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A History of British Columbia
Chapter VI - Fur Traders and Gold Seekers

In these old days before the gold rush, the history of the Northwest coast of America concerns itself solely with the trade in peltries, the "Company of Adeventurers and Traders trading into Hudson's Bay," and the native tribes with whom they traded are the only two classes thrown on the canvas.

The year 1843 is a turning point, Fort Vancouver on the Columbia is near its end, the glory of the great McLoughlin is becoming dimmed, a new strong man holds the reins of power, a new city is building "Where East is West and West is East beside our land-locked blue." It is the parting of the ways.

There were sound reasons for placing the Hudson's Bay Company Fort the nucleus of the city of Victoria, where it was placed. The American claims to the possession of the "Oregon country," the first low threats of " fifty-four forty or fight " showed the wisdom of a stronghold north of the settlements on the Columbia, and in the sheltered harbors of Victoria and Esquimalt the fortbuilders fondly saw the outfitting base for the growing whale fleet of the Pacific.

The site was not chosen on the impulse of the moment. As far back as 1837 Captain McNeill explored the south of Vancouver Island and found "an excellent harbor and a fine open country along the sea shore apparently well adapted for both tillage and pasturage." Governor Simpson, going north from Fort Vancouver in the "Beaver" in 1841, remarks "the southern end of Vancouver Island is well adapted for cultivation, for, in addition to a moderate climate, it possesses excellent harbors and abundance of timber. It will doubtless become in time the most valuable section of the whole coast above California." Simpson's word carried great weight. For thirty-seven years he was the chief officer in America of the Hudson's Bay Company; from eastern Canada to the Red River country he wandered and from Oregon to Alaska, and through this vast commercial empire his rule was unquestioned and his word was law. When, then, Simpson in person before the London directors advised a complete change of base from the Columbia, and suggested the site of the present city of Victoria as the location of the strong fort, the new regime may be said to have already begun. What were the advantages of Camosun (the Indian name of Victoria Harbor? It was near the Ocean and yet protected from it. Great islands were north of it, and to a huge continent it was nature's entrepot. It stood at the crossway of the waters, Fuca Strait, Puget Sound, the Gulf of Georgia; and as whaling operations set northward might not a northern rendezvous and trading base be welcomed? The whole life and training of the Hudson's Bay servants made for keen ob-servation, deep cogitation and careful balancing of cause and effect. Who shall say how far an insight into empire expansion was theirs, and to what extent they foresaw trade with the Alaskan north, the Mexican south, the near-by Orient and the far off isles of the sea? The long-headed, keen-witted, silent Scots immediately connected with this movement were John McLough-lin, James Douglas, John Wark, Roderick Finlayson, Tolmie, Anderson and McNeill, all graduates of that stern Alma Mater the " Company of Adventurers and Traders trading into Hudson's Bay," British North America's University of integrity and self-reliance and self-restraint.

Shakespeare makes Coriolanus say, "What is the city but the people? True, the people are the city." Let us for a moment look into the training through which they passed, these rugged men whom fate ordained to be founders of "a greater empire than has been." London was the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company, here sat the Home Governor and Board of Directors. Next came the Governor in America, Sir George Simpson. Under him served the Chief Factors, next came the Chief Traders, usually in charge of some single but important post; fourth, were the Chief Clerks, who went with crews of voyageurs on frequent expeditions or held charge of minor posts; and, fifth, followed the apprenticed clerks, a kind of forest midshipmen, un-licked cubs fresh from school or home—attracted to the woods by an outdoor love of freedom and thirsty for Indian adventures, whose duties were to write, keep store, and respectfully wait upon their seniors; sixth, postmasters; seventh, interpreters, advanced from the ranks of the hewers of wood and drawers of water because of some lucky gift of the gab or predilection for palaver; eighth, voyageurs; ninth, the great rank and file of laborers who chopped and carried and mended, trapped, fished, and with ready adaptability turned their hands to fifty different crafts at the sovereign will of their superior officers. The laborer might advance to be postmaster, the " middy " might become chief factor or governor. Five years the apprentice served before he became clerk, a decade or two might see him chief trader or half shareholder, and a year or two more crowned his faithful life service by elevation to the chief factorship. Broadly speaking, the chief factor looked after the outside relations of the company and the chief trader superintended traffic with the Indians. "Hard her service, poor her payment," Kipling sings of the East India Company, the sister company of commerce, which did for the empire in the east what this did in the west. No doubt the life of the servant of the Hudson's Bay Company was hard, but it had its compensations, it developed self-reliance and the hardier virtues of truth and courage and integrity; here, if anywhere, a man stood on his own bottom and rose or fell by his own acts; each man in charge of a post, be it ever so obscure and unimportant, to his little coterie of employes and the constituency of Indians with whom he traded, was a master, a governor, a ruler, his aye had to be aye, and his nay, nay for evermore, or his life would pay the forfeit, it was no place for weaklings. That was the charm of the life, the lust for power is stronger than the lust for gold. The one great drawback to the career, of course, was it loneliness. The young trader or factor had neither time nor money to go back to civilization to seek a wife, his choice lay between single blessedness and a dusky bride. Generally he chose the latter. The year before the building of Fort Victoria, Governor Simpson tells that in calling in at Stickine fifteen of the employes there had asked his permission to take native wives. Simpson granted them leave to accept what he is pleased disdainfully to call them " worthless bargains,"' being influenced perhaps more by the trade advantages of these tribal connections than by any sympathy with unmarried loneliness.

In secret justice to the " worthless bargains " it should be said that they almost invariably proved true, industrious, faithful spouses and loving mothers, they were subservient to their lords, they were content to remain obedient hand-maidens, and were imbued with no troublesome yearnings for the franchise and equal rights. Probably at times clouds connubial covered the horizon here as elsewhere, but it was not the warring of the New Woman and the Old Adam.

The Beaver.

It was the steamer "Beaver" that brought Douglas and his fifteen men from Fort Vancouver on the Columbia that early March day of 1843 to Camosuh harbor.

The "Beaver" as a history maker deserves more than passing notice. She was the first steamer to ply the waters of the Pacific and the first to make the voyage from Europe westward across the Atlantic. If we wish to attend the birthday christening party of the little "Beaver" we must go back to 1835, in the days of William IV, the Sailor King. No expense was spared in her construction, these were the palmy days of the Hudson's Bay Company, and well did the old "Beaver" repay her owners for the good workmanship put into her construction. For over fifty years in another hemisphere and a new ocean was she to do brave pioneer service, piling up an honorable record of work done squarely and unwasted days. At her launching the king attended in person and it was the hand of a Duchess that broke the christening bottle. Her engines were made by the first firm in the world to make ship's boilers, Messrs. Boulton & Watt, her length over all being 101 1-3 feet. The company built an escort to the "Beaver," a barque of three hundred and ten tons burden, the "Columbia," and on the 29th of August, 1835, the two pioneers stole down the Thames mouth. The trans-Atlantic voyage was made without incident, and Cape Horn passed. Then for nearly four months, with her prow turned northward, did the plucky little black steamer ply the waters of an untried ocean. She was little and unpretentious and homely, but she was "the first that ever burst into that silent sea." Henceforth the history of the "Beaver" is the history of the colonization of northwest America. She poked her inquisitive nose into river estuaries and land locked seas; she made frequent trips as far north as Russian Sitka, and it was in her furnace that the first bituminous coal discovered on the coast was tested.

We have seen that the "Beaver" brought to Camosun the founders of Victoria; in 1858-9 the "Beaver" carried the Cariboo miners to the new found Fraser fields; next year she took a prominent part in the "San Juan affair;" she carried up and down the coast the imperial hydrographers who prepared the first charts of these northern waters, and she died in harness.

It was on a summer night of 1888 that the little steamer piled up on the rocks at the harbor entrance to Vancouver City. For four years she hung there and none so poor to do her reverence. Then a passing steamer came close in one night and gave her her wash, the "Beaver" shuddered through all her oaken ribs, "they broke her mighty heart," and the great Boulton-built boilers slipped down into the sea. Then came the relic-hunter; her stern-board is preserved in the Provincial Museum, it was the end of her long life and an honorable one.

