The Chung Collection

Chung Logo

The Chung Collection

The Canada Pacific Railway Grant, George Monro, 1835-1902 Oct 31, 1885

Item Metadata


JSON: chungtext-1.0354972.json
JSON-LD: chungtext-1.0354972-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): chungtext-1.0354972-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: chungtext-1.0354972-rdf.json
Turtle: chungtext-1.0354972-turtle.txt
N-Triples: chungtext-1.0354972-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: chungtext-1.0354972-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Kicking Horse, the ascent of the eastern slope
of the Selkirks was remarkably easy. The
valley of the Beaver contracts near its mouth,
so it is no wonder that observers from the
outside formed an incorrect idea of its importance. The llle-Cille-Waet on the other side
of the range ends its course in the same way.
The two streams by which the Selkirks are
overcome are thus something like two long
bottles with their narrow necks facing and
ending in the Columbia. The trail up the
Beaver led through forests of great cedars, and
then of noble spruce, hemlock, and pine, so
dense that it was impossible to get any views
of the range before reaching the Rogers Pass.
Our first evening was spent with a pleasant,
fit-looking lot of fellows, who were working
down from the summit under the leadership of
Major Critchelow, a West Point graduate.
They did all they could for us, sharing tents
and blankets, as well as porridge, as if we had
been life-long comrades. Major Critchelow's
party had been at work for three months, and,
besides caribou and other large game, had
seen about fifty bears, chiefly black and grizzly. I can, with a reasonable measure of
confidence, assure sportsmen that the bears
are still there, for the engineers were too busy
to do much hunting. We saw on our ride to
the summit next morning why the place was
such a favorite bear center. On both sides of
the trail grew an extraordinary profusion of
high bushes laden with delicious wild fruits,
blackberries and gooseberries as large as small
grapes, and half a dozen other varieties, that
we could pick by handfuls without dismounting. The rowan-tree drooped its rich red
clusters over the bushes, and high above towered the magnificent forest primeval, one cedar that we passed having a diameter of nine
feet. It was like riding through a deserted
garden. Emerging from the forest, after a leisurely three hours' ride, into a saucer-shaped
open meadow covered with tall thick grass,
Major Rogers, who had kindly joined our
party at the mouth of the Kicking Horse,
pointed to a little stream, saying, " That is
Summit Creek, and there," pointing to the opposite end of the meadow,'' is the summit where
our yew stake is planted." We gave a hearty
cheer in his honor, and taking our seats on a
moss-grown natural rockery, heard him recount
the story of the discovery of the pass. A scene
of more mingled grandeur and beauty could
not be desired. " Such a spot for a summer
hotel! " would, I think, be the first cry of an
American tourist. Snow-covered mountains,
glaciers accumulating in lofty comb, and high
above the snow, the looser shales of the peaks
having weathered off, fantastic columns of rock
giving to each mountain form an individual
ity that stamps it permanently on the memory;
while we in the sunny valley at their feet dined
on wild fruit, and our horses rolled contentedly
among the deep succulent grasses ! Syndicate,
the distinctive peak among the mountains at the
summit, is a veritable Canadian Matterhorn,but
it is not seen till you begin the western descent.
The Selkirks did not let us off so easily as
we had hoped from our experience of the ascent. Where the trail ended the Major gave
us his nephew as a guide and half a dozen athletic, obliging young men to carry our packs
to the second crossing of the Columbia. I
shall never attempt to pioneer through a wilderness again, much less to carry a pack; and
of all wildernesses, commend me to those of
British Columbia as the best possible samples
to test wind and limb. It would simply weary
readers to go into details of struggling through
acres of densest underbrush where you cannot
see a yard ahead, wading through swamps and
beaver dams, getting scratched from eyes to
ankles with prickly thorns, scaling precipices,
falling over moss-covered rocks into pitfalls,
your packs almost strangling you, losing the
rest of the party while you halt to feel all over
whether any bones are broken, and then experiencing in your inmost soul the unutterable
loneliness of savage mountains. Those who
have not tried would not understand. It took
us five days to make seventeen miles, and we
did our best. Right glad were we to see the
Columbia again, a river now twelve hundred
feet wide, full from bank to bank, sweeping
past this time to the south with a current of
six or seven miles an hour. We struck it nearly
opposite the Big Eddy, and one or two tents
and a group of Indians among the aspens on
the bank a little farther down comforted us
with the thought that we could at any rate
get what man considers the one thing needful in the wilderness — a supply of food. It
might have an evil smell, but it would be food;
and starvation, at any rate, was now out of the
question. Back a little from the noble river
rose the Gold Mountains, cloven almost to the
feet by the Eagle Pass.
The Indians came across in their canoes
and ferried us over; and we spent the night
on the river bank, well to windward of Camp
Siwash. Under a half-moon shining in a blue,
cloudless sky, a great glacier on our right reflected a ghostly light, and every peak came
out clearly defined in the pure atmosphere.
The rush of the great river and the muffled
roar of the distant falls of the llle-Cille-Waet
alone broke the perfect stillness. Four or five
camp-fires seen through the trees, with dusky
figures silently flitting about, gave life to the
scene. Reclining on spruce boughs, softer and
more fragrant than beds of down, we felt the THE   CANADA  PACIFIC RAILWAY.
charm of frontier or backwoods life. Two or
three hours after, awakened by rain first pattering on tent and leaves and then pouring
down in earnest, the charm was forgotten.
