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Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island
Chapter VIII

On the 5th of April we left Esquimalt to commence the summer work, and proceeded to Nanaimo to fill up with coal. On our way we stopped at the northern settlement on Admiral Island, as it had been reported that some Indians had been troublesome there. We foimd, however, that the Indians had done nothing more than tell the settlers occasionally, as Inchans do everywhere, that they (the whites) had no business there except as their guests, and that all the land belonged to them. At the Ganges Harbour settlement some of the black settlers had been robbed by them. The Indians always stedfastly refused to regard black men as entitled to any of the respect claimed by and shown to the whites. They also entertain the same feeling with regard to the Chinese. I remember an Indian once asking me about them, and saying, “Wake, wake!” (“No, no!”), most decidedly, when I told him they were “carqua King George men” (“the same as Englishmen”).

It appeared to be most desirable here, as at other places, that the Indians should be duly paid for their land. This is not so simple as it may seem, however, even supposing the money necessary for such a purpose to be forthcoming. In New Zealand the Government spent many thousand pounds purchasing the land, appointing agents, commissioners, &c., and something of the same is no doubt as necessary here. Vancouver Island, however, has no revenue available or sufficient for such a purpose, and of course the revenue of British Columbia cannot, while the two colonies are distinct, be applied to it. Another difficulty would be found in the con-dieting claims of the various tribes, arising from their habits of polygamy and inheritance from the female side, together with the absence of any documentary or satisfactory evidence of title.

If, therefore, any one chief or tribe were paid for a piece of land without the acknowledgment on the part of adjacent tribes of the vendor’s right to the land sold, five or six other claimants would in all probability come forward asserting the land to be theirs, and founding their title to it upon some intermarriage of its former possessors. The difficulties arising from the Indian custom of descent from the female side are most perplexing. Mr. Weynton, of the Hudson Bay Company, who resided some years at Fort Rupert, told me he had known, on the death of a chief, a man from quite another tribe step in and take the chieftainship, without, so far as he could ascertain, any close connection with the tribe he claimed to rule. Admiral Island, for instance, of which I am now speaking, would, in all probability, be claimed by no less than four tribes, viz., the Cowitchin, the Penalikutson, a small tribe living among these islands, the Nanaimos, and Saanitch Indians. On the occasion of our present visit, the settlers, in reference to this subject, said the Indians had never been there before, and that they had established a village there for the sole purpose of asserting their claim to compensation for the land. Upon our telling one of them this, he pointed to a small stump by which we were standing, and said it marked his father’s grave, where he had buried him three years ago—long before any white settler came to the place.

From Nanaimo we went to the Qualicome River, from which a trail leads across the island to the head of the Alberni Canal, which runs up from Barclay Sound on the west coast. Between Nanaimo and Qualicome, and twenty miles from the former, is the magnificent harbour of Nanoose. The Nanoose district, as the neighbourhood of this harbour is called, contains a considerable quantity of very good land. In the course of a journey I made in the following year from the Alberni settlement to Nanaimo, I passed over this district, and found a large quantity of land well adapted for settlement. Some parts of it are rather light and stony, and there are a few swamps; but the greater portion is rich black vegetable mould, lightly timbered, and well watered by the Nanoose River, which runs into the harbour, and by several smaller streams. From Qualicome to Alberni the distance in a straight line is only twelve miles, this being the narrowest part of the island, except at the very northern end, where Quatsinough Inlet runs in from the west side to within seven miles of Reaver harbour on the east, in which Fort Rupert is situated.

In the year 1859 Captain Richards crossed the island from Qualicome to Alberni, before the settlement at the latter place was established, in company with one of the Hudson Bay Company’s agents, who goes there every year to purchase sea-otter skins, &c., from the natives of the west side. He found that, after ascending the Qualicome River for some fom- or five miles and crossing a ridge 600 or 800 feet high, they came to a lake six miles long, called Horne Lake. This they crossed in a canoe which the Indians kept there on purpose for Mr. Horne, the Hudson Bay Company’s agent, to make his annual trip in, and then, ascending the ridge at its western end, they looked down on the Alberni Canal five miles off. The ridge to the summit of which they ascended has since been named “Steep Ridge.” It lies across the head of the Alberni, and the ascent from Horne Lake to its summit was so steep that Captain Richards was convinced that, however well it might answer as a trail for foot-travellers, it could never be used as a roadway. In the summer following that of which I am now writing, and two years after Captain Richards had examined this route, we happened to be engaged in surveying Barclay Sound and the Alberni Canal. The Governor having expressed a great desire to find a way of connecting the settlement then becoming established at Alberni with Nanaimo, by crossing the mainland instead of sailing round the island, I was instructed by Captain Richards to ascertain whether a way existed across the island to Nanaimo by a valley that seemed to be more favourable for the purpose than that which he had previously traversed from Horne Lake. Although, as I have said, this journey did not take place till a year after the period of which I am now writing, it will perhaps be desirable to describe it here, since it relates to the part of the island now under consideration.

