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Title: Pioneers of the Pacific Coast - A Chronicle of Sea Rovers and Fur Hunters
Author: Laut, Agnes C. (Agnes Christina), 1871-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Frontispiece: The descent of the Fraser River, 1808.  From a colour
drawing by C. W. Jefferys.]


  A Chronicle of Sea Rovers
  and Fur Hunters






  Copyright in all Countries subscribing to
  the Berne Convention




    I.  THE VOYAGE OF THE 'GOLDEN HIND'  . . . . . . . .    1
   II.  VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC  . . . . . . . . . .   11
  III.  THE OUTLAW HUNTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   30
   IV.  COOK AND VANCOUVER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   43
   VI.  THE DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER  . . . . . . . .   86
  VII.  THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS . . . . . . . . . . .   99
 VIII.  THE PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS . . . . . . . . . .  115
        BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  132
        INDEX  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  135



THE DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER, 1808                _Frontispiece_
  From a colour drawing by C. W. Jefferys.

  Map by Bartholomew.

JAMES COOK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     "     "   46
  From the portrait by Dance in the Gallery of
  Greenwich Hospital.

  SOUND, 1788  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     "     "   58
  From Meares's 'Voyages.'

  From Meares's 'Voyages.'

GEORGE VANCOUVER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     "     "   70
  From a painting in the National Portrait
  Gallery, London.

SIMON FRASER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     "     "   90
  After the portrait in the Parliament Buildings,
  Victoria, B.C.


JOHN M'LOUGHLIN  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     "     "  116
  Photographed by Savannah from an original painting.

FORT VANCOUVER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .     "     "  118
  From a print in the John Ross Robertson
  Collection, Toronto Public Library.

  From a photograph by Savannah.




All through the sixteenth century the South Seas were regarded as a
mysterious wonderworld, whence Spain drew unlimited wealth of gold and
silver bullion, of pearls and precious stones.  Spain had declared the
Pacific 'a closed sea' to the rest of the world.  But in 1567 it
happened that Sir John Hawkins, an English mariner, was cruising in the
Gulf of Mexico, when a terrific squall, as he said, drove his ships
landward to Vera Cruz, and he sent a messenger to the Spanish viceroy
there asking permission to dock and repair his battered vessels.  Now
on one of the English ships was a young officer, not yet twenty-five
years of age, named Francis Drake.  Twelve Spanish merchantmen rigged
as frigates lay in the harbour, and Drake observed that cargo of small
bulk but ponderous weight, and evidently precious, was being stowed in
their capacious holds.  Was this the gold and silver {2} bullion that
was enriching Spain beyond men's dreams?   Whence did it come?  Could
English privateers intercept it on the high seas?

Perhaps the English adventurers evinced too great interest in that
precious cargo; for though the Spanish governor had granted them
permission to repair their ships, the English had barely dismantled
when Spanish fire-ships came drifting down on their moorings.  A
cannon-shot knocked a mug of beer from Hawkins's hand, and head over
heels he fell into the sea, while a thousand Spaniards began sabring
the English crew ashore.  Some friendly hand threw out a rope to
Hawkins, who was clad in complete armour.  In the dark, unseen by the
enemy, he pulled himself up the side of a smaller ship, and, cutting
hawsers, scudded for the open sea.  There escaped, also, of Hawkins's
fleet another small ship, which was commanded by Francis Drake; and
after much suffering both vessels reached England.

One can imagine the effect on young Drake of the treacherous act and of
the glimpse of that cargo of gold and silver treasure.  The English
captains had but asked a night's lodging from a power supposed to be
friendly.  {3} They had been met by a pirate raid.  Good!  Young
Francis Drake eagerly took up Spain's challenge; he would meet the raid
with counter-raid.  Three years later he was cruising the Spanish Main,
capturing and plundering ships and forts and towns.  In 1572 he led his
men across the Isthmus of Panama, and intercepted and captured a
Spanish convoy of treasure coming overland.  Near the south side of the
isthmus he climbed a tree and had his first glimpse of the Pacific.  It
set his blood on the leap.  On bended knee he prayed aloud to the
Almighty to be permitted to sail the first English ship on that 'faire
sea.'  And, having recrossed the isthmus and loaded his ships with
plunder, he bore away for England and reached Plymouth in August 1573.

The raid on Panama had brought Drake enormous wealth.  At his own cost
he built three frigates and two sloops to explore the South Seas, his
purpose being to enter the Pacific through the Strait of Magellan,
which no Englishman had yet ventured to pass.  These ships he equipped
as if for royal tournament.  Players of the violin and the harp
discoursed music at each meal.  Rarest wines filled the lockers.
Drake, clad in rich velvet, {4} dined on plates of pure gold served by
ten young noblemen, who never sat or donned hat in his presence; and on
his own ship, the _Pelican_--afterwards called the _Golden Hind_--he
had a hundred picked marines, men eager for battle and skilful in
wielding the cutlass.  His men loved him as a dauntless leader; they
feared him, too, with a fear that commanded obedience on the instant.

Queen Elizabeth was in a quandary how to treat her gallant buccaneer
and rover of the high seas.  England and Spain were at peace, and she
could not give Drake an open royal commission to raid the commerce of a
friendly power; but she did present him with a magnificent sword, to
signify that she would have no objection if he should cut his way
through the portals leading to the 'closed sea.'  The fleet set sail in
December 1577, and steered by the west coast of Morocco and the Cape
Verde Islands.  The coast of Brazil was reached in April.  Two of the
ships were abandoned near the mouth of the Rio de la Plata, after
having been stripped of provisions.  In August the remaining three
ships entered the tempestuous seas around Cape Horn.  Drake drove
before the gales with sails close-reefed and hatches battened, and came
{5} out with only one of his three ships left, the first English keel
to cleave the waters of the Pacific.  In honour of the feat Drake
renamed his ship the _Golden Hind_.  Perhaps there was jocose irony in
the suggestion of gold and speed.  Certain it is, the crew of the
_Golden Hind_ were well content with the possession of both gold and
speed before advancing far up the west coast of South America.

Quite by chance, which seems always to favour the daring, somewhere off
the coast of Chile Drake picked up an Indian fisherman.  The natives of
South America, for the best of reasons, hated their Spanish masters,
who enslaved them, treated them brutally, and forced them to work in
the pearl fisheries and the mines.  Drake persuaded the Indian to pilot
his ship into the harbour of Valparaiso.  Never dreaming that any
foreign vessel had entered the Pacific, Spanish treasure-ships lay
rocking to the tide in fancied security, and actually dipped colours to
Drake.  Drake laughed, waved his plumed hat back in salute, dealt out
wine to give courage to 'his merrie boys,' and sailed straight amid the
anchored treasure-ships.  Barely had the _Golden Hind_ taken a position
in the midst of the enemy's fleet, when, selecting one of the
staunchest {6} vessels of the enemy, Drake had grappling-irons thrown
out, clamping his ship to her victim.  In a trice the English sailors
were on the Spanish deck with swords out and the rallying-cry of 'God
and St George!  Down with Spanish dogs!'  Dumbfounded and unarmed, down
the hatches, over the bulwarks into the sea, reeled the surprised
Spaniards.  Drake clapped hatches down upon those trapped inside, and
turned his cannon on the rest of the unguarded Spanish fleet.
Literally, not a drop of blood was shed.  The treasure-ships were
looted of their cargoes and sent drifting out to sea.

All the other harbours of the Pacific were raided and looted in similar
summary fashion; and, somewhere seaward from Lima, Drake learned of a
treasure-ship bearing untold riches--the _Glory of the South Seas_--the
huge caravel in which the Spaniards sent home to Spain the yearly
tribute of bullion.  The _Golden Hind_, with her sails spread to the
wind, sought for the _Glory_ like a harrier for its quarry.  One crew
of Spaniards on a small ship that was scuttled saved their throats by
telling Drake that the great ship was only two days ahead, and loaded
to the water-line with wealth untold.  Drake crowded sail, had muskets
{7} and swords furbished and thirty cannon loaded, and called on his
crew to quit themselves like men.  And when the wind went down he
ordered small boats out to tow the _Golden Hind_.  For five days the
hunt lasted, never slackening by day or by night; and when, at three in
the afternoon of a day in March, Drake's brother shouted from the
cross-trees, 'Sail ho!' every man aboard went mad with impatience to
crowd on the last inch of canvas and overtake the rich prize.  The
Englishmen saw that the Spanish ship was so heavily laden that she was
making but slow progress; and so unconscious was the Spanish captain of
danger, that when he discerned a ship approaching he actually lowered
canvas and awaited what he thought might be fresh orders from the
viceroy.  The _Golden Hind_ sped on till she was almost alongside the
Spaniard; then Drake let go full blast all thirty cannon, as fast as he
could shift and veer for the cannoneers to take aim.  Yards, sails,
masts fell shattered and torn from the splendid Spanish ship.  The
English clapped their grappling-hooks to her sides, and naked swords
did the rest.  To save their lives, the Spanish crew, after a feeble
resistance, surrendered, and bullion to the value in {8} modern money
of almost a million dollars fell into the hands of the men of the
_Golden Hind_.

Drake's vessel was now loaded deep with treasure, and preparations were
made to sail homeward, but her commander realized that it would be
dangerous to attempt to return to England by way of the Spanish Main
with a ship so heavily laden that she must sail slowly.  It was then
that legends of a North-East Passage came into his mind.  He would sail
northward in search of the strait that was supposed to lead through the
continent to the Atlantic--the mythical strait of Anian.  As the world
knows, there was no such passage; but how far north did Drake sail
seeking it?  Some accounts say as far as Oregon; others, as far as the
northern coast of California; but, at all events, as he advanced
farther north he found that the coast sheered farther and farther west.
So he gave over his attempt to find the strait of the legends, and
turned back and anchored in 'a faire and good bay,' which is now known
as Drake's Bay, a short distance north of San Francisco; and, naming
the region New Albion, he claimed it for Queen Elizabeth.  In July 1579
he weighed anchor and steered south-west.  {9} He reached the Molucca
Islands in November, and arrived at Java in March.  In June he rounded
the Cape of Good Hope and then beat his way up the Atlantic to England.
In September 1580 the _Golden Hind_ entered the harbour of Plymouth.
How Drake became the lion of the hour when he reached England, after
having circumnavigated the globe, need not be told.  Ballads were
recited in his honour.  Queen Elizabeth dined in state on the _Golden
Hind_, and, after the dinner, with the sword which she had given him
when he set out, she conferred on Drake the honour of knighthood, as
the seal of his country's acclaim.

Drake's conclusions regarding the supposed passage from the Pacific to
the Atlantic were correct, though for two hundred years they were
rejected by geographers.  His words are worth setting down: '_The Asian
and American continents, if they be not fully joined, yet seem they to
come very neere, from whose high and snow-covered mountains, the north
and north-west winds send abroad their frozen nimphes to the infecting
of the whole air--hence comes it that in the middest of their summer,
the snow hardly departeth from these hills at all; hence come those
thicke mists and {10} most stinking fogges, ... for these reasons we
coniecture that either there is no passage at all through these
Northerne coasts, which is most likely, or if there be, that it is




Since Drake's day more than a century had rolled on.  Russia was
awakening from ages of sleep, as Japan has awakened in our time, and
Peter the Great was endeavouring to pilot the ship of state out to the
wide seas of a world destiny.  Peter, like the German Kaiser of to-day,
was ambitious to make his country a world-power.  He had seen enough of
Europe to learn that neighbouring nations were increasing their
strength in three ways--by conquest, by discovery, and by foreign
commerce--and that foreign commerce meant, not only buying and selling,
but carrying the traffic of other nations.  The East India Company, in
whose dockyards he had worked as a carpenter, was a striking instance
of the strength that could be built up by foreign commerce.  Its ships
cruised from Nova Zembia to Persia and East India, carrying forth the
products of English workshops and {12} farms, and bringing back the
treasures of all lands.

By conquest, Peter had extended the bounds of his empire from the Ural
Mountains to the seas of China.  By discovery, what remained to be
done?  France and England had acquired most of the North American
continent.  Spain and Portugal claimed South America; and Spain had
actually warned the rest of the world that the Pacific was 'a closed
sea.'  But there were legends of a vast domain yet undiscovered.  Juan
de Fuca, a Greek pilot, employed, as alleged, by Spanish explorers
between 1587 and 1592, was reported to have told of a passage from the
Pacific to the Arctic through a mountainous forested land up in the
region of what is now British Columbia.  Whether Juan lied, or mistook
his own fancies for facts, or whether the whole story was invented by
his chronicler Michael Lok, does not much matter.  The fact was that
Spanish charts showed extensive unexplored land north of Drake's New
Albion or California.  At this time geographers had placed on their
maps a vast continent called Gamaland between America and Asia; and, as
if in corroboration of this fiction, when Peter's Cossacks struggled
doggedly across {13} Asia, through Siberia, to the Pacific, people on
these far shores told tales of drift-wood coming from America, of
islands leading like steps through the sea to America, of a nation like
themselves, whose walrus-hide boats sometimes drifted to Siberia and
Kamchatka.  If any new and wealthy region of the world remained to be
discovered, Peter felt that it must be in the North Pacific.  When it
is recalled that Spain was supposed to have found in Peru temples lined
with gold, floors paved with silver, and pearls readily exchanged in
bucketfuls for glass beads, it can be realized that the motive for
discovery was not merely scientific.  It was one that actuated princes
and merchants alike.  And Peter the Great had an additional motive--the
development of his country's merchant shipping.  It was this that had
induced him to establish the capital of his kingdom on the Baltic.  So,
in 1725, five weeks before his death--one of the most terrible deaths
in history, when remorse and ghosts of terrible memories came to plague
his dying hours till his screams could be heard through the palace
halls--he issued a commission for one of the greatest expeditions of
discovery that ever set out for America--a commission to Vitus {14}
Bering, the Dane, to explore the Pacific for Russia.

Like Peter the Great, Vitus Bering had served an apprenticeship with
the East India Company.  It is more than probable that he first met his
royal patron while he was in this service.  While other expeditions to
explore America had but to cross the sea before beginning their quest,
Bering's expedition had to cross the width of Europe, and then the
width of Asia, before it could reach even the sea.  Between St
Petersburg and the Pacific lay six thousand miles of mountain and
tundra.  Caravans, flat-boats, and dog-trains must be provided to
transport supplies; and the vessels to be used at the end of the land
journey must be built on the Pacific.  The explorers were commissioned
to levy tribute for food and fur on Tartar tribes as their caravans
worked slowly eastward.  Bering's first voyage does not concern
America.  He set out from Kamchatka on July 9, 1728, with forty-four
men, and sailed far enough north to prove that Asia and America were
not united by any Gamaland, and that the strait now bearing his name
separated the two continents; but, like the tribes of Siberia, he saw
signs of a great land area on {15} the other side of the rain-hidden
sea.  Out of the blanketing fog drifted trees, seaweed, bits of broken
boats.  And though Bering, like the English navigator Drake, was
convinced that no Gamaland existed, he was confronted by the learned
geographers, who had a Gamaland on their maps and demanded truculently,
whence came the signs of land?

In March 1730, within one month of the time he returned to St
Petersburg, Bering was again ordered to prepare to carry out the dead
emperor's command--'to find and set down reliably what was in the
Pacific.'  The explorer had now to take his orders from the authorities
of the Academy of Sciences, whose bookish inexperience and visionary
theories were to hamper him at every turn.  Botanists, artists, seven
monks, twelve physicians, Cossack soldiers--in all, nearly six hundred
men--were to accompany him; and to transport this small army of
explorers, four thousand pack-horses were sent winding across the
desert wastes of Siberia, with one thousand exiles as guides and
boatmen to work the boats and rafts on the rivers and streams.  Great
blaring of trumpets marked the arrival and departure of the caravans at
the Russian forts on the way; and if the savants, whose {16} presence
pestered the soul of poor Bering, had been half as keen in overcoming
the difficulties of the daily trail as they were in drinking
pottle-deep to future successes, there would have been less bickering
and delay in reaching the Pacific.  Dead horses marked the trail across
two continents.  The Cossack soldiers deserted and joined the banditti
that scoured the Tartar plains; and for three winters the travellers
were storm-bound in the mountains of Siberia.  But at length they
reached Avacha Bay on the eastern shore of Kamchatka, and the waters of
the Pacific gladdened the eyes of the weary travellers.  At
Petropavlovsk on the bay they built a fort, houses, barracks, a chapel,
and two vessels, named the _St Peter_ and the _St Paul_.

Early on the morning of June 4, 1741, the chapel bells were set
ringing.  At dawn prayers were chanted to invoke the blessing of Heaven
on the success of the voyage.  Monks in solemn procession paraded to
the water's edge, singing.  The big, bearded men, who had doggedly,
drunkenly, profanely, religiously, marched across deserts and mountains
to reach the sea, gave comrades a last fond embrace, ran down the sand,
jumped into the jolly-boats, rowed out, and clambered up {17} the
ships' ladders.  And when the reverberating roll of the fort cannon
signalled the hour of departure, anchors were weighed, and sails,
loosened from the creaking yard-arms, fluttered and filled to the wind.
While the landsmen were still cheering and waving a farewell, Bering
and his followers watched the shores slip away, the waters widen, the
mountains swim past and back.  Then the _St Peter_ and the _St Paul_
headed out proudly to the lazy roll of the ocean.

Now the savants, of whom Bering carried too many with him for his own
peace of mind, had averred that he had found no Gamaland on his first
voyage because he had sailed too far north.  This time he was to voyage
southward for that passage named after Juan de Fuca.  This would lead
him north of Drake's New Albion in California, and north of the Spanish
cruisings about modern Vancouver Island.  This was to bring him to the
mythical Gamaland.  Bering knew there was no Gamaland; but in the
captain's cabin, where the savants bent all day over charts, was the
map of Delisle, the geographer of French Canada, showing vast unnamed
lands north of the Spanish possessions; and in the expedition was a
member of the Delisle family.  So {18} Bering must have known or
guessed that an empire half the size of Russia lay undiscovered north
of Juan de Fuca's passage.