One had left his boots outside, another had
hung his clothes near the camp-fire, and we
knew that the men were lying on the ground,
rolled in their blankets, and that to-morrow
every pack would be fifty per cent, heavier to
carry. We were still in the rainy region. Every
night but one since leaving the summit of the
Selkirks there had been rain with thunder and
lightning; and yet, in spite of the discomfort,
not a man showed a sign of discontent. Sybarites still growl over their crumpled rose-
leaves, but the race is not deteriorating.
Before leaving Winnipeg Mr. Fleming had
telegraphed to Hudson's Bay officials in British Columbia to send a party from Kamloops
to meet us with provisions at some point on
the Columbia near the mouth of the Eagle
Pass. When we saw the Indians every one
was sure that the Kamloops party had reached
the rendezvous before us. Our disappointment
was brief, for the same evening half a dozen
men were heard hallooing and struggling
through the pass. This was our eagerly expected party, and great and natural was the
delight at making such wonderfully close connections in a trackless wilderness; but our
countenances fell when, asking for the provisions, the leader simply handed us a large
sheet of foolscap on which was inscribed in
fine legible hand a list of supplies cached at a
distance of some days' journey ! They had
been able to carry barely enough for themselves, and had we not wisely husbanded
our pork and flour, they and we might have
Next morning we started up the Eagle Pass,
with our sheet of foolscap and the Kamloops men. They brought us good news at
any rate. In three or four days we should get
to horses and supplies, and in a day or two
thereafter to a wagon-road that had been
commenced from Lake Shuswap by the company that is working the silver-bearing galena
mines on the Kootenay. It turned out as
they said. We found the horses, and a wealth
of good things; cups and saucers of crockery
were included, to our infinite amusement.
The horses were of little use except to carry
the packs, for better speed can be made walking than riding, and walking is safer and much
more pleasant — if there can be pleasure on
a trail along the Eagle River. We reached
the wagon-road, Mr. G. V. Wright, in the
center of a canvas town, superintending its
construction, and ready to do anything for us.
We sat luxuriously stretching our legs in the
spring wagon in which he  sent  us  on the
beautiful star-shaped Lake Shuswap — last of
a series of lakes strung like beads on the river
that drains the western slope of the Eagle
Pass. There the Hon. Mr. Mara, having
heard of our approach, had kindly kept the
steamer Peerless waiting for us. The dangers
and the toils of our journey were over.
With regard to the scenery in the Selkirk
and Gold Mountains little need be said. Rain
or snow falls almost unceasingly. The clouds
from the Pacific shed some of their contents
on Vancouver Island and the Cascades;
then, rising high above these coast mountains,
they float easterly over a wide intervening
region, and empty their buckets most bountifully on the Gold range. A moss carpet several inches thick covers the ground, the rocks,
the fallen timber, in every direction—mosses
exquisitely delicate, as thickly and uniformly
sown as if green showers had fallen silently
from the heavens to replace the deep white
snow of winter. From the branches of the
trees hang mossy streamers. Softer than velvet is the coating of every bank. Dense underbrush and ferns from four to six or seven
feet high fill the narrow valleys, save where
the prickly devil's-club and enormous skunk
cabbage dispute the ground with the ferns.
Emerging from the dark-blue waters of Lake
Shuswap and sailing the South Thompson,
the air, the soft outlines of the hills, the parklike scenery recalling " the upper portions of
the Arno and the Tiber," we come upon the
intervening region of elevated broken plateau
that extends from the Gold range west to the
Cascades. Its physical character is the exact
opposite of the humid mountains left behind.
Low rounded, russet-colored hills, and benches
covered with bunch-grass, or, where that has
been too greedily cropped, with sage and
prickly pear, take the place of lofty, rugged
peaks and valleys choked with heavy timber.
This intervening region that extends to the
Cascades has everywhere a dry, dusty, California look, except where some little creek has
been made to do duty in the way of irrigation. Then Ave have a garden plot, a field, or
a ranch converted into a carpet or ribbon of
freshest green contrasting beautifully with the
surrounding gray or russet. These bits of
green are like oases in the desert. They yield
abundantly every variety of fruit or grain.
Tomatoes, water- and musk-melons, and
grapes ripen in the open air. Wheat, as in the
most favored spots of Oregon and Washington
Territory, yields from forty to seventy bushels
to the acre. At Lytton the Fraser comes
down from its long circuit round the far north
country, through gorges inclosed by snow-
crested mountains, to receive the tribute of
the united Thompson. The clear blueThomp- .
son flows into the turbid Fraser, and the
swollen torrent, deep, narrow, swirling, eddying, resistless, cuts its way through the granite
of the Cascades to the sea. In this mountainous region, again, the farmer is no longer dependent on irrigation, and wherever there is
soil anything can be raised. The Lower Fraser or New Westminster district is not only
the most valuable in British Columbia, agriculturally, but the river is full of salmon and
sturgeon, the country abounds with game,
and the timber along the coast would furnish
masts for all the admirals in the world.
