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Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island
Chapter II

On the 12th of March we left Portsmouth for Plymouth, getting away from England finally on the 26th of the same month. During our passage out we met with several accidents, which had the effect of delaying our arrival at our destination for a considerable while, but which would be of little if any interest to the reader. I may say shortly, then, that after springing a leak in the Bay of Biscay, which compelled us to run in to Lisbon, and breaking the screw-shaft a few days later, which left us for some time without the aid of steam, we reached Bio Janeiro on the 25th of May. We were detained here until the necessary repairs could be effected, leaving it on the 9th of July. After meeting with nothing more remarkable than a heavy gale off the Rivei; Plate, we entered the Straits of Magellan on the 29th of July, and were detained there by stress of weather for three weeks. On the 19th of August, however, we passed out, and picking up a fair wind, reached Valparaiso on the 28th of the same month. Starting thence on the 8th of September, we arrived, after a pleasant passage, at Honolulu, Sandwich Islands, on the 16th of October.

Although our stay at Honolulu was short, opportunity was given us to see a great deal of the place and neighbourhood. Of late years, from being a mere Indian village, it has become an important harbour for the ships engaged in whale-fishing in the North Pacific. This is conducted principally by vessels of the United States; and the white population of Honolulu, therefore, is almost exclusively American. It is no secret, I believe, that great efforts have been made by these settlers and their Government for the annexation of the Sandwich Islands. In this they have been baffled by their own unpopularity, and the strenuous counter-exertions of the advisers of King Kame-hame-ha II., who have been hitherto selected from the few English and Scotch residents in his dominions. Kame-hame-ha, indeed, is essentially English in his habits, dress, the fashion of his residence, and in his system of government, which is enlightened and progressive. He has for his chief adviser a very worthy old Scotch gentleman, by name Wylie; and his queen is the daughter of an Irish settler in his dominions, and a very pleasant, sensible woman.

Personally this monarch with the unpronounceable name is a well-educated, gentlemanly man, who speaks English and French fluently, and who has travelled a good deal both in Europe and America. It is said that, when travelling in the States, he was not allowed at some place to join the table d’hote, on account of his having black blood in his veins, although he is really little, if at all, darker than a sunburnt Englishman. Considering the many temptations incidental to his position, and that his royal father was, I believe, almost a savage, Kame-hame-ha II. may, in extenuation of his evil habits, offer pleas which have before now excused the much more glaring excesses of enlightened European monarchs and gentlemen. Unfortunately, King Kame-hame-ha is not without many social faults; but though addicted, as there is no doubt he is, to the pleasures of the table and conviviality generally, I believe him to be anything but the drunkard and debauchee that I have heard him called by some of his guests and critics.

Something—much, I think—should be conceded to the influences of his childhood, and the difficulties of his maturer years. Son of a father who, although wild and uncultivated as any North American Indian, had seen enough of the advantages of education to desire them for his son, he was put under competent masters, and afterwards sent to travel; thus European habits, tastes, and manners were engrafted upon his semi-wild nature. Of course these placed a barrier for ever between him and his native subjects. He could no longer associate with them, and he naturally joined the only society that was in the least suited to him—viz., that of the American residents. Among these he had offered him the choice of the American missionaries or merchants. The former, though most exemplary and useful men, who have done a great deal of good among the natives and the crews of the whaling ships, led lives far too austere and ascetic to please the young monarch. The others, however ineligible associates for a young man with strong passions, had at least the merit of being pleasant companions. It is therefore, perhaps, little to be wondered at that he should have preferred their society.

