« EelmineJätka »
out of the hands of the Hudson's Bay Company into that of an enterprising British company, that with a more liberal outlay of capital, under judicious and enterprising management, it might drive a very Aourishing trade at home and with California, where coal might be delivered at twelve to fifteen dollars a ton, which would be almost as desirable as the Welsh coal, which is seldom below twenty dollars, and sometimes fetches as much as thirty dollars a ton. “For domestic consumption, and for use in the factories,” he adds, "I believe the coal of Nanaimo to be almost equal to that brought at such an immense expense and labour from the Welsh inines. Indeed, when I happened to be at San Francisco, I was informed by one of the leading iron-manufacturers there that they preferred mixing Nanaimo with Welsh coal when they were able to obtain it."
The whole of the summer of 1858 was taken up with making an accurate chart of all the disputed islands and channels, the first of which are all included in the Haro Archipelago. The treaty of 1844 appears to have been made under the impression that there was only one channel between Vancouver Island and the continent, and in ignorance that any islands existed there at all. Practically, at that time there was only one channel, for the eastern, or Canal de Rosario, was the only one about which anything was known, and had been used by all the navigators who had entered the Gulf of Georgia. Yet when the foundation of Victoria led to the use of the western channel, or Canal de Haro, the Yankees wished to carry the line, which was, by the treaty, to continue to “the centre of the Gulf of Georgia, and thence southward, through the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver Island, to the Straits of Juan de Fuca," along the western channel, thus giving to them the whole of the archipelago which lay east of that channel!
Commander Mayne says that his official position in the survey precludes his entering into a discussion which is as unsettled now as it was then ; but he says quite enough for any person of common sense to form an opinion upon the matter, supposing the facts as above stated not to be as conclusive to some minds as they are to ours. Which was the channel known and in use at the time of the treaty ? Undoubtedly the eastern, and that was therefore " the channel” meant. The distance between this eastern channel and the westerly, which came afterwards into use, is about twenty miles, full of islands, varying in size from ten or twelve miles long, to a mere heap of trap with two or three pines upon them. The generality of these islands are, indeed, covered with pine-trees to the water's edge, through which knobs of trap show in places. The central and disputed group consists of the three important islauds-San Juan, Orcas, and Lopez-and about thirty smaller ones. Of these, Orcas, the most northern, is the largest, and contains the finest harbours. It is mountainous, and in most parts thickly wooded, although in the valleys there is much land available for farming. On the east side of the island Mount Constitution rises nearly five thousand feet, and is a very conspicuous object from all parts of the Gulf of Georgia. Deer also abound more in Oreas than in any other of the islands.
San Juan, the best known by name, and in size the second of these islands, is eleven miles long, by an average of three miles wide. There is more land available for agriculture here than on any other of the group; and of this the Hudson
Bay Company took advantage some years ago, and established a sheep-farm upon it. This farm has ever since its establishment been in charge of Mr. Griffin, a gentleman whose kindness and hospitality render him every one's friend. It is situated on a beautiful prairie at the south-east end of the island, which, rising one hundred and forty feet above the water, looks most attractive to the emigrant passing onward towards the Fraser. I have never seen wild flowers elsewhere grow with the beauty and luxuriance they possess here. Perhaps I cannot illustrate the attractions of San Juan better than by saying it was the spot selected by his excellency the governor's daughter and niece in which to spend their honeymoon.
At one time the Company had as many as three thousand sheep on the island. Mr. Griffin's house is very pleasantly situated, looking out on the Straits of Fuca, and commanding a magnificent view of Admiralty Inlet. Directly in front of it lies a bank, which is a very favourite fishing station of the Indians, and where they catch a large number of salmon and halibut. This spot was, in 1859, the scene of a murder, which excited no little speculation, that will probably never be satisfied in this world.
Mr. Griffin told the story thus : He was sitting in his balcony one summer afternoon watching a vessel working her way up the Strait, when he saw two boats, each containing one man, pull past in the direction of Victoria. He was rather surprised at seeing them thus single-banded, but at that time, when the gold-fever was raging fiercely, every sort of boat was employed to cross the Strait, and he concluded that they were two Americans, making their way from Bellingham Bay to Victoria. They had hardly rounded the point, just beyond the farm, and passed out of his sight, when a small canoe with a single Indian shot past in the same direction. There was nothing in all this to attract particular notice, and Mr. Griffin was surprised wlien, an hour or so later, two boats, which he at once recognised as those that had so lately passed, dristed into view, floating hack, to all appearance, empty. A canoe was at once sent out to them, when one was found empty, and in the other lay the body of a white man, shiot, but not pillaged, even the provisions that were in his boat being untouched. Who shall say who his murderer was ? Had his white companion shot him, landed, and pushed off his boat?-for, except in the boat in which the murdered man lay, not a drop of blood could be seen-or had the Indian killed him, and had liis companion, on seeing the fatal shot fired, leaped overboard and been drowned ? If so, it was in revenge, for nothing was taken from the boats; perhaps in performance of that duty which is still considered “sacred”-if one may use the word-among the Indians, of taking a life for a life.