But what will a railway get to do in this
great sea of mountains ? For along those
five hundred miles of road on the mainland,
constructed at so enormous a cost, the population, not counting Indians and Chinamen, is
less than ten thousand. The British Columbians claim that a portion of the Asiatic trade
will come their way, especially as the company that is building the road has announced
its intention of putting on steamers to connect the Pacific terminus with the ports of
Japan and China; and they also point to
their fish, their mines of silver and gold, and
their forests, as the complement of the prairies of the North-west. All their hopes and
dreams cluster around the railway, and
those whom it does not enrich will feel that
they have a right to be disappointed. They
ignore the fact that the people of the Northwest or any other country can afford to pay
only a certain price for fish or flesh, galena,
gold, or anything else, and that if it cannot
be supplied at said price it must be for them
all the same as if it were non-existent. They
fancy that the difficulty the province has to
contend with is not the comparatively small
amount of arable land, or the necessity for
irrigation in districts otherwise good, or the
intervening mountains, or the canons that
prevent river navigation, or the cost of transportation, or the great distances, but simply the
presence of some thousands of industrious
Chinamen. If Chinamen could only be kept out
white people would come in, and wages would
go up and keep up. Good prices would then
be obtained for everything, and every one
could live comfortably.
A most obliging merchant in Kamloops
informed me that it would be as well for him
to shut shop, because it was impossible to do
business any longer. A few Chinamen had
come to the place, and beginning as cooks,
waiters, barbers, washermen, had at length
opened some small shops, and were fast getting
hold of the entire trade of the country. Nobody
else had a chance with them, he said. I asked
why. " Oh," was the answer, given in perfect simplicity, " they are satisfied with small
profits and quick returns, and they make no
losses, for they refuse to give credit." He had
not so learned business. His former customers, who were now buying goods at reasonable
rates, agreed with him that it was a shame.
I am sorry to seem to reflect on any of my
British Columbian friends, or rather to reflect
on their notions of commercial or political
economy. They were kindness itself to me, as
they are to all travelers. " They are a real
nice people," said one of the engineers we
fell in with; " they do cheerfully what you want,
either for nothing or for an enormous price."
That hits the mark. Their hospitality is beyond praise; but when they charge, you are
likely to remember the bill. Three of us hired
a wagon one afternoon. The boy drove us
twenty-three miles in four hours, and the charge
was thirty dollars. On another afternoon we
engaged a man to row us in his little boat to
a steamer on Burrard Inlet. It took him an
hour, and we had to pay four dollars for the
use of his boat and the pleasure of his company. A friend wished to negotiate for the
removal of some lumber. Finding that the
cost of a team was fifteen dollars per day, he
preferred to do without the lumber. That such
costs and charges put a stop to industrial development, that they are equivalent to total
prohibition of intercourse or exchange, does
not occur to the average politician. Abundance of labor is the one thing absolutely indispensable in British Columbia. Pretty much
the only labor attainable on a large scale for
many a year is that of Chinamen. Far from
welcoming the labor, almost every one's face is
set against it, even when necessity forces him
to take advantage of it for the time. But this
is not the place to discuss the Chinese problem. I have alluded to it simply because the
railway has forced it upon our attention, and
it presses for solution.
Since the Dominion was constituted the
political life of Canada has centered about
the Pacific Railway. Now that it is on the
eve of completion, we see how great was the
task that three millions of people set themselves
fourteen years ago to accomplish. The work
is imperial in meaning as well as magnitude,
though the cost has been wholly defrayed by
Canada. It is our contribution to the organization and defense of the empire. It has
added to our public burdens, but our credit is
better than when it was commenced. WThen
we are told that it has cost fifty, sixty, or a
hundred millions, what need one say but that
it was a necessitv,and that it is worth the cost ?
Queen's University, Kingston, Canada.
AS Pisa made no comment on the little
changes she may have observed in me
since we had last met, nineteen years before,
I feel bound in politeness to say that I found
her in April, 1883, looking not a day older than
she did in December, 1864. In fact she looked
younger, if anything, though it may have been
the season that made this difference in her.
She was in her spring attire, freshly, almost at
the moment, put on; and that counts for much
more in Pisa than one who knew her merely
in the region of her palaces and churches and
bridges would believe. She has not, indeed,
quite that breadth of orchards and gardens
within her walls which Siena has, but she has
space enough for nature to flourish at ease
there; and she has many deserted squares and
places where the grass was sprouting vigorously in the crevices of the pavement. All this
made her perceptibly younger, even with her
memories running so far back of Roman times,
into twilights whither perhaps a less careful
modern historian than myself would not follow
them. But when I am in a town that has real
claims to antiquity, I like to allow them to the
uttermost; and with me it is not merely a duty,
it is a pleasure, to remind the reader that Pisa
was founded by Pelops, the grandson of Jove,
and the son of Tantalus, king of Phrygia. He
was the same who was slain by his father, and
served in a banquet to the gods, to try if they
knew everything, or could be tricked into eating of the hideous repast; and it was after this
curious experience — Ceres came in from the
field, very tired and hungry, and popped down
and tasted a bit of his shoulder before they
could stop her—that, being restored to life by
his grandfather, he visited Italy, and liking the
situation at the mouth of the Arno, built his city
there. This is the opinion of Pliny and Solinus,
and that generally adopted by the Pisan chroniclers ; but the skeptical Strabo would have us
think that Pisa was not founded till much
later, when Nestor, sailing homeward after the
fall of Troy, was cast away on the Etruscan
shore at this point. There are some historians
who reconcile the accounts by declaring that
Nestor merely joined the Phrygians at Pisa,
and could never, have pretended to found the
city. I 'myself incline to this notion; but even
if Pisa was not built till after the fall of Troy,
the reader easily perceives that a sense of her
antiquity might affect an Ohio man, even after
a residence in Boston. A city founded by
Pelops or Nestor could not be converted to
Christianity by a less person than St. Peter,
who, on his way to Rome, was expressly
wrecked on the Pisan coasts for that purpose.