The King may frequently be met at the houses of his foreign subjects, at their balls, dinners, and supper parties; and although always treated with a certain amount of deference, and placed in the seat of honour, it sounds strange to hear a man say across the table, “King, a glass of wine with you!” or, “Do you feel like brandy-and-water this morning, King?” I believe in his heart, Kame-hame-ha is thoroughly sick of his present life; but the task of reformation is no easy one, and he has no one to help him in it. He has lately expressed a great desire that England should assist him socially and morally, as she has done politically. He has long desired the establishment of the Church of England in his dominions. So anxious is he for this, that he has postponed the christening of his child in the hope of being able to have that ceremony performed by an English bishop. He endeavoured to enlist the sympathies and obtain the services of the Bishop of British Columbia for this purpose; and failing that, Queen Emma actually at one time contemplated making the voyage to England with her child, with the double object of having him baptised by episcopal hands, and of inducing our gracious Queen to become his sponsor.

During our stay at Honolulu, the King’s brother, Prince Lot, acceded to our request to show us a native dance, or Hula-hula, such as we had read of in the voyages of the old explorers. It was common enough in the days of Cook and Vancouver, but has gone out of fashion since quadrilles and champagne have been introduced at Honolulu. Probably the missionaries have had much to do with its abolition, and indeed no objection they may entertain to it can be considered unreasonable.

A Hula is a festive entertainment which I find it somewhat difficult to describe. The one we saw was held near a village some ten or twelve miles from Honolulu, to which we all rode on the horses which are so good and plentiful in this island. Some 200 or 300 natives were present. Almost all the dancers were women dressed in a costume somewhat similar to that of our European ballet-girl. The music was played by some half-dozen men seated on their haunches at the far end of the room behind the dancers, who sang a wild chant, accompanied by perpetual rapping on small drums. Some of the dancers carried large shields made of feathers bound up with very bright-coloured cloth—a gourd, fixed on to the centre at the back, forming the handle. The gourds were filled with pebbles, and were rattled with extraordinary vehemence as the dancers became excited. The contortions into which they put themselves are quite beyond my powers of description. There was, however, a certain wild grace in all their movements, and they kept admirable time with each other and to the music. The chants have a peculiar significance to the islanders, and many of their traditions are, I believe, bound up iu them. Dinner was provided before the dancing commenced, which latter was kept up with wonderful spirit all through the night. We were entertained exclusively on native dishes, spread on the ground in native fashion: knives and forks, &c., with ale and wine, forming the only foreign portion of the arrangements.

Among the dishes was chowdar—a preparation of fish stewed with suet-pudding, well known in America—and several things cooked in a manner peculiar, I believe, to the Pacific Islands, by being wrapped up in palm-leaves and baked between two hot stones. This is called “loo-ou.” Dog used to be a common article of diet in the Sandwich Islands, but of late years it has gone out of fashion. But for a very natural repugnance, that it might be difficult to master, these dogs would be by no means disagreeable; for, as with frogs in France, they are devoted early in life to culinary purposes, and are fattened as pigs might be, and not allowed—as pigs often are—to eat flesh.

The Sandwich Islands horses are very good, and wonderfully cheap. Many have been exported to Vancouver Island with great success. The women are bold equestrians : the use of the side-saddle is entirely unknown to them, and they ride en cavalier on the Spanish saddle, which is made by the natives everywhere in the Pacific. They ride most pluckily, and by no means ungracefully, wearing a roll of bright yellow or red cloth, sufficiently long to reach below the feet; this is fastened at the waist, and wrapped loosely round the lower limbs, so as to form a sort of loose trowsers.

Before leaving Honolulu, I may mention the Sailors’ Home, to which the residents liberally subscribe, from the king downwards. There is accommodation in it for nearly eighty men, and in the season when the whalers crowd into the harbour they manage to accommodate many more. The sailors are charged five dollars a week, and the officers—for whom a separate table is kept—eight dollars, for their hoard and lodging.

23rd October, 1857.—Sailed from Honolulu this day, and on the 9th of November entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which divides Vancouver Island from the mainland of the American continent. In making the Strait of Fuca, should the weather be clear enough for the navigator to see the Flattery Bocks, he will at once know his position. These rocks, which lie twelve miles south of Cape Flattery and extend some three miles off shore, have a considerable elevation, and are sufficiently peculiar in their aspect to be readily identified. In fair weather the entrance to the Strait is plainly visible from them; and as they are passed, the lighthouse upon Tatoosh, off Cape Flattery, opens in view.