No excuse is offered for this brief history of the "Beaver"—it is very pertinent to our subject; northward and westward—seaward, did Victoria look for her maritime commerce, northward and westward do we still look.

From the Songhees village across the harbor did the curious and angry Indians paddle out to inspect the "Beaver" that March day of 1843. What might it mean, this "big canoe, that smokes and thunders? And James Douglas and his men, with what feelings did these pioneers of long ago look around them as they stood among the wild lilies and heard the larks sing of spring? An empire's history is making that day, and this little group of fifteen men are about to begin a chapter. To this end they employ no cunning colors of the cloister, hewn logs and cedar posts are their writing tools, and although the scene be beautiful and enticing, and the thought that till now no European foot had trod these park-like vistas is even to prosaic minds a fascination—still they came for work these fort-builders and not for moralizing. The practiced eye of Douglas soon determined upon a site and all hands were at work digging a well and cutting and squaring timber. The apprehensive and somewhat sulky Indians gathered round not too well pleased with the advent of the "King George's men." Douglas in a characteristic speech told them that the whites came as traders and friends, they wanted furs and would give guns and blankets and trinkets, in the meantime as a "trial order" the Indians might bring in cedar "pickets" twenty-two feet long and three feet in circumference, for every forty pickets a blanket would be given. "Nowitka, delate hias kloosh!" and the trade of Camosun is begun.

According to Bancroft, with the fort-builders came a Jesuit missionary, one J. B. Z. Bolduc, the first priest to set foot on the island of Vancouver. He was as warmly received as the traders were. Up the extension of the harbor he reared his rural chapel of pine branches, and boat's canvas and celebrated mass, upwards of twelve hundred converts crowning his zealous efforts, native Songhees and visiting brethren of the Clallams and Cowichans. If this be true then Father Bolduc's was not only the first, but the largest congregation yet assembled on Vancouver Island.

Everything thus auspiciously begun, Mr. Douglas left the men to carry forward the work of fort-building, and himself proceeded northward in the "Beaver" to close Forts Tako, Stickine and McLoughlin, leaving Fort Simpson intact, then as now the northern outpost. On the first of June the return party of thirty-five with the goods from the abandoned forts arrived at Cam-osun, thus bringing the force for the new stronghold up to fifty men. Three months later the construction was completed.

James Deans describes the fort as he saw it two years later. " The bastions were of hewn logs thirty feet in height and were connected by palisades about twenty feet high. Within the palisades were the stores numbered from one to five and a blacksmith's shop, besides dining hall, cook-house and chapel. The ground to the extent of an acre was enclosed by a palisade forming a square. On the north and south were towers, each containing six or eight pieces of ordinance (nine-pounders). The north tower was a prison, the south one was used for firing salutes. On the right, entering by the front or south gate was a cottage in which was the postofnee, kept by an officer of the company, Captain Sangster. Following round the south side came the smithy, the fish-oil warehouse, the carpenter's shop, bunkhouse, and in the corner a barracks for new arrivals. Between this corner and the east gate were the chapel and the chaplain's house. On the other side of the east gate was a large building, the officers' dining room, and adjoining this the cook house and pantry. On the next side was a double row of buildings for storing furs previous to shipment to England, and behind this again a gunpowder magazine. On the lower corner stood the cottage of Finlayson, who was the Chief Factor, and his family, and beyond were the flagstaff and belfry."

Finlayson had been the pupil of Douglas, as Douglas had been the pupil of McLoughlin. "Much from little" was the motto of these frugal Scots, Nails, like everything metallic, were legal tender with the Indians, they had a distinct commercial value, so when Finlayson was ordered to build Fort Camosun without a single nail, he did it. Mr. Finlayson was not the first factor in charge of the new post. Mr. Charles Ross, transferred from the abandoned Fort McLoughlin, was the first in command. Mr. Ross died within the fort gates the following year (1844), and was succeeded by Mr. Finlayson. The historian owes a deep debt to Mr. Roderick Finlayson. In a carefully written manuscript of one hundred and four folio pages he gives a clear and comprehensive account of the " History of Vancouver Island and the Northwest Coast," indeed, were it not for Finlayson's record little would be known of these ante-gold days. This pioneer pilot of the destinies of Cam-osun was a shrewd, practical, clear-headed Scot, somewhat reticent about the company's business, but-personally courteous, kindly, and most approachable.

The Dividing Line.

Up to this time (1845), tne somewhat indefinite territory loosely known as " the Oregon country " had been jointly occupied by British subjects and those of the United States. It had not been in the interest of the fur traders to encourage immigration. But the time had come when this rich country could no longer be kept as a game preserve, settlers from both nations were pouring in and the question became insistent, " Who shall possess the land ?"

Notwithstanding contentions to the contrary, Great Britain is not and never has been a land grabber, she has none of the hunger for territory which the nations attribute to her, and for every square mile of land she has consented to annex there are a thousand she might have had. When it is a question of acquiring territory, she is always slow to move. "Is the country worth having?" asked the English members of Parliament; "Is it worth fighting for?" McLoughlin when closely questioned to this end answered flatly that it was not. McLoughlin was a fur trader first, last and for all time; in the very nature of things he could not see singly in this matter. At last England took tardy action and in 1845 sent out H. M. S. "America" Gordon in command, to spy out the leanness of this indeterminate land. Gordon was brother of the Earl of Aberdeen, England's Prime Minister, and under him served Captain Parke, of the marines, and Lieutenant Peel, son of Sir Robert. Guiltless of any knowledge of either of the harbors of Victoria or Esquimalt, Gordon put in to Port Discovery and sent a dispatch to Factor Finlayson summoning him on board. For three days, Finlayson, hour by hour, instructed England's plenipotentiary on matters connected with this to him terra incognita. Then the junior officers, Parke and Peel, were sent via Cowlitz to the Columbia to see with their own eyes and judge of the desirability of acquiring the country. It is of these two officers that that persistent story is told which will not down. It is said that their viva voce report on returning to their ship was, "The country is not worth a damn, the salmon will not rise to the fly."

Meanwhile the "America" had crossed to Victoria Harbor, and it was incumbent upon Finlayson to do the honors of host to the distinguished officers representing the awe and majesty of the Mother Land. The bachelor quarters of the fort were not very luxurious, but it was easy to kill calves for the prodigals and provide a feast of fat things. "An Englishman's idea of pleasure is, 'Come, let us kill something'" cogitated Finlayson, so after dining and wining he proposed a deer-hunt. A band of deer made its opportune appearance (without the aid of beaters!), and the gay Gordon, mounted on the best cayuse the establishment boasted, got the leading stag in range, but the whole band incontinently took flight while the noble lords were adjusting their sights, and disappeared in the dense forest undergrowth. The commander, sputtering with wrath because the stag was inconsiderate enough not to stand at " Shun!" animadverted in choice Saxon upon the uncivilized nature of such a land.

The sun shone brightly on the dancing waters of the straits, the crests of the Olympics stood up like rough-hewn silver, and peace and plenty smiled on every hand. But the deer had not waited to be killed. "Finlayson," swore Gordon, "I would not give one of the bleakest knolls of all the bleak hills of Scotland for twenty islands arrayed like this in barbaric glories."

Next year (1846), a flotilla of British vessels appeared off Vancouver Island, the "Cormorant" Captain Gordon (not the deer-slayer); the "Constance," Captain Courtney; the "Inconstant," Captain Shepherd; the "Pisguard" Captain Duntze; and the surveying vessels "Herald" and "Pandora." Overland also came Royal Engineers, Lieutenants Warre and Vavasour, arriving in Fort Vancouver by the annual express from York Factory. After "great argument about it and about," what is now known as the Oregon Treaty, was passed on the 15th of June, 1846, and the forty-ninth parallel became the dividing line between the nations.