Her faith, like her origin, is as ancient as possible, and Pisa was one of the first Italian
communities to emerge from the ruin of the
Roman empire into a vigorous and splendid
life of her own. Early in the middle ages she
had, with the arrogance of long-established
consequence, superciliously explained the Florentines, to an Eastern potentate who had just
heard of them, as something like the desert
Arabs,—a lawless, marauding, barbarous race,
the annoyance of all respectable and settled
communities. In those days Pisa had not only
commerce with the East, but wars; and in 1005
she famously beat back the Saracens from their
conquests in the northern Mediterranean, and,
after a struggle of eighteen years, ended by
carrying the war into Africa and capturing
Carthage with the Emir of the Saracens in it.
In the beginning of this war her neighbor
Lucca, fifteen miles away, profited by her preoccupation to attack her, and this is said to
have been one of the first quarrels, if not the
first, in which the Italian cities asserted their
separate nationality and their independence
of the empire. It is supposed on that account
to have been rather a useful event, though it
is scarcely to be praised otherwise. Of course
the Pisans took it out of the Lucchese afterwards in the intervals of their more important
wars with the Genoese by sea and the Florentines by land. There must have been fighting
pretty well all the time, back and forth across
the vineyards and olive orchards that stretch
between the two cities; I have counted up THE   CANADA PACIFIC RAILWAY.
settlement. That area is now known to be
practically illimitable. The waves of a great
human sea will in a short time roll steadily on,
without break, from the boundary line to the
prairies of the mighty Peace River. That new
North-west of ours will a century hence have
fifty millions of people, and they will raise
enough to feed themselves and the rest of the
world, if need be.
Manitobans, it may be said here, have also
great expectations of being able to export
directly to Liverpool by Hudson's Bay, and
of being thus independent of Chicago and
Montreal alike. Should such an alternative
route prove a reality, it would serve the whole
Red River valley, as well as the Saskatchewan.
Last year the Dominion Government sent out
.a well-equipped vessel to ascertain definitely
for how many months in the year the Hudson's
Bay Straits are navigable, and other facts
bearing on the question at issue. Parties were
left at different points along the coast to
winter, and make all needed observations.
We shall soon know whether it is worth while
constructing a railway to Fort Churchill.
Dr. Robert Bell, Assistant Director of the
Dominion Geological Survey, is sanguine that
the produce of the North-west will have a new
outlet in this direction. If so, it will be a potent
factor in the development of those far inland
fertile wildernesses. But this line to Hudson's
Bay is as yet in the air. For years to come the
.North-west must be served by the Canada
Pacific Railway. But how came it that the
greater part of the country directly west from
Winnipeg to the Rocky Mountains was once
supposed to be semi-desert ? Captain Palliser,
who was sent with a well-organized expedition
by Her Majesty's Government, in 1857, to
explore the country between Lake Superior
and the Rocky Mountains, found it rainless
and condemned it. Superficial observers who
visited it subsequently, and looked only at
the short russet-colored grass that covered its
illimitable, treeless, terribly lonely plains, had
no hesitation in confirming his opinion. But
five or six years ago Mr. John Maccoun, an accomplished practical botanist, after exploring
it lengthways and crossways and thoroughly
examining soil, flora, and fauna, gave testimony
of an entirely opposite character. He was derided as an enthusiast or worse, but his opinions
had probably something to do with determining the new route taken by the Canada Pacific
Railway; and in 1881 and 1882 settlers, ignoring the proved fertility of the " fertile belt,"
or postponing its claims to a more convenient
season, took up land along the railway almost as
fast as it was constructed. They found that the
:soil was actually better for their purposes than
the heavy tenacious loam of the Red River
valley, just because it was lighter. Population
flowed for some four hundred miles west of
Winnipeg to the little towns of Regina and
Moosegaw. There the masses of drift that
constitute the " Coteau " of the Missouri show
themselves, and there it was then said the
good land ceased. The railway was built in
the early part of 1883 four hundred miles
farther west, and soon after Mr. Sandford
Fleming and myself had sufficient opportunities of examining the nature of the soil.
Far from being barren, " it resembles," says
Mr. Fleming, " in color and character that of
the Carse of Gowrie in Perthshire," notoriously
the most productive district in Scotland.
But why, then, had those vast plains been
condemned ? Because there is very little rain
in the summer months; and because observers
could not fail to notice that the grass was
light, short, dry, and apparently withered.
To their eyes it contrasted most unfavorably
with the luxuriant green herbage of the well-
watered belt along the North Saskatchewan.
It did not occur to them that the grass of the
plains might be the product of peculiar atmospheric conditions, and that what had been
food in former days for countless millions of
buffaloes, whose favorite resorts these plains
had been, would in all probability be good food
for domestic cattle. The facts are that spring
comes early in these far western districts, and
that the grass matures in the beginning of
June, and turns into nutritious hay. If burned,
there is sufficient moisture in the soil to produce a second growth. We saw at different
points, towards the end of August, green
patches where little prairie fires had run some
weeks previously. If there is enough moisture
for such a second crop, it seemed clear to us
that there must be enough for cereals. The
fact is that the roots of wheat penetrate to a
great depth in search of moisture or nutriment.