All high northern latitudes are peculiarly liable to sudden changes of weather, and in entering the Strait of Fuca all the knowledge and experience of which the navigator is master will often be called into requisition. The currents at the entrance of the Strait are not very strong, varying from one to four knots; but their set is uncertain, although when once fairly in the Strait the flood-stream will be found to run in, and the ebb out. Captain Trivett, of the Hudson Bay Company's service, who has made many voyages to Victoria, recommends that the south coast of Vancouver Island should be avoided in light winds, as, should it fall calm, the ship would be at the mercy of a heavy swell that almost always sets in on the shore, and renders it at times difficult to get off the coast. My subsequent experience, however, would incline me, on the contrary, to hug the island-coast, as, although the swell sets on to the island, the current appears almost invariably to set to the southward. This southerly set nearly caused the loss of H.M.S. ‘Hecate,’ in 1861, when, during a fog, she was drifted on to the rocks inside Tatoosh Island, when we thought we were still well north of it, Captain Stamp, an old seaman who, living at Barclay Sound, is in the habit frequently of taking small schooners to and from Victoria, also told me that he almost always experienced a southerly set at the entrance of the Straits.

Off the shore of Vancouver Island a large bank, some fifteen miles in breadth, extends the whole length of the island. It is, therefore, advisable, as Captain Trivett in another place remarks, to be to the northward rather than the southward in making the Strait. The edge of this bank has been very accurately defined by the soundings of H.M.S. ‘Hecate,’ which have since been published; and as the depth of water changes suddenly from 100 or 200 fathoms to no more than 40 or 50, the soundings will serve as a capital guide for the approach.

The breadth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, at its entrance between Cape Flattery, its southern point upon American territory, and Bonilla Point in Vancouver Island, is thirteen miles. It narrows soon, however, to eleven miles, carrying this breadth in an east and north-east direction some fifty miles to the Race Islands. The coasts are remarkably free from danger, and may, as a rule, be approached closely. Upon either side there are several convenient anchorages, which I shall shortly describe, and which may be taken advantage of by vessels inward or outward bound. They are well lighted, too, by both the countries interested in their navigation; although, in this respect, the United States may be said to carry off the palm. They have a small staff of officers whose duty it is to attend to the lighthouses on the coast; and until the recent home exigencies of the United States, a steamer, the ‘Shubrick,’ was especially detailed for this service.

To return, however, to a description of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Upon the northern side, from the shore of the island, densely-wooded hills rise gradually to a considerable height; while on the southern, or American shore, the rugged outline of the Olympian range of snow-clad mountains, varying in elevation from, four to seven thousand feet, and in breaks of which peeps of beautiful country may be seen, extend for many miles. As the Strait is ascended the tides and currents, which at its junction with the Pacific are of comparatively little strength, become embarrassing, and often dangerous, to the navigator. In the neighbourhood of the Race Islands, where the Strait takes au east-north-east direction and meets the first rush of the waters of the Gulf of Georgia, which have been pent-up and harassed by the labyrinth of islands choking its southern entrance, the tidal irregularities become so great and perplexing as to baffle all attempts at framing laws calculated to guide the mariner. Fortunately, the course of the winds can be ascertained with greater accuracy. At all seasons they blow up and down the Strait of Fuca. During the summer the prevailing breezes from north-west or south-west take a westerly direction within the Strait; while the south-east gales of winter blow fairly out. The mariner, however, running out of the Strait with a south-east gale, must be prepared for a shift to the southward immediately he opens Cape Flattery. This generally occurs, and it is of the first importance to be ready for it; as, of course, the southerly wind catching a ship unprepared drives her on to the dead lee-shore of the island, off which it is no easy job to work. Upon her last voyage home the Hudson Bay Company’s bark ‘Princess Royal,’ under the command of the Captain Trivett I have before alluded to, was placed in great jeopardy for a whole night from this cause.