Paul Kane, the Wandering Artist.

In April, 1847, appeared on the scene Paul Kane, a wandering artist, who in a very readable book describes "those wild scenes among which I strayed almost alone and scarcely meeting a white man or hearing the sound of my own language during four years spent among the Indians of the Northwest." Kane's interest was with the Indians, though we get from him not a few interesting sidelights on the paler pioneers. The word "Esquimalt," he tells us, is the place for gathering the root camass; "Camosun" is the place of rushing waters. Across the harbor from the fort he finds a village of five hundred armed warriors, the men wear no clothing in summer and in winter affect a single garment, a blanket made of dog's hair and goosedown with frayed cedar bark. The Indians breed these small dogs for their hair. The hair is cut off with a knife and mixed with goosedown and a little white earth, then beaten with sticks and twisted into threads by rubbing it down the thigh with the palm, to be finally woven into blankets on a rude loom by the women of the tribe.

Kane followed the Indian tribes into their loneliest lodges, lived with them, ate with them, slept with them, and so studied them from, within. He tells vividly how the Songhees chief, Cheaclach, was inaugurated into his high office after thirty days of lonely fasting culminating in a wild orgy of dog-biting and biting of his friends; the most honored scars are those which result from a deep bite given by a chieftain-novitiate—faithful are the wounds of a friend.

We go out on the straits with the artist and watch these primeval savages take the big sturgeon, weighing often from four hundred to six hundred pounds; they are speared as they swim along the bottom at spawning season, to this end a seaweed line one hundred and fifty feet in length, spear-handles eighty feet long and detachable barbed spear-heads are used; their fish-hooks are made of pine-roots. The Indians were exceedingly fond of herring-roe, which they were wont to collect in an ingenious way. Cedar-branches are sunk to the bottom of the river in shallow places by placing on them a big stone or two. The fish prefer to spawn on green things, the branches by next morning are all covered with spawn, which is washed off into water-proof baskets and squeezed by the hand into small balls. Kane says it is "very palatable," and he so describes fern-roots roasted. Kane ought to know, he was in like position with the old Scot who declared, "Honesty is the best policy, I've tried baith."

Slavery in a most cruel form existed from California to Behring Straits, any Indian wandering off from his tribe might be seized and enslaved. The northern tribes played a grim sort of prisoners' base, and it was clearly advisable "to stay by the stuff," for surely the "gobble-uns will git you if you don't—watch—out!" The slavery that existed was of the most extreme kind, the master exercised the power of life and death over his slaves, slaves were killed to make an ostentatious display of wealth, the body of a slave was not entitled to burial.

The making of a medicine-man was as weird a ceremony as the making of a chief. It, too, was preceded by a period of fasting; the would-be medicine-man gave away every earthly possession before beginning his practice, depending thereafter wholly upon his fees. The medicine-man really was a magic-man, in direct communication with God, the "Hyas-Sock-a-la-Ti Yah." Kane notices in the big lodges of the coast Indians, houses- big enough to accommodate eight or ten families, beatiful carved boxes of Chinese workmanship which reached Vancouver via the Sandwich Islands. During all these years there was regular communication and no inconsiderable trade between this tropical archipelago and the North American mainland.

Kane had wonderful tact in dealing with the Indians; he overcomes their rooted prejudice to being sketched by telling them the picture is to go to the "Great Queen over the water" and then they crowd his tent to overflowing, eager for the privilege, and proffer him their choicest delicacy, long strips of four inch whale blubber to be eaten "al fresco" with dried fish. Ingenious was the Indian method of capturing the whale. A flotilla of canoes went out to the whale-grounds, sometimes even twenty or thirty miles from shore, each craft well supplied with spears and seal-skin bags filled with air, each containing ten gallons. The bags were attached to the spears and great numbers of the weapons were hurled into the animal's body; with the loss of blood he soon became too weak to overcome the upward buoyant pressure of the many floats, and cowed and dirigible, was towed tamely to shore to be dispatched at leisure.

Kane met the historical Yellow-cum, chief of the Macaws, whose father was pilot of the ill-fated "Tonquin," the vessel 'sent out by John Jacob Astor to trade with the Indians north of Vancouver Island, and which was blown up in such a tragic manner.

We get a glimpse, too, of the currency of these coast-wise tribes, The unit of value is the ioqus, a small shell found only at Cape Flattery, where it is obtained with great trouble from the bottom of the sea. It is white, slender, hollow, and from one and one-half to two inches long. The longer the shell the greater its value. When forty make a fathom, their united value is one beaver-skin. If thirty-nine will make-a fathom, its value is two beaver-skins and so on. A sea-otter skin at this time was worth twelve blankets. The Indians at the south of Vancouver Island flattened their heads, those at the north pulled them out into cones. On the opposite mainland were the Babines or Big-Lips, bone-lipped beauties whose lower lips were incised to carry patines of bone, shell or wood, sometimes so large that the ornament made a convenient shelf on which to rest the food. These people wear costly blankets of the wool of the mountain sheep and burn their dead on funeral pyres. The way letters were carried by the Babines or Voyageurs is most interesting. An Indian gets a letter to deliver perhaps hundreds of miles away. He starts out in his canoe and carries it to the end of his tribal domain when he sells it to the next man, who takes it as far as he dares and gets an augmented price for it, the last man delivers and collects full fare for the precious missive. The mail-carrier is never molested, he cries in choicest Chinook, "In the name of the Empress the Overland Mail," and is given ever the right of way.

Important Hudson's Bay Company Posts of British Columbia.

At this time there were six Hudson's Bay Company forts on the British Columbia coast and sixteen in the interior. At the southeast corner of Stuart Lake stood the capital of New Caledonia, old Fort St. James, the central figure of a cluster of subsidiary forts. Taking Fort St. James as pivotal point, one hundred miles northwest was Fort Babine, eighty miles east was Fort McLeod, sixty miles southeast was Fort George, and twenty-five miles to the southwest stood Fort Fraser. The highland surrounding Stuart Lake is a continental apex or divide whence flow the waters of the mighty Fraser southward, to the north and west the Skeena, while away to the north and east the winding Peace takes its tribute to the frozen ocean.

On Lakes McLeod, Babine and Fraser were forts of the same names, and Fort Thompson was built on the Kamloops. Fort Alexandria on the Fraser was an important base, from here the northern brigade took its departure, and this post yielded an annual sale of twenty or thirty packs of peltries. From Fort Alexandria to Fort St. James the trafficking merchandise was carried by canoe.

Why emphasize these paltry redoubts, little picketed enclosures separated each from the other by leagues of mountain-morass, roaring torrents and well-nigh impenetrable forests? What do they stand for, these fly-specks on the map of a country into which continental Europe can comfortably be tucked? To the Indians they are magazines of civilized comforts; to the Honorable Hudson's Bay Company they are centers of lucrative trade, monopolistic money-getters; to the servants of the company we have seen they, in their loneliness, are grim character-makers; to us who follow after they are the outposts of empire, the advance guards opening the way for another off-shoot from the Grey Old Mother. It is history in the making.

Fort St. James was a profitable station; it sent yearly to London furs worth a round quarter of a million. By horse brigade to these great centers came the goods for barter. The animals were sleek and well cared for, and where the iron horse now makes his noisy way these patient packers picked paths of their own through deep ravines, round precipitous mountain edges and across swollen streams, carrying the goods of all nations to lay at the feet of blanket-clad braves.

