I was duly elected and as soon as I
reached New Westminster I arranged with
Governor Seymour for the money to make
"the Columbia River Explorations," and at
the end of the session I resigned my seat,
was appointed Assistant Surveyor-General
and resumed my explorations. Six weeks
after leaving New Westminster I reported
that  I had discovered
through the Gold Range and the probability
of a pass through the Selkirk Range by the
valley of the Hlecillewaet River. From the
day that I finished my traverse through the
Eagle Pass up to the present time I never
had   the   slightest   doubt   where   the   line   for
Canada's first and greatest transcontinental railway should be constructed west from
Revelstoke to Coal Harbor, and that a large
and beautiful commercial city would grow
up on the shores of Burrard Inlet, and as
the City of Vancouver now fully confirms
my belief, formed at the time I discovered
that long wished for pass, I don't think I
made a very bad mistake and trust the
people of Vancouver will think I did them
some substantial benefit, and that Vancouver will become to them, as it has been to
me,  more loved as longer known.
From my own exploration of the valley
of the Hlecillewaet River made in 1865, and
of its southeasterly branch and Rogers Pass
made In the year of 1866 by one of my assistants, Mr. Albert Perry, nearly twenty
years before Major A. B. Rogers explored
that pass, it is my -opinion that the location
of the Canadian Pacific Railway across the
Selkirk Range of mountains is a very serious mistake. In fact I think the entire line
of the Canadian Pacific Railway between
Revelstoke and the northwest corner of the
Lake of the Woods is on a very inferior
location to one that would have been obtained had it not been for the very peculiar
course pursued by the engineer-in-charge,
who disregarded my recommendations relative to the location* of the railway through
the mountains and attempted to decide such
an all-important matter as the location of
the Canadian Pacific Railway through the
"Sea of Mountains" from his comfortable
office   in   Ottawa.
As soon as I found out the very objectionable features that a line across the Selkirk Range would have, for all time, to contend with, and which were steep grades,
sharp curves, rock and snow slides which
would endanger life, delay traffic and necessitate high transportation charges, I decided to explore for a line by the valley of
the Columbia River from Revelstoke around
the "Big Bend," passing the Boat Encampment, and thence to and through the Howse
Pass, and thus avoid the Selkirk Mountains altogether and cross the Rocky Mountains with a very much lighter grade than
could be obtained through the Kicking Horse
My proposed line would have been favorably located for a branch line running
northerly through the valley of the Canoe
River, and which branch might eventually
be extended to Dawson, and also for a
southerly branch through the valley of the
Upper Columbia River and lakes, a portion
of the Kootenay River and ultimately connect
with American railways to Spokane Falls
and other points in American territory that
were at that time being rapidly settled and
developed by the extension of the railway
system  of  the  United   States.
The Winter coming on when I was exploring the headwaters of the Illicillewaet River,
I was forced to discontinue my explorations
for that year and returned to New Westminster.
Early next Spring I again resumed my
explorations and on my way back to the
Columbia River, on arriving at Shuswap
Lake,   found   it   covered   with   ice   and   the
snow deep on the trail I had opened the
previous year from Seymour to the Columbia
River. I set a large party of men at work
to cut away through the snow to enable the
numerous pack animals conveying supplies,
and that were stopped by the snow, to get
through to the Columbia River. I opened
a trail from La Porte, the head of steamboat navigation below the Dalles de Mort, into
the Valley of Gold River to enable pack
animals to reach McCulloch and French
Creeks, two tributary streams to Gold River
in the beds of which streams very rich deposits of coarse gold haa been found the
previous  Autumn.
I now Avent down the Columbia River and
on my way sent one of my assistants, Mr
Albert Perry, as before mentioned, to explore the southeasterly fork of the Hlecillewaet River, &c, subsequently named by the
Rev.  Principal  George  M.   Grant,
I think it should be named Perry's Pass, as
he was the first white man to traverse it.
1 also sent my other assistant, Mr. James
Turn bull, to try and find a pass from the
northerly portion of Kootenay Lake into
the valleys of either the Columbia or Kootenay  Rivers  east  of  Kootenay Lake.