So confident were the members of the expedition of reaching land to the
east at an early date that provisions and water for only a few weeks
were carried along.  Bering had a crew of seventy-seven on the _St
Peter_, and among the other men of science with him was the famous
naturalist, George W. Steller.  Lieutenant Chirikoff sailed the _St
Paul_ with seventy-six men, and Delisle de la Croyère was his most
distinguished passenger.  As is usual during early June in that
latitude, driving rains and dense fogs came rolling down from the north
over a choppy sea.  The fog turned to snow, and the _St Paul_, far in
the lead, came about to signal if they should not keep together to
avoid losing each other in the thick weather; but the _St Peter_ was
careening dangerously, and shipping thunderous seas astern.  Bering's
laconic signal in answer was to keep on south 'to Gamaland'; but when
the fog lifted the _St Peter_ was in latitude 46°, far below the
supposed location of the strait of Juan de Fuca, and there was in sight
neither Gamaland nor the sister ship.  The scientists with Bering were
in such a peevish mood {19} over the utter disproof of their mythical
continent that they insisted on the commander wasting a whole month
pottering back and forth looking for Chirikoff's ship.  By this time
the weather had become very warm, the drinking water very rank, and the
provisions stale.  Finally, the learned men gave decision that as the
other ship could not be found the _St Peter_ might as well turn north.

Bering had become very depressed, and so irritable that he could not
tolerate approach.  If the men of learning had been but wise in the
dangers of ocean travel, they would have recognized in their commander
the symptoms of the common sea-scourge of the age--scurvy.  Presently,
he was too ill to leave his bed, and Waxel, who hated all interference
and threatened to put the scientists in irons or throw them overboard,
took command.  By the middle of July passengers and crew were reduced
to half allowance of bad water.  Still, there were signs that afforded
hope.  As the ship worked through the fog-blanket northward, drift-wood
and land birds, evidently from a land other than Asia, were seen.

At last came a land wind from the south-east, lifting the fog and
driving it back to the north.  And early one morning there were {20}
confused cries from the deck hands--then silence--then shouts of
exultant joy!  Everybody rushed above-decks, even the sick in their
night-robes, among them Bering, wan and weak, answering scarce a word
to the happy clamour about him.  Before the sailors' astonished gaze,
in the very early light of that northern latitude, lay a turquoise
sea--a shining sheet of water, milky and metallic like a mountain tarn,
with the bright greens and blues of glacial silt; and looming through
the primrose clouds of the horizon hung a huge opal dome in mid-heaven.
At first they hardly realized what it meant.  Then shouts went
up--'Land!' 'Mountains!' 'Snow-peaks!'  The _St Peter_ glided forward
noiseless as a bird on the wing.  Inlets and harbours, turquoise-green
and silent, opened along a jagged, green and alabaster shore.  As the
vessel approached the land the explorers saw that the white wall of the
inner harbour was a rampart of solid ice; but where the shore line
extended out between ice and sea was a meadow of ferns and flowers
abloom knee-deep, and grasses waist-high.  The spectators shouted and
laughed and cried and embraced one another.  Russia, too, had found a
new empire.  St Elias they named the {21} great peak that hung like a
temple dome of marble above the lesser ridges; but Bering only sighed.
'We think we have done great things, eh?  Well, who knows where this
is?  We're almost out of provisions, and not a man of us knows which
way to sail home.'

Steller was down the ship's ladder with the glee of a schoolboy, and
off for the shore with fifteen men in one of the row-boats to explore.
They found the dead ashes of a camp-fire on the sands, and some
remnants of smoked fish; but any hope that the lost ship's crew had
camped here was at once dispelled by the print of moccasined feet in
the fine sand.  Steller found some rude huts covered with sea-moss, but
no human presence.  Water-casks were filled; and that relieved a
pressing need.  On July 21, when the wind began to blow freshly
seaward, Bering appeared unexpectedly on deck, ashen of hue and
staggering from weakness, and peremptorily ordered anchors up.  Bells
were rung and gongs beaten to call those ashore back to the ship.
Steller stormed and swore.  Was it for this hurried race ashore that he
had spent years toiling across two continents?  He wanted to botanize,
to explore, to gather data for science; but the commander had had {22}
enough of science.  He was sick unto death, in body and in soul, sick
with the knowledge that they were two thousand miles from any known
port, in a tempestuous sea, on a rickety ship manned for the most part
by land-lubbers.

As they scudded before the wind, Bering found that the shore was
trending south towards the home harbour.  They were following that long
line of reefed islands, the Aleutians, which project out from Alaska
towards Asia.  A roar of reefs through the fog warned them off the
land; but one midnight of August the lead recorded less than three feet
of water under the keel.  Before there was time for panic, a current
that rushed between rocks threw the vessel into a deep pool of
backwash; and there she lay till morning.  By this time many of the
sailors were down with scurvy.  It became necessary to land for fresh
water.  One man died as he was lifted from the decks to the shore.
Bering could not stand unaided.  Twenty emaciated sailors were taken
out of their berths and propped up on the sand.  And the water they
took from this rocky island was brackish, and only increased the
ravages of the malady.

From the date of this ill-fated landing, a {23} pall--a state of
paralysis, of inaction and fear--seemed to hang over the ship.  The
tide-rip was mistaken for earthquake; and when the lurid glare of
volcanic smoke came through the fog, the sailors huddled panic-stricken
below-decks and refused to obey orders.  Every man became his own
master; and if that ever works well on land, it means disaster at sea.
Thus it has almost always been with the inefficient and the misfits who
have gone out in ships--land-lubbers trying to be navigators.  Just
when Bering's crew should have braced themselves to resist the greatest
stress, they collapsed and huddled together with bowed heads, inviting
the worst that fate could do to them.  When the tide-rip came through
the reefs from the north along the line of the Aleutian Islands with
the swiftness of a mill-race, the men had literally to be held to the
rudder at pistol point and beaten up the masts with the flat of the
officers' swords.  But while they skulked, a hurricane rolled up the
fog; and the ship could but scud under bare poles before the wind.
Rations were now down to mouldy sea-biscuits, and only fifteen casks of
water remained for three-score men.

Out of the turmoil of waters and wind along {24} the wave-lashed rocks
came the hoarse, shrill, strident cry of the sea-lion, the boom and
snort of the great walrus, the roar of the seal rookeries, where
millions of cubs wallowed, and where bulls lashed themselves in their
rage and fought for mastery of the herd.  By November, Waxel alone was
holding the vessel up to the wind.  No more solemn conferences of
self-important, self-willed scientists filled the commander's cabin!
No more solemn conclaves and arguments and counter-arguments to induce
the commander to sail this way and that!  Bedlam reigned above and
below decks.  No man had any thought but how to reach home alive.
Prayers and vows and offerings went up from the decks of the _St Peter_
like smoke.  The Russians vowed themselves to holy lives and stopped

To the inexpressible delight of all hands the prayers seemed to be
heard.  On November 4 the storm abated, and land loomed up on the
horizon, dim at first, but taking shape as the vessel approached it and
showing a well-defined, rock-bound harbour.  Was this the home harbour?
The sick crawled on hands and knees above the hatchway to mumble out
their thanks to God for escape from doom.  A cask of brandy was opened,
{25} and tears gave place to gruff, hilarious laughter.  Every man was
ready to swear that he recognized this headland, that he had known they
were following the right course after all, and that he had never felt
any fear at all.

Barely had the grief become joy, when a chill silence fell over the
ship.  The only sounds were the rattling of the rigging against the
masts, the groaning of the timbers of the vessel, and the swish of the
waves cut by the prow.  These were not Kamchatka shores.  This was only
another of the endless island reefs they had been chasing since July.
The tattered sails flapped and beat dismally against the cordage.
Night fell.  There was a retributive glee in the whistle of the mocking
wind through the rotten rigging, and the ship's timbers groaned to the
boom of the heavy tide.

Bering was past caring whether he lived or died.  Morning revealed a
shore of black basalt, reef upon reef, like sentinels of death saying,
'Come in! come in!  We are here to see that you never go out'; and
there was a nasty clutch to the backwash of the billows smashing down
from those rocks.

Waxel called a last council of all hands in {26} the captain's cabin.
'We should go on home,' said Bering, rising on his elbow in his berth.
'It matters not to me.  I am past mending; but even if we have only the
foremast left and one keg of water, let us try for the home harbour.  A
few days must make it.  Having risked so much, let us risk all to win!'
As they afterwards found, they were only one week from Kamchatka; but
they were terrified at the prospect of any more deep-sea wanderings,
and when one of the officers dared to support Bering's view, they fell
on him like wild beasts and threw him from the cabin.  To a man they
voted to land.  That vote was fate's seal to the penalty men must pay
for their mistakes.

Above the white fret of reefs precipices towered in pinnacles two
thousand feet high.  Through the reefs the doomed ship stole like a
hunted thing.  Only one man kept his head clear and his hand to the
helm--the lieutenant whom all the rest had thrown out of the cabin.
The island seemed absolutely treeless, covered only with sedge and
shingle and grass.  The tide began to toss the ship about so that the
sick were rolled from their berths.  Night came with a ghostly
moonlight silvering the fret of a seething sea that seemed to be {27}
reaching up white arms for its puny victims.  The lieutenant threw out
an anchor.  It raked bottom and the cable snapped.  The crazed crew
began throwing the dead overboard as an offering to appease the anger
of the sea.  The _St Peter_ swept stern foremost full on a reef.
Quickly the lieutenant and Steller threw out the last anchor.  It
gripped between rocks and--held.  The tide at midnight had thrown the
vessel into a sheltered cove.  Steller and the lieutenant at once rowed
ashore to examine their surroundings and to take steps to make
provision for the morrow.  They were on what is now known as Bering
Island.  Fortunately, it was literally swarming with animal life--the
great manatee or sea-cow in herds on the kelp-beds, blue foxes in
thousands, the seal rookeries that were to make the islands famous; but
there was no timber to build houses for wintering in.  It was a barren
island.  They could make floors of sand, walls of peat, roofs of
sea-moss; but what shelter was this against northern gales?

By November 8 a rude pit-shelter had been constructed to house the
invalided crew; but the sudden transition from the putrid hold to the
open, frosty air caused the death of many as they were lowered on
stretchers.  Amid a {28} heavy snow Bering was wrapped in furs and
carried ashore.  The dauntless Steller faced the situation with
judgment and courage.  He acted as doctor, nurse, and hunter, and daily
brought in meat for the hungry and furs to cover the dying.  Five pits
sheltered the castaways.  When examined in 1885 the walls of the pits
were still intact--three feet of solid peat.  Clothing of sea-otter
skins of priceless value, which afterwards proved a fortune to those
who survived, and food of the flesh of the great sea-cow, saved a
remnant of the wretched crew.  During most of the month of November the
_St Peter_ rode safely at anchor while storms thundered around her
retreat; but on the 28th her cable snapped beneath a hurricane, and she
was driven high and dry on the shore, a broken wreck.  In all
thirty-one men had perished of scurvy by January 1742.  Among these was
the poor old commander.  On the morning of December 8, as the wind went
moaning round their shelter, Steller heard the Dane praying in a low
voice.  And just at daybreak he passed into that great, quiet Unknown
World whence no traveller has returned.

How the consort ship, the _St Paul_, found {29} her way back to
Kamchatka, and how Bering's castaways in the spring built themselves a
raft and mustered their courage to essay the voyage home which they
ought to have attempted in the autumn, are matters for more detailed
history.  But just as Cartier's discovery of the St Lawrence led to the
pursuit of the little beaver across a continent, so the Russians'
discovery of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands led to the pursuit of the
sea-otter up and down the North Pacific; led the way, indeed, to that
contest for world supremacy on the Pacific in which the great powers of
three continents are to-day engaged.




Chirikoff's crew on the _St Paul_ had long since returned in safety to
Kamchatka, and the garrison of the fort on Avacha Bay had given up
Bering's men as lost for ever, when one August morning the sentinel on
guard along the shore front of Petropavlovsk descried a strange
apparition approaching across the silver surface of an unruffled sea.
It was like a huge whale, racing, galloping, coming in leaps and bounds
of flying fins over the water towards the fort.  The soldier telescoped
his eyes with his hands and looked again.  This was no whale.  There
was a mast pole with a limp skin-thing for sail.  It was a big, clumsy,
raft-shaped flat-boat.  The oarsmen were rowing like pursued maniacs,
rising and falling bodily as they pulled.  It was this that gave the
craft the appearance of galloping over the water.  The soldier called
down others to look.  Some one ran for the commander of the {31} fort.
What puzzled the onlookers was the appearance of the rowers.  They did
not look like human beings; their hair was long; their beards were
unkempt.  They were literally naked except for breech-clouts and
shoulder-pieces of fur.  Then somebody shouted the unexpected tidings
that they were the castaways of Bering's crew.

Bugles rang; the fort drum rumbled a muster; the chapel bells pealed
forth; and the whole population of the fort rushed to the
water-side--shouting, gesticulating, laughing, crying--and welcomed
with wild embraces the returning castaways.  And while men looked for
this one and that among the two-score coming ashore from the raft, and
women wept for those they did not find, on the outskirts of the crowd
stood silent observers--Chinese traders and pedlars from Manchuria, who
yearly visited Kamchatka to gather pelts for the annual great fur fairs
held in China.  The Chinese merchants looked hard; then nodded
knowingly to each other, and came furtively down amid the groups along
the shore front and timidly fingered the matted pelts worn by the
half-naked men.  It was incredible.  Each penniless castaway was
wearing the fur of the sea-otter, or what the Russians called {32} the
sea-beaver, more valuable than seal, and, even at that day, rarer than
silver fox.  Never suspecting their value, the castaways had brought
back a great number of the pelts of these animals; and when the Chinese
merchants paid over the value of these furs in gold, the Russians
awakened to a realization that while Bering had not found a Gamaland,
he might have stumbled on as great a source of wealth as the furs of
French Canada or the gold-lined temples of Peru.

The story Bering's men told was that, while searching ravenously for
food on the barren island where they had been cast, they had found vast
kelp-beds and seaweed marshes, where pastured the great manatee known
as the sea-cow.  Its flesh had saved their lives.  While hunting the
sea-cow in the kelp-beds and sea-marshes the men had noticed that
whenever a swashing sea or tide drove the shattering spray up the
rocks, there would come riding in on the storm whole herds of another
sea denizen--thousands upon thousands of them, so tame that they did
not know the fear of man, burying their heads in the sea-kelp while the
storm raged, lifting them only to breathe at intervals.  This creature
was six feet long from the tip of its round, {33} cat-shaped nose to
the end of its stumpy, beaver-shaped tail, with fur the colour of ebony
on the surface, soft seal-colour and grey below, and deep as sable.
Quite unconscious of the worth of the fur, the castaway sailors fell on
these visitors to the kelp-beds and clubbed right and left, for skins
to protect their nakedness from the biting winter winds.

It was the news of the sea wealth brought to Kamchatka by Bering's men
that sent traders scurrying to the Aleutian Islands and Alaskan shores.
Henceforth Siberian merchants were to vie with each other in outfitting
hunters--criminals, political exiles, refugees, destitute sailors--to
scour the coasts of America for sea-otter.  Throughout the long line of
the Aleutian Islands and the neighbouring coasts of North America, for
over a century, hunters' boats--little cockle-shell skiffs made of
oiled walrus-skin stretched on whalebone frames, narrow as a canoe,
light as cork--rode the wildest seas in the wildest storms in pursuit
of the sea-otter.  Sea-otter became to the Pacific coast what beaver
was to the Atlantic--the magnet that drew traders to the north-west
seas, and ultimately led to the settlement of the north-west coast.

It was, to be sure, dangerous work hunting {34} in wild northern gales
on rocks slippery with ice and through spray that wiped out every
outline of precipice edge or reef; but it offered variety to exiles in
Siberia; and it offered more--a chance of wealth if they survived.
Iron for bolts of boats must be brought all the way from Europe; so the
outlaw hunters did without iron, and fastened planks together as best
they could with deer thongs in place of nails, and moss and tallow in
place of tar.  In the crazy vessels so constructed they ventured out
from Kamchatka two thousand miles across unknown boisterous seas.  Once
they had reached the Aleutians, natives were engaged to do the actual
hunting under their direction.  Exiles and criminals could not be
expected to use gentle methods to attain their ends.  '_God is high in
the heavens and the Czar is far away_,' they said.  The object was
quick profit, and plundering was the easiest way to attain it.  How
were the Aleutian Indians paid?  At first they were not paid at all.
They were drugged into service with vodka, a liquor that put them in a
frenzy; and bayoneted and bludgeoned into obedience.  These methods
failing, wives and children were seized by the Russians and held in
camp as hostages to guarantee a big hunt.  The {35} Aleuts' one object
in meeting the Russian hunter at all was to get possession of firearms.
From the time Bering's crew and Chirikoff's men had first fired rifles
in the presence of these poor savages of the North, the Indians had
realized that 'the stick that thundered' was a weapon they must
possess, or see their tribe exterminated.

The brigades of sea-otter hunters far exceeded in size and wild daring
the platoons of beaver hunters, who ranged by pack-horse and canoe from
Hudson Bay to the Rocky Mountains.  The Russian ship, provisioned for
two or three years, would moor and draw up ashore for the winter on one
of the eleven hundred Aleutian Islands.  Huts would be constructed of
drift-wood, roofed with sea-moss; and as time went on even rude forts
were erected on two or three of the islands--like Oonalaska or
Kadiak--where the kelp-beds were extensive and the hunting was good
enough to last for several years.  The Indians would then be attracted
to the camp by presents of brandy and glass beads and gay trinkets and
firearms.  Perhaps one thousand Aleut hunters would be assembled.  Two
types of hunting boats were used--the big 'bidarkie,' carrying twenty
or thirty men, and the little kayak, a {36} mere cockle-shell.  Oiled
walrus-skin, stretched taut as a drum-head, served as a covering for
the kayak against the seas, a manhole being left in the centre for the
paddler to ensconce himself waist-deep, with oilskin round his waist to
keep the water out.  Clothing was worn fur side in, oiled side out; and
the soles of all moccasins were padded with moss to protect the feet
from the sharp rocks.  Armed with clubs, spears, steel gaffs and
rifles, the hunters would paddle out into the storm.