The coast forts were Simpson, the first and most northerly sea-fort in British Columbia; Langley, near the mouth of the Fraser; Tako, on the Tako River; Fort McLaughlin, on Millbank Sound; Fort Rupert, at the mouth of Vancouver Island, and Camosun, whose name by transition through Fort Albert, must hereafter be known as Victoria, in honor of the Great and .Good Queen. There was a connection other than commercial between these fur trading fortresses. As far back as 1833 Dr. W. F. Tolmie and Mr. A. C. Anderson of the Hudson's Bay service conceived the idea of establishing a circulating library among the different posts throughout the length and breadth of this great lone land. From London came the books and periodicals, and among the gay blankets and beads and flint-lock muskets carried by cayuse and canoe from post to post were tucked novels from Mudie's and works on art and religion and agriculture from the Old Land. By the time a copy of the Illustrated London News or the "Thunderer" had percolated from officers' mess all down through the service till it reached Sandy at the forge or Donald and Dugald driving the oxen, it was frayed away like a well worn bank note. This (1833-43) was the first circulating library on the Pacific Slope. In 1848 Fort Yale was founded, on the Fraser River, and Fort Hope the next year. Yale when built was the only point on the then untamed Fraser between Langley and Alexandria, a distance of three hundred miles, till- then untrod by white man. Yale was the head of navigation on the Fraser.

Coal Discovered.

Fort Rupert, at the north end of Vancouver Island, was established in the hope that it would prove the site of valuable coal mines. Coal was discovered there and a trial shipment made to England by Rear Admiral Seymour in 1847. But Nanaimo, further south, was destined to be the coal center of the island. Credit for the discovery here attaches to Joseph W. McKay, of the company's service, who located the famous Douglas vein in 1850, having heard of the "black stone that burns" from a communicative Indian. The fur traders knew a good thing when they saw it, and could turn their talents into acceptable channels. Before the expiration of 1853 tw0 thousand tons were shipped from this point, fully half of which was taken out by the Indians. The company's price at Nanaimo was eleven dollars, and in San Francisco, now at the flood-tide of its gold-age, the coal brought twenty-eight dollars a ton.

Two Strong Men of Kamloops.

In 1846 two strong men reigned at Kamloops. John Tod was Chief Trader, and St. Paul, or Jean Baptiste Lolo, to give him the full title by which the Mother Church received him. governed the Shus-wap Indians with iron hand.

Much of history and romance is woven into the name Kamloops. The establishment dates back to the days of the Northwest Company, being builded as long ago as 1810 by David Thompson the Astronomer. Alexander Ross in 1812, on behalf of Astor's Pacific Fur Company, used it as his base, when no fewer than seven tribes traded there; these were the palmy days. Worthy successor of these strong ones was John Tod, wiry, alert, keen, a man all through and through. And Jean Baptiste Lolo? He, too, was a striking figure and worthy the steel of even a John Tod. Every wanderer through the wilderness notes with joy these two chiefs, the white and the tawny, and the struggle for supremacy of the warring personalities.

It was in Kamloops that the pack-horses were bred for the overland pack-trains, and horse flesh here was a staple article of diet. Captain R. C. Mayne, R. N.. F. R. G. S., pays his tribute to St. Paul:

"In the center room lying at length upon a mattress stretched upon the floor was the chief of the Shuswap Indians. His face was a very fine one, although sickness and pain had worn it. away terribly. His eyes were black, piercing and restless; his cheek bones high, and the lips, naturally thin and close, had that white compressed look which tells so surely of constant suffering. St. Paul received us lying upon his mattress, and apologized in French for not having risen at our entrance. He asked the Factor to explain that he was a cripple. Many years back, being convinced that something was the matter with his knee and having no faith in the medicine men of the tribe, the poor savage actually cut away to the bone, under the impression that it needed cleansing. At the cost of great personal suffering he succeeded in boring a hole through the bone, which he keeps open by constantly syringing water through it."

Such was Jean Baptiste Lolo. One can well imagine that such a man could not be found wanting in personal courage. Although obliged to be in his bed often for days at a time, his sway over his tribe was perfect. On this occasion, at Captain Mayne's invitation, he rose and mounted, and rode with the party all day, doing the honors of the District and giving Mayne double names for every striking feature of the landscape, the Indian name and Paul's fantastic French equivalent. For instance, the mountain upon which they climbed was Roches des Femmes, for in summer many Indian women were to be seen scattered about its sides gathering berries and the bright yellow moss, Quillmarcar, with which they dye their doghair blankets.

St. Paul accompanied Mayne as a guide upon his continuing his journey, claiming a place of honor at the "first table" and maintaining that silent dignity which sits so well on these strong men of a past age. Having for the time exchanged cayuse for canoe, Mayne says, "With all its many inconveniences, there is something marvelously pleasant in canoe traveling, with its tranquil gliding motion, the regular splashless dip, dip, of the paddle, the wild chant of the Indian canoemen, or better still the songs of the Canadian voyageurs, keeping time to the pleasant chorus of 'Ma Belle Rosa,' or 'Le Beau Soldat.'"

Thus happy we leave our chronicler and hark back to Paul Lolo's counterfoil, the astute Tod. It was the custom every spring and summer to send a party from Kamloops to the Popayou, seventy-six miles away on the Fraser, to secure a year's supply of cured salmon from the Indians. This year a Shuswap conspiracy was on foot to rob and slay the foraging party from the Fort, and to wipe out the establishment. Scenting the plot from a hint dropped by a friendly chief, Tod left his party, now well on its way, and alone entered the hostile camp. With ostentation he threw down his weapons, and told them that he had come as a messenger of mercy to save them from an impending scourge of smallpox. Fortunately he had a .small supply of vaccine with him. Ready wit suggested his device, eloquence, a successful bit of play acting on a spirited horse, and his native fearlessness completed the conquest. Soon Tod had the would-be murderers felling a tree of immense proportions, that he might have a kingly stump from which to officiate, forsooth; and alone amid that band of determined cut-throats, the pawky Scot, with tobacco knife lancet, vaccinated brawny arm after brawny arm till daylight and vaccine were gone. The Indians went away his sworn slaves, hailing him with loud acclaims for ever after as their father and savior. Well indeed did they know and fear the plague smallpox, and he who would deliver them hence, was he not worthy of homage?

McKay Meets Adam-Zad.

In 1846 a strong figure looms large on the North Coast horizon. This is Joseph W. McKay, this year made General Agent of the North Coast establishments. McKay was staunchly true to the tenets of the company which he served, the one insistent article of whose creed was, "Get furs." Do Indian tribes show an inclination to go on the war-path? Their hostile intents must be turned aside, not because war is unholy, but because chiefs engaged in the gentle art of disemboweling their enemies and splitting the bodies of babies on wooden frames as salmon are split (Cf. History of Father Morice) are not able at the same time to trap beaver and marten and bring in priceless sea-otter skins.

McKay had then to keep his aboriginal coadjutors in the gentle paths of peace, he had also a second part to play. Stationed up against the confines of Russian America, his it was to bend every faculty towards wresting' the monopoly of the lucrative fur trade of these hyperborean fastnesses from the hands of Russia. To this end McKay had to pit his pawky Scottish wits against those of Adam-Zad, the Bear that walks like a man. It was a pretty game to watch, McKay says: "In 1847 a Chief of the Stikines, perfectly trustworthy, told me* that he had been approached by a Russian officer with presents of beads and tobacco, who told him that if he would get up a war with the English in the vicinity and compel them to withdraw, he should have gifts of arms and ammunition, a personal medal from the Czar of all the Russias, a splendid official uniform and a lucrative Russian market for his peltries forever."

Nor was the plotting all on the side of the Russians. This same year Governor Shemlin of the Russian Company visited McKay at Bella Bella, to ask his co-operation in ending the inter-tribal Indian wars which were demoralizing the fur trade. While 1he diplomatic McKay was dining and wining Shemlin, a confidential messenger came to the door to report the approach of a large fleet of the Hudson's Bay Company's canoes laden to the water-mark with furs stealthily procured in the Russian domain. McKay was quick witted. Word was sent to the flotilla to return to the harbor entrance, and then McKay assiduously set himself to the task of making Shemlin gloriously and unconsciously drunk. Scottish cordiality and Hudson's Bay Company's rum did the trick, and while Shemlin safely slept beneath the table, the illicit furs were packed away in the warehouses.

The First Gleam of Gold.