As both my assistants were expert explorers, and thoroughly reliable men, I felt convinced that in connection with the exploration of the valley of the Kootenay River,
between Wild Horse Creek and the Columbia Lakes, and the valley of the Columbia
River around the Selkirk Range, and the
valleys of sundrjr tributary streams to those
rivers, I was about to make myself, that
a thorough knowledge of the Selkirk Range,
so far as any pass or passes through the
range were concerned would be definitely
At the completion of the Columbia River
explorations at the end of the year 1866, I
was fully convinced that a remarkably good
line for a railwayy, considering the rugged
nature of the country, could be obtained
from Burrard Inlet via the Eagle Pass, the
valley of the Columbia River and the Howse through the Reeky Mountains, to the
prairie country cast of the Rocky Mountains, and that a railway built along this
line, and extended easterly in an almost air
line to Winnipeg, and thence to Rat Port;
age, would be the best obtainable line for
the transcontinental railway I had now been
so   many   years   hoping   to   promote.
The foregoing exploratory surveys, made
long before the Dominion of Canada came
politically into existence, gave me a personal knowledge of the western portion of
British North America that no other person
had, and those explorations may, I think,
fairly be considered as the history of the
first active and substantial steps, undertaken
and successfully carried through, in the face
of almost insurmountable difficulties,
which insured for the people of Canada, before most of those now living ever even
knew of such a country as British Columbia,
a line for Canada's first and greatest transcontinental railway—the Canadian Pacific
On my return to New Westminster at the
end of the year 1866 I entertained high
hopes that I would be able to induce the
Governor, on the opening of the following
Spring, to authorise me to construct a wagon
road through the Eagle Pass, and open up
the Selkirk Range by constructing various
trails through the valleys south of the east
end of the Eagle Pass, as I felt convinced
that portion of the colony was very rich in
mineral wealth, and by making it accessible
it would attract immigration to the colony
from British territory east of the Rocky
Mountains, instead of relying upon drawing
our future population from foreign countries
whose shores are washed by the waters of
the Pacific Ocean, and, consequently a large
proportion of such immigrants would be very
I was much disappointed, for I found that
the Governor had decided to charter a steamer to ply between San Francisco and New
Westminster and bring people into the colony
that way, and consequently I could not get
any money for further explorations and
works in the Columbia River section, as the
very limited resources of the colony would
be expended in this useless endeavor to populate the country before it was rendered ac-
The   Governor's   decision   caused
between us, and I left the service, and as
I foresaw that the development of British
Columbia would be retarded for some years
I left the country with the intention of exploring through American territory and getting a personal knowledge of the great
States of the American Union west of the
Rocky Mountains, and of the projected Central and Union Pacific Railways, and of the
probable line of a railway that might be
built near the southern boundary of British
Columbia, and that is now traversed by Mr.
J. J. Hill's Great Northern Railway. I wished
to ascertain the probable effect the building
of this latter railway would have in drawing
away Canadian trade into American channels, in order that my proposed Canadian
railway should be prepared to meet such an
emergency by branch lines properly located
for   that  purpose.
Thus ended the first episode in the early
history  of  the  Canadian  Pacific Railway.
I spent upwards of four years in United
States territory, and during that time traversed a good -deal of California, Nevada,
Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, waiting
anxiously to hear that the confederation of
the different portions of British North
America was accomplished, and as I kept up
a correspondence with the late Sir Joseph
William Trutch, who Was Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, etc., in 1865 and
1866, when I was Assistant Surveyor-General and made the Columbia River explorations, T was kept posted upon what terms
British Columbia would agree to join the
I had. strongly urged Mr. Trutch to insist
that the construction of a transcontinental
railway  should  be   imperative,   as  it was  the EARLY  HISTORY  OF C.P.R.   ROAD
only way I could see of having my proposed Canadian transcontinental railway constructed, and Mr. Trutch and his colleagues
had the construction of such a railway
made a binding condition in the terms
agreed upon when British Columbia entered the Confederation. They were generally
known as the "Cast Iron Terms,'' and fortunately for British Columbia they were
made  so  stringent.