The intense cold of winter, instead of being a
drawback, acts in the farmer's interest. The
deeper the frost goes, the better. As it thaws
out gradually in the summer it loosens the
sub-soil, and sends up the needed moisture to
the roots of the grain. Coal, too, of cretaceous
age, being abundant, no one who is at all
robust objects to the intense dry cold. Sufficient moisture being all but certain, the
lack of rain makes harvesting sure, while
the purity and dryness of the air and the continual breeziness render the climate most
healthful and pleasant. But, notwithstanding
these facts, the impression was general that,
at any rate from le grand Coteau du Missouri
to the Rocky Mountains, the country was
worthless. The company, therefore,determined
to try experiments that would be conclusive.
Late in the autumn of 1883 men were sent 884
out with instructions to plow up a few acres
at intervals of about twenty miles along the
line. This work was done, necessarily, in
rough-and-ready fashion. The sod was turned
up, and then the teams, put on board the next
train, were moved on to another point. The
following March seeds of various kinds were
sown on the plowed sections and roots
planted. No attempt at cultivating, cleaning,
or protecting could be made, and yet the
result was a magnificent crop on the experimental " farms." Every one who knows anything of prairie farming will acknowledge that
a more rigorous test could not have been tried.
The south of the beautiful Bow River is the
chosen country of our cow-boys, a race—from
Texas to the North — free, fearless, and peculiar, to whom all the rest of the world are
" tenderfeet," and in whose eyes horse-stealing
is the unpardonable sin. The transport to
England of cattle from this district, and ultimately from the adjoining territories of
Montana and Idaho, is certain to supply steady
business to the railway; and the transport of
coal on a large scale to Manitoba from the
vast deposits which are being opened up near
Medicine Hat and the head-waters of the
Saskatchewan is still more certain. The Bow
River, which takes its name from its repeated
windings and doublings like an ox-bow,
guides the railway into the mountains. The
wide valley, inclosed by foot-hills, not very
long ago the favorite haunt of the buffalo, is
divided into ranches. These and all other
industries in southern Alberta converge at
Calgarry, an enterprising little town, once a
Hudson's Bay fort, on a site of ideal beauty.
It fronts the illimitable plains; snow-peaked
mountains, Devil's Head preeminent, tower
up behind; and two impetuous glacier-fed
streams meet in the natural amphitheater
that has been scooped out of the surrounding
hills to give it ample room to spread itself
Forty miles farther up the river, and so much
nearer the best hunting-grounds in the mountains, two villages of Stonies have gathered
round the Methodist Mission of Morley,— a
brave and hardy tribe of mountaineers who,
like their white neighbors, are taking to stock-
raising, as they can no longer live by hunting.
The railway climbs the valley of the Bow,
crossing and recrossing, past Morley, past the
mass of rock five thousand feet high called
Cascade Mountain, where anthracite coal has
been discovered, past the chiseled turrets of
Castle Mountain, and into the core of the
range, till within six miles of the summit, where
it abandons the river and strikes up the bed
of one of its tributaries.
The railway terminus in September, 1883,
being   Calgarry,  tourists   generally  stopped
there; but our party determined to push on
to the Pacific. Four ranges of mountains intervened— the Rockies, the Selkirks, the Gold,
and the Cascades. One engineer told us that
it was problematical whether we should get
through. Another said that we should not.
We determined to try, and we now congratulate
ourselves that we were the first to cross from
one side of the four ranges to the other side, on
the line on which the railway is constructed.
It was a journey to be remembered. I have
seen many countries, but I know none where
there are such magnificent rock-exposures
for a hundred miles continuously as up the
valley of the Bow, from Calgarry to the summit of the Rockies. The general elevation of
the valley is between four and five thousand
feet, and the mountains on each side are
only from one to six thousand feet higher;
consequently, the beauty does not consist in
the altitude of the mountains. Beside the
Andes or even the Alps they are hardly worth
speaking about; but nothing can be finer than
the distinct stratification, the variety of form
and clearness of outline, the great masses of
bare rock standing out as if piled by masons
and carved and chiseled by sculptors. Photography alone could bring out their amazing
richness in detail. Scenes of gloomy grandeur
present themselves at every point for several
miles along the summit; and down the western slope the views at times are even more
striking. But our journey down the Kicking
Horse should be read in the " England and
Canada " of the distinguished engineer with
whom I traveled, by those who wish to know
more of our experiences.
When we crossed the Rockies the hitherto
unconquered Selkirks rose before us. To understand the position of this range, take a
map and look for the springs of the Columbia.
This greatest of salmon rivers rises in Canada,
and runs north-west so persistently that it
appears doomed to fall into the Fraser. But,
reaching the neighborhood of Mounts Brown
and Hooker, it seems to have had enough of us,,
and accordingly, sweeping right round in a.
" Big Bend," it makes straight for Washington
Territory, cutting through all obstacles, the
Dalles with the significant Dalle de Mort, and
then spreads out into long, broad, calm expanses
known as the Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes.