There were three types of hunting--long distance rifle-shooting, which
the Russians taught the Aleuts; still hunting in a calm sea; storm
hunting on the kelp-beds and rocks as the wild tide rode in with its
myriad swimmers.  Rifles could be used only when the wind was away from
the sea-otter beds and the rocks offered good hiding above the
sea-swamps.  This method was sea-otter hunting _de luxe_.  Still
hunting could only be followed when the sea was smooth as glass.  The
Russian schooner would launch out a brigade of cockle-shell kayaks on
an unruffled stretch of sea, which the sea-otter traversed going to and
from the kelp-beds.  While the sea-otter is a marine denizen, it must
come up to breathe; and if it does not come up frequently of its {37}
own volition, the gases forming in its body bring it to the surface.
The little kayaks would circle out silent as shadows over the silver
surface of the sea.  A round head would bob up, or a bubble show where
a swimmer was moving below the surface.  The kayaks would narrow their
surrounding circle.  Presently a head would appear.  The hunter nearest
would deal the death-stroke with his steel gaff, and the quarry would
be drawn in.  But it was in the storm hunt over the kelp-beds that the
wildest work went on.  Through the fiercest storm scudded bidarkies and
kayaks, meeting the herds of sea-otter as they drove before the gale.
To be sure, the bidarkies filled and foundered; the kayaks were ripped
on the teeth of the rock reefs.  But the sea took no account of its
dead; neither did the Russians.  Only the Aleut women and children wept
for the loss of the hunters who never returned; and sea-otter hunting
decreased the population of the Aleutian Islands by thousands.  It was
as fatal to the Indian as to the sea-otter.  Two hundred thousand
sea-otters were taken by the Russians in half a century.  Kadiak
yielded as many as 6000 pelts in a single year; Oonalaska, 3000; the
Pribylovs, 5000; Sitka used to yield 15,000 a {38} year.  To-day there
are barely 200 a year found from the Commander Islands to Sitka.

It may be imagined that Russian criminals were not easy masters to the
simple Aleut women and children who were held as hostages in camp to
guarantee a good hunt.  Brandy flowed like water, the Czar was far
away, and it was a land with no law but force.  The Russian hunters
cast conscience and fear to the winds.  Who could know?  God did not
seem to see; and it was two thousand miles to the home fort in
Kamchatka.  When the hunt was poor, children were brained with clubbed
rifles, women knouted to death before the eyes of husbands and fathers.
In 1745 a whole village of Aleuts had poison put in their food by the
Russians.  The men were to eat first, and when they perished the women
and children would be left as slaves to the Russians.  A Cossack,
Pushkareff, brought a ship out for the merchant Betshevin in 1762, and,
in punishment for the murder of several brutal members of the crew by
the Aleuts, he kidnapped twenty-five of their women.  Then, as storm
drove him towards Kamchatka, he feared to enter the home port with such
a damning human cargo.  So he promptly marooned fourteen victims on a
rocky coast, {39} and binding the others hand and foot, threw them into
the sea.  The merchant and the Cossack were both finally punished by
the Russian government for the crimes of this voyage; but this did not
silence the blood of the murdered women crying to Heaven for vengeance.
In September 1762 the criminal ship came back to Avacha Bay.  In
complete ignorance of the Cossack's diabolical conduct, four Russian
ships sailed that very month for the Aleutian Islands.  Since 1741,
when Bering's sailors had found the kelp-beds, Aleuts had hunted the
sea-otter and Russians had hunted the Aleuts.  For three years fate
reversed the wheel.  It was to be a man-hunt of fugitive Russians.

Just before the snow fell in the autumn of 1763 Alexis Drusenin
anchored his ship on the north-east corner of Oonalaska, where the
rocks sprawl out in the sea in five great spurs like the fingers of a
hand.  The spurs are separated by tempestuous reef-ribbed seas.  The
Indians were so very friendly that they voluntarily placed hostages of
good conduct in the Russians' hands.  Two or three thousand Aleut
hunters came flocking over the sea in their kayaks to join the
sea-otter brigades.  On the spur opposite to Drusenin's {40} anchorage
stood an Aleut village of forty houses; on the next spur, ten miles
away across the sea, was another village of seventy people.  The
Russian captain divided his crew, and placed from nine to twelve men in
each of the villages.  With ample firearms and enough brandy half a
dozen Russians could control a thousand Aleuts.  Swaggering and
bullying and loud-voiced and pot-valiant, Drusenin and two Cossacks
stooped to enter a low-thatched Aleut hut.  The entrance step pitched
down into a sort of pit; and as Drusenin stumbled in face foremost a
cudgel clubbed down on his skull.  The Cossack behind stumbled headlong
over the prostrate form of his officer; and in the dark there was a
flash of long knives--such knives as the hunters used in skinning their
prey.  Both bodies were cut to fragments.  The third man seized an axe
as the murderers crowded round him and beat them back; he then sought
safety in flight.  There was a hiss of hurtling spears thrown after him
with terrible deftness.  With his back pierced in a dozen places,
drenched in his own blood, the Cossack almost tumbled over the
prostrate body of a sentinel who had been on guard at a house down by
the ship, and had been wounded by the flying {41} spears.  A sailor
dashed out, a yard-long bear-knife in his grasp, and dragged the two
men inside.  Of the dozen Russians stationed here only four survived;
and their hut was beset by a rabble of Aleuts drunk with vodka, drunk
with blood, drunk with a frenzy of revenge.

Cooped up in the hut, the Russians kept guard by twos till nightfall,
when, dragging a bidarkie down to the water, they loaded it with
provisions and firearms, and pushed out in the dark to the moan and
heave of an unquiet sea.  Though weakened from loss of blood, the
fugitives rowed with fury for the next spur of rock, ten miles away,
where they hoped to find help.  The tide-rip came out of the north with
angry threat and broke against the rocks, but no blink of light shone
through the dark from the Russian huts ashore.  The men were afraid to
land, and afraid not to land.  Wind and sea would presently crush their
frail craft to kindling-wood against the rocky shore.

The Russians sprang out, waded ashore, uttered a shout!  Instantly
lances and spears fell about them like rain.  They joined hands and ran
for the cove where the big schooner had been moored.  Breathlessly they
waited for the dawn to discover where their ship lay; {42} but daylight
revealed only the broken wreckage of the vessel along the shore, while
all about were blood-stains and pieces of clothing and mutilated
bodies, which told but too plainly that the crew had been hacked to
pieces.  There was not a moment to be lost.  Before the mist could
lift, the fugitives gathered up some provisions scattered on the shore
and ran for their lives to the high mountains farther inland.  And when
daylight came they scooped a hole in the sand, drew a piece of
sail-cloth over this, and lay in hiding till night.

From early December to early February the Russians hid in the caves of
the Oonalaska mountains.  Clams, shell-fish, sea-birds stayed their
hunger.  It is supposed that they must have found shelter in one of the
caves where there are medicinal hot springs; otherwise, they would have
perished of cold.  In February they succeeded in making a rude boat,
and in this they set out by night to seek the ships of other Russian
hunters.  For a week they rowed out only at night.  Then they began to
row by day.  They were seen by Indians, and once more sought safety in
the caves of the mountains, where they remained in hiding for five
weeks, venturing {43} out only at night in search of food.  Here,
snow-water and shell-fish were all they had to sustain them; and again
they must build a rude raft to escape.  Towards the end of March they
descried a Russian vessel in the offing, and at last succeeded in
reaching friends.

Almost the same story could be told of the crews of each of the ships
that had sailed from Avacha Bay in September 1762.  One ship foundered.
The castaways were stabbed where they lay in exhausted sleep.  Every
member of the crew on a third ship had been slain round a bath-house,
such as Russian hunters built in that climate to enable them to ward
off rheumatism by vapour plunges.  One ship only escaped the general
butchery and carried the refugees home.

Of course, Cossack and hunter exacted terrible vengeance for this
massacre.  Whole villages were burned to the ground and every
inhabitant sabred.  On one occasion, as many as three hundred victims
were tied in line and shot.  The result was that the Cossacks' outrages
and the Aleuts' vengeance drew the attention of the Russian government
to this lucrative fur trade in the far new land.  The disorders put an
end to free, unrestricted trade.  {44} Henceforth a hunter must have a
licence; and a licence implied the favour of the court.  The court saw
to it that a governor took up his residence in the region to enforce
justice and to compel the hunters to make honest returns.  Like the
Hudson's Bay men, the Russian fur traders had to report direct to the
crown.  Thus was inaugurated on the west coast of America the Russian
régime, which ended only in 1867, when Alaska was ceded to the United

[Illustration: Routes of Explorers on the Pacific Coast.]




It was the quest for a passage to the Atlantic that brought Captain
James Cook to the Pacific.  Before joining the Royal Navy, Cook had
been engaged as a captain in the Baltic trade; and from Russian
merchantmen he had learned all about Bering's voyage in the North
Pacific, which was being quoted by the geographers in proof of an open
passage north of Alaska.  In the Baltic, too, Cook had heard about the
strait of Juan de Fuca, which was supposed to lead through the
continent to the Atlantic.  At this time all England was agog with
demands that the Hudson's Bay Company should find a North-West Passage
or surrender its charter.  Parliament had offered a reward of £20,000
to any one discovering a passage-way to the Pacific, and Samuel Hearne
had been sent tramping inland to explore the north by land.  Curiously
enough, Cook had been born in 1728, the very {46} year that Bering had
set out on his first expedition; and he was in the Baltic when news
came back to St Petersburg of Bering's death.  The year 1759 found him
at Quebec with Wolfe.  During the next ten years he explored and
charted northern and southern seas; and when the British parliament
determined to set at rest for ever the myth of a passage, Cook was
chosen to conduct the expedition.  He was granted two ships--the
_Resolution_ and the _Discovery_; and among the crews was a young
midshipman named Vancouver.  The vessels left England in the summer of
1776, and sailed from the Sandwich Islands in 1778 for Drake's New
Albion.  The orders were to proceed from New Albion up to 65° north
latitude and search for a passage to Hudson Bay.

[Illustration: James Cook.  From the portrait by Dance in the Gallery
of Greenwich Hospital.]

On March 7, 1778--two hundred years after Drake's famous voyage--Cook's
ships descried thin, sharp lines of land in the offing.  As the vessels
drew nearer the coast towering mountains met the gaze of the explorers.
Cook had orders to keep a sharp look-out in this region for the strait
of Juan de Fuca; but storm drove him off-shore, and, although he
discovered and named Cape Flattery at the entrance to the strait that
now bears the name {47} of the old Greek pilot, he did not catch as
much as a glimpse of the great bay opening inland.  In fact, he set
down that in this latitude there was no possibility of Juan de Fuca's
strait existing.  Landing was made on Vancouver Island at the famous
harbour now known as Nootka; and Indians swarmed the sea in gaily
painted dug-outs with prows carved like totem-poles.  Women and
children were in the canoes.  That signified peace; and though cannon
were manned in readiness, an active and friendly trade at once opened
between the crews and the natives.  Fifteen hundred beaver and
sea-otter pelts were exchanged for a handful of old nails.  At least
two thousand natives gathered round the two ships.  Some of the men
wore masks and had evidently just returned from a raid, for they
offered Cook human skulls from which the flesh had not been removed,
and pointed to slave captives.

Any one who knows Vancouver Island in spring needs no description of
the inspiring scene surveyed by the sea-weary crews.  Snow rested on
the coastal mountains.  The huge opal dome now known as Mount Baker
loomed up through the clouds of dawn and dusk on the southern sky-line.
In fair {48} weather the long pink ridge of the Olympics could be seen
towards Puget Sound.  Inland from Nootka were vast mountain ridges
heavily forested to the very clouds with fir trees and spruce of
incredible size.  Lower down grew cypress, with gnarled red roots
entangling the rocks to the very water's edge, Spanish moss swinging
from branch to branch, and partridge drumming in the underbrush.  For a
month the deep-sea travellers enjoyed a welcome furlough on shore.  One
night the underbrush surrounding the encampment was found to be
literally alive with painted warriors.  Cook demanded an explanation of
the grand 'tyee' or chief.  The Indian explained that these were guards
to protect the encampment.  However that might be, Cook deemed it well
to be off.

On May 1 the ships were skirting the Sitka coast, which Chirikoff and
Bering had explored a quarter of a century previously.  St Elias,
Bering's landfall, was sighted.  So was the spider-shaped bay now known
as Prince William Sound.  The Indians here resembled the Eskimos of
Greenland so strongly that the hopes of the explorers began to rise.
So keen were they to prove the existence of a passage to the Atlantic
that when swords, {49} beads, powder, evidently obtained from white
traders, were observed among the Indians, the Englishmen tried to
persuade themselves that these Indians must be in communication with
the Indians of the domain of the Hudson's Bay Company, forgetting that
Russians had been on the ground for forty years.  Cook sailed round the
coast, past Cape Prince of Wales and through Bering Strait, keeping his
prows northward until an impassable wall of ice barred his way.  Having
now thoroughly explored the coast, Cook was satisfied that Drake and
Bering had been right.  There was no passage east.   He then crossed to
Siberia, sailed down the Asiatic coast, and visited the Aleutian
Islands.  The Russians of Oonalaska and Kamchatka resented the English
intrusion on their hunting-ground, while the English refused to
acknowledge that they were invading Russian territory.

It was planned to winter and repair the ships at the Sandwich Islands.
This part of Cook's voyage does not concern Canada.  It was something
like a repetition of the transgressions of the Russian outlaw hunters,
and was followed by the penalty that transgressors pay.  The islanders
had welcomed the white men as demi-gods, but the gods {50} proved to
have feet of clay.  To the islanders a sacred 'taboo' always existed
round the burial-graves.  Cook permitted his sailors to violate this
'taboo' in order to take timber for the repair of his ships.  Perhaps
it was a reaction from almost three years of navy discipline; perhaps
it was the influence of those seductive southern seas; however that may
be, the sailors apparently gave themselves up to riotous debauch.  The
best of the islanders withdrew disillusioned, sad, sullen, resentful
over the violation of their sacred burial-places.  Only the riff-raff
of the natives forgathered with the riotous crew.  When the ships at
length set sail with a crew sore-headed from dissipation, by way of a
climax to the debauch, a number of women and children were carried

Retribution came swift as sword-stroke.  The women set up such a
wailing that Cook stopped the ships to set them ashore.  In the delay
of rowing the boats to land a fierce gale sprang up.  The wind snapped
off the foremast of the _Resolution_ clean to the decks.  The two ships
had to put back to the harbour for repairs.  Not a canoe, not a man,
not a voice, welcomed them.  The sailors were sullen; Cook was angry;
and when the white {51} men wanted to trade for fresh food, the
islanders would take only daggers and knives in barter.  The white men
had stolen from their burial-graves.  The savages now tried to steal
from the ships, and on Sunday, February 14, they succeeded in carrying
off the large row-boat of the _Discovery_.

Cook landed with a strong bodyguard to demand hostages for the return
of the lost boat.  The islanders remembered the kidnapping of the
women, and refused.  Cook was foolhardy enough to order his men to fire
on any canoe trying to escape from the harbour.  The rest of the
episode is so familiar that it scarcely needs telling.  A chief
crossing the harbour in a skiff was shot.  The women were at once
hurried off to the hills.  The men donned their spears and war-mats.  A
stone hurled from the rabble running down to the shore struck Cook.
Enraged out of all self-control, he shot the culprit dead.  In defence
of their commander some marines rowing ashore at once fired a musketry
volley into the horde of islanders.  Cook turned his back to the
thronging savages, now frenzied to a delirium, and signalled the
marines to cease firing.  As he did so, a dagger was plunged beneath
his shoulder-blade.  He was {52} hacked to pieces under the eyes of his
powerless men; and four soldiers also fell beneath the furious

What need to tell of the wild scramble for the sea; of the war-horns
blowing all night in the dark; of the camp-fires glimmering from the
women's retreat in the hills?  By dint of threat and show of arms and
promises, Captain Charles Clerke, who was now in command, induced the
islanders to deliver the remnants of Cook's body.  In an impressive
silence, on Sunday the 21st of February 1779, the coffin containing the
great commander's bones was committed to the deep.

The sensational nature of Cook's death, within half a century of
Bering's equally tragic fate, while exploring the same unknown seas,
spread round the world the fame of the exploits of both.  It was
recalled that Drake had claimed New Albion for England two centuries
before.  Then rumours came that the Spanish viceroy in Mexico had been
following up the discoveries of both Drake and Bering.  One Bruno
Heceta from Monterey made report that there were signs of a great
turbid river cutting the coast-line north of Drake's New Albion.  In
spite of Cook's {53} adverse report, the questions were again mooted:
Where was Juan de Fuca's strait?  Did it lead to Hudson Bay?  Where was
this Great River of which both the inland savages and the Spanish
explorers spoke?  Quebec had fallen.  Scottish fur merchants of
Montreal had formed the North-West Company in opposition to the
Hudson's Bay Company, and were pushing their traders far west towards
the Rockies, far north towards the Arctic Circle.  Who would be first
to find the great unknown river, to fathom the mysteries of Juan de
Fuca's strait?  Dreaming of these things up in the Athabaska country,
Alexander Mackenzie, a trader for the Nor'westers, was preparing to
push his canoes down to the Arctic as a preliminary to his greater
journey to the Pacific.  If Bering's crew, if Cook's crew, both sold
half-rotted cargoes of furs for thousands of pounds, how much more
easily could trading vessels properly equipped reap fortune from the
new El Dorado!

Inland by canoe from Montreal, overland by flat-boat and pack-horse
from the Missouri, across the continent from Hudson Bay, round the
world by the Cape and the Horn, across the ocean from China--it now
became a race to the Pacific.  Greater wealth seemed there {54} in furs
than had been found in gold in the temples of Peru, or in silver in the
mines of Mexico.  The struggle for control of the Pacific, which has
culminated in our own day, now began.  Spain, Russia, England, Canada,
and the new-born United States were the contestants in the arena.  What
has reached its climax in the sluicing of two oceans together at Panama
began in the pursuit of sea-otter and seal after the voyages of Bering
and of Cook.