In 1848-9 Fort Victoria began to feel the reflex of the California Gold Excitement. At the new gold town of San Francisco prices were exorbitant, the minds of the thrifty among the Argonauts turned to the Northern Hudson's Bay Company's Fort, where the best of British made goods could be bought at reasonable rates. Amid the reckless extravagance and prodigality which distinguished San Francisco in those early days there remained some who did not break saloon mirrors with $20 gold pieces or eat greenbacks in sandwiches. These, like Mrs. John Gilpin, "although on pleasure they were bent still had a frugal mind," and when winter closed their placers they chartered vessels and sailed northward to bargain with the Hudson's Bay Company traders for their summer supplies.

Finlayson, then in charge of Fort Victoria, says: "These tough looking miners landed here from their vessels in 1849. I took them for pirates, and ordered my men to prepare for action. They had, I soon found, leather bags full of nuggets which they wished to exchange for goods. I had never seen native gold and was doubtful of it; however, I took one of the pieces to the blacksmith shop and ordered the smith to beat it out on the anvil. The malleability reassured me and I offered to take the risks of barter, placing the value of the nuggets at $11 an ounce. Other factors followed my example, and this year we had nuggets to ship to England together with our furs."

Finlayson thus naively recording his scruples about taking $16 gold at $11 an ounce had no prescience of the fact that this very Fort where he presided was destined within a decade to be itself the center of a gold excitement which shook two continents. With upsetting news of monthly earned millions floating in the atmosphere, it required all the astuteness of a James Douglas to keep the ill-paid and frugally-fed men of the Hudson's Bay Company true to their contracts. In fact, from the Columbia posts, many deserters made their way to the new El Dorado, some to return in the spring dazzling the sight of their ci-devant co-workers with $30,000 and $40,000 pokes.

Crown Grant of Vancouver Island to the Hudson's Bay Company, 1849.

A fur company is a bad colonizer, foxes and beavers do not breed in apple orchards. The heart's desire of the Hudson's Bay Company was ever to keep the thousands of square miles of the Northwest one unviolated game preserve. After the fixing of the international dividing line at the forty-ninth parallel, the Hudson's Bay Company monopolists quaked with fear lest their American cousins, now pouring into the Western Coastal States, would pursue their maraudings north of the Oregon country and seriously jeopardize their Indian trade. True, several years of their exclusive charter had yet to run, till the year 1859 by direct treaty had the Mother Country promised them the privilege of sole trade with the natives. But with a free and progressive people making permanent settlements to the south of them, founding cities and looking to the Sandwich Islands and Sitka and Mexico for trade, the eyes of the Mother Country might not longer be blinded to her own colonization interests on the Pacific Coast, and in truth it was the intrusion of their own countrymen rather than the Americans that the fur traders feared. Astute as ever, the officers of the company, Sir J. H. Pelly and Sir George Simpson took the bull by the horns. If the trade of colonization could not be stemmed, might they not contrive to get its current placed in their own hands so they might at least direct it? So we find Sir J. H. Pelly writing to Earl Gray in March, 1847, tnat the company was "willing to undertake the government and colonization of all the territories belonging to the crown in North America, and receive a grant accordingly." Small wonder is it that the ingenious modesty of this suggestion made even the lethargic Mother Land rub her eyes and consider. Then Sir J. H. Pelly and Sir George Simpson modified their suggestion with the assurance that "placing the whole territory north of the forty-ninth parallel under one governing power would have simplified arrangements, but the company was willing to accept that part of the territory west of the Rocky Mountains, or even Vancouver Island alone, in fact, to give every assistance in its power to promote colonization."

Consequently, in 1848, the draft of a charter granting them the Island of Vancouver was laid before the Imperial Parliament. Mr. Gladstone spoke against the bill, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce sent up a remonstrance and the press spoke strongly against the measure. Gladstone objected to giving a large British Island into the hands of a secret company whose methods were exclusive and hidden and conducted in a spirit of absolutism, whereas the keynote of British government was openness. However, on the 13th of January, 1849, the grant was consummated, chiefly because in the opinion of the British law makers it would conduce to the maintenance of law and order, the encouragement of trade and the protection of the natives.

By the terms of the charter the Hudson's Bay Company was given the island with the royalties of its seas, forests and mines. They were lords and proprietors of the land, promising on their part to colonize the island within five years, selling the land to settlers at a reasonable rate, retaining to themselves ten per cent of such sales and applying the remaining ninety per cent to permanent improvements of the colony, roads, bridges and public buildings. The crown reserved the right to recall the grant at the end of five years if not satisfied with the evidence of good faith of the company, agreeing in that event to repay the company all moneys actually spent by them in colonization. This last clause made it a very good bargain indeed for the Hudson's Bay Company—they had capital, they had ships in regular communication with England, they had organization down to a fine point, they had been in northern North America for a century and a half, they knew the country as no one else had known it or would ever be able to know it, they were on the spot, and, lastly, they were their own bookkeepers. Not hard would be the task for the canny Scots to actually expend 10,000 and charge up the Commonwealth of England with five times that sum. Are not governments made to be fleeced? If the company were to hold the land after the trial trip of five years or to give it up, what did it matter? In either case, the company stood in to win. Lord Gray imposed the conditions of colonization, and therein exposed the hand of a tyro. The immigrant to Vancouver Island's shores had to pay a pound an acre for his land, and furthermore must produce five other men or three families also provided with their required pound sterling per acre to settle land adjacent to him. So each prospective settler of Vancouver Island was to be a capitalist, an adventurer willing to risk chances in an untried land, and also a real estate and immigration bureau in his own person. Astute Earl Gray! In Oregon to the south, free land was offered to the pioneer with no harassing restrictions, without money and without price. A British subject if a married man, merely upon declaring, his intention of becoming an American citizen, was freely granted 640 acres of land. It was a case of patriotism versus pounds sterling to the incoming rancher, and the Hudson's Bay Company laughed up its corporate sleeve and continued its trade in furs. Statesmen talked, settlers complained, and the Fur Company ruled. There is no burking the fact that the legalized colonizers of Vancouver Island retarded colonization. Was this a boon or a bane ? There are so many points of view and so many factors in that complex question! British subjects were kept out, true. It is also true that the lives of the Indians were prolonged, aboriginal conditions were conserved for them and the dogs of development kept back.

First Colonial Governor.

On the ioth of March, 1850, Richard Blanshard, the first Colonial Governor, landed from the deck of the government vessel "The Driver." The captain of "The Driver" and the officers of "The Cormorant" in full uniform, stood by while Blanshard himself read his Royal Commission. It was an anomalous position barren of all honor that poor Blanshard came to fill. There was no Government House for him to occupy, and except the Indians and servants of the Hudson's Bay Company, very few settlers indeed for him to govern, and sadder than all these, there was no salary whatever to go with all the gold braid. The government of Vancouver Island (i. e. Blanshard) kept his royal state for the present on board "The Driver," and nolens volens went where she went, to Fort Rupert, to Beaver Harbor, up and down the coast. When "The Driver" moved on Blanshard accepted a bunk within the Fort, and here took up his melancholy state. There were practically at this time no settlers on Vancouver Island independent of the Hudson's Bay Company, so Blanshard's rule degenerated into settling or trying to settle disputes between the officers of the Hudson's Bay Company and their servants. This was repugnant and abortive.

Briefly, the Hudson's Bay Company by the terms of their charter were absolute, and Blanshard was not needed. In 1851 he sent to England his resignation, which was duly accepted, and all eyes turned to James Douglas as his inevitable successor.

Blanshard made an attempt at a little brief authority before his departure by nominating a Provisional Council of three members, James Douglas, James Cooper and John Tod, to whom he administered the oath of office, it was his last and almost his first official act. In September, 1851, James Douglas was duly made Governor of the colony, having been its ruler in fact for many years. Douglas now set himself to serve two masters, the Imperial Government and his old Alma Mater, the Honorable Hudson's Bay Company. With canny care he first arranged the important question of salary, in addition to his honorarium as Chief Factor, he was to draw 800 per annum as Governor.

