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Title: Among the An-ko-me-nums - Or Flathead Tribes of Indians of the Pacific Coast
Author: Crosby, Thomas
Language: English
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Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: THOMAS CROSBY. From a photo taken in 1874]

Among the An-ko-me-nums

  Or Flathead Tribes of Indians of the Pacific Coast,


  Missionary to the Indians of British Columbia.



       *       *       *       *       *

  Entered according to Act of the Parliament of Canada, in the year
  one thousand nine hundred and seven, by
  at the Department of Agriculture.


I have been requested to write a few words of introduction to this
deeply interesting volume, and I gladly comply, although the task may
seem to be quite superfluous. Thomas Crosby, or anything he may write,
needs no introduction, at least in Methodist circles. For a generation
his name has been a household word, and from time to time brief
accounts of his heroic labors have found their way through the press
into many homes. But these accounts were fragmentary and incomplete.
They presented some striking incidents, but no connected story of the
man and his work. Such a story Crosby alone could supply, and many will
be glad that he has been induced to begin it; and the hope will be
general that other volumes may follow, covering what is by far the most
interesting period of his life.

It is but seldom that men who lay the foundations of empire get
credit for the achievement. Their work, for the most part, is done
underground and out of sight. They are content to take up the work that
lies nearest, leaving results with God, and are more concerned about
doing their work faithfully than claiming credit for themselves. And
yet all the while they are laying the only foundations on which an
enduring civilization can rest, and are better entitled to the name and
fame of empire-builders than some who have claimed the credit without
doing the work. If it be true that he is a benefactor of his race who
makes two blades of grass grow where one grew before, much more is
he a benefactor whose spiritual husbandry transforms a savage into a
citizen--a pagan into a saint.

A conflict like that in which Thomas Crosby spent his life was no
mere holiday parade. It was a grapple to the death with the powers
of evil, in which no quarter was asked or given. He gave his life
for the redemption of a people for whose souls no man cared, and
fought--sometimes almost single-handed--a life-long battle against
superstition, immorality, and godlessness of every kind. No marvel,
therefore, if he incurred the bitter enmity of the witch-doctor,
the whiskey-trader, and the libertine, and by “lewd fellows of the
baser sort” was the best-hated man in British Columbia. But he
has his reward. By the converting grace of God some bitter foes
were transformed into ardent friends; and as he searched society’s
rubbish-heaps for lost jewels, here and there he found a pearl of great
price that more than compensated for all his toil. Many will join in
the prayer that years of useful service may still be his, and that his
declining years may be brightened by further displays of saving power
among the Red Men of the Pacific Coast.

  TORONTO, February, 1907.



      I. The Flatheads and the “Book of Heaven”                   9

     II. The Call from Macedonia                                 21

    III. Westward, Ho!                                           30

     IV. At Nanaimo--The School                                  41

      V. Heathen Street _vs._ Christian Street                   48

     VI. Difficulties with the Language                          52

    VII. A Slavery worse than Death                              60

   VIII. Feuds and Bloodshed                                     67

     IX. Houses, Clothing, Cruel Customs                         79

      X. Courtship and Marriage                                  88

     XI. Foods, Feasts and Follies                               99

    XII. Native Worship and Superstitions                       112

   XIII. Struggles with Whiskey, and the Ravages of Fire-water  126

    XIV. Some Perilous Canoe Trips                              141

     XV. Varied Experiences                                     159

    XVI. How the Gospel came to Chilliwack                      169

   XVII. More of the Chilliwack Revival--Camp-meetings          183

  XVIII. The Bunch Grass Country                                195

    XIX. Marvels of Grace                                       206

     XX. Lay Agencies--Salvation in a Victoria Bar-room         233

    XXI. British Columbia--Its Interests and Resources          237

   XXII. The Missionary Progress of the Years--Home Again       241



  Portrait of Author                               _Frontispiece_

  Flathead Woman and Child                                      8

  Early Native Types                                           18

  Indian Church and Mission House at Nanaimo                   42

  Indian Houses, with Group of Heathen Natives                 48

  “I could see two wild, savage-looking men,” etc.             74

  “The great big fellow danced up and down,” etc.              78

  Two Flathead Centenarians                                    86

  “One day I slipped in and found the old fellow rattling
    over him”                                                 122

  Witch Doctor and his Wife--“Coal Tyee”--Crosby teaching
    Indian Chief                                              128

  “We were bailing out as hard as we could”                   146

  First Protestant Church in the Chilliwack Valley            172

  Coqualeetza Indian Institute                                192

  Group of Students, Coqualeetza Institute                    198

  Amos Cushan--Sarah Shee-at-ston--David Sallosalton--Captain
    John Su-a-lis                                             208

  Skowkale Church--Skowkale Mission People                    232

  The Transformed Bar-room, Victoria                          236

[Illustration: FLATHEAD WOMAN AND CHILD (Showing method in use among
these Indians for flattening the heads of the infant children.)]

       *       *       *       *       *



  “They may not want you, but they need you.”

  “Far, far away, in heathen darkness dwelling,
     Millions of souls forever may be lost.
   Who, who will go, Salvation’s story telling,
     Looking to Jesus, counting not the cost?”

The An-ko-me-nums, as they call themselves, are a branch of the great
Salish or Flathead family of Indians, whose territory is that part
of the Pacific Coast now known as Northern Oregon, Washington, and
Southern British Columbia.

The Flatheads derive the name from their custom of compressing the
skull in childhood until the whole front of the head is flattened and

They live along the great arteries of travel, the Columbia River in the
south, the Fraser River in the north, and their tributaries, as well as
on the shores of those inland waters of the West known as Puget Sound
and the Gulf of Georgia.

Unlike the great nations of the East and of the plains, who possess
something of national unity, they are composed of a number of branches,
speaking languages bearing scarcely any resemblance to each other--the
Chinooks, the Cayuses and the Sinahomish in the south; the Shuswaps
and the Okanagans in the interior of British Columbia; and the
An-ko-me-nums, known under such names as the Cowichans--after tribes on
Vancouver Island, which some believe to be the parent stock--and the
Stawlo, which literally means the River Indians.

These last inhabit the valley of the Fraser River, from Yale to
its mouth, and the east coast of Vancouver Island, from Comox to
Esquimault, and include the Nan-ni-moohs, Cowichans, Songees, Skwamish,
Sumats, Chil-way-uks, and numerous other rival tribes, possessed of the
same manners and customs, but speaking varying dialects of the same
language, and, in earlier days, engaging in the fiercest conflicts with
one another.

The Coast Indians are spoken of, generally, as Siwashes, a term which
the more intelligent resent, and which is taken from the word for
“Indian” in the Chinook or trade jargon.

There is some doubt, however, as to the origin of the word “Siwash.”
By some it is thought to be a corruption of the French word “Sauvage”
(barbarian), as applied by the Nor’westers to the Indians generally.
But in all probability it is a corruption of the generic term “Salish,”
which is given by ethnologists to the whole family, and as such is
improperly applied to the Northern tribes.


There are some six distinct races among the Indians of British
Columbia. The Hydah-Kling-get, on Queen Charlotte Islands and the lower
Alaskan coast; the Tsimpshean, in the region of the lower Skeena and
Naas River; the Kwa-kualth, from Kitamaat to Cape Mudge on the mainland
and north-east coast of Vancouver Island; the Salish, of which the
An-ko-me-nums are a division, in the south; the Kootenai and the Déné
or Tinne, in the interior. The At nation, which occupies the west coast
of Vancouver Island, it would appear, is still another race, though
some ethnologists identify them with the Kwa-kualths.

The origin of these various people is much in doubt. The Tinne possibly
came by way of the Aleutian Islands from Asia. The Northern Coast
tribes, Hydahs and Tsimpsheans, may be related to the Filipinos and
the Japanese. Some years ago, when the first Japanese fishermen came
to the Skeena, the Indians immediately claimed them as their “tilikum”
(friends). When the difference in language was pointed out, they
replied, “That does not matter, the Indians speak different languages.
Just look at their hair and their eyes and the color of their skin, is
it not the same as ours? They are surely of our race.” The resemblance
so noted is certainly remarkable.

As for the Salish and Kwa-kualths, the similarity between certain of
their words and those of the Polynesian Islanders has led some to give
them an Oceanic origin.

The various sources from which they possibly sprang will sufficiently
explain the difference in their languages.


Very early in the last century the trading ships of various nations
were visiting the coast and bartering their cargoes of firearms, rum
and useless trinkets--beads, bits of iron and brass--for the valuable
furs of the natives.

The first depôt on Vancouver Island was established at Nootka, on the
West Coast, and, a little later, a second, on the mainland near the
mouth of the Columbia. Thus early the Indians were debauched by the
whiskey and vices of the white man, and from that time to the present
have been wretched sufferers.

The great fur companies, the North-west, the Hudson’s Bay and the
Astor, were soon in active competition for the trade of the Pacific
slope. In 1818 the first fort was built on the Columbia at the mouth of
the Walla Walla, and about six years later, in 1824-5, Fort Vancouver
was built, where the waters of the Willamette join the great Columbia.

In 1804-6 the intrepid explorers, Clark and Lewis, made their then
difficult and dangerous journey from the trading post at St. Louis
across the mountains and down the Columbia River to the land of the
Cayuse and Chinooks. Clark seems to have left a deep and favorable
impression upon the mind of the Indians, as will later be seen.

Among these early traders were men of sterling character, who, while
they might not be termed religious, had, nevertheless, a deep reverence
for God and for His wondrous law, some little knowledge of which they
imparted to the native peoples with whom they were engaged in traffic.

We cannot but wonder at the slowness of the Church in not seeing and
seizing her opportunity. She should have been first on the ground, but
was not. The trader preceded her. And finally it was the eager longing
of the heathen themselves, awakened by the Spirit of God, which aroused
the slumbering Church.


In 1832 the Flatheads at the headwaters of the Columbia River met in
council, not painted for war or armed for the chase, but with a look
of earnestness on their faces. They were talking over a strange story
which some wandering trappers had brought to their camps--the story of
the white man’s worship, and the Book that told of God and immortality,
and the presence and power of the “Great Spirit.” They had more than
once held such a council, and they finally concluded that if there was
such a treasure as the Book of Heaven they would try and find it.

They selected one of the old “seams” (chiefs) and a strong-minded brave
of full years, also two young and daring men. These four were sent off
across the mountains in search of the news of the white man’s God, or
the book that would tell of His love.

Leaving their western homes or “lalums,” they turned their faces to
the east, and for many a week they travelled mountain and plain in the
search. They reached St. Louis, then a mere hamlet, known as the far
frontier, a resort of hunters and trappers. One day these four strange
Indians were walking down the street, looking everywhere as if for
hidden treasure. Finally they met Gen. Wm. Clark, whose name the two
older had heard of years before, up in their far away western home, as
he and others were making their way to the western sea.

To him they made known the object of their search. They were kindly
received and well treated, but neither General Clark nor anyone in
that Roman Catholic town helped them to what their hearts longed for.
They waited till they became weary; two of their number sickened and
died, and now the remaining two prepared to go back to the people with
a tale of disappointment. General Clark, knowing the Indians’ love of
ceremony, had a leave-taking in his town. One of the poor Indians, as
they said good-by, made the following touching speech:

“We came to you over a trail of many moons from the setting sun. You
were the friend of our fathers who have all gone the long way. We came,
with our eyes partly opened, for more light for our people who sit in
darkness. We go back with our eyes closed. How can we go back blind
to our blind people? We made our way to you with strong arms, through
many enemies and strange lands, that we might carry back much to our
people. We go back with empty and broken arms. The two fathers who came
with us, the braves of many winters and wars, we leave here always by
your great wigwams. They were tired in their journey of many moons,
and their moccasins were worn out. Our people sent us to get the white
man’s Book of Heaven. You took us where they worship the Great Spirit
with candles, but the Book was not there. You showed us images of good
spirits and pictures of the good land beyond, but the Book was not
among them to tell us the way. You made our feet heavy with burdens and
gifts, and our moccasins will grow old with carrying them, but the Book
is not among them. We are going back the long, sad trail to our people.
When we tell them, after one more snow, in the big council, that we did
not bring the Book, no word will be spoken by our old men, nor by our
young braves. One by one they will rise up and go out in silence. Our
people will die in darkness and they will go on the long path to other
hunting grounds. No white man will go with them, and no Book of Heaven
to make the way plain. We have no more to say.”[1]

Only one lived to reach his people, and with a sad heart he told the
story. Word of this strange visit got into the papers of the East,
among others into the New York _Christian Advocate_. Soon the whole
American church was aroused, and with such men as Nathan Bangs and
Dr. Wilbur Fisk leading the way, it was not long before the Board of
Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church had the money and were ready
to establish “A mission among the Indians west of the Rocky Mountains.”

When the question was asked, “Who will go for us?” Dr. Fisk said,
“I know but one man, Jason Lee.” Mr. Lee was a Canadian, born in
Stanstead, Que. He was converted at twenty-three years of age. A
splendid man, six feet three inches in height, and in every particular
the type of man needed for this new enterprise.

In July, 1833, he was chosen leader of this great missionary adventure;
and in the spring of the following year he, with his brother Daniel and
two laymen, “mounted their horses and followed the Oregon trail.”

On September 17th, 1834, Lee and his party reached Fort Vancouver, on
the Columbia River, and at once began to do all the many kinds of work
which men must do in starting a mission among a wild, savage people.

Lee and his associates were the first missionaries to the Pacific
Coast, the first to the great Salish family of Indians; others

Lee and his co-laborers planted their mission in the beautiful
Willamette Valley and from the first had wonderful success. A boarding
school was established for the benefit of the Indian children, on the
site of which now stands the Willamette University.