The United States had an added motive.  On the principle of protecting
native shipping, American ports discriminated against British ships,
and British ports discriminated against American ships.  It was
absolutely necessary to their existence as a nation that the United
States should build up a merchant fleet.  Under fostering laws, with
the advantages of cheap labour and abundant timber, a wonderful clipper
fleet had been constructed in Massachusetts and Maryland and Virginia
ship-yards, consisting of swift sailing-vessels suitable for belting
the seas in promoting commerce and in war.  The ship-yards built on
shares with the merchants, who outfitted the cargo.  Builders and
merchants would then divide the profits.  Under these conditions
American traders were penetrating {55} almost every sea in the world;
and the cargoes brought back built up the substantial fortunes of many
old Boston families.  'Bostonnais' these swift new traders were called
from the Baltic to China.  It can be readily believed that what they
heard of Cook and Bering interested the Boston men mightily.  At all
events, they fitted out two ships for the Pacific trade--ships that
were to range the seas for the United States as Drake's and Cook's had
drawn a circle round the world for England.  Captain John Kendrick
commanded the _Columbia_, Captain Robert Gray the _Lady Washington_,
and on one of the vessels was a sailor who had been to the North-West
coast with Cook.  In order to secure Spain's goodwill, letters were
obtained to the viceroy of Mexico; and when, in the course of the
voyage, these letters were presented to the viceroy of Mexico at San
Blas, he honoured them by at once issuing orders to the presidios of
Monterey and Santa Barbara and San Francisco to arrest both officers
and crew if the Americans touched at any Spanish port.  Spain was still
dreaming of the Pacific being 'a closed sea.'  She took cognizance of
Bering's exploits to the north, but she at once strove to checkmate an
advance south from {56} the north, by herself advancing north from the
south.  It was in 1775 that Heceta had observed the turbid entrance to
a great river and the opening to a strait that might be that of Juan de
Fuca.  However, on Monday, October 1, 1787, the two American vessels
sailed away from Boston.  It was August of 1788 before they were off
Drake's New Albion; and in the stormy weather encountered all the way
up the Pacific, the little sloop _Lady Washington_ had proved a faster,
better sailer than the heavier cargo vessel, the _Columbia_.  Signs of
a river were observed; and a pause was made at one of the harbours on
the coast--either Tillamook or Gray's Harbour.  Here the Indians,
indignant at a recent outrage committed against them by whites,
attacked the Americans and drove them off before they could search for
an entrance to the Great River.  It now became apparent that the small
sloop had the advantage, not only in speed, but because it could go in
closer to the coast.  Towards the end of August Gray's crew distinctly
observed the Olympic mountains and set down record of Cape Flattery.
'I am of opinion,' notes the mate, 'that the Straits of Juan de Fuca
_do_ exist; for the coast takes a great bend here.'


At Nootka surprise awaited the Americans.  John Meares and William
Douglas, English captains, were there in a palisaded fort and with two
vessels; a little trading schooner of thirty tons named the _North-West
America_ had just been built--the first ship built on the North-West
coast--and was being launched amid thunder of cannon and clinking of
glasses, and September 19 was observed as a holiday--the first public
holiday in what is now British Columbia.  Meares and Douglas
entertained Gray at dinner, and over brimming wine-glasses gave him the
news of recent happenings on the coast.  Captain Barkley, another
English trader, had looked into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and placed
it on his chart.  Meares had sought in vain for the River of the West,
and did not believe that it existed.  In fact, he had named the
headland that hid it Cape Disappointment.  And, of course, no furs
existed on the Pacific coast.  When did a fur trader ever acknowledge
to a rival that there were furs?  Meares reported that he, too, had
been down at Tillamook Bay; and Gray guessed that it had been Meares's
injustice to the Indians that provoked the raid on himself.  Meares was
short of provisions, and the _Lady Washington_ needed {58} repairs.
The American gave the Englishman provisions to reach China, and the
Englishman repaired the American's ship.  Meares declared that he had
bought all Nootka from the Indians.  He did not relate that he had paid
only two pocket-pistols and some copper for it.  Towards the end of
September came Kendrick on the belated _Columbia_.  Both Americans were
surprised to learn that half a dozen navigators had already gone as far
north as Nootka Sound.  Perez, Heceta, Quadra--all had coasted
Vancouver Island for Spain from 1774 to 1779, and so had La Pérouse,
the French explorer, in 1787.  Hanna had come out from China for furs
in 1785.  In 1787 Portlock and Dixon had secured almost two thousand
sea-otter skins as far north as the Queen Charlotte Islands.  These
were things Meares did not tell the Americans.  It would have been to
acknowledge that an abundance of furs was there to draw so many
trading-ships.  But during the winter at Nootka the men from Boston
learned these facts from the Indians.

[Illustration: The launch of the _North-West America_ at Nootka Sound,
1788.  From Meares's _Voyages_.]

The winter was passed in trading with the Indians, and spring saw Gray
far up the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  By May 1 the ships were loaded with
furs and were about to sail.  {59} Meanwhile, what had the Spanish
viceroy been doing?  Strange that the Spaniards should look on
complaisantly while English traders from China--Meares and Hanna and
Barkley and Douglas--were taking possession of Nootka.  The answer came
unexpectedly.  Just as the 'Bostonnais' were sailing out for a last run
up the coast, there glided into Nootka Sound a proud ship--all sails
set, twenty cannon pointed, Spanish colours spread to the breeze.  The
captain of this vessel, Don Joseph Martinez, took a look at the English
fortifications and another at the Americans.  The Americans were
enemies of England.  Therefore the pompous don treated them royally,
presented them with spices and wines, and allowed them to depart
unmolested.  When the Americans returned from the run up coast, they
found the English fort dismantled, a Spanish fort erected on Hog Island
at the entrance of the sound, and Douglas's ship--the companion of
Meares's vessel--held captive by the Spaniard.  Gray and Kendrick now
exchanged ships, and sailed for China to dispose of their cargoes of
furs and receive in exchange cargoes of tea for Boston.  The whole city
of Boston welcomed the _Columbia_ home in the autumn of 1790.  Fifty
thousand {60} miles she had ploughed through the seas in three years.

In June 1791 Gray was out again on the _Columbia_.  This time he went
as far north as the Portland Canal, past the Queen Charlotte Islands,
where he met Kendrick on the _Lady Washington_.  The quarrel at Nootka
between the English and the Spaniards was still going on; so this
autumn the two 'Bostonnais' anchored for the winter in Clayoquot
Sound--a place later to be made famous by tragedy--south of Nootka.
Here they built a stockaded fur-post for themselves, which they named
Fort Defence.  During the winter they built and launched a little
coasting schooner, the _Adventure_.

Up at Nootka the Spaniard Gonzales de Haro had replaced Martinez; and
his countrymen Quimper and Elisa were daily exploring on the east side
of Vancouver Island, where to this day Spanish names tell of their
charting.  Some of the names, however, were afterwards changed.  What
is to-day known as Esquimalt, Quimper called Valdes, and Victoria he
named Cordoba.  Amid much firing of muskets and drinking of wine
Quimper took solemn possession of all this territory for Spain.  Then,
early in August {61} of 1791, he sailed away for Monterey, while Elisa
remained at Nootka.

Gray knew that three English vessels which had come from China for
furs--Colnett's _Argonaut_, Douglas's _Iphigenia_, and the _Princess
Royal_--had been seized by the Spanish at Nootka.  Though the fact had
not been trumpeted to the world, the Spanish said that their pilots had
explored these coasts as early as 1775--at least three years before
Cook's landing at Nootka; so that if first exploration counted for
possession, Spain had first claim.  Whether the Spaniards instigated
the raid that now threatened the rival American fort at Clayoquot, the
two 'Bostonnais' never knew.  The _Columbia_ had been beached and
dismantled.  Loop-holes punctured the palisades of the fort, and cannon
were above the gates.  Sentinels kept constant guard; but what was
Gray's horror to learn in February 1792 that Indians to the number of
two thousand were in ambush round the fort and had bribed a Hawaiian
boy to wet the priming of the 'Bostonnais' guns.  The fort could not be
defended against such a number of enemies, for there were not twenty
men within the walls.  Gray hastily got the _Columbia_ ready for sea.
Having stowed in the hold {62} enough provisions to carry them home if
flight should become necessary, the sailors worked in the dark to their
necks in water scraping the hull free of barnacles, and when the high
tide came in, she was floated out with all on board.  On the morning of
the 20th the woods were seen to be alive with Indians.  The Indians had
not counted on their prey escaping by sea, and an old chief came
suavely aboard offering Gray sea-otter skins if the 'Bostonnais' would
go ashore to trade.  Gray slapped the old rascal across the face; the
Indian was over the side at a plunge, and the marauders were seen no

In spite of the difficulties and dangers it presented, Gray determined
to make another effort to find the river which old Bruno Heceta had
sighted in 1775.  And early in April, after sending his mate north on
the little vessel _Adventure_ to trade, Gray sailed away south on the
_Columbia_.  Let us leave him for the present stealing furtively along
the coast from Cape Flattery to Cape Disappointment.

It was the spring of 1792.  The Spaniard Elisa of Nootka had for a year
kept his pilot Narvaez, in a crazy little schooner crowded {63} with
thirty sailors, charting north-east past the harbour of Victoria,
through Haro Strait, following very much the same channel that steamers
follow to-day as they ply between Victoria and Vancouver.  East of a
high island, where holiday folk now have their summer camps, Pilot
Narvaez came on the estuary of a great river, which he called Boca de
Florida Blanca.  This could not be Bruno Heceta's river, for this was
farther north and inland.  It was a new river, with wonderful purple
water--the purple of river silt blending with ocean blue.  The banks
were wooded to the very water's edge with huge-girthed and mossed
trees, such as we to-day see in Stanley Park, Vancouver.  The river
swept down behind a deep harbour, with forested heights between
river-mouth and roadstead, as if nature had purposely interposed to
guard this harbour against the deposit of silt borne down by the mighty
stream.  To-day a boulevard rises from the land-locked harbour and goes
over the heights to the river-mouth like the arc of a bow; the finest
residences of the Canadian Pacific coast stand there; and the river is
lined with mile upon mile of lumber-yards and saw-mills.  Where the
rock projects like a hand into the turbid waters stands {64} a crowded
city, built like New York on what is almost an island.  Where the
opposite shores slope down in a natural park are rising the buildings
of a great university.  The ragged starveling crew of Pilot Narvaez had
found what are now known as Burrard Inlet, Vancouver City, Point Grey,
Shaughnessy Heights, and the Fraser River.  The crew were presently all
ill of scurvy, possibly because of the unsanitary crowding, and the
schooner, almost falling to pieces, came crawling back to Nootka.  The
poor Mexicans were utterly unaware that they had discovered a gateway
for northern empire.  Narvaez himself lay almost unconscious in his
berth.  Elisa sent them all home to Mexico on furlough; and, on hearing
their report, the viceroy of Mexico ordered out two ships, the _Sutil_
and the _Mexicana_, Don Galiano and Don Valdes in command, to follow up
the charting of the coast northward from Vancouver Island to the
Russian settlements.

Small ringing of bells, no blaring of trumpets at all, prayers
a-plenty, but little ammunition and less food, accompanied the deep-sea
voyagings of these poor Spanish pilots.  When Bering set out, he had
the power of the whole Russian empire behind him.  When Cook set {65}
out, he had the power of the whole British Navy behind him.  But when
the poor Mexican peons set out, they had nothing behind them but the
branding iron, or slavery in the mines, if they failed.  Yet they sang
as they sailed their rickety death-traps, and they laughed as they
rowed; and when the tide-rip caught them, they sank without a cry to
any but the Virgin.  Look at a map of the west coast of the Pacific
from the Horn to Sitka.  First were the Spaniards at every harbour
gate; and yet to-day, of all their deep-sea findings on that coast, not
a rod, not a foot, does Spain own.  It was, of course, Spain's insane
policy of keeping the Pacific 'a closed sea' that concealed the
achievements of the Mexican pilots and buried them in oblivion.  But if
actual accomplishments count, these pilots with their ragged peon
crews, half-bloods of Aztec woman and Spanish adventurer, deserve
higher rank in the roll of Pacific coast exploration than history has
yet accorded them.

England, it may be believed, did not calmly submit to seeing the ships
and forts of her traders seized at Nootka.  It was not that England
cared for the value of three vessels engaged in foreign trade.  Still
less did she {66} care for the log-huts dignified by the name of a
fort.  But she was mistress of the seas, and had been since the
destruction of the Armada.  And as mistress of the seas, she could not
tolerate as much as the seizure of a fishing-smack.  For some time
there were mutterings of war, but at length diplomacy prevailed.
England demanded, among other things, the restoration of the buildings
and the land, and full reparation for all losses.  Spain decided to
submit, and accordingly the Nootka Convention was signed by the two
powers in October 1790.  Two ships, the _Discovery_ and the _Chatham_,
were then fitted out by the British Admiralty for an expedition to the
Pacific to receive formal surrender of the property from Spain, and
also to chart the whole coast of the Pacific from Drake's New Albion to
the Russian possessions at Sitka.  This expedition was commanded by
Captain George Vancouver, who had been on the Pacific with Cook.  It
was April 1792 when Vancouver came up abreast of Cape Disappointment.
Was it chance, or fate, that a gale drove him off-shore just two weeks
before a rival explorer entered the mouth of the great unknown river
that lay on his vessel's starboard bow?  But for this mishap Vancouver
might have discovered {67} the Columbia, and England might have made
good her claim to the territory which is now Oregon and Washington and
Idaho.  Vancouver's ships were gliding into the Strait of Juan de Fuca
when they met a square-hulled, trim little trader under the flag of the
United States.  It was the _Columbia_, commanded by Robert Gray.  The
American told an astounding story.  He had found Bruno Heceta's River
of the West.  Vancouver refused to credit the news; yet there was the
ship's log; there were the details--landmarks, soundings, anchorages
for twenty miles up the Columbia from its mouth.  Gray had, indeed,
been up the river, and had crossed the bar and come out on the Pacific

Vancouver now headed his ships inland and proceeded to explore Puget
Sound.  Never before had white men's boats cruised the waters of that
spider-shaped sea.  Every inlet of the tortuous coasts was penetrated
and surveyed, to make certain that no passage to the north-east lay
through these waters.  In June the explorers passed up the Strait of
Georgia.  A thick fog hid from them what would have proved an important
discovery--the mouth of the Fraser river.  Some distance north of
Burrard Inlet the explorers met the two {68} Spanish ships which the
viceroy of Mexico had sent out, the _Sutil_ and the _Mexicana_,
commanded respectively by Don Galiano and Don Valdes.  From them
Vancouver learned that Don Quadra, the Spanish representative, was
awaiting him at Nootka, prepared to restore the forts and property as
agreed in the Nootka Convention.  The vessels continued their journey
northward and entered Queen Charlotte Sound in August.  Then, steering
into the open sea, Vancouver sailed for Nootka to meet Spain's official
messenger.  He had circumnavigated Vancouver Island.

[Illustration: Callicum and Maquinna, Chiefs of Nootka Sound.  From
Meares's _Voyages_.]

The Nootka controversy had almost caused a European war.  Now it ended
in what has a resemblance to a comic opera.  Vancouver found the
Spaniards occupying a fort on an island at the mouth of the harbour.
On the main shore stood the Indian village of Chief Maquinna.  A
Spanish pilot guided the English ship to mooring.  The Spanish frigates
fairly bristled with cannon.  An English officer dressed in regimentals
marched to the Spanish fort and presented Captain Vancouver's
compliments to Don Quadra.  Spanish cannon thundered a welcome that
shook the hills, and English guns made answer.  A curious fashion, to
waste good powder {69} without taking aim at each other, thought Chief
Maquinna.  Don Quadra breakfasted Captain Vancouver.  Captain Vancouver
wined and dined Don Quadra; and Maquinna, lord of the wilds, attended
the feast dressed Indian fashion.  But when the Spanish don and the
English officer took breath from flow of compliments and wine, they did
not seem to arrive anywhere in their negotiations.  Vancouver held that
Spain must relinquish the site of Meares's fort and the territory
surrounding it and Port Cox.  Don Quadra held that he had been
instructed to relinquish only the land on which the fort
stood--according to Vancouver, 'but little more than one hundred yards
in extent any way.'  No understanding could be arrived at, and Quadra
at the end of September took his departure for Monterey, leaving
Vancouver to follow a few days later.

Vancouver was anxious to be off on further exploration.  He was eager
to verify the existence of the river which Gray had reported.  He spent
most of October exploring this river.  Explorers in that day, as in
this, were not fair judges of each other's feats.  Vancouver took
possession of the Columbia river region for England, setting down in
his narrative that {70} 'no other civilized nation or state had ever
entered this river before ... it does not appear that Mr Gray either
saw or was ever within five leagues of the entrance.'

Vancouver then visited the presidio at San Francisco, and thence
proceeded to Monterey, where Quadra awaited him.  His lieutenant,
Broughton, who had been in charge of the boats that explored the
Columbia, here left him and accompanied Quadra to San Blas, whence he
went overland to the Atlantic and sailed for England, bearing
dispatches to the government.  Vancouver spent yet another year on the
North Pacific, corroborating his first year's charting and proving that
no north-east passage through the continent existed.  Portland Canal,
Jervis Inlet, Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, Lynn Canal--all were
traced to head-waters by Vancouver.

[Illustration: George Vancouver.  From a painting in the National
Portrait Gallery, London.]

The curtain then drops on the exploration of the North Pacific, with
Spain jealously holding all south of the Columbia, Russia jealously
holding all north of Sitka, and England and the United States advancing
counter-claims for all the territory between.




The movement of the fur traders towards the Pacific now became a
fevered race for the wealth of a new El Dorado.  Astor's traders in New
York, the Scottish and English merchants of the North-West Company in
Montreal, the Spanish traders of the South-West, even the directors of
the sleepy old Hudson's Bay Company--all turned longing eyes to that
Pacific north-west coast whence came sea-otter skins in trade, each for
a few pennies' worth of beads, powder, or old iron.  Rumours, too, were
rife of the great wealth of the seal rookeries, and the seal proved as
powerful a magnet to draw the fur traders as the little beaver, the
pursuit of which had led them into frozen wilds.