Rule of the Douglas.

When Douglas became governor Roderick Finlayson took his place on the Provisional Council. Colonization went on very slowly; the settlers in 1853 on Vancouver Island numbered only 450, but even this scant population demanded some judicial functionary, so we find in 1854 Mr. David Cameron presiding in Victoria as Chief Justice of the Colony, with the princely salary of 100 per annum. Previous to this the only arm of the law had been Dr. Helmcken, whom Blanshard had appointed Justice of the Peace in 1850. In 1858 Mr. Needham succeeded Chief Justice Cameron, himself giving place the next year to Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie. Sir Matthew was one of the dominant men who left strong finger marks on the history of British Columbia in the plastic days of its first growth. He continued to fill the position of Chief Justice of British Columbia until his death in 1894 in the 75th year of his age.

At a period when firmness and discretion in the administration of justice were most needed, his wise and fearless action as a judge caused the law to be honored and obeyed in every quarter. Sir Matthew was a man of scholarly attainments, and his versatility of talents evoked the admiration of those who best knew him. As a judge, the tendency of his thought was eminently logical, his judgment was fearless and decisive.

In 1854 the Hudson's Bay Company had but one unexpired year of its charter, if settlement was not at least begun the charter must be lost. To meet this difficulty several of the leading officers of the company, Douglas, Work, Tod, Tolmie and Finlayson, purchased wild lands as near to the fort as they could get them, paying at the rate of a pound per acre for their holdings. Outside settlers were naturally dissatisfied with this Family Compact which thus reserved to itself the best of everything in sight, and in 1853 a petition was sent to the Imperial Government praying that the Charter on its expiry be not renewed. However, the petition was ignored, and in 1855 the Charter was renewed for a further five years.

The First Legislature.

On the 28th of February, 1856, Mr. Labouchere, Secretary of State for Britain, sent instructions to Governor Douglas bidding him call together his Council and arrange for the dividing of the country into electoral districts, and the subsequent election of the members of a Legislature. The result was the issuing of a proclamation on June 16th, 1856, dividing the country into four electoral districts, Victoria with three members, Esquimalt two members, Nanaimo one member, Sooke one member, and the elections were duly held. The first representatives of the new Assembly were J. D. Pemberton, Joseph Yates and E. E. Langford for Victoria; Thomas Skinner and J. S. Helmcken for Esquimalt; John Muir for Sooke, and John F. Kennedy for Nanaimo.

In connection with this election Dr. Helmcken made his maiden speech, which is the first recorded political speech of the colony. In it he strongly deprecates the feeling of indifference which had made it extremely difficult to secure candidates for an honorable seat in the new Assembly.

The first Legislature met on the 12th of August, 1856, Dr. Helmcken was chosen Speaker. Governor Douglas delivered with dignity the inaugural speech, which gives in a succinct and forceful way his conception of the status of the young colony. We transcribe it:

"Gentlemen of the Legislative Council and of {he House of Assembly: I congratulate you most sincerely on this memorable occasion—the meeting in full convention of the General Assembly of Vancouver Island, an event fraught with consequences of the utmost importance to its present and future inhabitants and remarkable as the first instance of representative institutions being granted in the infancy of a British colony. The history and actual position of this colony are marked by many other remarkable circumstances. Called into existence by the Act of the Supreme Government immediately after the discovery of gold in California, it has maintained an arduous and incessant struggle with the disorganizing effects on labor of that discovery. Remote from every other British settlement, with its commerce trammelled, and met by restrictive duties on every side, its trade and resources remain undeveloped. Self-supporting, and defraying all the expenses of its own government, it presents a striking contrast to every other colony in the British Empire; and, like the native pine of its own storm-beaten promontories, it has acquired a slow but hardy growth. Its future growth must, under Providence, in a great measure depend on the intelligence, industry and enterprise of its inhabitants, and upon the legislative wisdom of this Assembly. . I am happy to inform you that her Majesty's Government continues to express the most lively interest in the progress and welfare of this colony. Negotiations are now pending with the Government of the United States which may probably terminate in an extension of the Reciprocity Treaty to Vancouver Island. I will just mention that an impost of 30 is levied on every hundred pounds of British produce which is now sent to San Francisco or to any other American port. The Reciprocity Treaty utterly abolishes these fearful imposts and establishes a system of free trade in the produce of British colonies. The effect of that measure in developing the trade and natural resources of the colony can therefore be hardly over estimated. The coal, the timber, and the productive fisheries of Vancouver Island will assume a value before unknown, while every branch of trade will start into activity and become the means of pouring wealth into the country. The extension of the Reciprocity Treaty to this Island once gained, the interests of the colony will become inseparably connected with the principles of free trade, a principle which I think it will be sound policy on our part to encourage. The colony has been again visited this year by a large party of northern Indians, and their presence has excited in our minds a not unreasonable degree of alarm. Through the mercy of God they have been prevented from committing acts of open violence; yet the presence of large bodies of armed savages who are accustomed to follow the impulses of their own evil natures more than the dictates of reason and justice gives rise to a feeling of insecurity which must exist as long as the colony remains without military protection. Her Majesty's Government, ever alive to the dangers which beset this colony, has arranged with the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that the "President" frigate should be sent to Vancouver Island, and the measure will, I have no doubt, be carried into effect without delay. I shall nevertheless continue to conciliate the good will of the native Indian tribes by treating them with justice and forbearance and by rigidly protecting their civil and agrarian rights. Many cogent reasons of humanity and sound policy recommend that course to our attention, and I shall therefore rely upon your support in carrying such measures into effect. We know from our own experience that the friendship of the natives is at all times useful, while it is no less certain that their enmity may become more disastrous than any other calamity to which this colony is directly exposed.

"Gentlemen of the House of Assembly, according to constitutional usage you must originate all money bills. It is therefore your special province to consider the ways and means of defraying the ordinary expenses of the Government either by levying a customs duty on imports or by a system of direct taxation. The poverty of the country and the limited means of a population struggling against the pressure of numberless privations must necessarily restrict the amount of taxation; it should therefore be our constant study to regulate the public expenditure according to the means of the country, and to live strictly within our income. The common error of running into speculative improvements, entailing debts upon the colony for a very uncertain advantage should be carefully avoided. The demands upon the public revenue will at present chiefly arise from the improvement of the country, and providing for the education of the young, the erection of places for public worship, the defence of the country, and the administration of justice.

"Gentlemen, I feel in all its force the responsibility now resting upon us. The interests and well-being of thousands yet unborn may be affected by our decision, and they will reverence or condemn our acts according as they are found to influence for good or evil the events of the future."

The Family Compact.

The personnel of the first Legislature of British Columbia was largely Hudson's Bay Company in its complexion. James Douglas was lord paramount in his dual capacity as imperial viceroy and fur trader's factor in chief. Work, Finlayson and Tod, chief factor, chief trader and ancient pensioner, respectively, of the Hudson's Bay Company, comprised both secret council and house of lords. The seven wise men of the House of Assembly were also of the monopoly. Helmcken was staff doctor of the Company; Pemberton, surveyor and ardent attache; McKay, clerk of the company; Muir, a cidevant servant; Skinner, an agent of the Puget'Sound Agricultural Company; Kennedy, a retired officer of the company; Yates, by the grace of the company, merchant; David Cameron, brother-in-law of the Governor, was Chief Justice, and A. C. Anderson, retired chief trader, was Collector of Customs.

Thus the Government of Vancouver Island continued until 1859, at which time ended the second five years of the Hudson's Bay Company's colonial domination. It is hard for a man to serve two masters. Douglas had four to serve, namely, the Hudson's Bay Company's fur trade, the Colony of Vancouver Island, the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, and the. Nanaimo Coal Company. Humanly speaking, it was impossible for any one man to serve faithfully these four distinct and often antagonistic interests.