Jason Lee was a preacher of marvellous power, and was the means,
in God’s hands, of the conversion of scores, both among whites and
Indians. He preached the word at Fort Vancouver, and nineteen were
baptized, one being Lady McLaughlin. Dr. John McLaughlin, the Chief
Factor of the Hudson’s Bay Company at this point, paid a fine tribute
to his work when he said to Mr. Lee: “Before you came into the country
we could not send a boat past the Dalles without an armed guard of
sixty men. Now we go up singly, and no one is robbed.”

At a great camp-meeting, held in October, 1841, twelve hundred Indians
attended and about five hundred were converted.

It is a remarkable fact that between the years 1839-41 a great
spiritual awakening, which marvellously affected even heathen tribes,
spread across the whole continent.

Commencing with the great revival under Jason Lee among the Chinooks
of the Columbia, we may follow the route pursued by the Hudson’s Bay
Company’s men, up the Columbia and through the Okanagan Valley and on
to the upper waters of the Fraser River, and then across the mountains
through the land of the Crees to Hudson’s Bay.

In 1839, in the Okanagan Valley, where Father Demers was laboring
among the Shuswaps, a great many natives turned from their heathenism
and united with the Roman Catholic Church, and a strong mission was
established. Farther on among the Crees, at Norway House and other
points, a blessed work of grace was begun about the same time under the
leadership of James Evans, Mason, and Rundle, with their young native
associates, Henry B. Steinhauer and Peter Jacobs.

As this spiritual influence spread--and it did spread--from nation to
nation and from tribe to tribe, even those far removed from direct
contact with the Truth seemed to be affected by it. These remarkable
revivals were manifestly the result of the heroic work of Jason Lee
and his associates. Where missionaries were sent to direct and lead
the poor people, great and good results followed, for hundreds were
savingly converted to God. But in other cases, where the natives were
left to themselves, the old (Shaman) conjurers made use of it to their
own advantage. The people would fast and pray and dance for weeks--not
their old heathen dances; they danced and prayed to the Sun god, or the
stars, or the storm, for help and deliverance. This went on for a long
time amidst great excitement. It was the groping of the human heart
after God, “if haply they might find him.”

[Illustration: EARLY NATIVE TYPES.]

At the time of the great revival on the North Coast, in 1875, when the
people became so aroused that they did not eat or sleep for days, the
old men would say, “Oh, I saw this when I was a boy many years ago. A
man came down the Skeena and spoke to the people, and they began to cry
and pray, and this is the same. Long before this, a man came down
from Alaska and told the people that the Ta-kus had travelled far away,
for a month or more, in the mountains, and they had met with people
who prayed to the Good Spirit. When they took their food they would
read from a strange book, and when the people heard this they got much

It is possible that these Indians to whom the old men referred had
travelled on the Peace or Mackenzie River, and had come across some of
James Evans’ converts, who could read in the Cree syllabic characters.

There is no doubt that a great revival spread across the continent at
about the time before mentioned, filling the minds of the natives with
expectation; and had the home Church used men and means at that day
thousands and thousands of poor people might have been saved who went
down in darkness.

The incident, before mentioned, of the early planting of the Gospel
among the Flathead people in Oregon, though somewhat removed from that
section of this great nation with which we will have more to do, makes
it clear that when God wants a man to do a special work for Him it does
not take long to find him. It also shows that God by His Spirit will
sometimes arouse a tribe or nation, so that they are ready for the
Gospel light before the Church is prepared to carry the blessed truth.
It does look at times as if His Kingdom were advanced through means all
His own; and yet when the Macedonian cry, “Come over and help us,” is
raised, the Church should be ready to enter every field.

If the Church were only awake to her privilege, and the responsibility
which God has thrown upon her by the wealth He has placed in her hands,
and, as a faithful steward, would return a tithe of what He has given
for the spread of His Kingdom, we should soon have enough to carry the
Gospel to every creature.


[1] Dr. Hinds’ Life of Jason Lee.

[2] Some years later two Roman Catholic priests, one of whom was Father
Demers, found their way to the Columbia River, and still later Demers
journeyed into the Okanagan Valley, and commenced work among the


  “I will send a Prophet to you,
   A Deliverer of the Nations--
   Who shall guide you and shall teach you,
   Who shall toil and suffer with you.
   If you listen to his counsels,
   You will multiply and prosper;
   If his warnings pass unheeded,
   You will fade away and perish!”
                    _Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.”_

On the Columbia River, and farther north, on the shores of Puget Sound
and the lower part of Vancouver Island, where the Hudson’s Bay Company
had established one of their most important posts--Fort Victoria or
Camosun--small settlements gradually sprang up. But these were of
little consequence until, in the year 1858, the discovery of gold on
the bars of the Fraser, and later in Cariboo, drew attention to British
Columbia and led to a wild rush from all parts of the world to the new

Almost immediately the Methodist Church embraced the opportunity, and
sent out the first band of missionaries to the Pacific Coast, in the
persons of Revs. Ephraim Evans, D.D., Edward White, Ebenezer Robson and
Arthur Browning. These brethren were speedily at work, at Victoria and
Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and at New Westminster and Hope on the
Fraser River.

While the hearts of these faithful missionaries were much engaged with
the needs of the white inhabitants, their souls were stirred with the
scenes of degradation and misery constantly presented to them by the
wild native population, and their liveliest sympathies were aroused
with a desire to help them. Brother Robson, especially, endeavored, as
the circumstances of his own work permitted, to reach the Indians, both
at Hope and Nanaimo. But the pressure of the ever-widening field among
the whites made it impossible to do a great deal, and led him, with the
others, to pray and plead that someone might be raised up whose mission
would be the salvation of the Indians.

In 1859, Rev. Dr. Evans, in the Missionary Notices for the year, wrote:
“The scenes which meet our eye daily might well paralyze the hopes of
any mere philanthropist, unacquainted with the constitution and past
triumphs of the Mediatorial economy. The degradation of these poor
savages must be seen to be at all understood. Then there is a large
amount of prejudice and contempt arrayed against them. The collisions
occurring between them and the miners, and the difficulties likely to
arise about the alienation of their lands and the settlement of the
colonies, present additional obstacles. Nothing less than the exertion
of the Divine energy, promised to the Church in her evangelistic
struggles, can bring about the desired civilization of these wretched
fellow-men. Great will be the immortal honor, and glorious the reward,
of the man who shall first throw himself effectually into this vast
and long-deferred Christian enterprise. Oh! that while I write the
blessed Spirit may influence some heart with the requisite zeal and
tenderness and self-denial, and thrust its possessor into the field of
conflict and conquest before thousands more shall pass away unreached
by the remedy so richly provided.”

Rev. A. Browning wrote, February, 1859: “I was a witness yesterday to
the torture and death dance of the Indians over a captive. How sad it
made me feel. I was under the protection of a gentleman well known to
them, or I should hardly have felt safe. Oh! sir, I hope you and the
dear friends at home will do something for these poor souls. Our hands
are full, and will be, in laboring for our own race. Will not God raise
up some young men especially for this work?”

In 1861, at the close of a very interesting description of the effort
he was making to reach the Indians, Rev. E. Robson said: “They all
seem ripe for the Gospel. I have often witnessed scenes of thrilling
interest among them--crowds of almost breathless listeners, falling
tears, shouts of gladness, entreaties to come again, shaking hands
with hundreds--but I cannot enter into all the details. What is wanted
is earnest, self-denying, heaven-baptized men and women to devote
themselves to this work, and a great and glorious harvest will be

The same year, Rev. Edward White wrote several letters to the
_Christian Guardian_, urging the importance of Christian young
men coming out to the West to labor for the salvation of souls,
class-leaders, local preachers and other workers, who would avail
themselves of the opportunity afforded by the needs of the native
peoples, and by the thousands who were pressing into the country in
search of gold.

These letters left a very deep impression upon my mind, but newly
awakened by the Spirit of God to a sense of my privilege and
responsibility, and created a deep longing to be used of God in a
special manner for His glory.

Some five years before this time, in the year 1856, I had come from
England with my parents, and had settled near Woodstock, Upper Canada.

Very early in life in the old town of Pickering, Yorkshire--where I was
born in 1840--I was the subject of deep religious impressions. But it
was not until some time later that I was savingly converted to God.

About the time of my leaving school, a very pious young man, by the
name of George Piercy, belonging to my native town, desired to go as
a missionary to China. His friends gave him no encouragement. But,
overcoming all difficulties, he finally did go. I shall never forget
the effect it had upon my heart. I admired his piety and zeal, even
though I had not as yet made definite decision for Christ, and thought
that if he could leave a comfortable home and influential friends there
must be an inspiring motive. Later on, when the call came to my own
heart, I understood what the inspiring motive was.

There were two or three circumstances which were strangely used by the
Spirit of God leading up to my conversion.

When crossing the Atlantic Ocean we encountered terrible storms and
were in great danger of shipwreck among the icebergs. The goodness
and mercy of God in preserving us and bringing the ship safely to
land moved me to gratitude and thanksgiving. Later on I suffered from
sunstroke, which resulted in a long illness, and while recovering I
had leisure for more serious thoughts concerning the future. Some
time after this, while wrestling with some companions, I was thrown
violently to the floor, breaking my leg. The month in bed which
followed the accident gave me another season for reflection, and led
me to resolve to live a Christian life. But, like many a sick-bed
resolution, this was only made to be broken. During the autumn a
camp-meeting was held near Woodstock, and though at first I made light
of it all, I attended, and my conscience was still further aroused.

The Methodist church in the town had just passed through a most blessed
season of revival. Some of the young men had united in a praying band,
and they invited me to go with them to their meetings. Such a spirit of
trifling worldliness and carelessness had taken possession of me that I
would rather have kept out of their way. But I was so struck by their
earnestness and devotion that I consented to go.

On the way up the street, while others were discussing the results
of the elections which had just taken place, the leader, and one of
the most devout among them, Mr. A. Peers,[3] breaking in upon the
conversation, said: “Here we are, fellow-travellers to eternity.”
“Eternity! Eternity!” I thought, “I am not prepared for eternity.” The
words haunted me like a refrain. Conscience repeated them in my ears.
The meeting from beginning to end seemed especially for my benefit. The
prayers, the testimonies, the songs were all the voice of God to my

Two weeks of terrible struggle followed this awakening. I often spent
most of the night in prayer, beseeching God to have mercy upon me.
At last, one evening, while on my knees, the answer came, and I was
enabled to believe that God, for Christ’s sake, had pardoned all my

A flood of joy filled my soul. My happiness was so great I felt
constrained to give it out to others. A burning desire to be useful
and helpful to others took possession of me. I immediately identified
myself with the church and the Sunday School, joined the Tract Society,
and with the praying band assisted in cottage prayer-meetings and
visited the sick and the prisoners in the jail. Later on I was placed
on the plan as a local preacher, and in connection with our services
had the joy of seeing souls saved.

I now felt more than ever that every moment must be improved in storing
my mind with useful knowledge. I purchased additional books, mostly
of a devotional character, and spent my evenings, until late into the
night, in study.

I never failed to avail myself of the privileges offered by any
services of a special character, and while in attendance at a notable
camp-meeting, held near Ingersoll, Ontario, at which the Rev. Wm.
Taylor (then known as “California” Taylor) preached a wonderful sermon
on sanctification, my heart was set on fire of love, and a stronger
desire than ever to glorify God took possession of my soul.

About this time my attention was drawn to the fervent appeals of the
pioneer missionaries to British Columbia, published in the _Christian
Guardian_, and previously referred to. Again the flame of missionary
zeal, which had been first lighted in my boyhood days by the influence
of the saintly George Piercy, began to burn with renewed intensity.

One day a friend handed me a copy of the paper with the letter from
Bro. White in it, and said: “Crosby, you ought to go there.” I took the
paper into my room and read it on my knees, and there and then promised
God if the way should open and the money should be forthcoming I would
go. But where the money was to come from I did not know.

Presently some of my friends noticed that something was troubling me,
and asked me what was the matter. I hesitated a little, and then told
them I felt I ought to obey the call in my heart to go and preach the
Gospel to the heathen of British Columbia, but I had not the money. The
reply was: “We will lend you enough to go, and if you are never able
to pay it back it will be all right anyway.” This was a very serious
moment, for I did not expect the answer to come so soon. The thought
of what it meant to leave home and friends and go to a land of which
little was known, suddenly presented itself to me. I excused myself
from my friends and went away to my room, and there pleaded with God to
help me to do what He had now clearly called me to do. When my decision
was made to obey God at whatever cost, the way seemed all bright and

Now, however, a new difficulty presented itself. I must get the consent
of my mother.

I rode out one night to the farm. My father met me, fearing ill
tidings, and as we stood by the house I told him how the Lord had
called me and that my way was open, but I felt I would like his consent
and my mother’s. The window was open and mother had overheard, and when
we went in I found her in tears. Sobbing, she said I must not go, she
could not spare me. Who can tell the depth of a mother’s love? Though
she had fourteen children she felt she could not spare one. I told her
how the call had come and the way had been opened, and that I felt it
my duty to go, and further that I feared if I disobeyed the voice of
God I would lose my soul. Then, resting her hand upon my shoulder, the
tears streaming down her cheeks, she said, “If that is so, then go! my
boy, go! and God bless you.”

Many a time in after years when discouragements and difficulties beset
me, my mother’s words came to me as a benediction. Often when on stormy
seas, the winds howling, the waves sweeping over us, and when to all
human appearance it was impossible to reach shore, I would seem to hear
my mother’s loved voice and her “God bless you.”