On the 29th April, 1861, therefore, having made all necessary arrangements, we left the settlement at Alberni to make our way to Nanaimo, a distance as the crow flies of about 40 miles. Our party consisted of six Somass Indians, Mr. Bamfield, the Indian agent at Barclay Sound, and one Royal Marine from H.M.S. ‘Hecate.” I have before spoken of the difficulty of effecting a start with Indians, and on this occasion more than ordinary trouble was experienced. It was still early spring, so that while the Indian’s winter stock of provisions was exhausted, the berries upon which he relied for subsistence were not yet in season; and they were living from hand to mouth on what they could shoot and their daily haul of fish. The consequence of this was, that before I could induce any of the Indians to accompany us, I had to make arrangements for the provisioning of their wives during their absence, and to give an undertaking that Captain Stamp, the gentleman in charge of the saw-mills, would see to their being provided with food if our journey to Nanaimo and back should chance to exceed the estimated time. I refused on this occasion to recognise more than one wife to each of the Indian guides, although I was aware that some had more; but even this arrangement—which is, however, absolutely necessary— adds much to the expense and trouble of such journeys.

After everything has been settled, farewells said, and the packs distributed and arranged—always a matter of much consideration—the mere process of getting under weigh will often occupy two or three hours. First, one fellow will make the discovery that he is not provided with “scaarlux” (breeches), and that he will be torn by the bushes. His want met, another will plead the need of mocassins, and although it is pretty certain he will make no use of them, a pair of shoes has to be found for him somehow. Powder and shot will next be applied for, and matches must be served out all round. When at last stirred by the strongest expressions of which the Chinook vocabulary is capable, some sort of a start is made, the leader will find that his mocassins are imperfectly laced, or his pack not perfectly balanced, or, if he happens to have his shoes on, he decides to take them off. Down he squats, the whole party following his example, and when you overtake them, you find them a few hundred yards from the starting-place, seated in a row, talking with the utmost animation and unconcern of the journey before them. Time, of course, they set no value on, and it is a great tiling to get two or three miles of a journey over in the first day, or even to camp for the night at a sufficient distance from their village. The starting over, however, and once fairly in the bush, all goes well enough.

Upon this occasion, however, our difficulties did not end with the first night’s camping, for our journey lay through a country over which none of the Indians had ever travelled. After their fashion, therefore, they declared it to be impenetrable, and but for one old hunter, who supported and expressed a determination to follow me, I do not think I should have induced them to remain with me. As it was we had not proceeded far on the second day’s journey when one of the Indians complained of being ill, and desired to return. He was evidently ill, but it would never have done to have allowed one of them to turn back just then, so I proceeded to abuse him to the full extent of my knowledge of Chinook, upbraiding him with being “carqua klootcluman,”—“like a woman,”— and finally dismissing him with a note of explanation to Captain Stamp, in which I said that I was sorry he should have sent a woman instead of a man with me. I took care to read this note out aloud, and it had the desired effect of making him ashamed, and the others laugh; whereupon the sick man shouldered his load and completed the journey without another word of complaint.

By noon of this day (30th) we had crossed the steep ridge which lies across the head of the canal, by a path much lower than that which Captain Richards had taken coming from Horne Lake. The ascent, indeed, was so gradual as to offer no obstacle to the construction of a road. Haying descended by the other side, which was somewhat steeper, we came upon a beautiful stream, 40 or 50 yards wide, running to the northward. Following this stream, we fell across some herds of elk (wapiti), one of which I fortunately brought down, after my head Indian had made two or three unsuccessful shots. I say fortunately, for nothing raises a stranger more in the estimation of the Indians than skill with the rifle : and as I managed next day to shoot two deer through the head, it raised their opinion of me immensely, and made them follow my instructions much more readily than they might otherwise have done. It would astonish one unacquainted with Indians on a campaign like this, to note the expedition with which an elk, larger than a cow, is reduced to a skeleton. As I have before mentioned, a quarter of an hour suffices to accomplish this result, including the process even of turning its skin into mocassins. The prime cuts—those along each side of the saddle, and affording two strips of meat five or six feet long, and four inches thick, belonging of right to me as the leader of the party—were sewn up in a piece of the elk’s skin and slung on the chief Indian’s pack. The rest of the deer’s flesh was then divided, and its skin laced on to their feet, in the way I have before described, with extraordinary despatch.