And now the conservative fur traders and the few pastoral off-shoots from the forts were to be startled by the insatiable auri sacra fames. Gold is discovered. In 1857 a small party of Canadians set out from the boundary fort of Colville to " prospect" on the banks of the Thompson and the Bonaparte. Other parties succeeded in making good strides, and immediately the news was in the air and soon a continent was inflamed.

Between March and June in 1858 ocean steamers from California crowded with gold seekers, arrived daily in Victoria. The easy-going primitive traders rubbed their eyes and sat up. Victoria, the quiet hamlet whose previous shipping had consisted of Siwash canoes and the yearly ship from England, in the twinkling of an eye found itself a busy mart of confusion and excitement. In the brief space of four months 20,000 souls poured into the harbor. The followers of every trade and profession all down the Oregon coast to San Francisco left forge and bar and pulpit and joined the mad rush to the mines. It was as when the fiery cross was sent forth through the Old Land, men dropped the implements of their trade, left their houses uncared for, hastily sold what could be readily converted into cash and jumped aboard the first nondescript carrier whose prow turned northward. The motley throng included, too, gamblers, loafers and criminals, the parasite population which attaches to the body corporate whenever gold is in evidence; the rich came to speculate and the poor came in the hope of speedily becoming rich. San Francisco felt the reflex action, every sort of property in California fell to a degree that threatened the ruin of the state. In Victoria a food famine threatened, flour rose to $30 a barrel, while ship's biscuit was at a premium. A city of tents arose, and all night long the song of hammer and saw spoke of rapidly put together buildings. Shops and shanties and shacks to the number of 225 arose in six weeks. Speculation in town lots reached an unparalleled pitch of extravagance, the land office was besieged before four o'clock in the morning by eager plungers and some wonderful advances are recorded. Land bought from the company for $50 resold within the month for $3,000, a clay bank on a side street 100 feet by 70 feet brought $10,000, and sawn lumber for structural purposes could not be had for less than $100 per 1,000 feet. The bulk of heterogeneous immigration consisted of American citizens who strove hard to found commercial depots in their own territory to serve as outfitting bases for the new mines. It is not speculators, however, but merchants and shippers who determine the points at which trade shall center. Victoria, combining the greatest commercial facilities with the fewest risks to navigation, soon came to the front as a shipping center; to this end her roadstead with its good holding ground and her whole mile frontage of deep water largely contributed. Of the great loads disgorged on the Victoria docks from the San Francisco steamers, most of the inglorious parasites, the Jews, brokers, Paris cooks and broken down gamblers stayed in Victoria to live by their wits, preying upon the fortunate miners, while the adventurous spirits pressed on up the Fraser toward the source of gold. All miners had to pay a monthly license to the government.

The Fraser River begins to swell in June and does not reach its lowest ebb till winter; consequently the late arrivals found the auriferous ground under water. Thousands who had expected to pick up gold like potatoes lost heart and returned to California heaping execrations upon the country and everything else that was English. The state of the river became the barometer of public hopes and the pivot on which everybody's expectation turned, placer mining could only be carried on upon the river banks, and would the river ever fall ? A few hundreds of the more indomitable spirits, undeterred by the hope deferred which maketh the heart sick, pressed on to Hope and Yale, at the head of steamboat navigation, being content to wait and try their luck on the river bars there when at last the waters should fall. These intrepid men ran hair-breadth escapes, balancing themselves on precipice brink or perpendicular ledge, carrying on their backs both blankets and flour, enduring untold hardships, buoyed up only by the gleam of possible gold, that will-o'-the-wisp whose glamour once it touches the heart of a man spoils him for conservative work and till death comes leaves him never.

These determined ones pass through miseries indescribable, creeping long distances ofttimes on hands and knees through undergrowth and tangled thickets, wading waist deep in bogs and clambering over and under fallen trees. Every day added to their exhaustion; and, worn out with privations and suffering, the knots of adventurers became smaller and smaller, some dying, some lagging behind to rest, and others turning back in despair—it was truly a survival of the fittest, and here as elsewhere hopeful pluck brought its reward. At length the river did fall, and the arrival of the yellow dust in Victoria infused new hope among the disconsolate. In proportion to the number of hands engaged on the placers, the gold yield of the first six months, notwithstanding the awful drawbacks of the deadly trails, was much larger than it had been in the same period in either California or Australia.

The production of gold in California during the first six months of mining in 1849 was a quarter of a million. All the gold brought to Melbourne in 1851 amounted to a million and a half. From June to October, 1858, there was sent out of British Columbia by steamer or sailing vessel $543,000 of gold. But in this sum is not included the dust accumulated and kept in the country by miners nor that brought in by the Hudson's Bay Company or carried away personally without passing through banks or express office. It is a conservative estimate to declare that these last items would so augment the $543,000 as to bring it up to at least $705,000 for the first four months. Yet this wonderful wealth was taken almost entirely from the bed of a few rivers, bank diggings being entirely unworked. A very small portion of the Lower Fraser, the Bonaparte and the Thompson, was the exclusive sphere of operations, the Upper Fraser and the creeks fed by the north spurs of the Rockies remained an unknown country.

The comparative figures of the gold yield were encouraging to those who thought, but much of the get-rich-quick element became disgruntled and returned to San Francisco, and the country was well, rid of amateur miners, romantic speculators who built castles in the air and did neither toil nor spin, a spongy growth on the body politic. The stringent English way in which law was administered had no attractions for these gentry who fain would have re-enacted on British soil those scenes of riot and bloodshed which stained California during the first years of its mad gold rush.

How Placers are Worked.

To work placers one must have access to water, wood and quicksilver. In California mines water was very scarce, in New Zealand the early miners were hampered by the lack of wood for structural purposes, British Columbia had wood and water galore. Arrived in the auriferous region, the miner must first locate a scene of operations, this pursuit is called " prospecting." Armed with a pan and some quicksilver the prospector proceeds to test his bar or bench. Bars are accumulations of detritus upon the ancient channel of some river; they constitute often the present banks of the river; benches are the gold-bearing banks when rising in the form of terraces. Filling his pan with earth the miner dips it gently in the stream and by a rotary motion precipitates the black sand with pebbles to the bottom, the lighter earth being allowed to escape over the edge of the pan. The pan is.then placed by a fire to dry, and the lighter particles of sand are blown away, leaving the fine gold at the bottom. If the gold be exceedingly fine it must be amalgamated with quicksilver. Estimating the value of the gold produced by one pan, the prospector readily calculates whether it will pay him to take up a claim there. In this rough method of testing, the superior specific gravity of gold over every other metal except platinum is the basis of operations—the gold will always wash to the bottom.

Next to the individual "pan" comes as a primitive contrivance for gold washing, the "rocker." This is constructed like a child's cradle with-rockers beneath, and is four feet long, two feet wide, and one and one-half feet deep, the top and one end being open, a perforated sheet iron bottom allows the larger pebbles to pass through, and riffles or cleets arranged like the slats of a Venetian blind and charged with quicksilver arrest the gold. The rocker takes two men to work, one pours in the earth and the sluicing water, the other rocks.

On a still larger scale is sluicing, which is really the same principle exactly as the pan and the rocker adapted to a powerful series of flumes or wooden aqueducts, down which some mountain torrent is deflected, the gold-bearing earth being shoveled in from the sides. By means of an immense hose called a " giant," whole mountain sides of rich sand are broken down and subsequently treated.

Quartz mining ultimately becomes the permanent method of extracting gold after the alluvial placers have been worked out. In these early days of gold mining in British Columbia, the quartz industry was not even in its infancy, requiring as it does money, machinery and concerted action to crush the imbedded gold from out the encircling quartz. Placer mining is poor man's mining, and has a charm, a glamour of expectancy which yields to no elaborately planned out campaign of imported machinery, consolidated companies and the selling of shares. The free prospector, singly or in partnership, works off his own bat, makes his own discoveries and locations and hugs to his soul each night the delirious hope of millions on the morrow. Gold fever is a disease that the doctors cannot cure, and if its fiery stream courses through a man's blood for two or three successive years, no conservative position in the world with a certain salary fixed and limited will have power to hold him.