When, night after night in my lonely cabin or camped on the beach,
studying a strange language and perplexing myself as to how to get my
tongue around the difficult words or sounds, the farewell words of my
mother came again to comfort me.

When standing all night long between savage parties who were clubbing
and butchering one another, when I did not know but any moment I should
be knocked down by some enraged warrior with his club, the remembrance
of mother’s benediction proved an encouragement and an inspiration.

And now came hasty preparations for departure, which were finally
completed. The day at last arrived to bid farewell to Sunday School and
classmates and friends. One by one they filed past the door, on that
never-to-be-forgotten Sunday, and grasping my hand they lovingly gave
me their heart-felt “God-speed.” The sweet-faced, tear-bedewed eyes of
my little scholars ever remain a precious memory.


[3] Alex. Peers, a devoted young classmate of the author, in Woodstock,
Ont., who spent some time in Victoria College with a view to the
ministry, in 1863 made his way to British Columbia, and took up land
at Chilliwack. He was married to Miss Wells, sister of Mr. A. C.
Wells, and after spending some time in the mission school at Nanaimo,
finally settled in New Westminster, where he was very useful as a local
preacher and class-leader, and secured the respect and esteem of all
who knew him. Here the author again met him.


  “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
     Over mountain, or plain or sea;
   I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
     I’ll be what you want me to be.”
                                      --_M. Brown._

The only route to British Columbia then travelled, except the terrible
overland journey, attempting to make which so many perished, was
that _via_ New York, by sea to the Isthmus of Panama, thence to San
Francisco, and on to Victoria.

After bidding adieu to home, friends and acquaintances, I left
Woodstock on February 25th, 1862. The journey in some respects was a
sad one. It was at the time of the American Civil War, and at every
station, after crossing the Niagara River, hundreds of men came on
board going to “the front,” leaving behind on the platform their
mothers, sisters, sweethearts and wives, many never to meet again.
These scenes revived in my own heart the pain of my recent parting with
loved ones.

That winter was a terrible one, marked by many heavy snowfalls. In New
York State the train passed between high banks of heaped up snow.

From New York we took passage on board the old S.S. _Champion_. She
was crowded with five hundred men, most of whom were bound for the
Fraser River or Cariboo gold mines, and some of them the roughest class
we ever met, armed with bowie knives and six-shooters. The language
used by many of these men was so vile that I could not sleep below,
and to escape such offensive atmosphere I took my blankets and went
on deck. We had a very rough passage, and it was terribly cold, so I
chose a spot close to the smokestack, and rolling myself up, lay down
to rest. One night, during a great storm, the waves swept over the
deck, drenching me thoroughly, and the officer of the watch came along
and roused me with the words, “My boy, if you don’t get out of this
you will be washed overboard.” I picked up my dripping blankets, shook
myself, and sought a more sheltered spot.

The food supply for the passengers was not all that was needed--I got
one potato in the trip. Fortunately my friends had provided me with a
well-filled lunch-basket, which afforded me good service. The hungry
men at times were rough and selfish. As the stewards would pass the
food on to the table these hoggish men would grab it off the plates
with their hands, so that if any one happened to be a little more
modest he could not get anything. On one occasion a tall, good-natured
Irishman thought he had struck it when he seized a long potato, but
as he was drawing it to himself two other fellows made a grab, one at
each end, and poor Pat was left with just the middle. One day the men
stood by the swinging tables and swept the whole of the food off into
the sea. Then, rushing to the captain, they declared that if he did not
give them something better than “that dead horse” they would use their

We were delighted to reach the Isthmus, and crossed over by moonlight
on the narrow-gauge railway. It was pleasant to have a night crossing,
for it was very hot weather, and the temperature in the middle of the
day was almost unbearable.

We saw the picturesque thatched huts of the natives here and there
along the way, and called to mind the stories of the terrible mortality
among these people while the little railroad was being built. My heart
was touched by the sight of so many of these poor people in their
apparent heathen simplicity, and I wondered if they had a missionary
among them.

At Panama we embarked on the fine double-decked passenger steamer
_Golden Age_. At this point crowds joined us who had come by ships
from England, and we were told we had fifteen hundred aboard. Our
fine-looking ship was evidently not built to stand much stormy weather,
but they pushed along up the coast of Mexico, meeting no difficulties,
and presently we put into the harbor of Acapulco to coal.

As the ship lay at anchor crowds of natives surrounded the vessel with
their little canoes. The passengers threw five and ten-cent pieces into
the sea, and the natives, heedless of the sharks that were swimming
about, would jump out of the canoes and dive like fish for the money,
bringing the pieces up in their teeth, shaking their heads and still
beckoning for more, as they were ready for another dive.

One of the brethren who followed me tells the story that while his ship
was coaling in this same harbor the sharks were so numerous that the
passengers became alarmed for the safety of the little chaps, who as
usual were diving for the money. Rushing to the side of the vessel, in
great excitement, some of them cried out:

“My! my! That shark is going to have that fellow.”

“Naw,” drawled a gruff old tar, “he won’t touch him.”

“Why not? Look! Look! He’s just going to catch him now.”

“Naw,” said the sailor, looking on without concern. “He stinks too much
of tobacco. He’ll never touch him.”

Soon we sighted the Golden Gate, and later entered it in our ship the
_Golden Age_. One could not but think there was much that was golden in
those days of gold hunting, and yet many a poor fellow found out to his
own sorrow that “it is not all gold that glitters.”

Thousands of men filled the streets of ’Frisco, nearly all bound for
the Fraser River or Cariboo, as British Columbia was called in those

The steamboats, some of them not very seaworthy, were all overcrowded,
bound north. A short time before the old steamer _Republic_, with eight
hundred passengers, and the old _Sierra Nevada_, with nine hundred, had
gone “up.” And now another old coffin, the _Brother Jonathan_, which
had passed the Customs to carry only two hundred and fifty, took on
eleven hundred men and was still selling tickets.

Some of our acquaintances who went north on board of her state that
“they were stowed away like pigs, two in a bunk,” and they did not dare
to leave their bunks for fear they would lose them. They were eight
days on the trip, and hundreds of them never saw daylight but once,
when they put in to Astoria for a few hours.

I, with a small party of Canadians, shipped on board the trim little
barquentine _W. B. Scranton_, and had a lovely trip of ten days. On
Sabbath we held religious services, the first we had had during our
long journey.

As we passed through the Straits of Juan de Fuca, on the last night,
and in sight of the lights of Victoria, a storm caught us. So severe
was it that Captain Cathcart and his men were on deck all night, and
were obliged to put about ship continually to keep her driving between
the three lights of Victoria, Dungeness and Race Rocks.

At daybreak the wind subsided, and the morning found us in a dead calm
away outside the Royal Roads.

The beauty of the sight which met our eyes as the day brightened can
never be forgotten. The grand snow-capped Olympian Range lay to the
south, and away to the east the rising sun cast rays of crimson light
on old Mount Baker, as it nestled back from the great Coast Range of
hills, while the glaciers seemed to shoot back light to the snow on its
lofty peak.

To the north was that most beautiful and natural park, Beacon Hill.
Victoria, we were told, nestled just behind it, though not much of the
town could be seen from where our ship lay.

About noon of the same day, April 11th, we were landed by a small boat
on the rocks near where the outer wharf has since been built.


The natural beauty of its situation entitled Victoria, then as now, to
the name of Queen City of the Pacific Coast.

The town was not large, but the first Parliament buildings and several
good-sized churches gave it importance and helped to enhance the effect
of its appearance. The place was crowded with men, the chief stir of
business being where the “Cheap Johns” had stores for outfitting the
miners--you could hear one on each side of the street auctioneering
their goods almost night and day. The Hudson’s Bay Company’s store and
wharf, with their little boats, the _Enterprise_ and _Otter_, were
rushing business to the port of Queensborough (now New Westminster), on
the Fraser River, where the goods were transferred to river steamers
and rushed on up to the diggings.

Besides those who took passage on the steamers, hundreds were venturing
in small boats and canoes, many of which were wrecked or lost on the
Gulf of Georgia and the treacherous river. And some of those who
escaped shipwreck were murdered by the savages before they reached the

New Westminster was then a growing village, situated on Mary Hill,
which was still partly covered with immense timber. To the east,
looking up the Fraser River, nature presented another grand panorama of
glorious mountains, upon whose lofty peaks the snow lay all the year

From here the stern-wheel steamers carried freight and passengers to
Yale, then the terminus of steamboat navigation, nearly one hundred
miles up the Fraser. Thence the miner carried his goods on his back, or
had them carried on the backs of pack animals or in ox-waggons, nearly
four hundred miles farther. About this time the great waggon road was
completed to Cariboo, and the treacherous trails over “Jackass” (a
difficult ascent behind Yale) and other mountains were abandoned.

In addition to the river route, hundreds of men came in overland from
California, by way of Whatcom and Sumas, or by the Columbia and through
the Okanagan Valley.

The winter of 1861-2 was one of unusual length and severity, and the
great “rush” to the mines set in too early, with the result that many
endured untold hardships and suffering, and many others who came into
the country were never heard of again.

Long before the summer was over hundreds returned--some from the mines
and some, indeed, who had never reached the mines--poorer and wiser
than when they came. Many who were cursing the country and leaving it
were advised to take up land and settle in the lovely valleys on the
Lower Fraser--Chilliwack, Sumas, and Langley, or the Delta lands near
the mouth. They derided the idea of these lands being any good. But
the few who did remain and take up land are now prosperous and wealthy
farmers, and have lived to see this once despised district become the
“Garden of British Columbia.”

The government of the country was then colonial, under a Governor
appointed by the Home Government and a small Council. James (afterwards
Sir James) Douglas, the first Governor, had been a Chief Factor in the
Hudson’s Bay Company and Governor of Vancouver Island. He was much
respected and beloved by all who knew him well, but especially by the
natives of the country. He was a wise, upright and impartial Governor
over the two colonies, Vancouver Island and British Columbia, which,
though nominally distinct, were for purposes of government practically

About this time, when the rush to the mines produced a more or less
lawless condition of affairs, Matthew (afterwards Sir Matthew) Begbie,
an English barrister, was appointed to the bench. He dispensed justice
in the colonies with so firm a hand that for years he was a terror
to evil-doers. Many stories are told of him, but the following will
serve to show the fearless character of the man. A fellow was being
tried before him, charged with sand-bagging a miner and obtaining his
gold. There was hardly any doubt that he had committed the crime. The
evidence given was so convincing that a verdict of “guilty” appeared
the only possible one. But the jury found him not guilty. “Prisoner
at the bar,” said his lordship, “the jury have found you not guilty. I
discharge you, and now I recommend you to go and sand-bag the jurymen.”

Besides the Methodist Church, the Episcopalian, Presbyterian,
Congregational and Roman Catholic Churches were all doing good work
among the white colonists. I shall never forget the unspeakable delight
with which, after nearly six weeks’ deprivation, I had the privilege
again of attending love feast and sacrament. I was admitted by ticket
from the Rev. Dr. Evans, pastor of the church in Victoria. I was like
a bird let out of a cage, and entered with joy into the spirit of the
meeting. It was afterwards asked by some of the brethren: “Who was that
strange boy in home-spun clothes who had the audacity to disturb the
quiet of the church by his ‘Amen,’ ‘Hallelujah,’ and ‘Praise the Lord’?”

As the spring advanced the lovely climate became apparent. The genial
warmth of the beautiful spring and summer days was followed by cool
nights, when anyone in health might enjoy refreshing sleep.

The extensive timber areas, one of the most valuable assets of the
country, were already attracting capital. A number of sawmills and
spar-camps began shipping spars and lumber to many parts of the world.
No one could go through the primeval forests of those days without
being impressed with their natural greatness. Tall firs abounded, many
of them from two hundred to three hundred feet in height, standing
straight, their stems unbroken by a single branch until they reached
the bushy, spreading tops. Equally tall and gigantic cedars grew side
by side with hemlock, spruce and the smaller vine maple, the shady,
broad-leafed soft maple, ash, birch, cottonwood, apple, cherry and
alder. Such a wealth of foliage caused one to exclaim, “Lo! God is
here! Let us adore.”

These were some of the first impressions of the land which was to be my
home for so many years.

The following eleven months were spent in hard manual labor, by which
I earned sufficient to return the money, with interest, which had been
so generously loaned to defray the expenses of my journey. This gave me
excellent opportunities to gain an insight into the life and needs of
the country and its people--a knowledge which could not well have been
gained otherwise. I was employed on the wharf, at work in the woods,
clearing land, and on the roads being built by the Government, as well
as on rough carpentering work in putting up buildings. All this, in a
measure, prepared me for canoe and camp life, and for superintending
the erection of church and mission buildings, and for assisting the
natives in building their houses--indeed, for all the practical mission
work which lay before me.

It was while working on the Government road that fall that I first saw
the large dog salmon jumping and floundering up a stream so narrow that
we could jump over it. So crowded were they, and so great was their
number, that their fins and tails were, many of them, worn off in the
struggle. It was not an uncommon thing to see black bears, in such a
field, fishing for themselves, and eagles by the score, as well as
ravens, carrying off their supply of food. We saw elk and deer in great
numbers, and water fowl in clouds. And the conviction grew upon one
that a land of such mountains and rivers, seas and forests, teeming
with life, such coal and gold fields and such a magnificent climate,
was destined to become a great and grand country.