San Juan Island is the only one of the whole group worth anything for purposes of colonisation, while it only contains a few thousand acres of good land. To allege, therefore, Commander Mayne pertinently remarks, that an island of such paltry extent is of any real value in this respect, either to a country possessing the adjacent island of Vancouver and territory of British Columbia, or still more to one possessing the hundreds of miles of fertile prairie in Washington Territory, Oregon, and California, is manifestly absurd. A study of the chart, however, will show quite clearly why the country that holds Vancouver Island and British Columbia must also hold San Juan Island, or give up the right of way to her own possessions. It will be seen at once that the party that holds this island commands the canal of Haro. The narrowest part of the channel from shore to shore is five miles. This distance from San Juan can certainly be kept by steamers, but they must be thoroughly
acquainted with the navigation to do so, as they must pass inside several reefs, and west of Sydney Island. To go up the centre of the channel as big ships should do-San Juan must be passed at two miles' distance; so must Henry and Stuart Islands also, both of which would belong to the nation holding the east side of the canal of Haro.
“ San Juan can be of no use to any country but Great Britain, except for offensive purposes ; and, on the other hand, it cannot be of any use to her but for defensive purposes, as its eastern shore in no way controls or affects the Rosario Strait, from the western side of which it is eight miles distant at the nearest point, with Lopez Island between."
The same argument might be used against our holding possession of the islands which form the western side of the Rosario Strait, but here Nature befriends us; for, during our survey, we found there was a middle channel passing eastwards of San Juan, and a small island north of it, called “ Waldron Island," which channel, though not so wide as either of the others, is quite safe for steam navigation. A boundary-line, therefore, passing down the middle channel would give to the nations on either side a road to their dominions perfectly free of interruption, and well out of shot of each other, for some years to come at least; and this certainly appears the simplest and best solution of the
The alternative is good in a strategic point of view, but it is not flattering to a just sense of right. The Yankees possess all the vast mainland south of San Juan de Fuca Strait and of the forty-ninth parallel, of which as yet mere fragments, of the most limited extent, are under cultivation, or in any way turned to profit; and it is only a few years ago that Washington and Oregon Territories were ceded to a grasping and overbearing policy; yet they must now claim such portions of the archipelago in the Gulf of Georgia as command the passage between the harbour and capital of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and that not for defensive purposes, for the Yankees have as yet no possessions on the shore of Washington Territory that would be worth attacking if any one should dream of such folly ; nor yet for the value of the island, which is almost null, and certainly not to be compared with the mainland, but only for offensive purposes in the two senses of the word. This is not conduct worthy of a great power; it is a grasping, officious, and unprincipled system of proceeding, which will one day lead to the same reprisals on the part of the nations of the north as they grow up in number and prosperity, as it has done in the south, where the French eagles have planted themselves with the avowed purpose of controlling the utter disregard shown by the blustering advocates of the Monroe doctrine to the feelings, interests, or rights of the rest of the human family.
The Plumper remained exploring the Haro Archipelago till the 16th of May, and, on its return to Esquimalt, its crew found themselves in the midst of the gold-fever. Everything was bustle and movement. Many, Commander Mayne tells us, must have lost their lives attempting to cross from Victoria to the Fraser in boats and canoes, and many from exposure, want, and hard living at the mines. But even these were few in comparison to the hundreds lost in trying to cross the continent to California in 1849, whose bones are now bleaching in the Sierra Nevada. Although there was no revenue for the purpose, save the license for mining, the governor set to work opening up a route to the upper country, by which
the miners might journey with comparative safety, and supplies be conveyed to them. This route has been since known as the Harrison-Lilloett trail. The difficulties of the work, we are told, can scarcely be estimated by any one who has not seen British Columbian bush. “Cities” sprang up at the same time in Washington Territory, consisting of a liquorstore, a post-office, and two or three huts at Semiahmoo and Point Roberts. These « Bogus” cities, as the more staid Yankees call them, are to be found all over their country, and many of them, to use their own phrase, “cave in ;” and this was soon the fate of Roberts and Semiahmoo cities, for in less than six months they were deserted.
The governor of British Columbia appears to have been a man quite up to the mark at such a crisis. Few, indeed, could have been more so. A blustering Yankee went to him one day with the notion of bullying him, and began by asking permission for a number of citizens of the Disunited States to settle on some particular spots of land. “They would be required, he was informed, to take the oath of allegiance. .