After another hour’s walk we halted under a large tree to smoke a pipe, before crossing a piece of swamp which lay just ahead of us. I had leant my gun against a tree—I carried it myself just then, in the hope of getting another shot at an elk—and was striking a match, when I saw the old hunter leap up with an abrupt ejaculation, and commence tearing the cover off his gun in great haste- Seizing mine, and looking about to see what was the matter, a large black bear jumped down from the tree under which we had been sitting, and made off with all speed into the bush. With my gun to my shoulder I swung round upon my heel after him, when Mr. Bamfield, in his eagerness to get a shot at the bear, starting up, placed his head within a few inches of the muzzle of my weapon, and nothing but a sharp instinctive jerk which I gave it upward prevented his receiving the contents of the barrel. It was a fortunate escape for him, for me, and for the bear, who, in the confusion which followed, made his escape, much to the disappointment of the Indians, who prefer bear-meat to elk at this season, and would have thrown away their stock of venison for it. Proceeding, we soon came to a small lake about three miles long, of the existence of which no one of the Indians had any idea. As we had been on low land, or through thick wood all the way, I was rather puzzled to make out whereabouts Mount Arrowsmith, the position of which was well determined in our charts, was, and somewhat inadvisedly invited a discussion of the question before the Indians. I had all along been steering by a pocket-compass, which the Indians looked upon with great awe, and which I insisted, whenever I found them wavering, showed me the way to Nanaimo. My doubts as to the whereabouts of Mount Arrowsmith were therefore an admission of ignorance which it was rash of me to make; for one curious, observant old fellow, whom we had christened Wat Tyler, from a likeness he bore to Mr. Bamfield’s ideal of that personage, immediately propounded the troublesome problem—“If the compass showed me the way to Nanaimo, 'why did it not show me where the mountain was?” I had to explain that the compass, being bound for Nanaimo, declined to trouble itself with any other consideration.

We walked along the beach for about half the length of the lake, when the Indians proposed making a raft to continue our journey on. As it was near camping-time, and I did not know how much farther the lake extended, we halted and commenced making the raft to proceed upon next morning. It proved fortunate that we did so, as it saved us a scramble over steep rocks, and round one or two points which would have proved by no means easy or pleasant travelling.

At the east end of the lake, which was not more than three miles and a half long, and which we reached after a wet, cold journey on the raft we had constructed during the night, we found another considerable river running to the northward through the gorge, up which a road could be carried with no great difficulty. We did not follow this stream, but crossed the ridge on the right of it, and descended on its north side, the Gulf of Georgia opening before us. This was the 1st of May, and from that till the afternoon of the 3rd, having crossed to the east coast of the island, we passed over land most of which would be admirably adapted for settlement, quite equal, indeed, to the already settled Saanitch district, although not so good, perhaps, as some other parts of the island, particularly at Komoux, of which I shall have to speak presently. Most of it was level, and lightly timbered; in some parts, indeed, the soil was light and swampy, but, as a rule, it was a dark, rich vegetable mould. It will be remembered that I am speaking now of the east coast of the island between Qualicome and Nanoose. On the 3rd, at 1 p.m., we made the sea, a few miles from Nanoose Harbour, and, skirting it, held directly for Nanaimo, which we reached next day at 5 p.m.

The Nanaimo people were very much surprised at our appearance, and delighted to hear so good a report of the way we had travelled by. We remained there till the 7th, on which day we set out on our return journey to Alberni. Three of the Indians who had accompanied me suffered so much from swollen feet and legs that I was obliged to leave them behind, finding, luckily, as many Nanaimos willing to take their place. I intended to return by an entirely different route to that which we had taken in coming, and accordingly pushed inland at once from Nanaimo, keeping behind Nanoose Harbour altogether. We found a great deal of excellent land in the valley of the Nanoose River, which flows from the southward into the head of Nanoose Harbour; so that I am able to affirm that the whole country between the Qualicome River and Nanaimo is fair, and in parts excellent. At Nanoose we nearly struck our old route, and having found that Mounts Arrowsmith and Moriarty, that lay before us, and between which I had hoped to pass, were united by a high, snow-covered ridge, held for the lake, recrossed it by means of the raft, which we found where it had been left, and reached the settlement at Alberni at ten in the morning of the 12th May.