Up in the Athabaska country, eating his heart out with chagrin because
his associates in the North-West Company of Montreal had {72} ignored
his voyage of discovery down the Mackenzie river to the Arctic in
1789,[1] the young trader Alexander Mackenzie heard these rumours of
new wealth in furs on the Pacific.  Who would be the first overland to
that western sea?  If Spaniard and Russian had tapped the source of
wealth from the ocean side, why could not the Nor'westers cross the
mountains and secure the furs from the land side?  Mackenzie had heard,
too, of the fabled great River of the West.  Could he but catch the
swish of its upper current, what would hinder him floating down it to
the sea?  Mackenzie thought and thought, and paced his quarters up at
Fort Chipewyan, on Lake Athabaska, till his mind became so filled with
the idea of an overland journey to the Pacific that he could not sleep
or rest.  He had felt himself handicapped by lack of knowledge of
astronomy and surveying when on the voyage to the Arctic, so he asked
leave of absence from his company, came down by canoe to Montreal, and
sailed for England to spend the winter studying in London.  Here,
everything was in a ferment over the voyages of Cook and Hanna and
Meares, over the {73} seizure of British trading-ships by the viceroy
of Mexico, over the Admiralty's plans to send Vancouver out to complete
Cook's explorations.  The rumours were as fuel to the flame that burned
in Mackenzie.  The spring of 1792 saw him hurrying back to Fort
Chipewyan to prepare for the expedition on which he had set his heart.
When October came he launched his canoes, fully manned and provisioned,
on Lake Athabaska, and, ascending the Peace river to a point about six
miles above the forks formed by its junction with the Smoky, he built a
rude palisaded fur-post and spent the winter there.

Spring came and found Mackenzie ready to go forward into the unknown
regions of the west, regions as yet untrodden by the feet of white men.
Alexander Mackay, one of the most resolute and capable traders in the
service of the North-West Company, was to be his companion on the
journey; and with them were to go six picked French-Canadian voyageurs
and two Indians as guides.  They had built a birch-bark canoe of
exceptional strength and lightness.  It was twenty-five feet long, some
four feet in beam, twenty-six inches deep, and had a carrying capacity
of three thousand pounds.  Explorers and {74} men stepped into their
light craft on the evening of May 9, 1793.  The fort fired guns and
waved farewell; the paddlers struck up a voyageurs' song; and the
blades dipped in rhythmic time.  Mackenzie waved his hat back to the
group in front of the fort gate; and then with set face headed his
canoe westward for the Pacific.

Recall what was happening now out on the Pacific!  Robert Gray was
heading home to Boston with news of the discovery of the great river.
Vancouver was back from San Francisco carefully charting the inner
channel of the coast.  Baranoff, the little czar of the Russian
traders, was coasting at the head of fifteen hundred 'bidarkies'
between the Aleutians and Sitka; and Spain was still sending out ragged
pilots to chart the seas which she had not the marine to hold.

The big canoe went on, up the Peace river.  Spring thaw brought the
waters down from the mountains in turbulent floods, and the precipices
narrowed on each side till the current became a foaming cascade.  It
was one thing to float down-stream with brigades of singing voyageurs
and cargoes of furs in spring; it was a different matter to breast the
full force of these torrents with only ten men {75} to paddle.  In the
big brigades the men paddled in relays.  In this canoe each man was
expected to pole and paddle continuously and fiercely against a current
that was like a mill-race.  Mackenzie listened to the grumblers over
the night camp-fire, and explained how much safer it was to ascend an
unknown stream with bad rapids than to run down it.  The danger could
always be seen before running into it.  He cheered the drooping spirits
of his band, and inspired them with some of his own indomitable courage.

By May 16 the river had narrowed to a foaming cataract; and the banks
were such sheer rock-wall that it was almost impossible to land.  They
had arrived at the Rocky Mountain Portage, as it was afterwards called.
It was clear that the current could not be stemmed by pole or paddle;
the canoe must be towed or carried.  When Mackenzie tried to get
foothold or handhold on the shore, huge boulders and land-slides of
loose earth slithered down, threatening to smash canoe and canoemen.
Mackenzie got out a tow-line eighty feet long.  This he tied to the
port thwart of the canoe.  With the tow-line round his shoulders, while
the torrent roared {76} past and filled the canyon with the 'voice of
many waters,' Mackenzie leaped to the dangerous slope, cut foothold and
handhold on the face of the cliff with an axe, and scrambled up to a
table of level rock.  Then he shouted and signalled for his men to come
up.  If the voyageurs had not been hemmed in by a boiling maelstrom on
both sides, they would have deserted on the spot.  Mackenzie saw them
begin to strip as if to swim; then, clothes on back and barefoot, they
scrambled up the treacherous shore.  He reached over, and assisted them
to the level ground above.  The tow-line was drawn taut round trees and
the canoe tracked up the raging current.  But the rapids became wilder.
A great wave struck the bow of the canoe and the tow-line snapped in
mid-air.  The terrified men looking over the edge of the precipice saw
their craft sidle as if to swamp; but, on the instant, another mighty
wave flung her ashore, and they were able to haul her out of danger.

Mackay went ahead to see how far the rapids extended.  He found that
they were at least nine miles in length.  On his return the men were
declaring that they would not ascend such waters another rod.
Mackenzie, to humour them, left them to a regale of rum {77} and
pemmican, and axe in hand went up the precipitous slope, and began to
make a rough path through the forest.  Up the rude incline the men
hauled the empty canoe, cutting their way as they advanced.  Then they
carried up the provisions in ninety-pound bundles.  By nightfall of the
first day they had advanced but one mile.  Next morning the journey was
continued; the progress was exactly three miles the second day, and the
men fell in their tracks with exhaustion, and slept that night where
they lay.  But at length they had passed the rapids; the toilsome
portage was over, and the canoe was again launched on the stream.  The
air was icy from the snows of the mountain-peaks, and in spite of their
severe exercise the men had to wear heavy clothing.

On May 31 they arrived at the confluence where the rivers now known as
the Finlay and the Parsnip, flowing together, form the Peace.  The
Indians of this region told Mackenzie of a great river beyond the big
mountains, a river that flowed towards the noonday sun; and of 'Carrier
Indians'[2] inland, who acted as {78} middlemen and traders between the
coast and the mountain tribes.  They said that the Carriers told
legends of 'white men on the coast, who wore armour from head to
heel'--undoubtedly the Spanish dons--and of 'huge canoes with sails
like clouds' that plied up and down 'the stinking waters'--meaning the

Mackenzie was uncertain which of the two confluents to follow--whether
to ascend the Finlay, flowing from the north-west, or the Parsnip,
flowing from the south-east.  He consulted his Indian guides, one of
whom advised him to take the southern branch.  This would lead, the
guide said, to a lake from which they could portage to another stream,
and so reach the great river leading to the sea.  Mackenzie decided to
follow this advice, and ordered his men to proceed up the Parsnip.
Their hearts sank.  They had toiled up one terrible river; directly
before them was another, equally precipitous and dangerous.
Nevertheless, they began the ascent.  For a week the rush of avalanches
from the mountain-peaks could be heard like artillery fire.  Far up
above the cloud-line they could see the snow tumbling over an upper
precipice in powdery wind-blown cataracts; a minute later would come
the thunderous {79} rumble of the falling masses.  With heroic
fortitude the voyageurs held their way against the fierce current,
sometimes paddling, sometimes towing the canoe along the river-bank.
Once, however, when Mackenzie and Mackay had gone ahead on foot to
reconnoitre, ordering the canoemen to paddle along behind, the canoe
failed to follow.  Mackay went back and found the voyageurs disputing
ashore.  They pretended that a leak had delayed them.  From Indians met
by the way, Mackenzie learned that he was indeed approaching a portage
over the height-of-land to the waters that flowed towards the Pacific.
One of these Indians was induced to go with Mackenzie as guide.  They
tramped ahead through a thicket of brush, and came suddenly out on a
blue tarn.  This was the source of the Parsnip, the southern branch of
the Peace.  The whole party arrived on June 12.  A portage of 817 paces
over a rocky ridge brought them to a second mountain lake drained by a
river that flowed towards the west.  Mackenzie had crossed the
watershed, the Great Divide, and had reached the waters which empty
into the Pacific.

The river which the explorers now entered was a small tributary of the
Fraser.  Some {80} years later it was named by Simon Fraser the Bad
River, and it deserved the name.  Mackenzie launched his canoe
down-stream.  The men's spirits rose.  This was working with the
current, not against it; but the danger of going with an unknown
current became at once apparent.  The banks began to skim past, the
waters to rise in oily corrugations; and before the voyageurs realized
it, they were caught by a current they could not stem and were hurried
sidling down-stream.  The men sprang out to swim, but the current
prevented them from reaching land, and they clung in terror to the
sides of the canoe till an eddy sent them on a sand-bar in the midst of
the rapids.  With great difficulty the craft was rescued and brought
ashore.  The stern had been torn out of the canoe, half the powder and
bullets lost, and the entire cargo drenched.

The men were panic-stricken and on the verge of mutiny; but Mackenzie
was undaunted and determined to go forward.  He spread the provisions
out to dry and set his crew to work patching up the stern of the broken
canoe with resin and oilcloth and new cedar lining.  That night the
mountain Indian who had acted as guide across the portage gave
Mackenzie the slip and escaped in the {81} woods.  For several days
after this most of the party trudged on foot carrying the cargo, while
four of the most experienced canoemen brought the empty canoe down the
rapids.  But on June 17 they found further progress by water impossible
owing to masses of driftwood in the stream.  They were now, however,
less than a mile from the south fork of the Fraser; the men carried the
canoe on their shoulders across the intervening neck of swamp, and at
last the explorers 'enjoyed the inexpressible satisfaction' of finding
themselves on the banks of a broad, navigable river, on the west side
of the Great Divide.

The point where they embarked, on the morning of June 18, was about
thirty-five miles above the Nechaco, or north fork of the Fraser, just
at the upper end of the great bend where the south fork, flowing to the
north-west, sweeps round in a semicircle, joins its confluent, and
pours southward to the sea.  This trend of the river to the south was
not what Mackenzie expected.  He wanted to follow a stream leading
west.  Without noticing it, he had passed the north fork, the Nechaco,
and was sweeping down the main stream of the Fraser, where towering
mountains cut off the view ahead, and the powerful {82} rush of the
waters foreboded hard going, if not more rapids and cataracts.
Mackenzie must have a new guide.  The Carrier Indians dwelt along this
river, but they appeared to be truculently hostile.  On June 21 a party
of these Indians stood on one of the banks and shot arrows at the
explorers and rolled stones from the precipices.  Mackenzie landed on
the opposite bank, after sending a hunter by a wide detour through the
woods behind the Indians on the other shore, with orders to shoot
instantly if the savages threatened either the canoe or himself.  In
full sight of the Indians Mackenzie threw trinkets in profusion on the
ground, laid down his musket and pistol, and held up his arms in token
of friendship.  The savages understood the meaning of his actions.  Two
of them jumped into a dug-out and came poling across to him.
Suspiciously and very timidly they landed.  Mackenzie threw himself on
the ground, and on the sands traced his path through the 'shining
mountains.'  By Indian sign-language he told them he wanted to go to
the sea; and, disarmed of all suspicion, the Indians were presently on
the ground beside him, drawing the trail to the sea.  Terrible rapids
(they imitated the noise of the cataracts) barred his way by this
river.  {83} He must turn back to where another river (the Blackwater)
came in on the west, and ascend that stream to a portage which would
lead over to the sea.

The post of Alexandria on the Cariboo Road marks Mackenzie's farthest
south on the Fraser.  At this point, after learning all he could of the
route from the Indians, he turned the prow of his canoe up the river.
The Carrier Indians provided him with a guide.  On July 4, nearly two
months from the time of leaving the fort on the Peace river, the
portage on the Blackwater was reached; the canoe was abandoned, some
provisions were cached, and each man set off afoot with a ninety-pound
pack on his back.  Heavy mist lay on the thick forest.  The Indian
trail was but a dimly defined track over forest mould.  The dripping
underbrush that skirted the path soaked the men to the skin.  The guide
had shown an inclination to desert, and Mackenzie slept beside him,
ready to seize and hold him on the slightest movement.  Totem
cedar-poles in front of the Indian villages told the explorers that
they were approaching the home of the coastal tribes.  The men's
clothing was by this time torn to shreds.  They were barefooted,
bareheaded, {84} almost naked.  For nearly two weeks they journeyed on
foot; then, having forded the Dean river, they embarked for the sea on
the Bella Coola in cedar dug-outs which they procured from Indians of
one of the coastal tribes.  Daily now Mackenzie saw signs of white
traders.  The Indians possessed beads and trinkets.  One Indian had a
Spanish or Russian lance.  Fishing weirs were passed.  There was a
whiff of salt water in the air; then far out between the hills lay a
gap of illimitable blue.  At eight o'clock in the morning of Saturday,
July 20, 1793, Mackenzie reached the mouth of the river and found
himself on the sea.  The next day he went down North Bentinck Arm, and,
passing the entrance to the south arm, landed at the cape on the
opposite shore.  He then proceeded down Burke Channel.  It was near the
mouth of this inlet that he inscribed, in red letters on a large rock,
the memorable words: '_Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the
twenty-second of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three.
Lat. 52° 20' 48" N._'

Barely two months previously Vancouver had explored and named these
very waters and headlands.  A hostile old Indian explained bellicosely
that the white sailors had fired {85} upon him.  For this outrage he
demanded satisfaction in gifts from Mackenzie.  Few gifts had Mackenzie
for the aggressive old chief.  There were exactly twenty pounds of
pemmican--two pounds a man for a three months' trip back.  There
remained also fifteen pounds of rice--the mainstay of the
voyageurs--and six pounds of mouldy flour.  The Indians proved so
vociferously hostile that two voyageurs had to stand guard while the
others slept on the bare rocks.  On one occasion savages in dug-outs
began hurling spears.  But no harm resulted from these unfriendly
demonstrations, and the party of explorers presently set out on their
homeward journey.

Mackenzie had accomplished his object.  In the race to the Pacific
overland he was the first of the explorers of North America to cross
the continent and reach the ocean.  Late in August the voyageurs were
back at the little fort on the Peace river.  Mackenzie shortly
afterwards quitted the fur country and retired to Scotland, where he
wrote the story of his explorations.  His book appeared in 1801, and in
the following year he was knighted by the king for his great

[1] See another volume of this Series, _Adventurers of the Far North_,
chap. iii.

[2] The Takulli.  This tribe cremated the dead, and the widows
collected the ashes of their dead husbands and carried them during a
period of three years: hence the name 'Carriers.'




American traders were not slow to follow up the discovery of Robert
Gray on the Pacific.  Spain, the pioneer pathfinder, had ceded
Louisiana to France; and France, by way of checkmating British advance
in North America, had sold Louisiana to the United States for fifteen
million dollars.  What did Louisiana include?  Certainly, from New
Orleans to the Missouri.  Did it also include from the Missouri to
Gray's river, the Columbia?  The United States had sent Meriwether
Lewis and William Clark overland from the Missouri to the Columbia,
ostensibly on a scientific expedition, but in reality to lay claim to
the new territory for the United States.  This brings the exploration
of the Pacific down to 1806.

Take a look at the map!  Mackenzie had crossed overland from the Peace
river to Bella Coola.  Who was to own the great belt of {87} empire--a
third larger than Germany--between Mackenzie's trail westward and Lewis
and Clark's trail to the mouth of the Columbia?  In 1805 Simon Fraser,
who as a child had come from the United States to Canada with his
widowed mother in the Loyalist migration, and now in his thirtieth year
was a partner in the North-West Company of Montreal, had crossed the
Rockies by way of the Peace river.  He had followed Mackenzie's trail
over the terrible nine-mile carrying-place and had built there a
fur-post--Rocky Mountain Portage.  He had ascended that same Parsnip
river, which Mackenzie had found so appalling, to a little emerald lake
set like a jewel in the mountains.  There he had built another
fur-trading post, and named it after his friend, Archibald Norman
M'Leod.  This was the first fur-post known to have been erected in the
interior of New Caledonia, now British Columbia.  The new fort had been
left in charge of James M'Dougall; and during the winter of 1806
M'Dougall had crossed the heavily drifted carrying-place and descended
the Bad River as far as the south fork of the Fraser, which all traders
at that time mistook for the upper reaches of Gray's Columbia.  Instead
of going down the main stream of the {88} Fraser, M'Dougall ascended
both the Nechaco and the Stuart; and if he did not actually behold the
beautiful alpine tarns since known as Fraser Lake and Stuart Lake, he
was at least the first white man to hear of them.

In May of 1806, after sending the year's furs from Rocky Mountain
Portage east to Fort Chipewyan, Simon Fraser set out to explore this
inland empire concerning which M'Dougall had reported.  John Stuart
accompanied Fraser as lieutenant.  They crossed from the head-waters of
the Parsnip to the south fork of the Fraser, and on June 10 camped at
the mouth of the Nechaco.  Towards the end of July the Carriers camped
on Stuart Lake were amazed to see advancing across the waters, with
rhythmic gallop of paddles, two enormous birch canoes.  When the canoes
reached the land Fraser and Stuart stepped ashore, and a volley was
fired to celebrate the formal taking possession of a new inland empire.
What to do with the white men's offerings of tobacco the Carriers did
not know.  They thought the white men in smoking were emitting spirits
with each breath.  When the traders offered soap to the squaws, the
women at once began to devour it.  The result was a frothing at the
{89} mouth as amazing to them as the smoke from the men.  History does
not record whether the women became as addicted to soap as the men to
the fragrant weed.

Active trading with the Indians began at once.  The lake was named
Stuart in honour of Fraser's companion, and the ground was cleared for
a palisaded fort, which, when erected, they named Fort St James.  The
scene was enchanting.  The lake wound for a distance of fifty miles
amid the foot-hills of the mighty forested mountains.  It was four or
five miles wide, and was gemmed with green islets; and all round,
appearing through the clouds in jagged outline, were the opal summits
of the snowy peaks.  No wonder the two Scotsmen named the new inland
empire New Caledonia--after their native land.