All this time my mind and sympathies were excited by the condition of
the poor Indians, as it was for their temporal and spiritual welfare
I had left my home and friends. When I saw the thousands from the far
north coast, as well as from the interior, crowding into and about the
towns, being more and more debauched and degraded by the white man’s
diseases and fire-water; when I saw how little human life was respected
by them, and realized how little was being done to stem the tide of
evil among them, it made my heart burn within me.

At Victoria these people were so crowded together, and in such great
numbers, that the natives from the north came into violent collision
with those from the south, and bloodshed was the result. To put a stop
to this, the citizens petitioned the Government to send the northerners
away to their homes.

All this, and much more that we saw among these people, would tend to
grieve the hardest heart, and to inspire one to make a decided and
determined effort for their salvation and civilization. And daily I was
hoping and praying that the way might soon open for me to commence work
among them.


  “O, teach me, Lord, that I may teach
     The precious things Thou dost impart,
   And wing my words that they may reach
     The hidden depths of many a heart.”
                    --_Frances Ridley Havergal._

In March, 1863, I was asked by the Rev. Ephraim Evans, D.D.,
Superintendent of Missions in British Columbia, to go to Nanaimo to
teach an Indian school.

I said, “Doctor, I should like to go, but I do not know the language.”

He said, in a very decided tone of voice, “Go and learn the language.
My brother James learned two or three Indian languages.” [He alluded to
Rev. James Evans, the heroic missionary to Norway House, and inventor
of the wonderful Cree syllabic characters.]

The very commanding way in which that statesmanlike man put it helped
to inspire me to make the effort. I said to myself, “If your brother
James could learn two or three languages, so can I, by the help of God.”

I was off from Victoria by the first conveyance, the little sloop
_Alarm_, taking with us Her Majesty’s mail--there were no steamboats to
Nanaimo in those days. We made the trip, some seventy-five miles from
Victoria, in eight days.

Nanaimo was a small town, almost entirely built of logs, situated on
a hillside facing the harbor, with a large Indian village a mile away
along the shore.

We were met and cordially welcomed by Bro. Bryant--afterwards the
Rev. Cornelius Bryant--at that time the oldest Methodist in British
Columbia. I was soon at work in the Indian camp, in the little shell of
a building built by Rev. E. Robson, which served both as a school-house
and church. Brother Robson had commenced the work among the Indians,
holding school for a time, until the pressure of his many other duties
as pastor to the people of the neighboring town compelled him to give
it up.

My pupils were a wild-looking lot of little folk, with painted and
dirt-begrimed faces and long, uncombed hair. Some of them were clothed
in little print shirts, others had a small piece of blanket pinned
around them, while some had no clothing at all.

One of the first difficulties was my ignorance of their language. Hence
I had to use the language of signs. Beckoning and pointing to the
school-house, I sought to persuade them to come into school. They would
look at me, laugh at my efforts, and make a bolt for the bushes near
by. Sometimes I made an attempt to capture them, but they would run
like wild hares, and I could not get near them.

I had always a love for children, and prided myself on my ability to
win them; but these, I was afraid, were going to outdo me.


Finally I took an Indian with me to the woods and secured two stout
poles or posts, with which we fixed up a swing at the back of the
school-house. Then I started again with my sign language, and at last
succeeded in getting one of them into the swing. As I swung the little
fellow to and fro I noticed the others peeping out curiously from among
the bushes. Pointing to the swing and then to the school-house, I
beckoned to them, as much as to say, “If you come here and have a swing
you will have to go to school.” By this means I got acquainted with
them and won their confidence.

As I saw the difficulty of reaching them, my struggle to secure a
knowledge of their language became intense. Often in the night I would
be found on my knees praying to God to help me to get my tongue around
the difficult guttural tones.

One who has never tried it cannot fully realize the difficulty of
securing a language without grammar or printed vocabulary. I had to
make my own dictionary little by little. First I got a small book and
put down English words on the one side, and when I learned their Indian
equivalents put them down on the other. Day by day I got fresh words,
and when walking about visiting the sick or looking after my pupils I
would be pronouncing the words I had secured.

Finally I got my first sentence together and started through the
village one morning shouting as hard as I could shout, and making the
sounds as much like an old Indian as possible: “Muck-stow-ay-wilth
May-tla ta school”--“All children come to school,” repeating this again
and again as I went along.

The old people ran out of their houses to see what old Indian was
passing. Putting their hands to their ears they said: “Listen to him!
He speaks it just like an Indian,” and then they laughed.

A lot of the little folk followed me, and I went from house to house
arousing others, getting them out from under their dirty blankets,
washing their faces, and then taking them along to school.

This method I followed for a while. Sometimes there was nothing near
at hand with which to wash them, and they would run off without it. To
overcome this difficulty we got a big barrel, and sawing it in two,
filled the two halves with fresh water and placed them on either side
of the school-house door. Then we got one or two big barley sacks and
cut them up into strips for towels, and supplied some bits of soap and
a couple of big combs. And now everybody had to do his toilet before he
came into school.

It was an amusing sight indeed to see those little fellows at it. They
would dash and splash the water over them, and the principal part of
the dirt would be left on the towel. But by perseverance we got them to
use it in the right way.

The most trying condition of things, however, was the need of clothes
for the children. Some of them had the scantiest dress, and some
no dress at all. So I wrote to certain lady friends in Victoria,
explaining to them the condition and appearance of my pupils, and
asking if they would gather up some cast-off clothing and send to me.
The kind ladies very soon responded to the appeal and promised to send
a box. This was my first “Supply Committee.”

Some weeks passed and the gift came, and I shall never forget the
exciting time we had when the great box was opened in the school-house.
The sparkling eyes and eager faces of the dusky little mortals was a
picture indeed.

Of course, many of the clothes were much too large and had to be “fixed
up,” but what did that matter?

Like white children, they wanted to “try on.” One little girl was soon
inside of a dress about twice too long for her, and holding up the
front, with the long train following, she went prancing up and down in
it, looking very proud.

The excitement became great. One little boy was trying on a coat much
too big for him. Another little fellow got hold of a little pair of
pants which he thought were the thing for him, and was buttoning up the
waist, when the others burst into loud laughter and told him he had got
into them the wrong side first.

Some Indian women, directed by Mrs. Raybold, a good lady from town,
were soon busy with needle and thread, while the missionary plied the
shears. And so we worked and sewed and cut and fixed up, until we had
the children fairly well dressed.

The old people, in the meantime, showed very little appreciation,
often, indeed, taking the children away with the most silly excuses.

On their hunting and fishing trips they carried nearly all their
household effects, children, dogs, cats, chickens, etc. Hence we often
had to follow them and teach school on the beach, or under a shady tree
on the bank of the river.

After I had been some time at this work, spending my whole energy for
the benefit of their children, some of the parents asked me how long
they had to let their children go to school before I would pay them.
I replied, “Oh, I couldn’t pay you. In our country the people pay the
teacher.” “Oh, well,” they said, “we cannot let them go much longer
unless you pay us.”

But by and by the swing, our singing and kindness won the hearts of the
little ones, and they came of their own accord when the hand-bell was

Sometimes, on a fine day in the summer, they would take a notion to run
off and keep away from school. What boy or girl likes to attend school
on a hot day? When I started to round them up they made for the beach,
and when I drew near they would slip off their blanket or simple dress
and make a bolt for the salt water. In they would go, the tide being
up, diving and swimming away out of reach of everybody. For a little
you would lose sight of them, then away in the distance you would see
two or three little fellows pop up, shake their heads, rub their hands
over their faces, and cry out, “Ha! ha! ha!”

In spite of all the difficulties in the way of rapid progress, many who
were naturally bright made considerable advancement. It was from this
school that little Satana (afterwards David Sallosalton) came to me
and gave himself up to God and the work of evangelizing his people.

It was while I was engaged in my work at Nanaimo that I had the
pleasure of a visit from Wm. Duncan, of the Church Missionary Society,
who had spent several years among the Tsimpseans at Metlakatlah, and
who afterwards was instrumental in founding the model missionary
community at that place. The pleasurable acquaintance thus made was
years afterwards renewed when I went north to undertake missionary work
among the people of the same nation. Wm. Duncan was one of the most
successful of missionaries, earnest, devoted, resourceful, a man the
influence of whose life and labors will always be felt among the people
for whom his life was given.


  “O fill me with Thy fullness, Lord,
     Until my very heart o’erflow
   In kindling thought and glowing word,
     Thy love to tell, Thy praise to show.”

The work of evangelization went on side by side with that of the
teaching of the children. From the first we established regular
religious services, preaching and prayer-meeting, and, in time,

Alternately with Rev. Edward White,[4] superintendent of the Mission,
I visited the different points on the east coast of Vancouver Island,
from Comox to Victoria, calling at Chemainus, Salt Spring Island,
Cowichan, Saanich, and many other points.


Numbers of the poor heathen were little by little led to give heed
to the message of truth and abandon their old ways of superstition
and sin. Still we felt that the education of these people would
not be complete unless they were taught habits of order and industry.
Their old houses and their surroundings were wretchedly filthy and
disorderly, and little calculated to help them in their efforts to rise.

We must set them the example in improving the surroundings of the
little church and the mission house, which had been built adjoining the
church. Hence we commenced to clear off the stumps and roots from the
church lot, and made it ready for cultivation. I took the boys and men
and went to the woods and got out posts and rails and pickets, and thus
showed them how to fence and cultivate a garden.

The old heathen house, from its very character, was the hot-bed of
vice. Fancy a great barn-like building, sometimes one hundred feet long
by thirty wide, made of split cedar boards fastened together with poles
and withes and strips of strong bark, and occupied by as many as a
dozen families, only separated from each other by low partitions.

Picture such a building, with no floor other than the ground, no
entrance for light except the door, when open, and the cracks in the
walls and the roof. Around the inside of such a building were ranged
the beds, built up on rude platforms. In the corners were piles of mats
and fishing-tackle and rubbish. Each family had their own fire, and
these were built all along through the house, the smoke circulating
generally through the building and finally finding its way out as best
it could by cracks and other openings. Under the bunks and overhead
and hanging from the poles were the family stores of dried fish and
berries. In the midst were many miserable dogs and cats, and, later,
chickens as well. This picture multiplied a dozen or more times,
according to the population, went to make up the “rancheree,” as the
Indian village was sometimes called.

Is it any wonder that disease and vice flourished under such favorable

With the example of the little mission-house and its garden before
them, a number were inspired to have individual plots marked out for
themselves. They cleared off their lots and had their houses built and
neatly whitewashed, their gardens planted with fruit trees and bordered
with shade trees, thus presenting a striking contrast to the heathen
houses which they had left.

In time a street was cleared and graded in front of these houses,
and the contrast with the heathen village which faced the beach was

In a speech before the English Conference made after his visit to
British Columbia, Dr. Wm. Morley Punshon said “that he had seen the
powerful influences of the Gospel far away on the Pacific Coast, near
Nanaimo, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, where he saw the
heathen street and the Christian street side by side. As the people
became converted they moved to the Christian street.”

Later on I followed up this work of education among the tribes on the
Nanaimo and Fraser Rivers, teaching them not only how to improve their
homes, but to till their ground and plant their orchards, and in every
way take their places among their white brethren. To-day the Indians
of these districts have their little farms, cultivate their own grain
and hay and roots, and raise their own cattle.

To show the influence of this early teaching, more than one of our
young men, who had earned considerable money and were urged by their
friends to throw it away in the potlatch, chose rather to purchase
cattle and horses with which to stock their little farms.

But not only did we teach them the gospel of self-help. They were
encouraged to undertake the local improvements on their own church and
school-house, and to help spread the Gospel of the blessed Christ by
contributing to the funds of the Missionary Society.


[4] Rev. Edward White was one of our first missionaries to the Pacific
Coast, and during my earlier years at Nanaimo was my superintendent.
His son, the Rev. Dr. J. H. White, now local Superintendent of Missions
for British Columbia, is a worthy successor of a noble father. I still
gratefully recall the many kindnesses shown me by our brother and his
good wife while an inmate of the parsonage, before the little mission
house was built in the Indian village. Brother White’s words of counsel
and encouragement were always an inspiration to me.


  “Jesus, ta skwish tseetsel tomuk
     Ta tlee-tlup tomuk shnays,
   Lee-zas ta mes-tay-oh wa-tlats
     Ta lee-am see-see nam tla-o.”
                     (_In An-ko-me-num._)

  “Jesus, the name high over all,
     In hell or earth or sky;
   Angels and men before it fall
     And devils fear and fly.”

The number and varied dialects of the Indian languages of the Coast
were such that very few white men ever tried to learn them. Of the
An-ko-me-num language alone there are at present at least five or six
different dialects.

The Chinook jargon, or Oregon trade language, as it is sometimes
called, is really not a language, but is a composite of several

The first trading posts on the Coast were at Nootka, on the west coast
of Vancouver Island, and among the Chinook Indians on the Columbia
River. Among the first traders were the servants of the great fur
companies, the Hudson’s Bay, the Nor’West, and the Astor.

To the At words, learned by the traders at Nootka, were added many
others from the language of the Chinooks, as well as English and
French, the languages of the traders themselves. Some few words were
taken from the An-ko-me-num and some were formed from the sound. The
Chinook words predominating gave the name to the jargon.

It was in use as early as 1804, and in 1863 a dictionary of the jargon
was published by the Smithsonian Institute, containing some 500 words.
Of these 221 were Chinook, 18 At or Nootka, 94 French, 67 English, and
21 were credited to various branches of the Salish or Flathead family
of Indians.