Though the difficulties of making a road across the island were not insuperable, or even great, yet the Governor was disappointed at those which I reported to exist, he having been under the impression that there was little to prevent a waggon-road being at once laid down. This, however, will seldom be found practicable in this country. I think I am safe in asserting that road-making is the hardest and most expensive work in the colony; for when there are not hills to be scaled, there are woods and swamps to cross; and where these are wanting, rapid rivers and streams will be found that require bridging. As yet no road has been constructed even between Victoria and Nanaimo, the main obstacle to which is the lack of money in the colonial treasury. When this is done we may hope for communication across the island to the Alberni, which I think should be carried up from that place through the Nanoose Valley, and then along the coast, a branch turning into Cameron Lake and Alberni, and the main road continuing up the east side of the island to Comas, Salmon River, Beaver Cove, and Fort Rupert— in all of which districts there is much good land, of which I shall presently speak. Let us now, however, return to the ‘Plumper,’ and accompany her from Qualicome, where we left her at anchor. On the 13th April we weighed, and steamed up Baynes Sound, between Denman Island and Vancouver, anchoring in Henry Bay, at the north end of the former. From this place our party pushed on to Cape Mudge, at the south end of Discovery Passage, to prepare the way for the ship; while Dr. Wood and I went to examine the land about the Courtenay River, which empties itself into the head of Baynes Sound. This portion of the island, which is known as the Komoux, or Comax district, had been partially examined before; but although we had been informed that there was some fine land there, the extent and beauty of what we saw quite surprised us, and we both agreed this was the most promising spot for an agricultural settlement we had yet seen on the island.

The Courtenay River runs into Augusta Bay, at the head of Baynes Sound, and here we found what is of the utmost importance in prospecting for a settlement, viz., good and safe anchorage for ships of almost any size. At the rivers’ mouths are sands, which dry off to some considerable distance, and in winter are covered with flocks of ducks, geese, and other wild fowl. The stream for about a mile is perfectly navigable for large boats at high-water, or even for small stern-wheel steamers; although the land on the left bank being quite clear and level from outside the liver’s month, it is unnecessary to have steamers, or even bateaux there. At the point where it becomes unnavigable, the Courtenay—which as far as we examined runs nearly parallel with the coast—is joined by a river, called by the natives the “Puntluch,” which flows from the south-west through a deep valley, and probably takes its rise in the great central lake, from which the Somass River runs down on the west side of the island into the Alberni Canal. We did not go up this stream, the Indians reporting that there was no good land upon its banks, and that the bush was very thick. Landing from the canoe just above the Forks of the Puntluch and Courtenay (or Tzo-o-oom, as the Indians call it) Rivers, and on the left bank of the latter, we found ourselves in the middle of a large prairie, which we discovered continued in a northwesterly direction, or parallel with the coast, for eight or ten miles. The Courtenay flows nearly through the centre of this, and there are one or two smaller streams, which water the whole abundantly. The ground slopes upwards from the river on both sides, so as to prevent the possibility of overflow to any extent. The whole of this prairie is bounded by dense wood, forming a sheltering coast-fringe on the east, and affording plenty of timber on all sides (except towards the entrance from Baynes Sound) for building, burning, &c. It took us a day and a half to walk over this land, through which a plough might be driven from end to end. We tried to penetrate the forest at the northern end, in hopes of finding some more clear land beyond, but the Indians said they did not know of any in that direction; and as our time was limited, we retraced our steps. I have no doubt, how ever, but more good land will be found to lie between this point and the valley of the Salmon River, which is 60 miles north of it. The Indians at Salmon River told us that they could go by land from there to Ivomoux in a day and a half; and this, if true, proves that the bush cannot be very thick. We found the ground on the west bank of the Courtenay nearly as good as that on the east. The soil, indeed, appeared quite equal to it, but it is not so level. We estimated the clear land here altogether at 7000 or 8000 acres. The Indians told us that a great many blankets would be wanted for the purchase of this tract, as all the neighbouring tribes resorted there in the summer-time to collect berries, shoot deer, catch fish, &c., all of which were found in large quantities. Indeed, they showed some reluctance at taking us over it, feeling sure, no doubt, that we should desire to possess it when its qualities became known. Rejoining the ship after two days’ absence, on the 20th we started for a small harbour inside Cape Mudge, whence to commence surveying operations up the Strait. While in Henry Bay we witnessed the arrival of some Roman Catholic priests, which caused the greatest excitement among the natives. They were scattered in all directions, fishing, &c.—many on board and around the ship—when a canoe, with two large banners flying, appeared in sight. Immediately a shout was raised of “Le Prétre! Le Pretre!” and they all paddled on shore as fast as they could to meet them. There were two priests in the canoe, and in this way they travelled, visiting in turn every village on the coast. A fortnight afterwards, when I was in Johnstone Strait with a boat-party, I met them again. It was a pouring wet day, cold, and blowing hard, and they were apparently very lightly clothed, huddling in the bottom of their canoe, the Indians paddling laboriously against wind and tide to reach a village by night, and the sea washing-over them, drenching them to the skin. I never saw men look in a more pitiable plight. They had a little map with them, and asked me to show them where they were, of which they appeared to have a very hazy idea. One of their men had shot a deer, which they were delighted to exchange for some biscuit, of which they had run very short. Certainly if misery on this earth will be compensated for hereafter those two priests were laying in a plentiful stock of happiness.