It will be remembered that M'Dougall had heard of another mountain
tarn.  This was forty miles south of Stuart Lake, at the headwaters of
the Nechaco, the north fork of the Fraser.  Stuart went overland south
to spy out the southern lake; and his report was of such an entrancing
region--heavily forested, with an abundance of game and fish--that
Fraser glided down the Stuart river and poled up the Nechaco to the
lake which Stuart had {90} already named after his chief.  Again a fort
was erected and named Fort Fraser, making three forts in the interior
of New Caledonia.

Fraser had sent a request to the directors of the North-West Company to
be permitted to fit out an expedition down the great river, which he
thought was the Columbia; and in the spring of 1807 two canoes under
Jules Quesnel were sent out with goods.  Quesnel arrived at Fort St
James in the autumn, bringing from the east the alarming word that
Lewis and Clark had gone overland and taken possession of all the
territory between the Missouri and the mouth of the Columbia.  No time
was to be lost by Fraser in establishing a claim to the region to the
west of the Rockies between the Peace and the Columbia.  Fraser went
down the river and strengthened British possession by building a fourth
fort--Fort George at the mouth of the Nechaco.  This was to be the
starting-point of the expedition to the Pacific.  Then, towards the end
of May 1808, he set out down the great river with four canoes, nineteen
voyageurs, and Stuart and Quesnel as first assistants.

[Illustration: Simon Fraser.  After the portrait in the Parliament
Buildings, Victoria, B.C.]

Fifteen miles below the fort the river walls narrowed and the canoes
swept into the roaring cataract of Fort George canyon.  {91} The next
day they shot through the Cottonwood canyon, and paused at the point
thenceforth to be known as Quesnel.  On the third day they passed
Mackenzie's farthest south--the site of the present Alexandria.  Below
this the river was unexplored and unknown.  Suddenly the enormous
flood-waters swollen by melting mountain snows contracted to a width of
only forty yards, and with a fearful roar swept into a rock-walled
gorge.  In sublime unconsciousness of heroism Fraser records:

As it was impossible to carry the canoes across the land owing to the
height of the steep hills, we resolved to venture down.  I ordered the
five best men of the crews into a canoe lightly loaded; and in a moment
it was under way.  After passing the first cascade she lost her head
and was drawn into an eddy, where she was whirled about, in suspense
whether to sink or swim.  However, she took a turn from this vortex,
flying from one danger to another; but, in spite of every effort, the
whirlpool forced her against a low rock.  Upon this the men scrambled
out, saving their lives; but the greatest difficulty was {92} still
ahead.  To continue by water would be certain destruction.  During this
distressing scene we were on shore looking on; but the situation
rendered our approach perilous.  The bank was high and steep.  We had
to plunge our daggers into the ground to avoid sliding into the river.
We cut steps, fastened a line to the front of the canoe, and hauled it
up.  Our lives hung upon a thread, as one false step might have hurled
us into eternity.  However, we cleared the bank before dark.  The men
had to ascend the immense hills with heavy loads on their backs.

Indians warned the white men to desist from their undertaking.  Better,
they advised, go overland eastward to a great peaceful river and
descend that to the sea.  Fraser, of course, did not know that the
peaceful river they spoke of was really the Columbia.  He thought the
river he was following was the Columbia.  With the help of Indians the
canoes were pulled up-hill, and horses were hired from them to carry
the provisions overland.  Below this portage, as they continued the
descent, an enormous crag spread {93} across the river, appearing at
first to bar the passage ahead.  This was Bar Rock.  Beyond it several
minor rapids were passed without difficulty; and then they came upon a
series of great whirlpools which seemed impassable.  But the men
unloaded the canoes and--'a desperate undertaking'--ran them down the
rapids with light ballast.  They then came back overland for the packs.

This task [says Fraser] was as dangerous as going by water.  The men
passed and repassed a declivity, on loose stones and gravel, which
constantly gave way under foot.  One man, who lost the path, got in a
most intricate and perilous position.  With a large package on his
back, he got so wedged amid the rocks that he could move neither
forward nor backward, nor yet unload himself.  I crawled, not without
great risk, to his assistance, and saved his life by cutting his pack
so [that] it dropped back in the river.  On this carrying-place, which
was two miles long, our shoes became shattered.

For several days after this the advance was by a succession of rapids
and portages.  On June 9 the stream again narrowed to forty {94} yards
and swept violently between two overhanging precipices.

The water, which rolls down this passage in tumultuous waves and with
great velocity, had a frightful appearance.  However, it being
absolutely impossible to carry canoes by land, all hands without
hesitation embarked on the mercy of the awful tide.  Once on the water,
the die was cast; and the difficulty consisted in keeping the canoes
clear of the precipice on one side and clear of the gulfs formed by the
waves on the other.  Thus skimming along as fast as lightning, the
crews, cool and determined, followed each other in awful silence; and
when we arrived at the end, we stood gazing at each other in silent
congratulation on our narrow escape from total destruction.  After
breathing a little, we continued our course to the point where the
Indians camped.

The natives here warned Fraser that it would be madness to go forward.
At the same time they furnished him with a guide.  The same evening the
party reached the place described by Fraser as 'a continual series of
cascades cut by rocks and bounded by precipices that {95} seemed to
have no end.'  Never had he seen 'anything so dreary and dangerous.'
Towering above were 'mountains upon mountains whose summits are covered
with eternal snow.'  An examination of the river for some distance
below convinced Fraser that it was impossible of navigation, and he
decided to make the remainder of the journey on foot.  After building a
scaffold, on which the canoes and some provisions were placed and
covered with underbrush and moss, the party, on June 11, began their
tramp down the river-bank.  Each man carried on his back a ninety-pound
pack, supported by a strap across the forehead.  Again and again on the
journey Indians confronted Fraser with hostile show of weapons, but the
intrepid trader disarmed hostility by gifts.  The Indians declared that
the sea lay only ten 'sleeps' distant.  One of the chiefs said that he
had himself seen white men, who were great 'tyees,' because 'they were
well dressed and very proud and went about this way'--clapping his
hands to his hips and strutting about with an air of vast importance.
The Indians told Fraser of another great river that came in from the
east and joined this one some distance below.  He had passed the site
of the present Lillooet and was {96} approaching the confluence of the
Thompson with the Fraser.  Farther down European articles were seen
among the Indians.  It was the fishing season, and the tribes had
assembled in great hordes.  Here the river was navigable, and three
wooden dug-outs were obtained from the natives for the descent to the
sea.  The voyageurs again embarked, and swept down the narrow bends of
the turbulent floods at what are now Lytton, Yale, and Hope.  There
were passes where the river was such a raging torrent that the dug-outs
had to be carried overland.  There were places where Fraser's voyageurs
had to climb precipices by means of frail ladders, made of poles and
withes, that swayed to their tread and threatened to precipitate them
into the torrent beneath.

When the river turned sharply west, Fraser could not help noticing that
the Indians became more violently hostile.  Far south could be seen the
opal dome of Mount Baker, named by Vancouver after one of his
lieutenants.  As they advanced, the banks lowered to reedy swamps and
mosquitoes appeared in clouds.  What troubled Fraser most was the fact
that the river lay many miles north of the known latitude of the
Columbia.  It daily grew on {97} him that this could not possibly be
the Columbia.  The tide rose and fell in the river.  The Indian guide
begged the white men not to go on; he was afraid, he said, of the
Indians of the sea-coast.  The river channel divided.  Natives along
the shore began singing war-songs and beating the war-drum; then they
circled out threateningly round the white men's boats.  Signs were seen
of the sea ahead; but the Indians were 'howling like wolves and
brandishing war-clubs,' and Fraser concluded that it would be unwise to
delay longer amid such dangers.  To his intense disappointment he had
established the latitude as 49°, whereas the Columbia was in latitude
46° 20'.  'This river is therefore _not_ the Columbia,' he declared.
'If I had been convinced of this when I left my canoes, I would
certainly have returned.'

The return journey was fraught with danger.  Always one man stood guard
while the others slept; and again and again the little party was
surrounded by ferociously hostile bands.  Between apprehension of the
dangers of the wild trail of the Fraser canyons and fear of hostile
natives, the men became so panic-stricken that they threw down their
paddles and declared their intention of trying to escape {98} overland
through the mountains.   Fraser reasoned and remonstrated, and finally
threatened.  After so much heroism he would not permit cowardly
desertion.  Then he forced each voyageur to swear on the Cross: 'I do
solemnly swear that I will sooner perish than forsake in distress any
of our crew during the present voyage.'  With renewed self-respect they
then paddled off, singing voyageurs' songs to keep up their courage.
Imagine, for a moment, the scene!  The turbid, mad waters of the Fraser
hemmed in between rock walls, carving a living way through the adamant;
banks from which red savages threw down rocks wherever the wild current
drove the dug-out inshore; and, tossed by the waves--a chip-like craft
containing nineteen ragged men singing like schoolboys!  Once away from
the coastal tribes, however, the white men were aided by the inland
Carriers.  They found the canoes and supplies in perfect condition and
unmolested, though hundreds of Carrier Indians must have passed where
lay the belongings of the white strangers.  On August 5, to the
inexpressible relief of Fort George, the little band once more were at
their headquarters in New Caledonia.




While Fraser was working down the wild canyons of the great river which
now bears his name, other fur traders were looking towards the Pacific
ocean.  In 1810 John Jacob Astor, a New York merchant, who bought furs
from the Nor'westers in Montreal for shipment to Germany, formed the
Pacific Fur Company, and took into its service a number of the partners
and servants of the North-West Company.  Some of these men were
dispatched round the Horn in the _Tonquin_ to the mouth of the
Columbia; while another party went overland from Mackinaw and St Louis,
following the trail of Lewis and Clark.  One of the Nor'westers who
entered Astor's service was Alexander Mackay, Mackenzie's companion on
the journey to the coast; another was a brother of the Stuart who had
accompanied Fraser through New Caledonia; and a third was a {100}
brother of the M'Dougall who commanded Fort M'Leod, the first fort
built by the Nor'westers in New Caledonia.

In the light of subsequent developments, it is a matter for speculation
whether these Nor'westers joined Astor purposely to overthrow his
scheme in the interests of their old company; or were later bribed to
desert him; or, as is most likely, simply grew dissatisfied with the
inexperienced, blundering mismanagement of Astor's company, and
reverted gladly to their old service.  However that may have been, it
is certain that the North-West Company did not fail to take notice of
the plans that Astor had set afoot for the Pacific fur trade; for in a
secret session of the partners, at Fort William on Lake Superior, '_it
was decided in council that the Company should send to Columbia River,
where the Americans had established Astoria, and that a party should
proceed overland to the coast_.'

It puzzled the Nor'westers to learn that the river Fraser had explored
in 1808 was not the Columbia.  Where, then, were the upper reaches of
the great River of the West which Gray and Vancouver had reported?  The
company issued urgent instructions to its traders in the Far West to
keep pushing up {101} the North and South Saskatchewan, up the Red
Deer, up the Bow, up the Athabaska, up the Smoky, up the Pembina, and
to press over the mountains wherever any river led oceanwards through
the passes.  This duty of finding new passable ways to the sea was
especially incumbent on the company's surveyor and astronomer, David
Thompson.  He was formerly of the Hudson's Bay Company, but had come
over to the Nor'westers, and in their service had surveyed from the
Assiniboine to the Missouri and from Lake Superior to the Saskatchewan.

Towards the spring of 1799 Thompson had been on the North Saskatchewan
and had moved round the region of Lesser Slave Lake.  That year, at
Grand Portage, at the annual meeting of the traders of the North-West
Company, he was ordered to begin a thorough exploration of the
mountains; and the spring of 1800 saw him at Rocky Mountain House[1] on
the upper reaches of the North Saskatchewan above the junction of the
Clearwater.  Hitherto the Nor'westers had crossed the {102} mountains
by way of the Peace river.  But Thompson was to explore a dozen new
trails across the Great Divide.  While four of his men crossed over to
the Red Deer river and rafted or canoed down the South Saskatchewan,
Thompson himself, with five French Canadians and two Indian guides,
crossed the mountains to the Kootenay country.  The Kootenay Indians
were encamped on the Kootenay plains preparatory to their winter's
hunt, and Thompson persuaded some of them to accompany him back over
the mountains to Rocky Mountain House on the North Saskatchewan.  This
was the beginning of the trade between the Kootenays and white men.
Probably from these Indians Thompson learned of the entrance to the
Rockies by the beautiful clear mountain-stream now named the Bow; and
Duncan M'Gillivray, a leading partner, accompanied him south from Rocky
Mountain House to the spot on the Bow where to-day the city of Calgary
stands.  It was on this trip that Nor'westers first met the Piegan
Indians.  From these horsemen of the plains the explorers learned that
it was only a ten-day journey overland to the Missouri.  Snow was
falling when the traders entered the Rockies at what is now the Gap, on
the {103} Canadian Pacific Railway.  Inside the gateway to the rugged
defile of forest and mountain the traders revelled in the sublime
scenery of the Banff valley.  At Banff, eastward of Cascade mountain,
on the sheltered plain where Kootenays and Stonies used to camp, one
can still find the circular mounds that mark a trading-station of this
era.  Whether the white men discovered the beautiful blue tarn now
known as Devil's Lake, or saw the Bow river falls, where tourists
to-day fish away long summer afternoons, or dipped in the famous hot
springs on the slope of Sulphur mountain, we do not know.  They could
hardly have met and conversed with the Kootenays and Stonies without
hearing about these attractions, which yearly drew Indian families to
camp in the encircling mountains, while the men ranged afield to hunt.

Thompson and M'Gillivray were back at Rocky Mountain House on the
Saskatchewan for Christmas.  Some time during 1800 their
French-Canadian voyageurs are known to have crossed Howse Pass, the
source of the North Saskatchewan, which was discovered by Duncan
M'Gillivray and named after Joseph Howse of the North-West Company.

For several years after this Thompson was {104} engaged in making
surveys for the North-West Company in the valley of the Peace river and
between the Saskatchewan and the Churchill.  In 1806 we find him in the
country south of the Peace, which was then in charge of that Jules
Quesnel who was to accompany Fraser in 1808.  Fraser, as we have seen,
was already busy exploring the region between M'Leod Lake and Stuart
Lake, and had laid his plans to descend the great river which he
thought was Gray's Columbia.  Now, while Thompson spent the winter of
1806-7 between the Peace and the North Saskatchewan, trading and
exploring, he doubtless learned of Fraser's explorations west of the
Rockies and of the vast extent of New Caledonia; and June 1807 saw him
over the mountains on the Kootenay plains, where to his infinite
delight he came upon a turbulent river, whose swollen current flowed
towards the Pacific.  'May God give me to see where its waters flow
into the ocean,' he ejaculated.  This was, however, but a tributary of
the long-sought Columbia.  It was the river now called the Blaeberry.
Thompson followed down the banks of this stream by a well-known Indian
trail, and on June 30 he came to the Columbia itself.  Although the
river here flowed to the north, {105} he must have known, from the
deposits of blue silt and the turgidity of the current, that he had
found at least an upper reach of the River of the West; but he could
hardly guess that its winding course would lead him a dance of eleven
hundred miles before he should reach the sea.

The party camped and built the boats they needed, and a fortnight later
they were poling up-stream to the lake we to-day know as Windermere,
where Thompson built a fort which he called 'Kootenai.'  Here he spent
the winter trading, and when the warm Chinook winds cleared away the
snows, in April 1808, about the time Fraser was preparing to descend
the Fraser river, he paddled up-stream to where the Columbia river has
its source in Upper Columbia Lake.  A portage of about a mile and a
half brought him to another large river, which flowed southward.  This
stream--the Kootenay--led him south into the country of the Flatheads,
then made a great bend and swept to the north.  This was disappointing.
Thompson returned to his fort on Windermere Lake, packed the furs his
men had gathered, and retraced his trail of the previous year to Rocky
Mountain House.  He had undoubtedly found the River {106} of the West,
but he had learned nothing of its course to the sea.

During nearly all of 1809 Thompson was exploring the Kootenay river and
its branches through Idaho and Montana.  Still no path had he found to
the sea.  In 1810 he seems to have gone east for instructions from his
company.  What the instructions were we may conjecture from subsequent
developments.  Astor of New York, as we have seen, was busy launching
his fur traders for operations on the Pacific.  Piegan warriors blocked
the passage into the Rockies by the North Saskatchewan; so Thompson in
the autumn of this year ascended the Athabaska.  Winter came early.
The passes were filled with snow and beset by warriors.  He failed to
get provisions down from Rocky Mountain House; and his men, cut off by
hostile savages from all help from outside posts, had literally to cut
and shovel their way through Athabaska Pass while subsisting on short
rations.  The men built huts in the pass; some hunted, while others
made snow-shoes and sleighs.  They were down to rations of dog-meat and
moccasins, and hardly knew whether to expect death at the hands of
raiding Piegans or from starvation.  On New Year's Day of 1811, {107}
when the thermometer dropped to 24° below zero, with a biting wind,
Thompson was packing four broken-down horses and two dogs over the pass
to the west side of the Great Divide.  The mountains rose precipitously
on each side; but when the trail began dropping down westward, the
weather moderated, though the snow grew deeper; and in the third week
of January Thompson came on the baffling current of the Columbia.  He
camped there for the remainder of the winter, near the entrance of the
Canoe River.  Why he went up the Columbia in the spring, tracing it
back to its source, and thence south again into Idaho, instead of
rounding the bend and going down the river, we do not know.  He was
evidently puzzled by the contrary directions in which the great river
seemed to flow.  At all events, by a route which is not clearly known,
Thompson struck the Spokane river in June 1811, near the site of the
present city of Spokane; and following down the Spokane, he again found
the elusive Columbia and embarked on its waters.  At the mouth of the
Snake River, on July 9, he erected a pole, on which he hoisted a flag
and attached a sheet of paper claiming possession of the country for
Great Britain and the North-West {108} Company.  A month later, when
Astor's traders came up-stream from the mouth of the Columbia, they
were amazed to find a British flag 'waving triumphantly' at this spot.
Unfortunately, Thompson's claim ignored the fact that both Lewis and
Clark and the Astorians had already passed this way on their overland
route to the Pacific.