Within that great loop which it makes on our
soil are inclosed the Selkirks. As they extend
only to the Big Bend of the Columbia, our engineers had no concern with them when it was
supposed that the Canada Pacific Railway
was to run farther north; but when the company decided that they must have as nearly
as possible an air-line from Winnipeg west
to the ocean, the question of whether a pass THE   CANADA  PACIFIC RAILWAY.
could be found across the Selkirks became
important. If no pass could be found, a detour must be made away to the North by the
Big Bend. Passes were known to exist through
the other three ranges that rise between the
plains and the Pacific. The Rockies proper, the
backbone of this continent, are cloven north
of the boundary line by half a dozen rivers,
along the valley of any one of which a railway
could be carried with ease to a summit where
another stream is generally found beginning
its course down the western slope. Then, the
two ranges nearest the Pacific have also open
gates wide enough for a railway. But between
the Gold Mountains and the Rockies rose the
Selkirks, apparently without a break. When
asked about a pass here, the Indians shook
their heads; so did the engineers, Mr. Walter
Moberly excepted. He knew something about
the Selkirks; but though he pointed out the way,
to another fell the honor of solving the problem.
Moberly had discovered a first-rate pass in
1865 through the Gold Mountains, greatly
to the satisfaction of himself and all British
Columbia. Gold had been found by enterprising prospectors at the Big Bend, and the provincial government, anxious to have a trail cut
from the navigable waters in the heart of the
colony to the new Eldorado, sent Moberly,
then assistant surveyor-general, to explore.
One day, not far from Shuswap Lake, among
tangled mountains choked with dense underbrush and fallen timber, valleys radiating to
every point of the compass, but leading nowhere, he saw an eagle flying to the east up
one of the valleys. Accepting the omen, he
followed and discovered the pass which he
called after the eagle, though it might more fitly
be called by his own name. Previous to this the
Gold range had been supposed to be "an unbroken and impassable wall of mountains," but,
thanks to Moberly, a wagon-road could now
be made from the settled part of the province
to the Columbia, to be followed—he wras convinced—by a railway that would in due time
extend to the fertile plains of the North-west.
If a pass could only be found across the Selkirks, he felt that his work would be completed.
He sent one and then another of his staff to explore, but their reports were discouraging.
His Indians knew nothing, except that they
could not take their canoes that way. When
they wished to get to the other side of the
range, they descended the Columbia, and
then crossed over to its head-waters by the
Kootenay River. To them time was no object.
Indians will go a hundred miles in a canoe,
or ride across a prairie for the same distance,
rather than cut through a mile of brush. In a
forest they will walk for a hundred yards
round a fallen tree, and others will continue
for years to follow the trail, rather than be at
the trouble of cutting through the obstruction.
Moberly did not despair. He saw a fracture
in the range, almost corresponding to the
fracture of the Eagle Pass in the Gold range.
Crossing the Columbia, though it was late in
the season, and entering the mouth of this
fracture, he forced his way up the banks of a
stream called the llle-Cille-Waet, chocolate-
colored from the grains of slate it holds in
solution. Twenty or thirty miles from its
mouth the llle-Cille-Waet forked. Trying
the north fork, it led him into the slate range,
intersected by innumerable veins of promising-
looking quartz that prospectors have yet to
test, but to nothing like a pass. His Indians
then struck. He used every means to induce
them to go with him up the east fork, but
in vain. The snow had begun to fall on the
mountains, and they said that they would be
caught and would never get out again. Reluctantly Moberly turned back, and as the
colony could afford no more explorations,
the Big Bend diggings not turning out as had
been anticipated, he had to content himself
with putting on record that the easterly fork
of the llle-Cille-Waet should be examined
before a route for a transcontinental railway
was finally determined on.
Thus it happened that up to 1881 no man
had crossed the virgin range. It was covered
with heavy timber almost up to the snow-line.
Without let or hindrance herds of noble caribou trotted along ancestral trails to their
feeding-grounds or to water. Bears — black,
brown, cinnamon, and grizzly—foundin sheltered valleys exhaustless supplies of the
berries on which they grow fat. From the
opposite flanks of the range, east and west,
short swollen streams rush down to join the
Columbia, their sands often indicating gold;
while on the south, where the drainage flows
into the Kootenay Lake and River, which also
feed the Columbia, rich mines of argentiferous
galena are now being worked. But no one
knew of a pass.
In February, 1881, the Syndicate appointed
Major A. B. Rogers, C. E., engineer of the
Mountain Division of the Canada Pacific Railway. He seemed about as unlikely a man for
the work of ascertaining whether the Selkirks
problem was soluble as could have been
chosen. He knew little or nothing of mountains; his previous experiences had been in
States where there is no counterpart to the
characteristic scenery and difficulties of British Columbia. But Major Rogers, like a true
descendant of the Pilgrim or Puritan fathers,
is a man who goes to the particular wilderness to which he may be appointed, asking
no questions.   Naturally intense, self-reliant, 886
and scornful of appearances, the opposite
schooling of an old-fashioned Down-East
training, the rough, experiences of engineer
and frontier life have made him so downright
that he is apt to be appalling to ordinary
mortals. Though between fifty and sixty
years of age, hair and beard now7 white, no
youngster in his party will plunge into the
grimmest mountain ranges with as little thought
of commissariat or as complete a contempt
of danger, and no Indian will encounter fatigue or famine as stoically. Hard as nails
himself, he expects others who take service
with him to endure hardness; and should there
be shirking, he is apt to show his worst side
rather than be guilty of what he has scorned
as hypocrisy in others. He fitted out at Kamloops for his first attempt on the Selkirks.
The wonder is that he did not start with rifle
on shoulder and a piece of pork in his pocket,
two or three Indians perhaps carrying blankets and a few fixings; for at that time he
thought that a gun ought to feed a party.