In early years a trading knowledge of Chinook was necessary in order
to do business, as is a like knowledge of French on the borders of
the Province of Quebec. It is now rapidly falling into disuse, the
result of the training in English which some of the later generations
have received in the school. At the best it is but a wretched means of
communication, poor in expression and almost destitute of grammatical

“Klah-how-yah,” the term of salutation, bears such a striking
resemblance to “How are you?” that one is disposed to accept its
derivation from the oft-repeated enquiries of the friends of the
intrepid explorer Clark after his health, “Clak-how-yah?”

“Tum-tum” is a sound word for heart, and is used as well to express
will, purpose, desire. “Lip-lip” (to boil) is another such word,
imitating boiling water. “Hee-hee” indicates laughter, hence any kind
of amusement. “Kol-sick-waum-sick” is very expressive of fever and

“Mamook” (to make) can be used with any noun to indicate some form of

“Illa-hee” (ground) is linked with different words to convey a more
extended idea. “Saghalie illahee” means literally “highlands,” but also
suggests “a mountain,” and finally “heaven.” “Boston illahee,” the
United States, etc.

“Saghalie tyee,” which literally means “the chief above,” is the word
used for God.

The poverty of expression may be gathered from the fact that “tikke,”
meaning “to wish, to desire,” is the only way to express the cardinal
virtue “love.” “Happiness,” “joy,” as well as “good health,” are simply
“klosh tumtum,” which literally means a “good heart.”

“Skookum tumtum” (a strong heart) conveys the idea of “courage.”
“Chako” (come) and “chee” (new) are combined in an expression with
which most Westerners are familiar, “chee-chako” (newcomer) or

An amusing story is told of a certain dignitary of the Church,
which very fully illustrates the powers and limitations of Chinook.
Addressing, among other audiences, a band of Coast Indians, he began
with the flowery and high-sounding sentence, “Children of the forest.”
The interpreter translated it into good Chinook, but the Indians
naturally enough were indignant, and only a few remained to hear him
out. “Children of the forest” literally translated was “Tenas man kopa
hyas stik,” which means simply “Little man among big stick,” and they
resented being called “little men,” or even children, and they did not
live in the woods.


From the first I refused to have anything to do with Chinook, and when
the people would meet me on the road and commence to talk in it, I
made them understand by signs that I wished them to speak their own
language, in order that I might learn it.

So intense was my anxiety to get their language that I found myself,
when asleep, dreaming in it, and dreaming that I was preaching to
hundreds of people in their own tongue.

I attended the great feasts and heathen councils, and sat by the hour
listening to the old chiefs and orators relating the stories of the
chase, or recounting the tales of the bloody deeds of other days, when
they went out on great war expeditions and returned with many scalps.

How the old orators would rise with the enthusiasm of the occasion and
seem to make the ground tremble under their feet as they rejoicingly
told of the names and deeds of their fathers, to fire the ambitions of
the young princes and young men of rank--for it was only the high-caste
who were permitted to sit in these councils. It was at these gatherings
we got the proper sound of many words.

The children also were a great help to me in the study of the language.
As I gave them the English name for the objects around them I would
have them repeat it in their own tongue, and by earnest perseverance
and the help of God I soon had the unspeakable joy of being able to
preach to them in their own language the unsearchable riches of Christ.

In all my work since then I have experienced that in no way can one
properly preach the truth to a people except in their own language.
This knowledge of the language opened up my way to other tribes and
bands of the same nationality.

On my first visit to the Fraser River, some years later, I came to
a village early one morning, and, stepping out of my canoe, shouted
out at the top of my voice in An-ko-me-num, “Why are all the chiefs
sleeping like children so late this morning?” The old men rushed out to
see the big Indian. I again shouted out the same words, and they cried
out, “Listen to him! Where has he come from? We heard no white man
speak like this. Has he come from above?”

On one of my canoe trips years ago around Burrard Inlet, when there was
only one sawmill where now a beautiful city (Vancouver) and a number of
thriving villages are situated, a white man, who had made me welcome
to his home and treated me to dinner, said, as I was getting into my
canoe, while a number of white men stood by, “Do you know what I was
thinking, Mr. Crosby? That if you would put a blanket on and get into
the canoe and commence to talk, nobody would know you from an Indian.”

I said, “I beg your pardon, sir; I didn’t know that I looked so much
like an Indian.”

“Oh!” he replied, “I didn’t mean that; I meant to say, you speak the
language so well that we could not tell you from an Indian speaking.”


There are amusing sides to this matter of acquiring a language. In my
early efforts in the use of the native tongue, while I was preaching
one Sunday on the riches that are in Christ, and the poverty and misery
which sin brings, I noticed when I spoke of poverty that a group of
young men on one side could not contain themselves for laughter. They
tried to straighten up, for they were usually very respectful in the

After repeating the word again and seeing the same behaviour, I
concluded I must have made some mistake, and turning to the young men
I said, “Now, young men, I see by your actions that I said something
which has caused you amusement; perhaps some word of yours which I do
not know very well. Tell me what it is.”

They hung their heads with shame. But I pressed them for reply,
saying: “If you were endeavoring to speak English you would wish to be
corrected if you had made a mistake.”

So pressed, young Quin-nom, one of their number, said: “Yes, Mr.
Crosby, you speak our language very well, almost as well as an Indian,
but to-day you made a mistake. Our word for poor is ‘sel-la-wa,’ and
when you were speaking of sin making us poor you said ‘sel-la-we-a,’
which is a woman’s name who lives away down the Coast about sixty
miles, and so we could not help laughing.”

Thus our readers may see some of the difficulties we labored under,
when only a slight change in the tone of voice might change the meaning
of a whole sentence--difficulties, however, that every student of a new
and unwritten language has to contend with.


Speaking of the peculiarities of the language, it may be remarked
that the Indian languages have no words properly to express abstract
qualities, no words to express the ideas of love, peace, pardon,
repentance, etc., as we understand them. So that one of our first tasks
was to explain to them as best we could by illustration and otherwise
the meaning of such words.

On the other hand it should also be said that there are no “swear
words” in the Indian languages. Yes, it is a fact, the poor Indian must
go to his white brother to learn to swear or take the name of God in
vain. In the An-ko-me-num, the worst that can be said is, “Kai! kai!
kai! tanowa squimag,” which interpreted means, “Die! die! die! you
dog.” This, in an angry tone, is the worst they can say. Of course, the
tone and the look have a good deal to do with it.

Once I heard a little boy swear loudly in the presence of other boys. I
stopped the play and said to him, calling him by name, “Johnny, where
did you learn to say those awful words and to use the name of Jesus in
that way?” “Oh,” he said, “is it bad? I heard a white man speak like
that at the cannery where I was fishing, but if you say it is wrong I
will not do it any more.” “Yes,” I said, “it is very wrong, you must
not call that dear name in that way any more.”

How thoroughly ashamed I have been again and again, when I have heard
an Indian swearing, at the thought that he must have learned it from
one of my race and people.


_Nesika papa_, mitlite kopa saghalie, klosh spose konaway tilikum
mamook praise mika nem; klosh spose konaway tilikum mamook tyee mika;
klaska spose konaway tilikum kopa okook illahie mamook mika tumtum,
kaw-kwa klaska mamook kopa saghalie-illahie. Okook sun, pe konaway-sun
potlatch nesika muk-amuk; pe klosh mika mash okook ma-sa-tchie nesika
mamook kopa mika, kaw-kwa nesika mash okook ma-sa-tchie hul-oi-ma
tilikum mamook kopa nesika; pe klosh mika mamook help nesika, spose
halo-ikta tolo nesika kopa ma-sa-tchie; pe klosbe mika mamook haul
nesika spose halo nesika chako kla-kow-yu.

  Klosh spose kawkwa.


  “All evil thoughts and deeds,
     Anger, and lust, and pride
   The foulest, rankest weeds
     That choke Life’s growing tide!”

There were difficulties in the way of the evangelization and education
of these poor people other than that of their heathen customs and
peculiar language. Low, wicked white men were constantly hanging around
the different camps, smuggling whiskey among the people, and using
every wicked means to lead the women and children astray.

It was not an uncommon thing for these poor blind heathen parents and
relatives to sell their little daughters to the white men for the
basest of purposes. We went to the magistrates and asked if it was
allowable to sell slaves in this country. The magistrate replied, “Oh,
no; why certainly not.” But when we explained to them the nature of the
slavery, they would stammer a little and with feigned indifference they
would claim that it was an Indian custom and form of marriage which
they would not interfere with.

Referring to slavery, it is true that from earliest times the Indians
kept slaves. In all their wars the men and boys were either scalped or
taken as slaves. When women were taken it was usually to increase the
number of slaves or wives of the chief.

Years ago, Governor Simpson, visiting Fort Stickine, Alaska, says:
“We met here fully four or five thousand people. One-third of the
population were slaves. Many who were born slaves were treated in the
most cruel way.”

Chiefs from the far north, to keep up this cruel system, would travel
away to the south in their large war canoes, and for the most trivial
thing would pick a quarrel with a tribe, fight, take away many slaves,
and, going back to the north, sell them to enrich themselves, or would
keep some of them as their own servants or slaves.

No value was put upon the life of a slave. They would shoot them down
at a moment’s notice. In the dreadful incantations of the sorcerers
or medicine men, the accusation of witchcraft was easily fixed upon a
slave, and he was sacrificed without mercy. In the north, when raising
the large houses of the chiefs, it is said that every large post had a
slave buried under it to hold the post in place, and often at the great
potlatches a chief would slaughter a number of slaves to show how rich
a man he was.

In time, of course, some were incorporated into the tribe, and,
forgetting their own language, remained among their one-time captors.
In some cases, after years of absence, the instinctive longing for
home and friends would lead them to take all chances of recapture, and
after enduring great hardships to find their way back to their native
village, where they were welcomed as from the dead.

Much of the old-time slavery was passing away when the missionary came,
but a slavery in a new and more horrible form was being established.
The advent of thousands of white men, miners and lumbermen, many of
whom were vicious and depraved, brought temptation to their doors.
The Indian’s love of display, and his ambition to be considered of
importance, which found expression in his giving of great feasts and
potlatches, led him to seize any ready and easy means of gain.

At one time among the Indians, as among all heathen people, the girls
were counted of little value. If they grew up they were to become the
burden-bearers of their masters of the other sex. An Indian mother has
been known to take her little baby girl out into the woods and stuff
its mouth with grass and leaves and leave it to die. And when asked why
she did so, she would say, “I did not want her to grow up and suffer as
I have suffered.”

But heathenism crushes out a mother’s love and turns the heart to stone
and changes a father into a foul, indifferent fiend. And so when the
miners came the natives willingly sold their daughters, ranging from
ten to eighteen years of age, for a few blankets or a little gold, into
a slavery which was worse than death.

For years these wretched, deluded people have visited our towns, our
mining and lumbering and fishing camps, bringing their bright-eyed,
happy little girls with them, and after having made a lot of money
in this foul method, have returned to make a great potlatch and
ostentatiously give away hundreds of dollars of their ill-gotten gains.

One child that we knew of refused to go with her parents for this
purpose. When they tried to compel her, she said, “You can go. I will
not go if you kill me,” and then she ran to the woods. After they had
left she made her way to the missionary and sought protection.

Another child of about twelve years of age, who refused at first to
follow a life of sin, was visited by a great rough fellow who, with his
hand full of money and with promises of fine clothes and trinkets and
sweets, coaxed her and finally prevailed upon her to come and live with

A large number of girls were sold in this way from one of our mission
schools by their cruel heathen parents and friends, at prices ranging
from fifty to one hundred dollars each. Some of these poor children
came to the mission-house at midnight, almost broken-hearted, and said
to the missionary, “Please will you not take me in. They are going to
sell me as a slave, and I don’t want to go.”

We reasoned with their parents and heathen relatives, but our efforts
were vain. We went to the cabins of the white men and expostulated with
them, and were driven out with fiendish curses and told that it was
none of our business.


On one occasion I found three poor women by the roadside near the
sawmill at Nanaimo, all helplessly drunk. It seemed of daily
occurrence in those days to see women drunk. With these poor creatures
was a little girl, Quee-lawt by name. She was one of the brightest and
most attractive of our little scholars. When she first came to school,
like some others of the children, she was very scantily clad, but by
the kindness of some good ladies this little maid was neatly clothed,
and because her forehead had not been flattened as much as some others,
she was pleasing in appearance. She learned to read nicely and could
sing very sweetly, and we had great hopes of a bright future for her.

But alas! poor Quee-lawt had been led astray by these sinful women, and
by some low, degraded white men had been robbed of her purity, made
drunken and defiled. And here we saw her, all besmeared with dirt and
filth--drunk, drunk.

Poor Quee-lawt! the terrible drink and the vile treatment she had
received were too much for her. She was carried home to the old chief’s
house and died that night. Oh, what a sad, sad, pitiful sight it was!
Poor little Quee-lawt! Will not a just God lay at the door of those
wretched white men the murder of this child?

We could only wish that this vile blot upon the character of our fair
province were wiped away. But still it continues. Some of the finest
tribes on the Coast have for years been following this awful practice,
until whole bands have been practically wiped out, and their only
monument is a forest of totem poles raised in many cases with the money
secured from this dreadful slavery.

Recently the provincial press has drawn attention to what they term
the “slave traffic in girls” among the Kwa-kwulths of Cape Mudge and
surrounding country.