From this point Thompson evidently raced for the Pacific.  Within a
week he had passed the Dalles, passed the mouth of the Willamette,
passed what was to become the site of the Hudson's Bay Company's post
of Fort Vancouver; and at midday of Monday, July 15, he swept round a
bend of the mighty stream and came within sight of the sea.  Crouched
between the dank, heavy forests and the heaving river floods, stood a
little palisaded and fresh-hewn log fur-post--Astoria.  Thompson was
two months too late to claim the region of the lower Columbia for the
Nor'westers.  One can imagine the wild halloo with which the tired
voyageurs greeted Astoria when their comrades of old from Athabaska
came tumbling hilariously from the fort gates--M'Dougall of Rocky
Mountain House, Stuart of Chipewyan, and John Clarke, whom Thompson had
known at Isle à la {109} Crosse.  But where was Alexander Mackay, who
had gone overland with Mackenzie in 1793?  The men fell into one
another's arms with gruff, profane embraces.  Thompson was haled in to
a sumptuous midday dinner of river salmon, duck and partridge, and
wines brought round the world.  The absence of Mackay was the only
thing that took from the pleasure of the occasion.

A party of the Astorians, as we have seen, had sailed round the Horn on
the _Tonquin_; another party had gone overland from Mackinaw and St
Louis.  On the _Tonquin_ were twenty sailors, four partners, twelve
clerks, and thirteen voyageurs.  She sailed from New York in September
1810.  Jonathan Thorn, the captain, was a retired naval officer, who
resented the easy familiarity of the fur traders with their servants,
and ridiculed the seasickness of the fresh-water voyageurs.  The
_Tonquin_ had barely rounded the Horn before the partners and the
commander were at sixes and sevens.  A landing was made at the mouth of
the Columbia in March 1811, and eight lives were lost in an attempt to
head small boats up against the tide-rip of river and sea.  After
endless jangling about where to {110} land, where to build, how to
build, the rude fort which Thompson saw had been knocked together.  The
_Tonquin_ sailed up the coast of Vancouver Island to trade.  On the
vessel went Alexander Mackay to help in the trade with the coastal
Indians, whom he was supposed to know.  In spite of Mackay's warning
that the Nootka tribes were notoriously treacherous and resentful
towards white traders, Captain Thorn with lordly indifference permitted
them to swarm aboard his vessel.  Once when Mackay had gone ashore at
Clayoquot, where Gray had wintered twenty years before, Thorn,
forgetting that his ship was not a training-school, struck an old chief
across the face and threw him over the rail.  When Mackay heard what
had happened, instead of applauding the captain's valour, he showed the
utmost alarm, and begged Thorn to put out for the open sea.  The
captain smiled in scorn.  Twenty Indians were welcomed on the deck the
very next day.  More came.  At the same time the vessel was completely
surrounded by a fleet of canoes.  As if to throw the white men off all
suspicion, the squaws came paddling out, laughing and chatting.  Mackay
in horror noticed that in the barter all the Indians were taking knives
{111} for their furs, and that groups were casually stationing
themselves at points of vantage on the deck--at the hatches, at the
cabin door, along the taffrail.  Mackay hurried to the captain.  Thorn
affected to ignore any danger, but he nevertheless ordered the anchors
up.  Seeing so many Indians still on board, the sailors hesitated.
Thorn lost his head and uttered a shout.  This served as a signal for
the savages, who shrieked with derisive glee and fell upon the crew
with knives, hatchets, and clubs.  Down the companionway tumbled the
ship's clerk, Lewis, stabbed in the back.  Over the taffrail headlong
fell Mackay, clubbed by the Indians aboard, caught on the knives of the
squaws below.  The captain was so unprepared for the attack that he had
no weapon but his pocket-knife.  He was stunned by a club, pitched
overboard, and literally cut to pieces by the squaws.  In a moment the
_Tonquin_ was a shambles.  All on deck were slaughtered but four, who
gained the main cabin, and with muskets aimed through windows scattered
the yelling horde.  The Indians sprang from the ship and drew off,
while the four white survivors escaped in a boat, and the _Tonquin's_
sails flapped idly in the wind.  Next morning the Indians paddled {112}
out to plunder what seemed to be a deserted ship.  A wounded white man
appeared above the hatches and waved them to come on board and trade.
They came in hosts, in hordes, in flocks, like carrion-birds or ants
overrunning a half-dead thing.  Suddenly earth and air at Clayoquot
harbour were rent with a terrific explosion, and the sea was drenched
with the blood of the slaughtered savages.  The only remaining white
man, the wounded Lewis, had blown up the powder magazine.  He perished
himself in order to punish the marauders.

Had this story been known at Astoria when Thompson arrived, he would
have found the Astorians in a thoroughly dejected condition.  As it
was, murmurs of discontent were heard.  Here they had been marooned on
the Columbia for three months without a ship, waiting for the
contingent of the Astorians who were toiling across the continent.[2]
Not thus did Nor'westers conduct expeditions.  What Thompson thought of
the situation we do not know.  All we do know is that he remained only
a week.  On July 22, fully provisioned by M'Dougall, he went back up
the Columbia post-haste.


One year later we find Thompson at Fort William reporting the results
of his expedition to the assembled directors of the North-West Company.
He had surveyed every part of the Columbia from its source to its
mouth.  And he was the first white man on its upper waters.

The War of 1812 had begun, and a British warship was on its way to
capture Astoria.  At the same time the Nor'westers dispatched an
overland expedition to the Columbia.  Among their emissaries went the
men of New Caledonia, Alexander Henry (the younger) of Rocky Mountain
House, Donald M'Tavish, and a dozen others who were former comrades of
the leading Astorians.  They succeeded in their mission, and in the
month of October 1813 Astor's fort was sold to the North-West Company
and renamed Fort George.

The methods of fur traders have been the same the world over: to
frighten a rival off the ground if possible; if not, then to buy him
off.  It is not all surmise to suppose that when Thompson was sent to
the Pacific there was in view some other purpose than merely to survey
an unknown river.  But exploration and the fur trade went hand in hand;
and whatever the motives may have been, the {114} result was that,
after more than four years of arduous toil, Thompson had given to
commerce a great waterway.  His exploration of the Columbia closes the
period of discovery on the Pacific coast.

[1] To explain what may appear like a confusion of names, it may be
stated that in the history of the fur trade from 1800 to 1850 there
were at various stages as many as sixteen differently situated
fur-posts under the name of Rocky Mountain House.

[2] The overland party suffered the greatest hardship and some loss of
life, and did not arrive at Astoria till January 1812.




When Astoria passed to the Nor'westers, with it came, as we shall see,
an opportunity of acquiring for Great Britain the whole of the vast
region west of the Rockies, including California and Alaska.  Gray's
feat in finding the mouth of the Columbia, and the explorations of
Lewis and Clark overland to the same river, gave the United States
possession of a part of this territory by right of discovery; but this
possession was practically superseded by the transfer of Astor's fort
to the British-Canadian Company.  Yet, to-day, we find Britain not in
possession of California, not in possession of the region round the
mouth of the Columbia, not in possession of Alaska.  The reason for
this will appear presently.

The Treaty of Ghent which closed the War of 1812 made no mention of the
boundaries of Oregon, but it provided that any territory captured by
either nation in the course of the {116} war should be restored to the
original owner.  The question then arose: did this clause in the treaty
apply to Astoria?  Was the taking over of the fur-post by the British
company in reality an act of war?  The United States said Yes; Great
Britain said No; and both nations claimed sovereignty over Oregon.  In
1818 a provisional agreement was reached, under which either nation
might trade and establish settlements in the disputed territory.  But
it was now utterly impossible for Astor to prosecute the fur trade on
the Pacific.  The 'Bostonnais' had lost prestige with the Indians when
the _Tonquin_ sank off Clayoquot, and the more experienced British and
Canadian traders were in control of the field.  At this time the
Hudson's Bay Company and the Nor'westers were waging the trade war that
terminated in their union in 1820-1821; and when the united companies
came to assign officers to the different districts, John M'Loughlin,
who had been a partner in the North-West Company, was sent overland to
rule Oregon.

[Illustration: John M'Loughlin.  Photographed by Savannah from an
original painting.]

What did Oregon comprise?   At that time no man knew; but within ten
years after his arrival in 1824 M'Loughlin had sent out hunting
brigades, consisting of two or {117} three hundred horsemen, in all
directions: east, under Alexander Ross, as far as Montana and Idaho;
south, under Peter Skene Ogden, as far as Utah and Nevada and
California; along the coast south as far as Monterey, under Tom Mackay,
whose father had been murdered on the _Tonquin_ and whose widowed
mother had married M'Loughlin; north, through New Caledonia, under
James Douglas--'Black Douglas' they called the dignified, swarthy young
Scotsman who later held supreme rule on the North Pacific as Sir James
Douglas, the first governor of British Columbia.  If one were to take a
map of M'Loughlin's transmontane empire and lay it across the face of a
map of Europe, it would cover the continent from St Petersburg to

The ruler of this vast domain was one of the noblest men in the annals
of the fur trade.  John M'Loughlin was a Canadian, born at Rivière du
Loup, and he had studied medicine in Edinburgh.  The Indians called him
'White Eagle,' from his long, snow-white hair and aquiline features.
When M'Loughlin reached Oregon--by canoe two thousand miles to the
Rockies, by pack-horse and canoe another seven hundred miles {118}
south to the Columbia--two of the first things he saw were that
Astoria, or Fort George, was too near the rum of trading schooners for
the well-being of the Indians, and that it would be quite possible to
raise food for his men on the spot, instead of transporting it over two
watersheds and across the width of a continent.  He at once moved the
headquarters of the company from Astoria to a point on the north bank
of the Columbia near the Willamette, where he erected Fort Vancouver.
Then he sent his men overland to the Spaniards of Lower California to
purchase seed-wheat and stock to begin farming in Oregon in order to
provision the company's posts and brigades.  It was about the time that
his wheat-fields and orchards began to yield that some passing ocean
traveller asked him: 'Do you think this country will ever be settled?'
'Sir,' answered M'Loughlin, emphasizing his words by thumping his
gold-headed cane on the floor, 'wherever wheat grows, men will go, and
colonies will grow.'  Afterwards, when he had to choose between loyalty
to his company and saving the lives of thousands of American settlers
who had come over the mountains destitute, these words of his were
quoted against him.  He {119} had, according to the directors of the
company, favoured settlement rather than the fur trade.

[Illustration: Fort Vancouver.  From a print in the John Ross Robertson
Collection, Toronto Public Library.]

Meanwhile, M'Loughlin ruled in a sort of rude baronial splendour on the
banks of the Columbia.  The 'Big House,' as the Indians always called
the governor's mansion, stood in the centre of a spacious courtyard
surrounded by palisades twenty feet high, with huge brass padlocks on
the entrance-gates.  Directly in front of the house two cannon were
stationed, and piled up behind them ready for instant use were two
pyramids of balls.  Only officers of some rank dined in the Hall; and
if visitors were present from coastal ships that ascended the river,
Highland kilties stood behind the governor's chair playing the
bagpipes.  Towards autumn the southern and eastern brigades set out on
their annual hunt in California, Nevada, Montana, and Idaho.  Towards
spring, when the upper rivers had cleared of ice, the northern brigades
set out for the interior of New Caledonia.  Nothing more picturesque
was ever seen in the fur trade than these Oregon brigades.
French-Canadian hunters with their Indian wives would be gathered to
the number of two hundred.  Indian ponies fattened during the {120}
summer on the deep pasturage of the Willamette or the plains of Walla
Walla would be brought in to the fort and furbished forth in gayest of
trappings.  Provisions would then be packed on their backs.  An eager
crowd of wives and sweethearts and children would dash out for a last
good-bye.  The governor would personally shake hands with every
departing hunter.  Then to bugle-call the riders mounted their restive
ponies, and the captain--Tom Mackay or Ogden or Ross--would lead the
winding cavalcade into the defiles of mountain and forest, whence
perhaps they would not emerge for a year and a half.  Though the
brigades numbered as many as two hundred men, they had to depend for
food on the rifles of the hunters, except for flour and tobacco and
bacon supplied at the fort.  Once the brigade passed out of sight of
the fort, the hunters usually dashed ahead to anticipate the stampeding
of game by the long, noisy, slow-moving line.  Next to the hunters
would come the old bell-mare, her bell tinkling through the lonely
silences.  Far in the rear came the squaws and trappers.  Going south,
the aim was to reach the traverse of the deserts during winter, so that
snow would be available for water.  Going east, the {121} aim was to
cross the mountain passes before snow-fall.  Going north, the canoes
must ascend the upper rivers before ice formed.  But times without
number trappers and hunters were caught in the desert without snow for
water; or were blocked in the mountain passes by blizzards; or were
wrecked by the ice cutting their canoes on the upper rivers.
Innumerable place-names commemorate the presence of humble trapper and
hunter coursing the wilderness in the Oregon brigades.  For example:
Sublette's River, Payette's River, John Day's River, the Des Chutes,
and many others.  Indeed, many of the place-names commemorate the
deaths of lonely hunters in the desert.  Crow and Blackfoot and Sioux
Indians often raided the brigades when on the home trip loaded with
peltry.  One can readily believe that rival traders from the Missouri
instigated some of these raids.  There were years when, of two hundred
hunters setting out, only forty or fifty returned; there were years
when the Hudson's Bay brigades found snow-bound, storm-bound, starving
American hunters, and as a price for food exacted every peltry in the
packs; and there were years when rival American traders bribed every
man in Ogden's brigade to desert.


The New Caledonia brigades set out by canoe--huge, long, cedar-lined
craft manned by fifty or even ninety men.  These brigades were decked
out gayest of all.  Flags flew at the prow of each craft.  Voyageurs
adorned themselves with coloured sashes and headbands, with tinkling
bells attached to the buckskin fringe of trouser-leg.  Where the rivers
narrowed to dark and shadowy canyons, the bagpipes would skirl out some
Highland air, or the French voyageurs would strike up some song of the
habitant, paddling and chanting in perfect rhythm, and sometimes
beating time with their paddles on the gunwales.  Leaders of the canoe
brigades understood well the art of never permitting fear to enter the
souls of their voyageurs.  Where the route might be exposed to Indian
raid, a regale of rum would be dealt out; and the captain would keep
the men paddling so hard there was no time for thought of danger.

In course of time the northern brigades no longer attempted to ascend
the entire way to the interior of New Caledonia by boat.  Boats and
canoes would be left on the Columbia at Fort Colville or at Fort
Okanagan (both south of the present international boundary), and the
rest of the trail would be pursued by {123} pack-horse.  Kamloops
became the great half-way house of these north-bound brigades; and
horses were left there to pasture on the high, dry plains, while fresh
horses were taken to ascend the mountain trails.  Fort St James on
Stuart Lake became the chief post of New Caledonia.  Here ruled young
James Douglas, who had married the daughter of the chief factor William
Connolly.  Ordinarily, the fort on the blue alpine lake lay asleep like
an August day; but on the occasion of a visit by the governor or the
approach of a brigade, the drowsy post became a thing of life.  Boom of
cannon, firing of rifles, and skirling of bagpipes welcomed the long
cavalcade.  The captain of the brigade as he entered the fort usually
wore a high and pompous beaver hat, a velvet cloak lined with red silk,
and knee-breeches with elaborate Spanish embossed-leather leggings.
All this show was, of course, for the purpose of impressing the
Indians.  Whether impressed or not, the Indians always counted the days
to the wild riot of feasting and boat-races and dog-races and
horse-races that marked the arrival or departure of a brigade.

New Caledonia, as we know, is now a part of Canada; but why does not
the Union Jack float over the great region beyond the Rockies {124} to
the south--south of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the 49th parallel?
Over all this territory British fur lords once held sway.  California
was in the limp fingers of Mexico, but the British traders were
operating there, and had ample opportunity to secure it by purchase
long before it passed to the United States in 1848.  Sir George
Simpson, the resident governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, advised the
company to purchase it, but the directors in London could not see furs
in the suggestion.  Simpson would have gone further, and reached out
the company's long arm to the islands of the Pacific and negotiated
with the natives for permission to build a fort in Hawaii.  James
Douglas was for buying all Alaska from the Russians; but to the
directors of the Hudson's Bay Company Alaska seemed as remote and as
worthless as Siberia, so they contented themselves with leasing a
narrow strip along the shore.  Thus California, Alaska, and Hawaii
might easily have become British territory; but the opportunity was
lost, and they went to the United States.  So, too, did the fine
territory of Oregon, out of which three states were afterwards added to
the American Union.  But the history of Oregon is confused in a maze of
{125} politics, into which we cannot enter here.  As we have seen,
Bruno Heceta, acting for Spain, was the first mariner to sight the
Columbia, and the American, Robert Gray, was the first to enter its
mouth, thus proving Heceta's conjecture of a great river.  Then for
Great Britain came Vancouver and Broughton; then the Americans, Lewis
and Clark and the Astorians; and finally Thompson, the British
Nor'wester and the first man to explore the great river from its source
to the sea.  Then during the War of 1812 the American post on the
Columbia passed to the North-West Company of Montreal; and if it had
not been for the 'joint occupancy' agreement between Great Britain and
the United States in 1818, Oregon would undoubtedly have remained
British.  But with the 'joint occupancy' arrangement leaving
sovereignty in dispute, M'Loughlin of Oregon knew well that in the end
sovereignty would be established, as always, by settlement.