Shortly after the terms of confederation
had been arranged I met Mr. Trutch by appointment, at Elko, in Nevada, when he
gave me full information regarding the
terms agreed upon, particularly those^ about
the railway, and he then told me that as I
was the only person living who had a personal knowledge of the interior of British
Columbia and where the transcontinental railway should be located, he had recommended
Sir John A. Macdonald, then Premier of
the Dominion, to engage my services, in order to make certain that no mistake should
be made in the location of this all-important
railway. Mr. Trutch met me at Elko in
1870. I shortly afterwards went to San
Francisco   for   the   Winter.
In the early part of the year 1871 I went
to Utah, and about the beginning of June
in that year I received a telegram requesting me to go to Ottawa to give information,
etc., et<'^., regarding the country and the
proposed exploratory surveys about to be
undertaken by the Dominion Government for
the Canadian Pacific Railway. I immediately
repaired to Ottawa, and gave Sir John A.
Macdonald and the engineer-in-chief of the
Canadian Pacific Railway the needed information, and- having recommended the line
from Burrard Inlet through the Eagle and
Howse Passes to be adopted, I hurried back
to British Columbia and succeeded in landing the first survey parties to commence the
surveys for the Canadian Pacific Railway, on
the day British Columbia entered the Con-
1859, when I was employed by the late.
Major-General Richard. Clement Moody, of
the Royal Engineers.
I sent one of my survey parties from
Fort Hope under the command of Mr. D.
C. Gillette, an able American engineer whom
I had known for many years, and who had
a large experience in locating railways and
other works in the United States, with instructions to proceed to the westerly end
of the Howse Pass and make an exploratory
survey  through  it.
My other survey party, under the command of Mr. Edward Mohun, a civil engineer
long and favorably known in British Columbia, I sent via Kamloops to the west end
of the Eagle Pass to survey a line through
it and winter in the neighborhood of the
present town of Revelstoke, where I promised to visit them during the Winter on my
way back from the Howse Pass to Victoria.
Mr. Roderick McLennan, an engineer from
the Intercolonial Railway, had been appointed to take charge of the surveys of a line
via the North Thompson and Alfreda Rivers,
and through the Yellowhead Pass, and Mr.
John Trutch. C.E., of Victoria, was oppoint-
ed to take 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
federation of the Dominion, at the City of
New Westminster, which I had founded in
Canada, who accompanied Mr. McLennan to
the   Yellowhead   Pass.
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 Col-
ville, 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 1
overtook   Mr.   Gillett's  party.
I sent a few horses through tne 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, 1
started to cross the Rocky Mountains to
their easterly foothills, where I expected
to meet a party near Mount Murchison, 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 north-west 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 EARLY" HISTORY OF C.P.R.   ROAD
with our instruments, nor could we retain
our footing on the steep and slippery side
fo 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 Pass.
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 be nossible to connect those valleys
by a tunnel. If I could get a line this way
it would very materially shorten the distance between Revelstoke and the Howse
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 1866, when I
constructed a trail between it and the Sey-
moru Arm of Lake Shuswap.
I here met
and the following afternoon went on to Mc-
Culloch'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 Illicillewaet River, and the
pass by its south-easterly fork, which was
discovered,   as   before   mentioned,   by  my   as
sistant, Mr. Albert Perry, in 1866, and was
subsequently very improperly named Rogers
Pass, 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, exprienced 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
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., 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
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 Avay 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 Creek, where the
location of the Canadian Pacific Railway
should be from Vancouver through the
mountain region of  Canada,  for I had exam- EARLY HISTORY OF C.P.R.  ROAD
ined 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 be only a useless
waste   of  time.     The
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 Hlecillewaet 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 make better time over
it, and consequently be enabled to have their
transportation charges lower than the heavy
operating expenses of the present line
through the Rocky and Selkirk Mountains,
compels them to make, and the people of the
cduntry to pay.
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 at once, and
delivered to me at Kinbaskit's Landing, at
the upper Columbia River, to which point
boats I had instructed the engineer at Howse
Pass to have built and sent, to convey the
supplies to the various points along the
Columbia River where they would be required.