Early Placers of British Columbia.

The Fort Hope Diggings first attracted the miners of the gold rush cf 1858, the best paying bars being the Victoria Bar, French Bar and Marinulle.The official returns of this region give a minimum average of between $5 and $10 per man per day here. Two miners realized $1,350 in six weeks.

The Yale Diggings embraced the river banks between Hope and Yale and for some distance beyond Yale again. Hill's, Emery's, and Boston Bars being the most noted diggings. The enormous rush of miners reaching first the Hope, Yale and the Lower Fraser, although by no means exhausting these grounds, did take the cream of the big gettings from these deposits, and now the cry for richer and more distant grounds went up.

In California was gold not more plentiful near the source of the streams and are not the rivers of British Columbia greater than those of California? Further back towards the frozen ocean the fortune hunters will go. And so the peaceful settlers on Vancouver Island, on the Cowlitz, and from the valley of the Columbia, leave ox and plow and steading, the bond servants of the monopoly break their contracts and throw off their allegiance, the saw-mills of the Sound are silent, and the northern trek begins again. By sea and by land the Argonauts pour in, from Oregon they come and from California, from Canada and Europe, from Australia and these isles of the sea, and the world sees enacted the third great devil dance of the nations.

Douglas, the King of Roads.

Douglas was a diplomat, he looked ahead and he knew how to manage men. When the first benches on the Fraser were worked out, and the miners would fain push on and break new ground, it became imperative that a more practical and less hazardous route to the front must be opened up. The Indians knew of a way from Lillooet, through the Harrison Lake and River and over the Douglas portages. In Victoria 500 miners had their faces turned towards the new diggings. Douglas would try the virtues of co-operation. His proposition to the miners was this: Each man as an evidence of good faith would deposit $25 in the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company, and sign an agreement to work upon the trail until it was completed; the Hudson's Bay Company in return agreed to carry the miners to the point of commencement on the Harrison River, feed them all the time they worked, and give them back their $25 at the expiry of the contract. The length of proposed trail (including water way) was seventy miles. The scheme worked well, it was an object lesson in economics, the miners were well pleased with their bargain, and the Hudson's Bay Company found itself in possession of a money making toll-road. Miles were money in those days; beans that could be bought in Victoria for a cent and a half a pound were worth five cents at Port Douglas where the trail began, and at the end of the communistic highway had increased to the value of a dollar and half a pound.

Death of the Monopoly.

Every monopoly dies in time, and even the Hudson's Bay Company, with its giant agrarian clutch, must pass under the law. On August 2nd, 1858, the Imperial Parliament passed an Act to provide for the Government of British Columbia, the new name given to that Pacific Province of the Mother Land, stretching from the forty-ninth parallel north to the Naas and the Fin-lay, and including the territory from the crest of the Rockies westward to the sea, with the Islands of Queen Charlotte and adjacent isles. With the expiration of the company's exclusive license to trade with the Mainland Indians, the Imperial Government re-purchased the company's rights to Vancouver Island for the sum of 57,500. In the year 1863, the Hudson's Bay Company stations in British Columbia were reduced to thirteen, Forts Simpson, Langley, Hope, Yale, Thompson River, Alexandria, George, St. James, McLeod, Connelly Lake, Fraser Lake, Sheppard, and Babine.


In i860 the Cariboo rush began. The Cariboo country may be roughly described as lying between the headwaters of the Fraser and the Thompson in latitude fifty-two degrees to fifty-four degrees north. The chief river of the region was the Quesnel, well known to the old Hudson's Bay Company traders, and the old Fort Alexandria lay but 40 miles distant. Previous to 1 i860 the Fraser mining had been almost exclusively by rocker and sluice, and \ with the more or less satisfactory scratching of the surface operations had ceased, but in the new Cariboo country shafts and drifts and pumping machines are to penetrate the mysteries of deep placers. The 1,500 miners of Cariboo shipped to Victoria before the end of next year (1861), two million of dollars in coarse nuggets, and the name Cariboo became as well known throughout the world as either Sacramento or Ballarat.

Each creek had a history of its own, Quesnel Forks being the first to develop into a permanent camp and early assuming the dignity of a small town. Here a party of five with two rockers took out in one week a hundred ounces of gold. On the south branch of the Quesnel below the outlet of Quesnel Lake mining operations persisted until the year 1872, at which time a gang of Chinamen were still making ten dollars a day to the man.

In Cedar Creek exceptionally rich diggings developed, here the Aurora claim with sluices, flumes and working plant costing $8,000, yielded in the year 1866, $20,000, and in August of the next year it was paying one hundred ounces a week. On the right branch tributaries of the Quesnel was the famous Keithley Creek, at whose mouth in 1861, grew up the town of Keith-ley. On this creek in this year five men in a single day laid bare $1,200 in good sized nuggets, and their daily outget for a time was sixteen ounces of gold per man. In the autumn several companies turned out a hundred dollars a day to the man; the diggings continued on Keithley Creek until 1875, the conservative Chinee continuing for a decade afterwards to scrape these auriferous sands. In 1864 Cunningham Creek "made good"; here a party of four white men unearthed an old river channel and one day took out $460 apiece.

The Antler Creek roused the interest of two continents. The London "Times" declared the bed of Antler Creek to be, like the heavenly streets, paved with gold; rockers yielded easily fifty ounces in an hour or two, a shovelful sometimes realized $50, and good sized nuggets could be picked out by hand. The inevitable stampede followed, and by June, i860, houses, saloons, and sawmills were in evidence. Individuals at Antler made as high as $1,000 a day, much of the ground yielding $1,000 to the square foot, the creek easily produced a gross output of $10,000 a day for the entire summer.

Grouse Creek evolved the famed Heron claim which had a wonderful history. An original outlay of $150,000 put this claim in running order. It immediately yielded $300,000, and on the assumption that it was then worked out, the locators sold it for $4,000. The newcomers cut an outlet 18 inches deeper than the previous one, with the result that for the whole of that season eighty ounces a week were produced. The Heron Claim remained quiescent until the year 1866, when in conjunction with the Discovery and other claims a yield of $15,000 to $20,000 per share was realized.

Then Williams Creek looms large on the horizon. In 1865, Barkerville, on Williams Creek, became the distributing point for the whole Cariboo country, the aggregate output of which in seven years reached the total of no less than twenty-five millions of dollars. The gold here was found on a deposit of blue clay, the figures of individual earnings being astounding. The Steele party picked out of the clay 796 ounces in two days, their aggregate for two months being $105,000, while prospects of $600 to the pan are authenticated.

The year 1862 eclipsed the year 1861, and 1863 was better than 1862, and from 1863 to 1867 the deep ground diggings of this Creek were the main producer of all Cariboo.

Cariboo is a sea of mountains and pine covered hills, rising to the height of 8,000 feet above the sea level. Everywhere are evidences of volcanic eruption, strata are uptilted and the beds of old streams are heaved to the hill tops. Round this center of wealth the main artery of the Fraser wraps its -semi-circular course and to the main stream the gold-bearing branches pour their tribute. Lightning, Antler, Keithley and Williams Creeks take< their rise in the Bald Mountains, radiating directly from a peak in this range known as the Snow-Shoe Mountain. In this mountain is supposed to lie the matrix of the Cariboo gold supply. The great drawbacks which confront the miner are the denseness of the encircling forests, the rugged formation oii every foot of the land and the consequent arduous and expensive nature of all^ transportation work. Added to this is the shortness of the season for work,i the severe winter precluding all operations between the months of October\ and June.

The extraordinary yield of the Cariboo mines appears in the facts that in 1861 the whole of Vancouver Island and British Columbia were supported by the gold gotten from Antler Creek alone, and for four years Williams Creek supported a population of 16,000, many of whom left the country with large fortunes. And yet Williams Creek is only a narrow gully worked for less than two miles of its length in the roughest manner, the mining being practically-a scratching of the surface unaided by costly machinery and-destitute of steam or electric power.

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