First came Jedediah Smith, the American fur trader, overland.  He was
robbed to the shirt on his back by Indians at the Umpqua river.  There
and then came the great choice to M'Loughlin--should he save the life
of rivals, or leave them to be murdered by {126} Indians?  He sent Tom
Mackay to the Umpqua, punished the robber Indians, secured the pilfered
furs, and paid the American for them.  Then came American missionaries
overland--the Lees and Whitman.  Then came Wyeth, the trader and
colonizer from Boston.  The company fought Wyeth's trade and bought him
out; but when the turbulent Indians crowded round the 'White Eagle,'
chief of Fort Vancouver, asking, 'Shall we kill--shall we kill the
"Bostonnais"?'  M'Loughlin struck the chief plotter down, drove the
others from the fort, and had it noised about among the tribes that if
any one struck the white 'Bostonnais,' M'Loughlin would strike him.  At
the same time, M'Loughlin earnestly desired that the territory should
remain British.  In 1838, at a council of the directors in London, he
personally urged the sending of a garrison of British soldiers, and
that the government should take control of Oregon in order to establish
British rights.  His suggestions received little consideration.  Had
not the company single-handed held all Rupert's Land for almost two
hundred years?  Had they not triumphed over all rivals?  They would do
so here.

But by 1843 immigrants were pouring over {127} the mountains by the
thousands.  Washington Irving's _Astoria_ and _Captain Bonneville_, and
the political cry of 'Fifty-four forty or fight'--which meant American
possession of all south of Alaska--had roused the attention of the
people of the United States to the merits of Oregon, and caused them to
make extravagant claims.  Long before the Oregon Treaty of 1846, which
established the 49th parallel as the boundary, M'Loughlin had foreseen
what was coming.  The movement from the east had become a tide.  The
immigrants who came over the Oregon Trail in 1843 were starving, almost
naked, and without a roof.  Again the Indians crowded about M'Loughlin.
'Shall we kill?  Shall we kill?' they asked.  M'Loughlin took the rough
American overlanders into his fort, fed them, advanced them provisions
on credit, and sent them to settle on the Willamette.  Some of them
showed their ingratitude later by denouncing M'Loughlin as 'an
aristocrat and a tyrant.'  The settlers established a provisional
government in 1844, and joined in the rallying-cry of 'Fifty-four forty
or fight.'  This, as M'Loughlin well knew, was the beginning of the
end.  His friends among the colonists begged him to subscribe to the
provisional {128} government in order that they might protect his fort
from some of their number who threatened to 'burn it about his ears.'
He had appealed to the British government for protection, but no answer
had come; and at length, after a hard struggle and many misgivings, he
cast in his lot with the Americans.  Two years later, in 1846, he
retired from the service of the company and went to live among the
settlers.  He died at Oregon City on the Willamette in 1857.

As early as June 1842 M'Loughlin had sent Douglas prospecting in
Vancouver Island, which was north of the immediate zone of dispute, for
a site on which to erect a new post.  The Indian village of Camosun,
the Cordoba of the old Spanish charts, stood on the site of the present
city of Victoria.  Here was fresh water; here was a good harbour; here
was shelter from outside gales.  Across the sea lay islands ever green
in a climate always mild and salubrious.  Fifteen men left old Fort
Vancouver with Douglas in March 1843 in the company's ship the
_Beaver_, and anchored at Vancouver Island, just outside Camosun Bay.
With Douglas went the Jesuit missionary, Father Bolduc, who on March 19
{129} celebrated the first Mass ever said on Vancouver Island, and
afterwards baptized Indians till he was fairly exhausted.  In three
days Douglas had a well dug and timbers squared.  For every forty
pickets erected by the Indians he gave them a blanket.  By September
stockades and houses had been completed, and as many as fifty men had
come to live at the new fort, to which the name Victoria was finally
given.  Victoria became the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company on
the Pacific.  It was unique as a fortified post, in that it was built
without the driving of a single nail, wooden pegs being used instead.

[Illustration: The fort of the Hudson's Bay Company, Victoria, B.C.
From a photograph by Savannah.]

By 1849 the discovery of gold in California was bringing a rush of
overlanders.  There had been rumours of the discovery of precious
metals on the Fraser and in East Kootenay.  The company became alarmed;
and Sir John Pelly, the governor in England, and Sir George Simpson,
the governor in America, went to the British government with the
disquieting question: What is to hinder American colonists rolling
north of the boundary and establishing right of possession there as
they did on the Columbia?  By no stretch of its charter could the
Hudson's Bay Company {130} claim feudal rights west of the Rockies.
What, my Lord Grey asks, would the company advise the British
government to do to avert this danger from a tide of democracy rolling
north?  Why, of course, answers Sir John Pelly, proclaim Vancouver
Island a British colony and give the company a grant of the territory
and the company will colonize it with British subjects.  The proposal
was laid before parliament.  It would be of no profit to follow the
debate that ensued in the House of Commons, which was chiefly 'words
without knowledge darkening counsel.'  The request was officially
granted in January 1849; and Richard Blanshard, a barrister of London,
was dispatched as governor of the new colony.  But as he had neither
salary nor subjects, he went back to England in disgust in 1851, and
James Douglas of the Hudson's Bay Company reigned in his stead.

But fate again played the unexpected part, and rang down the curtain on
the fur lords of the Pacific coast.  A few years previously Douglas had
seen M'Loughlin compelled to choose between loyalty to his company and
loyalty to humanity.  A choice between his country and his company was
now unexpectedly thrust on the reticent, careful, {131} masterful
Douglas.  In 1856 gold was discovered in the form of large nuggets on
the Fraser and the Thompson, and adventurers poured into the
country--20,000 in a single year.  Douglas foresaw that this meant
British empire on the Pacific and that the supremacy of the fur traders
was about to pass away.  The British government bought back Vancouver
Island, and proclaimed the new colony of British Columbia on the
mainland.  Douglas retired from the company's service and was appointed
governor of both colonies.  In 1866 they were united under one

The stampede of treasure-seekers up the Fraser is another story.  When
the new colony on the mainland came into being, and the Hudson's Bay
Company fell from the rank of a feudal overlord to that of a private
trader, the pioneer days of the Pacific became a thing of the past.



The bibliography of the Pacific is enormous.  There is, indeed, a
record of discovery and exploration on the Pacific coast almost as
large as that of New France or New England.  Only a few of the
principal books can be mentioned here; but in most of these will be
found good bibliographies which will point the reader to original
sources, if he wishes to pursue the subject.

ON DRAKE.  _Drake and the Tudor Navy_, in two volumes, by Julian
Corbett (1898); _Sir Francis Drake_, by the same author (1800), in the
'English Men of Action' series; _The World Encompassed_, by Francis
Fletcher (1628).  See also the article on Drake in the _Dictionary of
National Biography_.

ON VITUS BERING AND THE RUSSIANS.  _Peter the Great_, by Williams
(1859); _Peter the Great_, by Motley (1877); Coxe's _Discoveries of the
Russians_ (1781); Lauridsen's _Vitus Bering_ (1885); Laut's _Vikings of
the Pacific_ (1905).

ON COOK AND VANCOUVER.  Cook's _Voyage to the Pacific Ocean_ (1784);
Ledyard's _Journal of Cook's Last Voyage_ (1783); Sir Walter Besant's
_Captain Cook_ (1890), in the 'English Men of Action' series; Kitson's
_Captain James Cook, the Circumnavigator_ (1907); Vancouver's _Voyage
of {133} Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean_ (1798).  See also the
articles on Cook and Vancouver in the _Dictionary of National

_Voyages_ (1801); Burpee's _Search for the Western Sea_ (1908); _Fur
Traders of the Far West_, by Alexander Ross (1855); Laut's _Conquest of
the Great Northwest_ (1908); _Canada and its Provinces_, vol. iv (1914).

Northern Interior of British Columbia_ (1904); _Sir James Douglas_, by
Coats and Gosnell (1908), in the 'Makers of Canada' series; _Canada and
its Provinces_, vol. xxi (1914); Bancroft's _History of the Northwest
Coast_ (1884), and his _History of Oregon_ (1888); Lyman's _History of
Oregon_ (1903).  For an exhaustive statement of the Oregon Boundary
Question, see the article, 'Boundary Disputes and Treaties,' by James
White, in _Canada and its Provinces_, vol. viii.



Alaska, discovered, 20-2; Russian régime inaugurated in, 44.

Aleutian Islands, discovery of, 22-9, 37; the hunt for furs on, 33-44.

Aleuts, their hard lot at the hands of Russian fur traders, 34-9; take
their revenge, 39-43.

Anian, strait of, 8, 9-10.

Astor, John Jacob, forms the Pacific Fur Company, 99, 100, 106.

Astoria, the fur-post on the Columbia, 108, 110; sold to the North-West
Company, 113, 115, 118.

Astorians.  See Pacific Fur Company.

Baranoff, a Russian trader on the Pacific Coast, 74.

Barkley, Captain, locates Strait of Juan de Fuca, 57, 59.

Bering, Vitus, his first expedition to the North Pacific, 13-15; his
second expedition, 15-33, 45; his death, 28, 46, 52.

Blanshard, Richard, governor of Vancouver Island, 130.

Bolduc, Father, with Douglas on Vancouver Island, 128-9.

Boston, its interest in the Pacific Coast, 55, 59; and settlement in
Oregon, 126.

Bostonnais, the ubiquitous, 54-55, 116.

Britain.  See Great Britain.

British Columbia, first forts built in, 87, 89, 90; the fear of
American aggression, 129, 131; proclaimed a British colony, 131.  See
New Caledonia.

Broughton, Lieut. Robert, with Vancouver's expedition to the Pacific
Coast, 70.

Carrier Indians, the, 77-8, 82, 83, 88, 92, 94-6, 98.

Chinese, their interest in sea-otter furs, 31-2.

Chirikoff, Lieut., explores the North Pacific, 18, 30.

Clark, William, his mission to the Pacific Coast, 86, 87, 90, 108, 125.

Clayoquot Sound, 60; the tragedy at, 110-12.

Clerke, Captain Charles, in command of Cook's expedition, 52.

Columbia river, 53, 56, 92, 97; discovered by Gray, 67, 86; missed,
then claimed, by Vancouver, 66, 69-70; Astor's mission to, 99;
descended by Thompson, 104-9.

Cook, Captain James, his quest of a north-east passage from the
Pacific, 45-9; his tragic death, 49-52.

Cossacks, their harsh treatment of the Aleuts, 34-9; pay the penalty,

Delisle de la Croyère, with Bering's second expedition, 17, 18.

Douglas, James, his Oregon brigade, 117, 123, 124; governor of
Vancouver Island, 128-30; of British Columbia, 131.

Douglas, Captain William, a Pacific Coast trader, 57-8, 59, 61.

Drake, Sir Francis, with Hawkins at Vera Cruz, 1-2; his raid on Panama,
3; his raiding expedition to the Pacific, 3-8; his attempt to find a
north-east passage, 8-10.

Drusenin, Alexis, clubbed to death by Aleuts, 39-40.

East India Company, its foreign commerce, 11-12.

Elisa, Spanish explorer on the Pacific Coast, 60-1, 62, 64.

Elizabeth, Queen, honours Drake, 4, 9.

England, 9.  See Great Britain.

Fort Chipewyan, 72, 73, 88.

Fort Defence, 60; the Indian raid on, 61.

Fort George, 90, 98, 113.

Fort M'Leod, the first fur-post in British Columbia, 87, 100.

Fort St James, chief post of New Caledonia, 89, 90, 123.

Fort Vancouver, 108, 118.

Fraser, Simon, 80; his explorations in New Caledonia, 87, 88-90, 104;
his descent of the Fraser, 90-8.

Fraser river, 63-4, 67; Mackenzie on, 81-2; descended by Fraser, 90-7;
discovery of gold on, 129, 131.

Fuca, Juan de, his north-east passage from the Pacific, 12.  See Juan
de Fuca.

Galiano, Don Dionisio, explores the Pacific Coast, 64, 67-8.

Gamaland, the mythical continent, 12, 14-15, 17, 18.

Ghent, treaty of, and the Pacific Coast, 115-16.

'Golden Hind,' the first English ship to sail the Pacific, 4-9.

Gray, Captain Robert, his expedition to the Pacific Coast, 55, 56,
57-60, 61-2; discovers the Columbia, 67, 69-70, 74, 125.

Great Britain, her interest in the Pacific Coast, 53-4, 113, 115,
123-4; the Nootka Affair, 65-6; her exploring expeditions under Cook
and Vancouver, 46, 66-7; her 'joint occupancy' agreement with the
United States, 115-16, 125, 127-8; proclaims colony of British
Columbia, 129-31.

Hanna, Captain, trades on the Pacific Coast, 58, 59.

Haro, Gonzales de, at Nootka, 60.

Hawkins, Sir John, his reception at Vera Cruz, 1-2.

Hearne, Samuel, explorer, 45.

Heceta, Bruno, his River of the West, 52, 56, 58, 62, 67, 125.

Hudson's Bay Company, the, 45, 53; interested in the Pacific fur trade,
71; its jurisdiction over Oregon, 116-123; its short-sighted policy,
124, 126-8; founds a colony on Vancouver Island, 128-31.

Indians of the Pacific Coast, and Cook, 47-8; and Gray, 56, 61-2; and
Mackenzie, 83, 84-5; and Fraser, 88, 96-8; and the Astorians, 110-12;
and M'Loughlin, 117, 119, 125-6, 127; and the Oregon brigades, 121,
123; and Douglas, 128-9.  See Aleuts and Carrier Indians.

Juan de Fuca, strait of, 12; the search for, 17, 45, 47, 53, 56;
located by Barkley, 57.

Kamchatka, 13; and the fur trade on the Aleutians, 31-9, 49.  See

Kendrick, Captain John, his trading expedition to the Pacific Coast,
55, 56, 57-60.

Kootenay Indians, the, 102, 103.

La Pérouse, a French explorer on the Pacific Coast, 58.

Lewis, Meriwether, his overland expedition to the Pacific, 86, 87, 90,
108, 125.

Lewis, an Astorian, his plucky end, 111-12.

M'Dougall, Duncan, at Astoria, 108, 112.

M'Dougall, James, his explorations, 87-8.

M'Gillivray, Duncan, accompanies Thompson in exploring expedition,

Mackay, Alexander, with Mackenzie's Pacific expedition, 73, 76, 79;
joins the Astorians, 99, 109; massacred at Clayoquot, 110-11.

Mackay, Thomas, his Oregon brigade, 117, 119-21, 126.

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, 53, 71-2; his Pacific expedition, 72-3; his
journey up the Peace and Fraser, 73-82; reaches the Pacific, 83-5, 86.

M'Loughlin, Dr John, ruler in Oregon, 116-19, 128; his great choice and
desire, 125-128; his death, 128.

Maquinna, a Pacific Coast chief, 68, 69.

Martinez, Don Joseph, his high-handed action at Nootka, 59.

Meares, Captain John, a trader on the Pacific Coast, 57-8, 59.

Mexico, pilots of, their explorations on the Pacific Coast, 62-5.

Narvaez, his discoveries on the Pacific Coast, 62-4.

New Caledonia, 87, 89, 122-3.  See British Columbia.

Nootka, Cook at, 47; English and American traders at, 57-58; the Nootka
Affair, 59-60, 61, 66, 68-9, 73.

'North-West America,' the first ship built on the Pacific Coast, 57.

North-West Company, the, 53, 116; and the race for the Pacific, 71,
99-101, 113.

Ogden, Peter Skene, his Oregon brigade, 117, 119-21.

Oregon, extent of under Hudson's Bay Company jurisdiction, 116-17;
colonization in, 118; hunting brigades of, 119-23; acquired by United
States, 124, 125; American immigration into, 125-7.

Oregon Treaty, the, 127.

Pacific Coast, exploration of, 8, 12, 46-8, 52, 62-5, 66-8, 70, 125;
beginning of struggle for control of, 53-4.

Pacific Fur Company, the, 71; founded, 99, 100, 109; at Astoria, 108,
109-10, 112; the Clayoquot tragedy, 109-112.

Pacific Ocean, 'a closed sea,' 1, 55-6, 65; Drake's raids on Spanish
treasure-ships on, 5-8; regarding a north-east passage from, 9-10,
48-9.  See Pacific Coast.

Pelly, Sir John, governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 129-130.

Peter the Great, his ambition to make Russia a world-power, 11-14.

Petropavlovsk, Bering's expedition leaves, 16-17; returns to, 30-3.

Piegan Indians, the, 102, 106.

Pushkareff, his  diabolical treatment of Aleuts, 38-9.

Quadra, Don Juan Francisco, 58; represents Spain in the Nootka
Conference, 68-9, 70.

Quesnel, Jules, with Fraser's expedition, 90, 104.

Rocky Mountain House, 101 and note.

Rocky Mountain Portage, 75-77, 87, 88.

Ross, Alexander, his Oregon brigade, 117, 119-21.

Russia, and the fur trade on the Aleutians, 39, 43; her interest in the
Pacific Coast, 44, 53-4, 70.  See Cossacks.

Sandwich Islands, Cook's tragic death on, 49-52.

Simpson, Sir George, governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, 124, 129-30.

Smith, Jedediah, befriended by M'Loughlin in Oregon, 125-126.

Spain, her supremacy in the South Seas and in the Pacific, 1, 12, 53-4,
55-6, 65, 74; her treachery at Vera Cruz, 2, 55; the Nootka Affair,
59-60, 66, 67-9; her explorations on the Pacific Coast, 61, 62-65, 70,

Steller, George W., with Bering's second expedition, 18, 21, 27, 28.

Stuart, John, with Fraser in New Caledonia, 88-90.

Thompson, David, his search for a river to the Pacific, 101-106; his
descent of the Columbia, 104-9, 112-13, 114, 125.

Thorn, Captain Jonathan, massacred at Clayoquot, 109-111.

United  States, enter the struggle for the control of the Pacific,
53-5, 67, 70, 86, 124; the Louisiana purchase, 86; send an expedition
to the Pacific Coast, 86; the 'joint occupancy' agreement with Britain,
115-16, 125; and Oregon, 125-8.

Valdes, Don Cayetano, explores the Pacific Coast, 64, 67-8.

Vancouver, Captain George, 46; his exploring expedition to the Pacific
Coast, 66-8, 69-70, 74, 84, 96; represents Britain in the Nootka
Conference, 68-9.

Vancouver Island, 48-9, 67-8; colony founded on, 128-9, 130, 131.

War of 1812, and Astoria, 113.

Waxel, Lieut., with Bering's expedition, 19, 24, 25.

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