From the reports thus circulated we gather that these people have been
making the practice of selling their girls to white men and others for
immoral purposes. At a recent potlatch, held in January, 1906, a number
of girls were sold at prices ranging from $300 to $1,200. The latter
figure was paid by an Indian for a particularly attractive girl whom he
planned to take with him to the various lumber camps for the purpose
of gain. “It is proverbially true,” says one writer, “that the Indians
have no convictions or sentiments that cannot be easily overcome by
greed of gain or power. Their chief and only object--that is, the
men’s--is to become great and powerful amongst their own people, and
as the possession of money is the quickest road to power and the
assumption of pride, some of these men to secure money, and secure it
easily, have for years been selling their women.”

“Surely the Government,” continues this same writer, “will not allow
this state of affairs to exist any longer. By means of these women
diseases are spread amongst our young men, and disasters too terrible
to speak of must follow this indiscriminate dealing in the bodies and
souls of these Indian women.”

With this whole matter are involved the questions of Indian barter
marriages and the potlatch, customs which, the missionaries know,
are linked with heathenism, and which present some of the greatest
difficulties to be met with in Christianizing and civilizing the Indian
tribes of the Coast.

In our judgment, if a law were enacted similar to one which was put in
force in the State of Washington some years ago, compelling any white
men living with Indian girls or women to marry them, or else the women
must leave and return to their own people, we would to a large extent
clear the country, as they did on the other side of the line, of this
dreadful evil.

The Indians, as well, should be compelled to give up their “barter
marriages” and conform, as every one else must, to our Canadian
marriage laws, and thus the greatest difficulty in the way of the
suppressing of this evil would be removed.

On account of the prevalence of this traffic in Indian girls, many
of the early missionaries were led to establish “Girls’ Homes” for
the rescue and further protection of these poor victims of this awful


  “I am weary of your quarrels,
   Weary of your war and bloodshed,
   Weary of your prayers for vengeance,
   Of your wrangling and dissensions;
   All your strength is in your union,
   All your danger is in discord;
   Therefore be at peace henceforward,
   And as brothers live together.”

The natives of the Pacific Coast are represented by some historians
as a fierce, savage, warlike race. At one time they were a numerous
people, but their own bloody and ferocious wars were the means in years
gone by of greatly reducing their numbers, and the ravages of the white
man’s diseases and fire-water have so far completed the work that some
tribes have become almost extinct.

In very early days the white traders had several encounters with the
natives, and the account is preserved of the Indians of the west coast
of Vancouver Island surrounding and capturing two vessels, one the
_Boston_, at Nootka, and the other the _Tonquin_, at Clayoquot. The
latter was afterwards blown up, it is thought, by some imprisoned
members of the crew, and hundreds of the captors who swarmed her
decks were killed. Another vessel, the _Atahualpa_, was also taken
by the Indians of Millbank Sound, and four of the crew, including
the captain, were killed. The vessel was, however, recaptured by the
remaining members of the crew, who sailed away in safety.

Their tales of war among themselves are thrilling and often very
exciting. They boast of sweeping out whole tribes at once; of wading
ankle deep in blood! of taking many slaves and killing and scalping
the rest. Chiefs from the north would sweep down south in their
great war-canoes and pick a quarrel with a southern tribe over some
trifling matter, then enter into bloody conflict with them, take many
slaves, and hasten back to the far north to sell them, and thus enrich

The southern people fought among themselves, or, headed by some vicious
chiefs, would make trips up the Fraser River or into Puget Sound,
returning after a successful foray with the slaves taken in the fight,
or more likely kidnapped at their fishing or berry-picking grounds.

The northerners were not always successful in making the trip home with
their booty. The Cowichans would gather at Dodds’ Narrows and Active
Pass, or at Cowichan Gap, and set upon the victors, often turning their
victory into defeat. If they escaped the Cowichans they still had to
run the gauntlet of the Yu-kwul-toes, the most to be dreaded of the
whole coast tribes, and many a Tsimpshean, Hydah or Kling-get war party
has found its death trap at Seymour Narrows or the Yu-kwul-toe Rapids.

On one occasion a party of northerners, on their way home through
Dodds’ Narrows, about seven miles south of Nanaimo, had a battle with
some Nanaimos, whom they defeated, killing eleven warriors. Striking
off the heads of their slain enemies they took them with them, leaving
the bodies, which were afterwards discovered by their friends. A short
time after, in retaliation for the deed, on the south side of Salt
Spring Island a canoe load of seven northern people were all butchered
in a most shocking manner; stones were tied to their necks and they
were sunk in the sea. Not reaching Victoria at the time expected, their
friends instituted a search along the coast. I was then living at
Nanaimo, and in the course of my work made frequent visits to Chemainus
and Salt Spring Island, Cowichan and Saanich. On my next trip down the
coast I was asked by the authorities to make inquiries regarding the
lost ones.

After preaching to the Indians at Chemainus I referred to the murder,
and warned them, if they knew who the murderers were, not to conceal
them, as sooner or later they would be found out.

Several days after, on returning from Salt Spring Island, I met young
chief Lis-tcheem, of the Chemainus tribe, who had come out some three
or four miles in a canoe to meet me. Approaching in that cautious,
suspicious manner which only an Indian will manifest, he came alongside
and, speaking in an undertone, said: “Missionary, I want to say
something that I don’t want my people to know. You told us the other
day that we must not hide the murderers. Now, a party of our people
have just returned from Victoria with a great deal of new property,
and they seem to have money. We don’t know where they got all this
money. I suspect they are the party who murdered the people you spoke
of. They are now camped on the Chemainus River. But don’t tell the
people that I told you.”

I immediately returned to Nanaimo and acquainted the magistrate with
the facts. A party of ten special constables were sent down to the
river, and the murderers were captured, brought to Nanaimo, given a
preliminary hearing, and sent down to Victoria to stand their trial at
the next assizes.

Some time after, amid the busy rush of the missionary’s life, this
young chief met me at my home in the Nanaimo camp, and said he had been
down to the place where they heard the murder had been committed, some
forty miles away, and had found their goods, clothing of all kinds,
strewn upon the beach, particularly the clothes of a little child
belonging to the party. This was the child of a white man from Nanaimo,
whose Indian wife was on her way to take the steamer at Victoria to
make a visit to her friends in the north. Among the other things he
found a bunch of little papers, rolled up and stuck in the fork of a
tree. This roll, which he handed to me, I found contained eighty-five
dollars in bills.

I took him to the magistrate, to whom he told his story and handed over
the bills. The official praised him for his honesty and faithfulness,
and as a reward gave him a note of recommendation saying what a good,
honest chief he was. This document, signed and sealed with a large red
seal and placed in an official envelope, pleased the chief very much.

Some weeks after he was in Victoria and happened to show this paper, of
which he was very proud, to a police officer, who at once put him in
jail, where he was held as a witness for over two months. During this
time his family were left to starve, and nothing was done to help them.
Is it any wonder that the Indians were enraged at this high-handed
piece of injustice, and that when the young chief finally was released
he declared that if all the Indians and whites in the place were
murdered he would never again tell anything that he had discovered
about the matter.

Speaking of the Indian’s love of “a big paper,” as they called an
official certificate, I recall the amusing circumstance of a chief who
was given “a paper” by a certain sea captain, which, not being able
to read, he supposed was highly complimentary. The Indian went about,
proudly showing to everyone a document which stated, “Look out for this
fellow; he is the greatest old rascal and biggest thief I have ever met

In those early days, when hundreds and thousands came from the north,
it was not an uncommon thing to see a body floating in the harbor. It
is the nature of an Indian always to keep in mind an old feud. Where
blood has been shed they seek retaliation, and with them it is always
“a life for a life.”


Tsil-ka-mut, a chief of the old school of the An-ko-me-nums, nephew of
Squin-es-ton, a chief of the Nanaimos, was the most influential man in
the tribe. Squin-es-ton was recognized as the head, but Tsil-ka-mut,
his nephew, led the way in all matters of business or council with
other tribes.

This younger chief in his youth was a great heathen, having been
trained up in all heathen secrets from a child. He would often go away
up the mountains and bathe in the mountain streams, where he said he
had communion with the spirits and received power.

He was a fine, stalwart, muscular fellow, with a foot very large and
almost as hard and tough as a horse’s hoof. He was a great hunter, and
could fight, too, when it came in his way, and would keep one by the
hour at his camp-fire telling of the bloody wars of former days. But he
used to say that he would rather live in peace at any time than amidst
war and trouble.

Tsil-ka-mut exerted a great and good influence over the people, and
his authority was respected. He seldom made speeches at their heathen
feasts or councils, but when he did speak they would, in the most
trying time, submit to what seemed to be his superior judgment.

He was a man of peace, and tried, in his way, to preserve harmony in
the tribes and encourage the young people to attend church, though he
did not attend very regularly himself.

At one notable Christmas gathering, which, of course, all attended, he
made a speech and said: “I want to say a few words. I am glad, very
glad, that the missionaries are in our land to preach to us. It makes
me feel very solemn to be here to-day. I say to the young people, never
to laugh and play in God’s house; it is not like out-of-doors. Do not
listen to the old people, who are not wise in good things, but hear the
missionary, who is our friend. Young men, it is very good for you to
show an example to the children. You must always go to God’s house and
the children to school. I hope you, my children, will all become very
wise. We older men cannot easily change our ways, we will soon be gone,
but you young men will be with the children who are growing up; to you
God’s word has come. You must believe it and do God’s will; this will
be best for you.”

I shall never forget Tsil-ka-mut and that awful night when, after I
had preached to the white people in town and had returned to my cabin
home in the Indian village, about half past ten o’clock, our native
local preacher, Amos Cushan, came to my door, rapped quickly, and in an
excited tone of voice said, “Did you not hear the war-whoop? I think
there is going to be trouble to-night.”

“I heard a noise. What is it?” I replied.

“I think a big fight to-night, sir!” said he. “Two chiefs with a number
of their men have gone down towards Qual-la-kup’s house, and I think a
big fight, sir!”

These two chiefs had for some time held a grudge against Chief
Qual-la-kup, because of a quarrel between the two factions, which had
resulted to the advantage of Qual-la-kup’s clan.

Immediately I sprang out of my house, and with my friend ran down
through the woods, the shortest way to the house, and rushed in. The
building was all in darkness, except for a few embers of a fire. In
the dim darkness I could see two wild, savage-looking men, mercilessly
assaulting the old man, Qual-la-kup, whom they had dragged out of bed.
A number of others were standing around with clubs, looking wild enough
and ready to knock a man down at any moment.

[Illustration: “I could see two wild, savage-looking men mercilessly
assaulting the old man.” _p. 74_]

I rushed towards the group, and with what seemed to me supernatural
strength I flung myself upon them, sending one one way and another
another. With that the old man seized his advantage, and getting up,
all bruised and bleeding, he hid himself behind me, spreading my
overcoat tails to hide him from his pursuers.

At the same time the old chief stood dancing in front of me with
fiendish yells, his knife in his hand, ready to strike the old man when
the opportunity came.

“Don’t you strike Qual-la-kup,” I said to him. “You have injured him
enough. Strike me if you must strike.”

Now the friends of both parties rushed in from all sides of the
village, and in a few moments the great Indian house, some seventy
feet long by thirty broad, was filled with a quarrelling multitude.
Fortunately some torches were lighted, which enabled us to take in the
scene, and for hours and hours Amos Cushan and I were rushing between
quarrelling parties to stop their fighting. One would be struck with a
club here, another with some sharp instrument there, and blood flowed
freely. Amidst it all continued the awful din of rushing feet and the
howls and screams of hellish rage.

Suddenly Quin-num, the son of old Qual-la-kup, dashed in. He had just
heard of the trouble, away at the other end of the village, and jumping
out of bed and tucking his blanket around him, he seized the first
weapon to hand, a claw-hammer, and hurried to the rescue of his father.

I saw him rush in, trembling with anger, and I said, “Quin-num, be
good! Don’t fight!”

“Oh,” he said, and his voice was wild with rage, “I could listen to
what you say, but look at the blood of my father!”

And with that he let out an awful yell, and wheeling around, struck
with the hammer the old chief who had clubbed his father, cutting his
eye nearly out.

Then the fighting commenced with renewed vigor and continued until four
in the morning. We were nearly exhausted trying to get these savage
men reconciled. It was evident that the old chief and his nephew had
urged on the young men, and perhaps had given them whiskey to get them
to undertake this dark deed. It was an old quarrel, and jealousy and
pride were at the bottom of it. Qual-la-kup was a quiet old man and his
people were generally respected. His son, Quin-num, had married into
Squin-es-ton’s tribe and seemed likely to secure a ruling position,
which moved the other chief and his people to jealousy.

While we were in the midst of this excitement, and hardly knowing who
would be the next to fall, there came a lull in the storm, and we
lifted up our hearts to God for help and direction.

Just then Tsil-ka-mut arrived on the scene from the other end of the
village, all painted and with his blanket tucked around his waist. The
great big fellow did not touch anything or anybody, but just danced
about, up and down, crying out, “My children, my children, don’t be
like little boys!” And you could feel the contempt in his tone. “Our
fathers used to fight, but they would go and fight like men till they
were wading in blood, and take many scalps. They would never go and
take a man out of his bed unexpectedly in the night. Oh, you are like
little boys! like little boys!” And on he danced up and down through
the long house, repeating these simple words, “Like little boys, like
little boys. Oh! you are like little boys!” until these savage men
dropped their clubs, hid their knives behind their blankets, looking
dreadfully ashamed, and one by one walked out.

[Illustration: “The great big fellow just danced up and down, crying,
‘My children, my children, don’t be like little boys!’” _p. 76_]

After we had washed the wounds and dressed some fearful looking
gashes, we offered a prayer of thanks to God and got away to rest, too
much excited to sleep.