He does not think so now. Man can have
but one paradise at a time. If he goes into
the mountains to hunt, he can do that; if to
prospect, he can do that, with a slightly different outfit; if to discover a pass or to get
through to a given point by a given date, he
may or may not succeed,—but it is quite certain that he cannot combine the three characters, or even two, on the one expedition.
A bear or caribou may lead you miles from
your course; and if you shoot him, your Indians have a capital excuse for delay, while they
regard the meat as simply so much "kitchin"
to their stock of pork and bacon.
The Major and his nephew, Mr. Albert
Rogers, hiring at Kamloops ten Shuswap Indians from the Roman Catholic Mission to
carry their packs, started in April to force their
way to the east. They succeeded in reaching
the core of the Selkirk range, by following the
east fork of the llle-Cille-Waet; but, like
Moberly on the north fork, they got only to a
cul de sac, and their packs having become
ominously light, they — heavy with the consciousness of failure—came to the conclusion that retreat was inevitable. Before
retracing their steps, however, they climbed
the divide to see if any break could be detected
in the range. Yes; a valley appeared in the
direction of an unexplored little affluent of
the llle-Cille-Waet, and, apparently connected
with it, a depression extending to the east.
Everywhere else, all around to the horizon,
nothing but "snow-clad desolation." The
result of five or six weeks' endurance of almost
intolerable misery was this gleam of hope.
Our journey enabled us to understand what
they must have suffered.  The underbrush is
of the densest, owing to the ceaseless rain.
Black flies or mosquitoes do their part un-
weariedly. What with fallen timber of enormous size, precipices, prickly thorns, beaver
dams, marshes full of fetid water to be waded
through, alder swamps, lakelets surrounded
by bluffs so steep that it would almost puzzle
a chamois to get over or around them, we had
all we wanted of the llle-Cille-Waet and the
Eagle Pass. But they had started too early
in the season. The snow was not only deep,
but it was melting and rotting under spring
suns and rains, and therefore would not bear
their weight. Down they sank at every step,
and often into the worst kind of pitfalls. At
first their loads were so heavy that they had
to leave part behind, and then, after camping-
early, return wearily on their tracks for the
second load. The Indians would have deserted them a dozen times over, but the Major
had arranged with the Mission that if they
returned without a certificate they were to get
a whipping instead of good pay. Nothing but
pluck kept them pegging away; but in spite
of all they failed that year. The following May
the Major made his attack from the other side
of the range, and again he was unsuccessful.
Swollen torrents and scarcity of supplies
forced him back to his base, at the point
where the Kicking Horse River joins the
Columbia. On this occasion, had it not been
for the discovery of a canoe, he and his party
would have starved. Sorely against their will
he had put them on half rations, but he gladdened their hearts one morning by announcing
that it was his birthday, and producing a little
sugar to sweeten their tea.
Nothing daunted, he started again the
same summer, in the month of July, from the
same base, and succeeded. Proceeding up
the valley of the Beaver, a large stream that
enters the Columbia through an open canon,
and then following the course of one of its
tributaries appropriately called Bear Creek,
he at length found the long-sought-for pass.
He saw the mountain from the summit of
which the year before he and his nephew had
noticed the depression extending to the eas*t.
Not content while anything remained undone,
he made for the llle-Cille-Waet, and following
it down to the north fork, ascended it too,
to ascertain if its head-waters would connect
with a tributary of the Beaver, and so perhaps
afford something better; but nothing better,
or rather nothing at all, was found. The Selkirks have only one pass, but it is better than
the western slope of the main chain by the
Kicking Horse. And an American has had
the honor of finding that one on behalf of
Canada !   All honor to him !
Compared with our experiences down the t*
WHAT tempted the people of Canada to
undertake so gigantic a work as the
Canada Pacific Railway ? The difficulties in
the way were great, unprecedented, unknown.
Had they been known beforehand, the task
would not have been attempted. We were
under the inspiration of a national idea, and
went forward. We were determined to be
something more than a fortuitous collocation
of provinces. That the difficulties were faced
and overcome as they emerged, great temptations to halt or retreat being quietly set
aside, proves that we, like our neighbors and
progenitors, are not easily discouraged. Our
ultimate destiny will be none the worse because we have — not unwillingly —made sacrifices in order to make ourselves a nation.
Roughly speaking, the new country through
which the great railway runs consists of three
sections,— about a thousand miles of forest
from the upper Ottawa to the Red River of
the North; then a thousand miles of alluvial;
and then five or six hundred miles of mountains, from the first chain of the Rockies to
where the waters of the Pacific are sheltered
by the breakwater of Vancouver Island. The
total length of the line from Montreal to the
Pacific terminus is 2895 miles. The first section was long considered impracticable for a
railway, and the expense of construction has
been enormous. The rocks at the back of
Lake Superior are the oldest known to men
of science and the toughest known to engineers. But dynamite, if there be enough of it,
can do anything. This part of the line was
opened last spring most dramatically, it being
used before actual completion to transport
our militia to put down the half-breed and
Indian rising in the North-west. No amount
of champagne-drinking and of driving last
spikes of gold could have called the attention
of the country so emphatically to its importance. The second section runs through what
promises to be the great granary of the world.
The third is being pushed across a sea of
mountains. Thousands of navvies of all nationalities are swarming in the valley of the
Columbia, and thousands of Chinese are
working on the grade easterly. When this section is completed, and the shortest of all
transcontinental railways opened for traffic
from ocean to ocean, Canada will have attained
to unification, so far as links of steel can unify.