The Roman Catholic clergy located in these parts are mostly Frenchmen. They are energetic, clever men—of no very high extraction or type, perhaps—and work under the direction of M. Demers, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Victoria. They are thorough masters of Chinook, have the art of making themselves understood and feared by the Indians, and undoubtedly possess considerable influence over them.

Coming out at the north end of Baynes Sound, and rounding Cape Lazo, Cape Mudge—so named by Vancouver, after his lieutenant, .the late Admiral Zachariah Mudge—appears like an island in the middle of the Gulf, presenting a high, steep face to the southward; though as it is approached, shoals will be found extending from it a long way. This part of the Gulf of Georgia forms a sort of playground for the waters, in which they frolic, utterly regardless of all tidal rules. This is caused by the collision of the streams which takes place here; the flood-stream from the south, through the Strait of Fuca, and up the Haro Archipelago, being met by that from Queen Charlotte Sound and Johnstone and Discovery Straits. The tide-rips caused by the conflict between these opponent streams are excessively dangerous to boats, and great care has to be exercised in crossing. These tide-rips exist to some extent in all parts of these inner waters, but they are certainly more dangerous here than anywhere else. A boat getting into them is almost certain to be swamped; and even a ship is so twisted and twirled about as to run considerable risk, if the passage is at all narrow, of being forced on the rocks or beach.

Fifteen miles above Cape Mudge, Seymour Narrows, at the south end of Discovery Strait, are reached. These narrows are only 900 yards wide, and as the stream turns almost instantaneously in them, there is an incessant turmoil and bubble going on. On the Monday after we moved from Baynes Sound to Quatliiosky Cove, just inside Cape Mudge, Pender and I started for these narrows. I had to stop at them while he was going further on for a distance of 40 or 50 miles. We pulled up to them with the young ebb: my boat keeping close inshore to prevent its being carried through; Pender in the mid-stream. As we approached we watched his boat quickening her pace every second. When close to the entrance we shot into a little pool of still water, and jumping on a rock I was just in time to see him shoot through at a tremendous speed, laying on his oars, for they were quite useless, and flying up the Strait. In about an hour from the time we parted he had reached Point Chatham, about 15 miles up. This is very well so long as a boat is going with, the stream, but when working against it it is not so pleasant, particularly if, as frequently happens, a strong wind is blowing with the current. For, as the mountains are mostly very high on each side and the Strait nowhere more than two miles wide, the wind blows up and down it with great force.

It would be tedious both to myself and to my reader to give a detailed description of the numerous islands and passages between Cape Mudge and the north end of the island. I will therefore only speak of the few places that are or seem likely to become of importance to the colony. I may say generally that the passage of the Strait is 140 miles long, and averages one mile and a half in width: its average depth is about 100 fathoms, and there are plenty of anchorages on both sides. For sailing-vessels the rapid and uncertain currents must always make the navigation somewhat dangerous, although Vancouver managed seventy years ago to get the old 'Discovery’ and ‘Chatham’ through. For steamers capable of going seven or eight knots it is safe enough, though a stranger would probably feel a little nervous at finding his vessel twisted round and round against her helm, and apparently running full tilt at the steep trap cliffs which line it, until an opposite eddy catches and preserves her, or forces her in the same fashion on to the other shore.

Fifteen miles above Seymour Narrows is Point Chatham. Here the channel divides: the western one, Johnstone Strait, leading up to Rupert; the eastern, Nodales Channel, flowing between the islands towards Bute and Loughborough Inlets. Five-and-twenty miles above this again is Salmon Bay and River, in the vicinity of which I believe there is some good land, and from which, as I have said, the" Indians assert that they can go direct to Komoux. Ten miles above Salmon River is Port Neville, a long harbour in which is capital anchorage, and beyond the head of which we were told were some large lakes. We had a most fortunate escape of running on a pinnacle in the entrance of this harbour. The harbour had been examined carefully before we went there; but the existence of this rock was not discovered. As we went in we must have gone within a few yards of it without knowing anything about it, and on coming out we passed it so closely as to be able to see it distinctly from the deck. After a few years in a surveying ship, however, you get quite used to this sort of escape.

Five or six miles above Port Neville, on the opposite side, is Adam’s River, a stream of considerable size, flowing through a large valley, which looks as though it had some good land in it. Twenty miles above Adam’s River is Beaver Cove, called by the natives Quarkese. There is some beautiful land a mile or so in from the harbour, and large numbers of elk are to be found: Mr. Weynton told me that he had seen thirty or forty in a day, and shot a large number. Close above this again is the Nimpkish River, with the village ot the Nimpkish Indians on its north bank. This village presents exactly the same appearance now as it did in 1792, when Vancouver made that sketch of it which is given in his Voyages. The river flows from a large lake in the centre of the island. There is an Indian trail from Nimpkisli to Nootka, by which Mr. Moffat, one of the Hudson Bay Company’s officers, crossed in 1852. As Mr. Moffat is the only white man who has ever travelled by this route, and as his explorations nearly meet those of Captain Richards and myself in the southern part of the island, I will here introduce some extracts from his Journal:—