Early the next day Tsil-ka-mut and others came to the mission house to
thank me for being there that night, for they said: “O missionary, if
you hadn’t been there perhaps six or twelve men dead this morning. Then
there would be such a savage, angry feeling in all our hearts, which
would not leave us for many moons.”

“Were you not afraid?” “Did you not get hurt?” my friends have asked me.

No, thank God, we were not hurt, and as for fear, we didn’t think of it
until it was all over, when we wondered we hadn’t been knocked down.
Surely “the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him,
and delivereth them.”

We had the comfort of seeing Qual-la-kup and some of his friends come
into the enjoyment of the blessed light. Qual-la-kup’s brother, the
uncle of David Sallosalton, and many others of his clan, became devoted

Alas! for the other poor old chief and his family; some of them did not
live out half their days.

Poor, proud, jealous Quee-es-ton, the man who once knocked the
missionary down and afterwards expressed his sorrow for having done so,
was killed in a quarrel with some white men about whiskey. Whiskey was
his great enemy, as well as that of his wife, Stah-cel-wet. They would
have a supply of fire-water as often as they could get the money. I
have more than once stood between them in their quarrelling, taking
their whiskey away and getting them sobered up. At the time of my
encounter with him, before mentioned, I pointed him to the Saviour of
sinners and urged him to prepare to meet his God. He appeared repentant
and seemed for a time to reform, but alas! for poor, weak human nature,
he fell again. Chief Louis Good and family, of Nanaimo, now attend the
services and profess Christianity. We trust they may lead lives of
usefulness. He is related to the family of chiefs.

As for Tsil-ka-mut, we shall hear of him later.


  “Thou, whose Almighty word
   Chaos and darkness heard,
     And took their flight,
   Hear us, we humbly pray,
   And where the Gospel day
   Sheds not its glorious ray
     Let there be light.”

Reference has been made to the old type of heathen house, built of
split cedar boards bound together with poles and withes or ropes made
of cedar bark. The roof was formed of slabs of cedar, held down by
large stones or by poles extending from one end to the other. Later
on the roofs were made of rafters, on which were laid “shakes”--large
split shingles--after the manner of the early settlers’ barns.

Under this roof, and immediately over the beds, were great sheets of
cedar bark or large rush mats, placed thus better to protect the beds
if the roof should leak, which it often did. There was no window, no
door, except a board propped up against the entrance; no chimney, the
smoke finding its way out through the cracks in the sides and roof; no
floor except the hard beaten earth.

These houses, which varied in size from buildings as large as a huge
barn to a small shack, were usually placed near the sea-shore or on
the bank of a river. The larger ones usually accommodated a number
of families, sometimes as many as eight or ten, and the building was
divided by low partitions into sections for each family.

Besides this type of house they constructed for winter use
an underground hut, usually spoken of as a “keekwillie
house”--“keekwillie” being Chinook for deep or underground. A deep pit
was dug in the ground and stout poles were placed leaning together like
a tepee, with a hole at the centre. The earth was heaped up around and
upon the top, very much as eastern farmers cover their potato pits. The
hole in the top was the only doorway, the only passageway for light,
and the only opening for the smoke to escape.

A notched pole was placed up the side of the roof and another protruded
from the interior through the opening in the top. By these two poles
the occupants passed in and out of this dwelling. You had to be
careful, if your clothing was made of any inflammable material, in
passing through the opening in the top, so close was it to the fire
built below.

In olden days whole villages lived in these keekwillie or sweat houses
during the winter, which were united by underground passages. In times
of war they were thus able to find shelter from an enemy by passing
from one to another.

In the summer camps the people lived under shelters made of large
rush-mats, open on one side. In front of this opening the camp-fire
was built. Of course, now many of them live in canvas tents or
“sail-houses,” as they call them, “sail” being the Chinook equivalent
for cloth of any kind. Many others of them live in small frame houses.

Speaking of the mats, these were very skilfully made by the women from
the large bulrushes which line the river banks. These were dried and
then woven together with a native twine made from the inner bark of the
cedar, or wild wiry grass. These mats were a very useful commodity,
for besides being used to form a shelter, they were sometimes laid in
several thicknesses and made a very comfortable bed.


In olden times the An-ko-me-nums had tools for all purposes peculiar
to themselves. The Stone Age came down to later times among this
people. Trees were felled and split and canoes were shaped by means of
axes which were made of stone, carved into shape and notched. Around
this notch was fastened a rawhide thong or cedar withe, attached to
a handle. To assist in splitting the cedar logs wedges of wood, horn
or bone were used. And in order to prevent the wooden wedge from
splitting, withes from cedar boughs were firmly tied around its top.
Planks from two to five feet wide were split out of large trees by
means of these stone hammers and wedges.


Their boards were planed, as were their canoes, with chisels and adzes
made of jade, a beautiful dark green stone, of a nature similar to
flint, which was found in large boulders in the bed of the Fraser and
other rivers. Later these adzes were made from old files provided by
the trading companies.

Hammers made of stone and shaped something like a pestle, and stone
mortars for crushing berries and mixing food, were among their

They had paint pots of stone, pipes made of slate or wood, needles
of various sizes made of wood or bone, knives of slate and granite,
besides spear-points and arrow-heads of flint and quartz.


In early days, on some parts of the Coast, the clothing of the people
was made from cedar bark. This was prepared by taking the inner bark
of the great cedar, soaking it in fresh water until it was completely
soft, and then beating it on a plank with an instrument made of bone or
very hard wood having grooves and ridges. It was then separated, the
soft parts being parcelled out into threads or skeins. These were laid
in the sun to bleach, or were dyed black or red, as suited their taste,
the natural color being pale yellow.

These threads were woven into rough cloth, which was made up for women
into a long, rough garment, without sleeves, tight around the neck and
tied sometimes with a string of the same material around the waist.
For men they made a cape with a hole in it for the head; it would come
down and protect the breast and shoulders. The same material was used
for towels or for packing the baby’s bed. The ordinary breech-clout was
made out of this cedar cloth.

Later the hair of the dog and mountain goat’s wool were spun together
and woven into blankets on simple native looms. Some of these blankets
were very beautiful, with patterns all their own, representing, as in
the case of the northern tribes, the totems of the wearers. Of course,
in later years the common garment was the “Indian blanket,” sold by the
Hudson’s Bay Company.

Chiefs and people of high rank wore the skins of animals, some of
which were dressed and tanned by native methods. Some were clothed in
the most beautiful furs--the priceless sea-otter, the bear, and other
animals--and were thus recognized as great chiefs or great hunters.

All were fond of ornaments, such as ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets,
finger rings, ankle bangles and nose jewels. Some wore large rings in
their noses, while slaves often had a long stick through the hole
in their noses. There was also the remarkable lip button or labret,
worn by perforating the lower lips of the females, which insertion was
enlarged with increasing age, from one to three and a half inches long
and from one-quarter to one and a half inches wide. These latter were
only worn by people of high rank.

Long shells like goose quills, called toothpick shells, about three
inches long, taken from the salt water, were much used as ornaments.
They were strung together and sold by the fathom, five fathoms being
reckoned the price of a slave.

The men of nearly all the Coast tribes had the lobe of the ear
perforated, this being done in early childhood, and frequently in olden
times you would see them with large rings or large pieces of abalone
shell hanging to their noses.

Ear-rings were worn in a series of perforations in the lobe of the ear.
We have seen them with three and four smaller pieces of abalone shell
at the upper part of the ear, or a very large one at the lower part
of the ear. At a more recent date these were replaced by ear-rings of
silver and gold of various designs, like their white friends.


Tattooings were sometimes observed on their wrists and arms and
breasts, but the custom was not so general as with the northern tribes.

They, however, in common with other Indian peoples, were accustomed
to the use of paints in decorating the body. They had their own native
paints, some made from ground stone, others from a certain kind of
clay. They had also very strong dyes from sundry kinds of roots and
bark; also an oily substance from salmon roe, as well as several kinds
of gum from trees.

In dressing they painted the eyebrows black, like a half moon, the face
sometimes checked in small red squares, arms and legs and part of the
body red. Sometimes but half the face was painted red in squares, and
sometimes black. At other times the whole face was as black as tar.
Some also covered the face with a quantity of bear’s grease, almost
an eighth of an inch thick, or laid it on in ridges like beads in a
joiner’s work and then painted the ridge red.

They often told us that on a hot day this was to keep the sun from
burning the face, and in the winter they claimed it kept the cold,
sharp wind from cutting or chapping the skin.

Chiefs and people of rank used a kind of mineral or black shining
powder, glistening in the sun like silver, taken from the rocks.

The picture of a fierce warrior, almost nude, painted up with these
striking colors, and brandishing a knife, stone axe or war-club, and in
later years armed with a flint-lock musket, was enough to terrify the

As for the ornamental effect of painting the person, of course that is
a matter of taste with the Indian, as with other people. These colors
were not easily removed in washing, and often had to wear off.


At one time the Indians were very fond of bathing, entering the water
once a day or oftener. In the early morning they would arouse the
children and drive them into the water for their morning bath. Even
when the ice had formed on the river, they were compelled to break the
ice and plunge in. The little chaps naturally shrank from this rigorous
treatment, and their parents, with what seemed little feeling, would
take the needle-covered branches of the spruce and whip them until they
obeyed. It is safe to say that only the hardier ones survived.


Many of the southern tribes of the British Columbia Coast were in the
habit of deforming the heads of their children. This custom resembles
that of foot-binding among the Chinese, and other similar barbarous
practices common to most heathen peoples. The Flatheads compressed the
foreheads, of their little ones by means of boards or a hard cushion,
or even a flat stone. The child was laid in its little basket cradle or
placed upon a narrow piece of board, to one end of which another board
was attached with thongs. The upper board was pulled tight down over
the child’s forehead, and thus the head was pressed gradually out of
shape and the forehead flattened back.


In the northern part of Vancouver Island they use a circular bandage,
whereby the skull acquires an extraordinary length and forms what
is called the sugar-loaf head. Some of the natives of the west coast
of the island placed a bandage over the forehead of the child and then
laid a flat stone upon this, thus securing the necessary deformation.

The effect of this pressure was to stupefy the senses and to crush out
the intellect. Many of the children died under this cruel practice.

Again and again I have expostulated with them, and often have whipped
out my knife and cut the cords which bound the little sufferer, only to
incur the anger of the parents, who themselves were bound by inexorable


The heathen were neglectful and even cruel to their old people. They
have been known to leave them on islands to starve to death, and when
sick they were often left in places where one would hardly leave a dog.

When a woman became a mother, and needed the most tender care, she was
put outside in a cold, wretched place, all alone, and there had to
remain for weeks.

Oh, cruel, cruel heathenism, how much shame and misery and suffering
must be laid at thy door! But, thank God! the power of the everlasting
Gospel has wrought a marvellous change in many of these particulars,
and now something of the love and sympathy which marks other Christian
lives is expressed in the dealings of the people with one another.


  “Thus it is our daughters leave us,
   Those we love, and those who love us!
   Just when they have learned to help us,
   When we are old and lean upon them,
   Comes a youth with flaunting feathers,
   With his flute of reeds, a stranger
   Wanders piping through the village,
   Beckons to the fairest maiden,
   And she follows where he leads her,
   Leaving all things for the stranger!”
                   --_Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.”_

An An-ko-me-num courtship, and the marriage which followed, differed
entirely from that with which we are most familiar. One heathen
wedding, which I witnessed early in my stay at Nanaimo, very perfectly
illustrates the difference between their customs and ours.

Chief Tsil-ka-mut lived in a large old heathen house about 150 feet
long by 40 feet wide. Tsil-la-meah, his eldest daughter, by his eldest
wife--for he had two wives--was a modest Indian maiden, who had been
strictly kept, as a chief’s daughter, according to heathen law.

On one occasion, when one of H. M. ships of war was anchored in the
harbor, a number of bluejackets were allowed out on leave. They filled
up with liquor in the town, and then marched down through the woods,
over a mile, to the Indian village, cutting clubs as they went. When
they reached the village they shouted and swore and acted like demons,
and began to drive the people out of their houses and insult their
young women.

Among them were two professedly petty officers, who made their way into
Tsil-ka-mut’s big house, where his daughter, Tsil-la-meah, was busy
with her needle, while her mother sat near her on the floor working
at a mat. These rough men sat down, one on each side of the innocent
maid, and began to push her. The child, for she was little more than
that at the time, became afraid of them, and the anxious mother cried,
“Klata-wah! klata-wah!” (“Go away! go away!”). They paid no attention
and still persisted in their insults, until finally the mother, in her
own language, called out for the chief, who was at the other end of the
long house, taking a meal with some of his clan. Leaping over the floor
Tsil-ka-mut dashed around the corner of the partition which enclosed
his family room, and in a trice was facing these ruffians. Immediately
he shouted, pointing to the door, “Klata-wah! klata-wah!” which in this
tone of voice meant “Get out, and hurry about it.”

“Oh, no! oh, no!” said the poor fools, grinning like gaping idiots as
they spoke.

With that he seized a paddle and smashed it over their heads, repeating
in a towering voice, “Klata-wah! klata-wah!”

Then these big fellows, who had been sent out with others from the Home
Land to help keep peace among the Indians, scampered out of the house
and away without further ceremony.

It was well that a paddle was the only weapon to hand. For had
Tsil-ka-mut used his old musket, or something heavier, they might
have paid the penalty with their lives. And then the cry would have
gone forth, “Those desperate, savage Indians, they should all of them
be shot.” Unfortunately, many of them have been shot for more paltry
reasons than that.