“ Well," said he, “but suppose we came there and squatted ?" " You would be turned off.”
“But if several hundred came prepared to resist, what would you do ?”
666 We should cut them to mineemeat, Mr.- ; we should cut them to mincemeat."
The story is not only good in itself, but it also shows the animus by which the Yankees are actuated in America. They think anything can be done by force, and that all that is done by force is justifiable. Her Majesty's government has been too considerate to press the San Juan question while the States have been embarrassed by domestic broils, but it is probable that if they had settled the question, Yankee-fashion, we should have heard nothing more about it.
Winter brought with it an exodus of the mining population to California. Those who remained at the mines, and braved à British Columbian winter, had much to suffer, and many 'privations to undergo. It was at one time, indeed, feared that the whole inland population would be starved outright. The report of disturbances at Yale, ninety miles op the Fraser, took Commander Mayne up that river in a canoe in the month of January. These disturbances were fomented by a Yankee of a very characteristic type-a man who had been a judge in California, had himself murdered many men, and has since been elected to the House of Representatives of one of the border states that lie east of the Rocky Mountains.
It was at this epoch-that Colonel Moody, R.E., chief commissioner of lands and works, selected New Westminster, or Queenborough, as it was first called, for the capital of British Columbia--it having been decided that Derby, or New Langley, the spot first selected, was not desirable. The site of New Westminster is, we are told, so far as its geographical position is concerned, very good indeed, as it is also in a strategical point of view; but the bush there is very thick, while at Derby there was a large space of clear ground. It has many natural advantages, however, in which Derby is wanting, not the least being sufficient depth of water to allow the largest class of vessels capable of passing the sand-heads at the Fraser mouth to moor alongside of its wharves.
· In the spring of 1859 a new difficulty arose from the immigration of the Northern Indians, a much finer and more warlike race than the Songhies, the tribe living at and in the neighbourhood of Victoria, or, indeed, than any of the Southern tribes. These Indians were quiet enough' when sober, but they got drunk, whenever they had a chance, upon the produce of the sale of furs and skins, and then became quite sonmanageable. They were all armed, having had to travel among chostile tribes. At first an attempt was made to send them back, bat this having been found to be impracticable, they were settled in camps of their own, their muskets were taken away, a school was built for them, which was well attended, and they passed the summer quietly enough.
Commander Mayne was employed in the spring of 1859 on a survey of the Fraser River, the sand-bank at the entrance of which is called the Sturgeon Bank, from the number of those fish caught by the Indians kupon it. The navigation at the entrance presents, however, no difficulties like the Columbia, and it is not uncommon to hear a settler of British Columbia, between which and Vancouver Island much rivalry already exists, make the assertion that the sole use evidently intended by nature for that island was to form a breakwater for the Fraser River and the other inlets of the mainland! The banks of the river for some seventy miles from its mouth are in places low, and liable to being flooded in the spring and summer. They are, however, very fertile, and a great deal of fine hay is sent hence to Victoria for forage. At New Westminster the bauk rises, and forms an admirable position for the new town. Mary Hill, upon which it is proposed to plant the citadel, rises some three or four hundred feet. The town had already a thriving aspect. A church had been built, together with a treasury and a court-house. Its streets boasted also of two or three very fair “ restaurants," some good wharves and stores, and several private houses. But, as Commander Mayne remarks, if, as seems most probable, the tide of colonisation continues to flow Dorthward, and a route to the mines should be discovered up and from the head of one of the numerous inlets north of the Fraser, New Westminster may never repay the labour that has already been spent upon it. This, however, may be open to doubt, for supposing the future population to concentrate upon some more central spot, as Lilloett, New Westminster might still remain the port of the country. Fifteen miles higher up is Langley, where the steamers from Victoria are stopped by the shallowness of the river, and their cargoes, human and material, transferred to the stern-wheel steamers and the boats and canoes, which from this point do battle with the swift, uncertain stream, rendered a hundred times more difficult of navigation by the numerous snags.
At a distance of sixty-five miles from the mouth of the Fraser the Harrison river is reached, up which runs the Harrison-Lilloett route, which has now become the principal road to the inland settlements. The journey is accomplished first by steamer up the Harrison River and Lake to Port Douglas, thence by a broad waggon-road to Port Lilloett, a station at the south end of Lilloett Lake. From Lilloett, the lake affords a means of transport to Pemberton, whence another road is opened to the south-west end of Lake Anderson, which is almost connected with Seton, a lake of similar size, from the upper end of which the route to Cayoosh, or Lilloett, upon the Fraser, is only three or four miles. By this route