The work is so completely a political necessity that — along with the Intercolonial Railway, which binds the Atlantic  provinces to
old Canada — it may be called the symbol of
our national existence. Whether it will pay
the company financially or not is a question
on which experts differ. That it will develop
the country, and thus at any rate pay indirectly,
seems to me unquestionable. The Intercolonial was run for a time at a cost to the Dominion of over half a million dollars annually. It
now pays its way; and though shorter through
lines are to be built, the increasing local traffic,
the best indication of the real value of the
road to the country, will keep it running. So,
too, the first section of the Canada Pacific
pierces a wilderness that wise men said would
not furnish business to pay for greasing the
wheels; but it gets freight enough in the shape
of lumber alone to pay for the wheels as well
as the grease. It is revolutionizing the mode
of lumber transportation on the upper Ottawa
and to the West. The lumber kings find that
time is money. It is more profitable to send
on logs to market by rail than to continue the
tedious plan of floating them, from the banks
of far-away lakes and nameless streams in the
interior, down countless rapids and slides to
unbroken waterways. The danger now is that
our timber limits, which constitute an essential
part of the national capital, may be exhausted
within a measurable time. With regard to the
rugged Laurentian regions to the north of
Lake Superior, unexplored as yet by men of
science, there are grounds for believing that
they will turn out to be as rich in mineral
wealth as the southern shores of the lake;
and no business pays a railway so well as that
which a mining community supplies. Then,
the fertile plains of the North-west are certain
to yield harvests that will tax to the utmost
the carrying capacity of branch as well as
trunk lines.
These plains extend for eight hundred miles
west of Winnipeg. Originally a north-western
instead of a western route from Winnipeg had
been chosen for the railway, because every one
said that the only " fertile belt" was in that
direction. This " belt," or rainbow, of fertile
land swept semicircularly round a supposed
great wedge of the American desert. But the
company came to the conclusion that the
plains west of Winnipeg had been belied, and
that the rainfall was sufficient for the growth
of cereals or root crops. Singularly enough,
their faith has been vindicated; it turns out
that we have no desert. This fact is a physical
reality of the greatest importance with regard
to the area in the North-west available for THE BOSTONIANS.
things, asked herself whether they were what
he was thinking of when he said, for instance,
that he was sick of all the modern cant about
freedom and had no sympathy with those
who wanted an extension of it. What was
needed for the good of the world was that
people should make a better use of the liberty
they possessed. Such declarations as this took
Verena's breath away; she didn't suppose you
could hear any one say that in the nineteenth
century, even the least advanced. It was of
a piece with his denouncing the spread of
education; he thought the spread of education
a gigantic farce—people stuffing their heads
with a lot of empty catchwords that prevented
them from doing their work quietly and
honestly. You had a right to an education
only if you had an intelligence, and if you
looked at the matter with any desire to see
things as they are, you soon perceived that an
intelligence was a very rare luxury, the attribute of one person in a hundred. He seemed
to take a pretty low view of humanity, anyway. Verena hoped that something really
pretty bad had happened to him—not by way
of gratifying any resentment he aroused in
her nature, but to help herself to forgive him
for so much contempt and brutality. She
wanted to forgive him, for after they had sat
on their bench half an hour and his jesting
mood had abated a little, so that he talked
with more consideration (as it seemed) and
more sincerity, a strange feeling came over
her, a perfect willingness not to keep insisting
on her own side and a desire not to part from
him with a mere accentuation of their differences. Strange I call the nature of her reflections, for they softly battled with each
other as she listened, in the warm, still air,
touched with the far-away hum of the immense
city, to his deep, sweet, distinct voice, expressing monstrous opinions with exotic cadences
and mild, familiar laughs, which, as he leaned
towards her, almost tickled her cheek and ear.
It  seemed  to  her  strangely harsh,  almost
brutal, to have brought her out only to say
to her things which, after all, free as she was
to contradict them and good-natured as she
always tried to be, could only give her pain;
yet there was a spell upon her as she listened;
it was in her nature to be easily submissive,
to like being overborne. She could be silent
when people insisted, and silent without acrimony. Her whole relation to Olive was a
kind of tacit assent to perpetual insistance,
and if this had ended by being easy and
agreeable to her (and indeed had never been
anything else), it may be supposed that the
struggle of yielding to a will which she felt to
be stronger even than Olive's was not of long
duration. Ransom's will had the effect of
making her linger even while she knew the
afternoon was going on, that Olive would
have come back and found her still absent,
and would have been submerged again in the
bitter waves of anxiety. She saw her, in fact,
as she must be at that moment, posted at the
window of her room in Tenth street, watching
for some sign of her return, listening for her
step on the staircase, her voice in the hall.
Verena looked at this image as at a painted
picture, perceived all it represented, every
detail. If it didn't move her more, make
her start to her feet, dart away from Basil
Ransom and hurry back to her friend, this
was because the very torment to which she
was conscious of subjecting that friend made
her say to herself that it must be the very
last. This was the last time she could ever
sit by Mr. Ransom and hear him express
himself in a manner that interfered so with
her life; the ordeal had been so familiar and
so complete that she forgot, for the moment,
that it was also the first time it had occurred.
It might have been going on for months. She
was perfectly aware that it could bring them
to nothing, for one must lead one's own life;
it was impossible to lead the life of another,
especially when the person was so different,
so arbitrary, so inconsiderate.
(To be continued.)
Henry James.


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items