At the Race Islands the Strait may be said to terminate, as it there opens out into a large expanse of water, which forms a playground for the tides and currents, hitherto pent up among the islands in the comparatively narrow limits of the Gulf of Georgia, to frolic in. Between Port San Juan, which is the first anchorage on the north side of the Strait just inside the entrance, and the Pace Islands two good anchorages occur. Sooke Inlet, the more westward of these, lies some nine miles from the Pace Islands, and forms a splendid basin a mile and a half square, and perfectly land-locked. The entrance, however, is so narrow and tortuous, as to make Sooke Harbour of little practical value. Some farms have, however, been established there, and what land there is in its neighbourhood available for cultivation has been found to be good and fertile.

Becher Bay lies between Sooke and the Race Islands, some four miles from the latter. The depth of water at its entrance varies from twenty to fifty fathoms, with a rocky and irregular bottom; and it cannot be recommended as an anchorage, being too open to winds from the south and west.

On the south side of the Strait is Neah Bay, four miles east-north-east from Tatoosh Island, offering a safe and convenient anchorage to vessels meeting south-west or south-east gales at the entrance of the Strait. Indeed, it is very fairly sheltered from all but north-west winds, and if threatened by them a vessel will generally be able to run out of the bay inside the adjacent island of Wyadda, which is protected on the north-east side. It was in Neah Bay, however, that the Hudson Bay Company’s brig ‘Una’ was lost in 1857. She had come down from Queen Charlotte Island, whither she had been sent to examine into some reported gold discoveries, and was lying here when a heavy north-west wind set in. Most of the crew were on shore at the Indian village, and the ‘Una’ was anchored in deep water. The anchor could not be weighed, and before they could get sail on ready for cutting the cable, she had drifted so much that, when they tried to run through between the island and the main, they grounded mi the point. The brig was totally lost, but the crew were saved and treated kindly by the Indians, who muster here in large numbers, owing to the quantity of cod, halibut, and other fish, upon the bank which I have before referred to as running out from the shore of the island. This fishery will no doubt, at some future time, prove a source of considerable profit to the colony. It was for some time doubted by the Governor and ^ others, whether the true cod was to be caught upon this bank; but some years later, when we were here with the ‘ Hecate,’ we settled this in the affirmative beyond a doubt. The halibut runs here to an enormous size; it is a large flat fish, and I have seen specimens caught that were six or seven feet long, by three or four feet wide and six or eight inches thick. Fish of this size are very coarse; but a small halibut is good eating. The Indians catch them with the hook, their lines being made usually of the fibres of the cypress-tree, or of the long kelp which abounds in these waters. They now very generally use hooks purchased of the Hudson Bay Company, but the native implement made of wood backed with bone may still be seen. The canoes of these fishermen may always be met with off the entrance of the Strait, tossing about in the chopping sea, with a coil of some fifty or sixty fathoms of line wound round their bows. Their method of killing large fish is particularly ingenious; they carry in their canoes a number of bags of seal-skin made air-tight, to each of which is attached a small harpoon barbed with iron, fishbone, or shell. A short line connects the harpoon with the bag, and the handle being withdrawn after the fish is struck he is allowed to play it out. He is often strong enough to carry one or more of the seal-skin bags under the water, but in time he comes to the surface, and is harpooned again and again, until worn out he is towed to the shore.

Between Neah Bay and Admiralty Inlet, there are several anchorages more or less to be recommended. The rugged coast is quite unfit, however, for settlement; although behind the rocks that line the shore lies much rich and fertile land, which, however, can only be reached from Admiralty Inlet and Puget Sound.