1 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, and 1
proposed  to  accompany the  party.
At 11 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 here he handed me a telegram
he had received from the engineer-in-chief,
desiring him to inform me 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 leave 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 one 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 hne for the Canadian
Pacific  Railway.
It is almost needless to say that I was
thoroughly disgusted at the unpatriotic action of the engineer-in-chief in causing the
abandonment of the line I proposed for the
Canadian Pacific Railway west of the Lake
of the Woods, before I was allowed to complete the surveys I intended to make as before mentioned in a thorough and satisfactory
I did not feel the interest in the surveys
I had to make from then onward, for 1
was  certain  that
to, and against the interests of the people of
the whole Dominion, and particularly against
those of British Columbia, and they were
then all paying liberally and most generously
to have work performed in the most efficient
manner to promote their interests, when
really what was being  done  by  the  surveys 10
then   being   made   west   of   the   Lake   of   the
Woods  was  directly  against  their interests.
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   intended.
I left Victoria for Portland to meet the
contriactor 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. Pie 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 Illicelli-
waet 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 those supplies were to be used,
I think a sufficient answer to their faultfinding 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 Rog
ers and Kicking Horse Passes, they used
during its 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 transporation 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. 1 then went on,
travelling on horseback to Wild Horse Creek,
the Columbia Lakes, etc., to Kinbaskit's
Landing, where I found the boats awaiting
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 v.narge 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
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 ond a pack train,
and open a pack trail by the valleys of the
North Thompson and Abreda Rivers 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 Kinbasket 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
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 those
globe trotters to climb up above the timber
line and then expand their gushings in describing unexplored and more inaccessible
places that can, and. are, being seen by great
numbers of those who travel by rail through
the  mountains.
We camped on the bank of a lovely stream
flowing through a park-like 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, 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
we shot two Tine cariboo. As our footgear
was in a sadly dilapidated condition, and
our feet very sore, we decided to camp and
make mocassins out of the green hides, and
dry and smoke the cariboo 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 9
steep declivity on the north side of the
ridge, over a large deposit of perpetual snow,
in which we saw some recent tracks of cariboo, and arrived in a beautiful valley surrounded with grand and magnificent scenery. Here wTe camped at a small spring that
is the true source of the Fraser River.
Shortly after we camped one of my Indians
shot two cariboo 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 through canyons at a
great rate.
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 burnt 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
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.
Shortly after reaching the bank of the
Fraser  River  I  heard  the  tinkling of  a bell a 2
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 l>ell-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
trailmakers then on the shore of the Yellowhead Lake, a short distance east of us. I
asked the man who was in charge of the
train—the Cargadore as they are designated—what his name was, when he informed
me that it was MacBrown. I told him that
I had 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 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. McLennan appeared to have a
strong feeling in favor of men who had the
prefix of Mac to their names, and Mr.
Brown thought his chance for obtaining employment would be greatly enhanced if he
became a Mac, and, therefore, on his applying to Mr. McLennan he gave his name
as   MacBrown   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 welt
of the Tete Jaune Cache as far as Moose
Lake, and I at once sent a letter to him requesting him to meet me the following day
at McCord's camp. I now found the En-
gmeer-in-Chief had not yet passed through
the Yellowhead Pass on his way to the
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 horeses, 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 to build a depot on the
banks of the Athabasca River to Winter my
parties  in.
When I reached a yoint 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
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.
The 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 ahad,
so I pushed on to overtake them, but as
they had missed the trail they were in reality behind us. 1, however, went on for a
lew 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 unit! 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 had 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,   &c.
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.e 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 was impossible to do, and even
said I should not have attempted to take
my party and supplies through the Athabasca Pass, 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 T
his   instructions,   that   I  was  on  the
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 Athabasca
River near the site of the old Henry House
The weather had now become very cold and
everything indicated a snow-storm. I hurried on through the valleys of the Athabasca
and Whirlpool Rivers. I met a large herd of
cariboo 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 cariboo 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  supper.
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 River.