Leaving the mouth of the Nimpkisli River at daybreak of July 2,1852, in a canoe with six Indians, he reached the fishing-village at the entrance of the lake at nine o’clock, and entered it at ten. The Indian name of the lake is ’Tsllettle; but he afterwards called it the Nimpkish Lake, by which name it is now generally known. “The shores on either side at this (north-east) end,” writes Mr. Moffat, “rise perpendicularly from the water’s edge to the height of some 1500 or 1600 feet, and from 4000 to 5000 feet a. little inland, and are in many places capped with snow. The width of the lake at its entrance is about half-a-mile, gradually widening to a mile and a half. I endeavoured to ascertain the depth with a forty-fathom line, but did not succeed. Our course through the lake was about south-east, and the length I have since ascertained to be fully 25 miles. In the evening we camped at the River Oaksey, distant about a mile from the head.”

At ten next morning Mr. Moffat’s party commenced the ascent of the River Oaksey, stopping a short time to examine the finest beaver-dam he had ever seen. “The whole of this day was spent in working up the rapids, of which the river is one continuation. We encamped in the evening at Waakash, the half-way house to the second lake, a distance of 12 miles. The banks of the river are rather low, and abounding in splendid red pine and maple of all sizes; but not the slightest vestige of clear land to be seen. The country a short distance inland from the river is very high.”

On the following day, after eight hours’ paddling, they reached a second village, where they got a few salmon and trout. “The river here branches off in two different directions: the distance from Waakash to this place is about seven or eight miles, and the river, as yesterday, nothing but rapids. We remained only a short time here and then started for Lake Haims, distant sis miles.” The Indians told Mr. Moffat that this part of the river was very shallow and the country between them and the lake clear; so he went with some of his crew on foot, and reached the lake after a very pleasant walk. “The country through which I passed was clear, with occasional belts of wood and brush, and abounding in partridges, of which I shot a good many. I also noticed a pond of cold spring-water, of great depth, without an outlet, similar to what are at home called blow-wells. During my walk I was informed of a tribe of Indians living inland, having no canoes and no connection with the coast whatever. I have since learned that these people sometimes descend some of the rivers for the purpose of trade with the Indians of Nootka, and they offered to guide me to the place at any time I should wish. The name of the tribe is Saa-kaalituck; they number about 50 or 60 men, and were only discovered a few years back by one of the Nimpkish chiefs, while on a trapping expedition. The following is the Indians’ story of their discovery:—Our party, while sitting round the fire on the banks of a small rivulet, observed a beaver playing in the water, and having followed the course of the stream in hopes of falling in with a dam, came suddenly upon a lake, and the first thing that struck our attention was a small village, situated at the opposite side. Upon entering the village we were well received by the Indians and opened a trade for skins, of which they had an abundance, and which they used for clothing. They informed us that Southern Indians (as we supposed, the Saanitch) had been there on war parties, and killed a good many of them.

“This tribe are known to the Nootkas, who have a superstitious idea that they are the spirits of their dead, on account of their speaking the same language. From the time the Nimpkish say it takes to perform this journey, and from the Saanitch (or more probably the Comax) Indians having knowledge of these people, I have not the least doubt that a road might with little difficulty be discovered from here to Victoria, through the very centre of the island. After passing this lake, which is probably ten miles long, we encamped at the base of a snow-capped mountain, two very fine cascades falling several hundred feet from its summit; and the streams which they form abounding in trout of excellent quality and great size, numbers of which we caught.”

Next day Mr. Moffat endeavoured to ascend the mountain mentioned, and which he called Ben Lomond, but which is probably the Conuma Peak of the old navigators. He failed from its steepness, however. “Having,” he writes, “been disappointed in my walk, I returned to the camp at 9 a.m., and set out for a walk across the portage (which was a succession of mountain defiles) to the head-waters of the Nootka River. This river, during its course of three or four miles from its source, disappears three different times. Stopped at noon to dine, and, after half an hour’s rest, recommenced our journey, and arrived at Nootka Sound at 7 p.m., after passing over 16 or 18 miles.”

The Indians would not encamp there, however, on account of a superstitious fear of ghosts, and he had to go on farther. This was, however, the real end of the journey, so far as this route is concerned; the rest being merely down Nootka Sound in a canoe. From Nimpkish River to the Thupana arm of Nootka, occupied four days. On his arrival at Friendly Cove, lie was received with a discharge of guns from the Chief’s house. “Until we were about to land,” he says, “scarcely an Indian was to he seen, but at a given signal the whole tribe darted from their houses and commenced a grand dance in honour of the arrival of a white man to visit them, after which a sea-otter skin was presented to me by the Chief, and we landed amid the welcome shouts of the Nootkas. In the evening a grand fancy dress ball was given, and a large quantity of blankets and other property distributed.”