Eight miles north of the Race Islands is the harbour of Esquimalt, and three miles northward of that lies Victoria, the capital of Vancouver Island, and the present seat of government for both that colony and British Columbia. As a harbour, Esquimalt is by far the best in the southern part of the island, or mainland. It offers a safe anchorage for ships of any size, and although the entrance is perhaps somewhat narrow for a large vessel to beat in or out of with a dead foul wind, it may usually be entered easily and freely. It is moreover admirably adapted to become a maritime stronghold, and might be made almost impregnable. Its average depth is from five to seven fathoms, and in Constance Cove, on the right-hand side as the harbour is entered, there is room for as large a number of ships as we are ever likely to have in these waters to take refuge in if necessary. As yet the want of fresh water in the summer time is felt as an inconvenience ; but there are several large lakes a little up the country, at a level considerably above that of the harbour, and from them, when the resources of the colony are developed, water can easily be brought down to the ships.

Each new admiral that is appointed to the North Pacific station appears to be more and more impressed with the evident value and importance of Esquimalt as a naval station. It is to be regretted, indeed, that more land in the neighbourhood of the harbour has not been reserved by the Government, and that steps were not long ago taken to develop its resources. Had, for instance, a floating dock been built here in 1858, it would by this time have more than paid for its construction; and we should not be dependent, as we are now, upon the American dock at Mare Island, San Francisco, for the repair of our ships of war. During the four years of my service on this station, such a dock would have been used on five occasions by Her Majesty’s ships, and at least a dozen times by merchant-vessels, who, as it was, were put to great inconvenience and even danger. For instance, when H.M.S. ‘Hecate’ ran ashore in the autumn of 1861, we were a fortnight at Esquimalt patching her up, before we ventured to take her to San Francisco, whither after all we had to be convoyed by another man-of-war. This occurred too, as it may be remembered, at a time when war with the United States seemed imminent. Had it broken out, the ‘ Hecate ’ must have been trapped, and the services of a powerful steamer would have been lost to the country.

Esquimalt has seen, and is still likely to see, many startling changes. I found it altered very much from the time when as a midshipman, I first made its acquaintance in 1849. In that year, when we spent some weeks in Esquimalt Harbour on board H.M.S. ‘Inconstant,’ there was not a house to be seen on its shores; we used to fire shot and shell as we liked about the harbour, and might send parties ashore and cut as much wood as we needed Without the least chance of interruption. Now, as we entered, I wTas surprised to catch sight of a row of respectable, well-kept buildings on the southeast point of the harbour’s mouth, with pleasant gardens in front of them, from which a party of the crew of the ‘Satellite,’ who had been expecting us for some time, received us with a round of hearty cheers. This was, we found, a Naval Hospital erected in 1854, when we were at war with Russia, to receive the wounded from Petropaulovski, and since that time continued in use. Opposite the hospital, our attention was directed to a very comfortable and, standing where it did, a rather imposing residence, which was the house of Mr. Cameron, Chief Justice of Vancouver Island, and in which I have since spent many a pleasant hour. At the head of Constance Cove, at the east end of the harbour, might be seen through the trees the buildings of Constance farm, in the occupation of the Puget Sound Company; and as we held on beyond the hospital, we came in view of the site of the present town of Esquimalt, whose growth is of a more recent date than that of which I am now writing.

Nor were other signs of the already growing importance of Esquimalt wanting. It must be remembered that as yet gold, although known by some to exist both upon the island and mainland, had attracted no notice; but the colony was growing slowly yet surely without its stimulating aid. Further up the harbour stood another building, named Thetis Cottage, and at the north entrance of Constance Cove the new bailiff of the Puget Sound Company was building a house. So, everywhere ashore, there were changes and improvement visible. Nine years back, we had to scramble from the ship’s boat on to the most convenient rock: now Jones’s landing-place received us; and in the stead of forcing a path over the rocks and through the bush to the Victoria Inlet, whence, if a native should happen to be lounging about in the Indian village of the Songhies, and should see us or hear our shouts and bring a canoe over, we might hope to reach Victoria, a broad carriage-road, not of the best, perhaps, and a serviceable bridge, were found connecting Esquimalt Harbour with Victoria.