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 by-gone years
stood the old Henry House.
With Mr. Green's survey party and my
little  outfit  of  Indians  ,1  started back
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.   Mo
hun'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
en   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, bv nusiiin - forward tne
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
I had no connfidence in.
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 my 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 Al-•
breda 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 were responsibilities I would not assume, and, therefore, was compelled to remain in the Yellow
Head  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 did not think
it would be unfair to all my employees, who
had served me so faithfully, and to the Dominion Government, whom I felt certain was
being misled by the engineer-in-chief regarding the proposed location of the Canadian
Pacific   Railway.
I subsequently learnt that it was owing
to instructions direct 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 Yellow
Head Pass to discontinue his survey and return to Victoria.     The
I had so strongly recommended for the Canadian Pacific Railway via the Eagle Pass
and terminating in Vancouver, and the instructions and counter instructions I had
received regarding a location survey through
the   Howse   Pass  and  the   same  peculiarities 14
regarding the surveys through the Yellow
Head Pass led me to think that the engineer-
in-chief had no very friendly intentions re
garding me, and I fully determined to leave
Ids staff as soon as I could fairly do so,
and then when I was clear of him endeavor
ro get a railway constructed by my line
from Vancouver to Winnipeg and conecting
with the line proposed by the engineer-in-
chief at Rat Portage or Selkirk.
I kept my part}' 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 River to the depot, all of
which were 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 for-
warded  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, and 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 if 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 6n with the survey and. get into the valley of the McLeod River as soon as possible,
and I would explore *he 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 che en^in' ev-ir ■•
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
for me, for I saw the way clear to get
out of the  distasteful occupationn 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   rt.away  west   from   the   Tete
Jaune Cache into the valley of the Horsefly
River, or into the basin of the Quesnelle
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 Rivers 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 snow-capped peaks
and glaciers that presented an impenetrable
wall of rock, snow and ice. I returned to
the forks of the Thompson 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, excepting 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 Prairie."
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
where I met my commissariat officer, Mr. A.
G. Hall. I instructed him to hand over
all the pack animals, &c, &c, 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 the above
instructions were the last I gave in connection with that great national railway for
which I had spent so many years of toil, of
hardship, of privation and personal expense
to secure the best route, and in my
opinion, the route to adopt, as before remarked, the engineer-in-chief had advised
to be abandoned.
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 and on my telling the officer in charge
of the fort for the reasons I have already related, namely that as soon as I
could close up all matters in connection with
the   exploratory   surveys   I   should  leave   the EARLY  HISTORY  OF  C.P.R.   ROAD
service, as I entirely disagreed with the
course the engineer-in-chief was following,
insisted on providing me with horses and
Indians to take me down to Yale, as that
was probably the last opportunity the Hudson 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.
On 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,
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
1 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
was compelled to wait, as I had no money
to get away, and would not pay me any
salary for the time I had to wait for the
second auditing, nor would he pay me anything for the expenses 1 had incurred during the whole time I had been in Ottawa. I
■Wrotested at this unjust treatment, but without avail. The unjust treatment I received
was not in accordance with the written
terms of mv engagement, made in 1871, and
I was defrauded out of a large amount, which
the Dominion Government still owes me and
ought to pay. I consider that the engineer-
in-chief acted both dishonorably and dishonestly   to   me.
After getting entirely clear of the engineer-in-chief and of the useless and expensive surveys he continued to make for several years after I left the service, and the
country tired of his theoretical vagaries and
caused his resignation, and I had gone to
make 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
from Revelst( ke to Vancouver, wnere 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 progressive city of the Dominion
of Canada, and from which other important
railways will radiate—the City whose site I
pre-empted in 1859 when I sunk shafts to
try  and  find  coal  in   "Coal  Harbor."
It is very gratifying to me that my exertions, extending over a period of nearly a
quarter of a century tended very materially
to insure the welfare and prosperity of many
thousands of people throughout British Columbia, as well as through the country extending from tho KocKy i\a.iAi.jula.n& ...
Books, China, &c Traced.
P. O. Box 176, VANCOUVER, B. C 


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