Ten miles beyond Nimpkisli is Beaver Harbour, on the south side of which stands Fort Rupert—the only fort beside Victoria on Vancouver Island. Between the Nimpkisli River and Beaver Harbour, the Straits become, comparatively speaking, very shallow; and a bank has to be crossed with not more than three fathoms of water upon it.

Beaver harbour is fine, roomy, and well sheltered. There is no extent of clear land in its vicinity, although it is pretty level. As I have before said the Quatsinough Iulet runs up from the west side of the island to within seven miles of this place, and there is a good trail connecting them. The timber here is fine—the Douglas and White pines growing very large. Three or four years ago a large number were felled, with the intention of shipping them to China and elsewhere; but from some mismanagement in the Company which had undertaken the work, they were never despatched, and are now lying about the beach in all directions. There is a considerable quantity of yellow cypress here also. This wood is not found on the south-east part of the island Some has been cut on the west side, but it becomes more plentiful as you travel north; and in the Russian territory near Sitka it exists in large quantities. It is very light and tough, and is by far the best wood on the coast for boat-plank. When green it emits a peculiar though not unpleasant smell, and can always be recognised in the woods by its leaf, which differs from that of the Common pine—which tree it otherwise closely resembles, being convex on both sides.

Fort Rupert is the newest and best built station of the Hudson pay Company I have seen, and the gardens are very nicely laid out. Of course, like all the rest, it is stockaded, and has its gallery and bastions. It stands almost in the middle of the Indian village. Some idea of the number of salmon in these parts, and of the prodigality of the Hudson Bay Company under the old regime, may be gathered from the fact told me by one of these officers, that before he took charge of the post 3000 salmon were used annually as manure for the garden. I take it that pickling salmon here would be a very lucrative speculation. The fish can be bought for a leaf of tobacco each, and as forty of these leaves compose a pound of that herb, a fair margin of profit is left. Including the packing, they might be cured at a cost of from one and a half dollars to two dollars a barrel. The price obtained at the Sandwich Islands, where the Company at one time carried on some little trading of this sort, averaged fourteen dollars a barrel. The Hudson Bay Company, however, are shy at embarking in any but the fur trade, and perhaps they are right. Companies are proverbially unlucky in trade, and the opportunities neglected and thrown away by this one during the last few years have astonished every merchant who lias visited these parts. I should add that 2000 barrels might be obtained annually at Port Rupert, and as much more at almost every inlet in the island.

It may interest the reader if I attempt some description of the profits derivable from these trading-posts of the Hudson Bay Company on Vancouver Island and elsewhere. Fort Rupert may he accepted as a very fair specimen of its order. It is certainly not too favourable a one, as a year since the directors had some thought of abolishing it, on the ground that its profits were considered insufficient, though the figures on the next page show they are not small.

The post is manned by one officer (a clerk) and eight men. The officer is paid 100l. a year; the chief man, 40l.; and the other seven, 20?.3 The cost of provisions for the year cannot exceed 200l., and perhaps firing and other small items may amount to 100l. more, making the total cost of the post about 600l. a-year. I have omitted the expense of building the fort, but this was done by the eight men whose wages I have given; and the plank, and some small sum to the Indians employed in fetching and carrying, were the only extra outlay incurred in its construction. If this were the only post along the coast, in the estimate of the cost of keeping it up would have to be included the expense of the steamer which visits it twice a-year. As it is, however, she calls there on her way to Fort Simpson and the stations on the northern coasts, w hence great numbers of furs are obtained; so that but a small proportion of her cost can be charged against Fort Rupert.

Having roughly estimated the cost of this station, I will give the number and value of the furs and skins collected in the year 1859—by no means an extraordinarily productive season. The following is a list:—

If, then, we add to the cost of the furs 600?. for the expense of the post, we have 1260l. against 5405l., showing a profit of more than 4100l. yearly on this establishment, which is considered by the Company as one of their least profitable stations.

From this balance of profit has to be deducted the cost of conveying the above articles to England, which cannot well be estimated, as they are conveyed in the Company’s own vessel, which carries passengers and other freight. In addition to the above list of furs, above 400 gallons of seal-oil are yearly exported from Fort Rupert.

Between Beaver Harbour and Cape Scott, at the extreme north of the island, there are two or three anchorages—Shucartie Bay on the island, and Bull Harbour in Hope Island, on the opposite shore. Just beyond Bull Harbour a bank, called the Newittee Bar, has to be crossed, upon which, however, there is always sufficient water for ships to pass over safely. The Newittee Indians inhabit this part of the island, and coal has been found by them in considerable quantity. I should have mentioned that coal has been discovered at Beaver Harbour also, and, indeed, that measures of this mineral extend all along the northern part of the island.