Victoria, too, was altering for the better, though slowly. The Hudson Bay Company’s fort was still the most imposing building in the town, and its officers the chief people there; but it had grown into a more important station of the great Fur Company than of yore, and Mr. Finlayson, whom we had left chief in command nine years before, we now found Mr. Douglas’s lieutenant.

As the capital of the island, Victoria undoubtedly owes its pre-eminence to Mr. Douglas, the present governor. As far back as 1843, when it was considered desirable by the Company to establish a station in the island, Victoria had been selected by him for that purpose; and later, when the Oregon boundary question was settled, and the mouth of the River Columbia, on which Fort Vancouver, the principal station of the Company in Western America, stood, fell into the hands of the United States, it was to Victoria that their head-quarters were transferred by Mr. Douglas, who was then, and had been for some time, their chief agent in the countries west of the Rocky Mountains. Mr. Douglas was guided in his selection of Victoria simply by its possessing qualities which met the requirements of the Company he represented. No one ever dreamt then of the mineral wealth of the valleys that sloped from the Rocky Mountains to the sea; or that in a few years cities (I should say, perhaps, their promise) would spring up upon shores almost unknown to the civilised world. But, long before the present rush of immigrants to these regions, Victoria, as a port, had been virtually superseded by the adjacent harbour of Esquimalt. The entrance to Victoria is narrow, shoal, and intricate; and with certain -winds a heavy sea sets on the coast, which renders the anchorage outside unsafe, while vessels of burden cannot run inside for shelter unless at or near high water. Vessels drawing 14 or 15 feet may, under ordinary circumstances, enter at high water, and ships drawing 17 feet have done so, although only at the top of spring-tides. But it is necessary always to take a pilot, and the channel is so confined and tortuous that a long ship has considerable difficulty in getting in. With every care, a large proportion of vessels entering the port run aground. No doubt steps might be taken to improve the harbour of Victoria, but it is highly problematical whether it can ever be made a safe and convenient port of entry for vessels even of moderate tonnage at all times of the tide and weather. Under the most favourable circumstances, accidents happen constantly. Last year, and again this spring, the 'Princess Royal,’ a vessel of but 600 tons’ burden, which goes from London to Vancouver Island every year, in the service of the Hudson Bay Company, grounded in entering Victoria, although she was commanded by a very able man, thoroughly acquainted with the place, and was towed at the time by a steamer which plied in and out of the harbour two or throe times at least every week. Nor when she was brought into the harbour was there sufficient depth of water to allow her to get alongside the wharf, and her cargo had to be discharged into lighters. Under these circumstances, therefore, although Victoria is, no doubt, quite well adapted for the vessels trading up the Fraser River, and the many small craft that will be required among the islands and ports of the coast, ships of larger tonnage mud always prefer Esquimalt. I cannot imagine any sensible master of an ocean ship endeavouring to wriggle his vessel into Victoria with the larger and safer harbour of Esquimalt handy.

Very possibly, could the future have been foreseen, Victoria would not have been selected as the chief commercial port of Vancouver Island. But the selection has been made, the town is built or building, the commerce already attracted. The fact must be regarded as accomplished beyond the possibility of change ; and the only thing that can now be done is to connect it with the harbour of Esquimalt, towards which .task the natural formation of the country lends itself admirably.

In the way of this, however, stand several obstacles, and chief among them, perhaps, is the jealousy of the landholders of Victoria, who, believing that the elevation of Esquimalt into the harbour of the colony would lower the value of their property, have persistently opposed such a project. Nor have the landholders of Esquimalt been altogether free from blame. Irritated by the opposition of Victoria, and convinced that in the end their demands must be conceded, they have placed a value upon their land which is quite exorbitant. Many of the merchants of Victoria would, I believe, long-ago have been glad to transfer their wharves to Esquimalt, could they have obtained the necessary land at anything like a fair price.