Off Cape Scott, in Queen Charlotte’s Sound, is a small group of islands, called the Triangles. These are high and rocky, and useless except perhaps to erect a lighthouse on at some future day.

One hundred and twenty miles north of Cape Scott are the Queen Charlotte Islands. These islands are as yet unsurveyed and unexplored. It is generally thought that the group will be found to be divided into many more islands than are at present given on the charts.

Very little is yet known of their character. The Haida Indians who inhabit them are tierce, and rather disposed to resist the encroachments of the whites. Some years ago, indeed, they fired on the boats of a man-of-war approaching their shores. These Indians have at various times brought specimens of gold in quartz to Victoria, and in 1852 the Hudson Bay Company despatched a party of men in the brig ‘Una’ to examine the place from whence they said it came. This party proceeded to Gold Harbour, as it is now called, on the south-west side of Moresby Island; and Mr. Mitchell, who commanded the ship, told me that they got about 1000 dollars of gold out, but that the Indians stole it from them as fast as they collected it. The miners then growing weary of their task, and quarrelling among themselves, the expedition broke up.

In July, 1859, Mr. Downie —whose name I have before mentioned as an old Californian miner and explorer—started with a party of twenty-seven men, provisioned for three months, and reached Gold Harbour on the 6th of August. They examined the place where the gold was taken out by the ‘Una’s’ party, and discovered a few specks in a small quartz-seam running through slate. They then explored Douglas Inlet, which runs into the south of Gold Harbour, without any success; and afterwards proceeded to Skidegate Channel, which separates the two large islands Graham and Moresby. They found trap and hornblende rocks, with a few poor seams of quartz, but no gold to the southward. To the northward they found talcose slate, quartz, and red earth, but no gold ; and, coming upon coal in the Skidegate Channel, decided further search was useless, and returned to Gold Harbour. They had left some of the party there to blast, and, on returning found that they too had given it up as hopeless. The conclusion they came to as the result of their investigation was, that the gold found by the first party existed in an offshoot, or, as it is technically termed, a blow, instances of which are very common in California. In his report of his journey to the Governor, Mr. Downie says: “The offshoots in question are not uncommon, as I have often seen them in California. On such a discovery being made, hundreds of miners take claims in all directions near it, and test the ground in every way; but nothing is found except in the one spot, about seventy feet in length, running south-east and north-west. On being worked about fifteen feet it gave out. . . . Before work commenced, I have blown the sand off a vein of pure gold.” About the same time, Captain Torrens also went with a party to prospect on Queen Charlotte Island. They landed at the village in the Skidegate Channel, and’ were very nearly being murdered there. One of the Indians commenced haranguing the others, and incited them to murder the party by saying they were come to rob them of their land. One of the chiefs, however, stood by them, and enabled them to get to their canoes, and they escaped unhurt, though several shots were fired after them. They crossed to Fort Simpson, and, after remaining there a few days, were recalled to Queen Charlotte Sound by a deputation of Indians from Gold Harbour. The part however, soon became discontented, and having met with as little success in their search for gold as Mr. Downie, refused to stay longer. Captain Torrens, in his report of the expedition, writes: “The country north of Skiddegate Channel is low and thickly wooded, receding, in one unbroken level, towards a huge range of mountains about 30 miles off. Vegetation is here luxuriant, and at intervals patches of open land occur, in which the Indians have planted crops of turnips and potatoes.” His party—originally twelve—had broken up at Simpson: six accompanying him, three staying at Simpson, and two going with a chief named “Edensaw” to Copper Island and the northern islands of the Queen Charlotte group. The accounts from these latter were satisfactory, as they brought back copper ore and quartz with sulphurets. In a letter which I have received from Captain Torrens, narrating the details of his journey, he says that these specimens gave, upon analysis—

1st. Copper, 96 lbs. to the ton; value about 7000 dollars (14007) per ton.

2nd. Sulphuret of iron and gold, valued at 13,500 dollars (26007) per ton.

As no blasting, however, was done to get these specimens, he very justly thinks that they do not give any guide to the real value of the spot in which they were found.

On the 17th of May the ‘Plumper’ reached Fort Rupert, where we found everything quiet, on account of nearly all the Indians being away at Shirwattie, on the mainland, catching “houlikin.” Haying been longer out than usual this time, and our coal becoming exhausted, we left Rupert on the 25th, and reached Nanaimo on the following day.

After a few days more work in the Gulf, we returned to Esquinialt on the 15th of June, where we heard that HALS. ‘Hecate’ had been ordered out to relieve the ‘Plumper,’ and to continue the survey of the shores of Vancouver Island and the mainland.

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