Some efforts had, however, been made to connect the two places. As I have before said, in 1849 the country between them was impassable, and the only communication possible was by creeping round by the shore and crossing the head of the inlet in a canoe; but now we found a broad road carried from Victoria to the Naval Hospital, passing through what has since become the site of Esquimalt town, with branch ways to several important points of the harbour. At that time this road fulfilled its purpose moderately well; but later, when the rush to British Columbia commenced, it broke down miserably, and it was, in the autumn of 1861, when I left, a disgrace to the colony. In the winter it was practically almost useless, and the waggons had to fake to the grass by the side, with what result may easily be imagined; and when the mails were expected, the express-men and waggon-drivers had to go over the ground the day before and patch it up sufficiently to enable them to get to Victoria at all.

Very few words need be given to the description of Victoria. Reaching it by the road just mentioned, the traveller passes the Hospital, supported by voluntary contributions, and first established by the Rev. E. Cridge, who was the Hudson Bay Company’s chaplain at Victoria for some years, and did much good in many unobtrusive ways before the arrival of the present bishop. Beyond, situated upon a point of land that juts out between the first and second bridges, has since been built a foundry, about' which, in the winter season, may generally be seen miners busy building flat-bottomed boats, raising the gunwales of old canoes, and in other ways making preparations for crossing the Gulf of Georgia and ascending the Fraser River early in the spring. Further on, across the first bridge, the road ascends a little hill, on the summit of which lies the Indian village of the Songhies, once the sole inhabitants of this place. The close contiguity of these Indians to Victoria is seriously inconvenient, and various plans for removing them to a distance have been discussed both in and out of the colonial legislature. In consequence of their intercourse with the whites—chiefly, of course, for evil—this tribe has become the most degraded in the whole island, having lost what few virtues the savage in his natural state possesses, and contracted the worst vices of the settlers. It is scarcely possible to walk along the road by which their village lies without stumbling upon half-a-dozen or more, lying dead-drunk upon the ground; and it is no uncommon thing at night to hear a ball whizz past your head, fired, not at the traveller, but from a hut on one side of the road to one on the other in some drunken squabble. Altogether, what with the drunkenness and the gambling—for Indians are great gamblers, and numbers may be seen squatted on their haunches by the roadside playing for whatever they have earned or stolen—this village of the Songhies presents one of the most squalid pictures of dirt and misery it is possible to conceive. To the right of these, and stretching fiir along the northern side of the harbour, are the tents of the tribes who come down several hundred miles from the northernmost part of our West American possessions to barter furs, buy whisky, and see the white men.

The Company’s fort, long the chief feature of the place, is situated on the north-east skip of the harbour. Upon my first visit to Victoria in 1849, a small dairy at the head of James Bay was the only building standing outside the fort pickets, which are now demolished. But shortly after, upon Mr. Douglas’s arrival, he built himself a house on the south side of James Bay; and Mr. Work, another chief factor of the Company, arriving a little later, erected another in Bock Bay, above the bridge. These formed the nucleus of a little group of buildings, which rose about and between them so slowly that even in 1857 there was but one small wharf on the harbour’s edge. Still, the least experienced eye could see the capabilities of the site of Victoria for a town, and that it was capable, should the occasion ever arise, of springing into importance as Melbourne or San Francisco had done. As it was, the place was very pleasant, and society— as it is generally in a young colony—frank and agreeable. No ceremony was known in those pleasant times. All the half-dozen houses that made up the town were open to us. In fine weather, riding-parties of the gentlemen and ladies of the place were formed, and we returned generally to a high tea, or tea-dinner, at Mr. Douglas’s or Mr. Work’s, winding up the pleasant evening with dance and song. We thought nothing then of starting off to Victoria in sea-boots, carrying others in our pockets, just to enjoy a pleasant evening by a good log-fire. And we cared as little for the weary tramp homeward to Esquimalt in the dark, although it happened sometimes that men lost their way, and had to sleep in the bush all night.

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