It is of the courtship and marriage of this same Tsil-la-meah, at that
time a pupil in our school, that I now propose to write.

A young chief who lived some distance to the south made his way
overland to her village, and began what seemed to be an old-fashioned
heathen courtship. No one knew of his arrival till he was found one
morning in the great long house, sitting by a post on the cold earthen
floor with a blanket around him.

On my rounds to gather up the children for school I noticed this
stranger, a slender young man, sitting there, looking very lonely.
I asked who he was, and they told me he was a young prince from
Qua-mit-son, some fifty miles away, and that he had come to see if he
would be accepted as a suitor for Chief Tsil-ka-mut’s daughter. He had
to remain there three days and three nights, according to custom, and
if during that time he was invited to partake of food with the family
of the young princess his way was all clear; if not, he could go about
his business.

However, during the last day he was invited to eat with the family. We
do not know that he had anything to say to the young maiden regarding
the state of his affections, or whether he ever saw her during his stay
there, but as soon as he had proved himself welcome to the family he
was off overland to his home.

Some months after this we heard that a whole tribe of people were to
arrive early one morning from the south, and that Chief Tsil-ka-mut’s
daughter was going to be married to the young chief who had been there
courting. The whole village was in excitement, when presently some
thirty canoes were sighted rounding a point about two miles away, and
a great cracking of musketry announced the coming of the strangers. On
they came, beating their drums and singing the marriage song as they
drew near the village.

In the lead came a band of the principal chiefs, old warriors and
musicians, gorgeously painted and feathered up, standing upon a
platform which was built on top of two large canoes lashed together. In
their midst was the young man himself, well dressed in European style.
The singing continued till they got to the beach. By this time the
crowd of villagers were all thronged around the canoes. The young man
and the painted warriors stepped out and quietly walked to the chief’s
house, all the rest following. The villagers busied themselves packing
up the visitors’ goods and hauling their canoes high up on the beach.
The day was then spent in resting and feasting.

In the evening a great reception was given, when all the great dancers
of the Nanaimos, by their dancing and song, welcomed the strangers.
Feasting and dancing were now the order for several days.

Finally the day of departure arrived. Early in the morning the whole
village was astir, and we were told that now Tsil-la-meah was to be
married. We were curious to see the ceremony, and made our way to the
chief’s house. Drawn up high on the bank in front of the house was a
very large and beautiful new canoe, gaily painted with their old Indian
paints, the bow and stern carved and ornamented in colors with animal
and bird-like designs.

Inside the house we found crowds of people, all painted up, dancing
and scrambling for goods. A great number of mountain goat skins were
gathered at one end of the house. Busy hands tied them together in a
long string, and when all was ready some of the young men took hold of
one end and rushed the long string of robes down through the middle
of the house. Immediately an excited scramble followed, visitors and
villagers each striving for a share. Sometimes half a dozen men,
getting hold of a skin, would tear it in pieces, eager to get their
part of the prize. At other times, when several were good-humoredly
struggling together to secure a skin, a quaint-looking old man came
along and, brandishing a large knife, would cut right between their
arms and each man got his part. Then followed blankets, calico and
other goods, which were dealt with in the same way, and thus went on
this scene of pleasure and potlatch.

Then came another part of the ceremony. The Cowichans, the friends of
the young man, made ready their canoes for departure, and some by the
side of the canoes and some already seated in them joined in singing
one of their marriage songs, which recounted the great deeds and wealth
of the ancestors of the young man, as well as his own wealth and good

During this time a number of old women attendants were preparing the
young bride for the occasion. They put on her a number of calico
dresses and a new bright red blanket, and painted her face in the most
grotesque-looking manner. Her long flowing black hair was plaited, and
hung away below her waist. Attached by a head-strap to her forehead and
hanging down her back--the way they carry their burdens--was a piece
of wood, the token that her friends never wanted her, as a chief’s
daughter, to carry her own wood.

All being ready, she was led out by one of the women, the others, to
the number of six or eight, following in single file. Each had a new
red blanket hanging over her shoulders, the other end held by the one
behind. And thus they marched out of the house towards the new canoe
amidst the singing and shouting of the Nanaimos. Men piled their loads
of new blankets into the canoe, and then the bride was helped in and
seated a little astern of mid-ships. And still they piled in blankets
all around her, until her head was just in sight. Thus several hundred
blankets were sent off with her as a kind of dowry.

By this time a great array of canoes were strung along the shore, all
ready to leave, and hundreds of people were crowded in front of the
house between it and the beach. And now the Nanaimos beat their drums
and sang their songs, and great orations were made by both parties.

The first orator, who represented the older chief, the father of the
bride, in loud and boastful tone spoke on this wise: “Let all the
people in this great country know, you people from the south and
the people from the north, that this young woman is a daughter of a
great chief; she and her people have been in the line of chiefs for
generations. They were a great people. All the tribes feared before
them. And now her father is giving her into the hands of you people of
the south. Let all the Cowichans, the Saanich, the Songees and all the
people to the south know that this day the young chief takes her for
his wife. We charge you to take great care of her, and warn you that if
anything should happen to her, any of the wild people from the north
should come and take her, we shall look to you, or require her at your

At once a rough, wild-looking old fellow jumped up in one of the canoes
which stood out in the water and said: “O great chief, we hear what you
say, but you must remember it is not only the Nanaimos who are a great
people. Our people, the father of this young prince, is a great chief
among his people. We will try to do as you say. We will take care of
the young princess whom he has taken for his wife. She shall be one
with us, and we will come and see you again.”

Then for a time the most exciting scene occurred. Several beautiful new
muskets, one after another, were thrown ashore, and in a very proud,
haughty fashion a short speech was made after each present, as much as
to say, “We’ll show you Nanaimo people we are not the poor people you

This aroused the Nanaimos, who ran in turn to their different houses,
bringing out muskets and blankets and either throwing them down towards
the canoes or handing them to individuals--the whole accompanied by a
running fire of boastful speeches and wild and frantic oratory.

This ended, the bridegroom called his young men to him, and rushing
up to the large canoe where the young bride sat almost covered with
blankets, they seized the canoe and with a merry shout gave it a heave,
when it bounded off the bank into the water, some of them holding it
back for fear it should launch out too far.

As a parting gift the young man took off his coat and hat and gave them
to Tsil-ka-mut, who was clothed in a blanket only. The gift, it seemed,
could be of little value, as the young fellow was quite slender, while
the old chief looked as large again.

This done the young man sprang into the canoe by the side of his
bride, and they were man and wife. In a moment some ten of his braves
followed him, and seizing their paddles swung the big canoe out into
the bay and the party was off. We on the beach shouted and waved our
good-byes until they rounded the point.


Polygamy, with all its dreadful misery and degradation, was prevalent
in former days all along the coast. Chee-at-luk, the old king of the
Songees, commonly known as King Free-zee, it is said had fifteen wives.
In the interior, also, I met a chief who claimed to have fourteen
wives. One or two of these were the chief or permanent wives, while all
the rest were treated like slaves, and possibly were slaves, purchased
and often held as such.

Years ago, it is said, a man’s own sister, or, worse still, even his
daughter or mother, might be among his wives. The more wives he had,
the less work he would have to do. A great chief is reported to have
said, “Women are made to labor; one of them can haul as much as two
men; they pitch our tents, carry our wood, mend our clothes, and cook
our food.”

Woman was always the slave or burden-bearer until the Gospel came and
lifted her into her true social position.

It was a common thing, in those first days of my work among them, to
see a man with his blanket on, painted up in great style, walking along
the road as if the whole creation belonged to him, while a poor woman,
with a heavy load of fish or food of some kind in a basket on her
back, trudged along, hardly able to bear up under the load, and perhaps
carrying a baby besides. If you said to the man, as I have said again
and again, “Take the baby. Why don’t you help her?” she would say, “Oh,
let him alone, sir; he is the chief,” as much as to say, “I am his

It was very common for men to have from two to four wives, and there
was often a great deal of jealousy and quarrelling among them. This
custom worked great injury to many of the young men, who could not get
wives, and often led them to live reckless lives; while many a young
woman has gone off to ruin for fear she would have to go and live with
some ill-natured, dirty, lame old fellow whom she could never like.

It is wonderful, when the Gospel light came in and the Spirit of God
took hold of the people, how they themselves commenced to see the
evils of this custom and immediately endeavored to rectify it. It was
a matter that could not have been forced upon them, but gradually
they arranged it. The oldest one, perhaps, was put away with an ample
dowry. Another, who had no family ties, married another man who had
no wife, and, growing out of this system of polygamy, who never had a
chance to have one. The one whose growing family of little ones laid
heavy responsibilities upon her was usually retained. And thus, by the
blessing of God, this most difficult problem was solved, and polygamy
was almost entirely done away with.


Very interesting to me was the first marriage I performed among this
people. It took place in the year 1871, on the Songees reserve, the
territory of the noted old King Free-zee, opposite Victoria, in the
home of Amos Shee-hats-ton (our first convert in that tribe), which
had been used for prayer and class-meetings. The couple had been
waiting till I should be ordained, so as to have it in their own
language. There were present about twenty of the natives, including
their teachers. The weather was warm and the door wide open, and the
contracting parties stood with their backs to the door.

As it was the first marriage I had performed, I was a little nervous,
and had to keep a close look at the book. Just when I reached the
point of asking the bride, “Wilt thou have this man to be thy wedded
husband?” I glanced up, and lo! she was just slipping out of the door.

Taking in the situation, and seeing that the crowd were looking very
serious, I started up singing, “Shall we gather at the river,” a hymn
with which they were familiar.

We had nearly sung it through when she came peeping in at the door, as
if she had a lingering desire to have the thing finished up. So I got
hold of her hand and drew her towards him, placed her hand in his, laid
my hand over them both, and held on until I had finished the ceremony.

With this memory before me I have married many hundreds since, and
never failed to place my hand upon theirs, and hold on until the
ceremony was completed.


  “Those who attempt to reason us out of our follies begin at the
  wrong end, since the attempt naturally presupposes us capable of

Nature made bounteous provision for the wants of the aboriginal
inhabitants of British Columbia. The seas and rivers were teeming
with fish--salmon of several kinds, halibut, cod, and sturgeon, and
among smaller fish, herring, oolachan, smelts, and trout; the beaches
and shallows afforded large sea crabs, clams, cockles, and oysters.
The plains, valleys and mountains abounded in wild animals of many
kinds--elk, moose, cariboo, deer, mountain sheep and goats, bears of
different colors, and numerous smaller fur-bearing creatures. The
forests, the sky and the lakes and streams were alive with members of
the feathered tribe--swans, geese, ducks of several varieties, and,
besides all these, the Indians were not averse to eating eagles and
gulls, if necessity demanded.

Besides laying in large stores of dried meats and fish, the natives
gathered large quantities of wild berries, of which there were several
varieties, and dried them for their winter supplies. There were many
other kinds of food, such as the inner bark of the spruce tree, many
kinds of roots, wild potatoes, wild onions, wild rice, sea-weed, fish,
eggs or spawn, crab apples and nuts.


The people had three common ways of cooking their food: by boiling,
steaming, and broiling before the fire.

To cook a quantity of provisions in one of their big tubs or boxes--for
they had no pots in those days--they poured in water sufficient to
cook the quantity needed, and then red hot stones, lifted with a pair
of wooden tongs, were dropped in to make it boil. When salmon or other
fish were to be cooked, they usually cut off the heads and tails, and
kept up the boiling process until all was reduced to a broth, when it
was ladled out into dishes or long troughs and set before the people.
Think of seven hundred salmon cooked in this way for a single feast!

To prepare food by steaming, a large fire was first kindled on a bed of
cobble stones. When the wood had burned out, the stones being very hot,
layers of green grass or sea-weed were laid on the top of the stones
and kept damp with water. The clams, mussels, or other shell fish--if
salmon, cod, halibut or sturgeon, usually only the heads and tails
were thus prepared--whatever they wished to cook, were placed upon
the grass, a little water was poured upon the top, and the whole was
closely covered with mats, leaves, or boughs to keep in the steam. This
is much the best means of cooking clams or other shell fish. They are
delicious when cooked after this fashion.

When it was desired to broil the salmon, birds, venison or other wild
meats, a stick the size of a broom handle, about four feet long, was
split part way down, and the meat or fish was put into the split, while
little sticks were placed crossways to keep the food spread. The stick
was then tied at the split end, while the other end, already sharpened,
was driven into the ground by the hot camp-fire, the flat side being
kept towards the fire. The oil or gravy was caught in a clam shell or
other dish and poured back upon the meat while cooking. Salmon never
tastes better than when cooked in this manner. Often when travelling by
canoe have we had deer, bear or mountain-goat meat, ducks or geese, and
even porcupine, eagle or gulls, cooked in this way. The latter is quite
palatable when you are worn with travelling and the larder has become
nearly exhausted.


It has been said, “It is always a feast or a famine with a native.”

Whether that is true or not, certain it is that the natives of the
Pacific Coast have a great variety of feasts. Indians, wherever you
find them, are very hospitable to strangers--the travellers and miners
of this vast country would all testify to this. They are most generous,
even reckless, with their food. If you are invited to a feast among
them the food is piled up before you, and after having satisfied your
appetite you are expected to take away all you cannot eat. If the
visitor is a chief or important person, what he has left is sent home
by messenger to his family. If he be any ordinary guest, he sweeps off
what remains--which is usually much more than he has eaten--into a
corner of his blanket or his shirt, and carries it away. If the feast
be of whale’s blubber, porpoise, fish of similar kind, or venison, bear
or mountain goat, it is cut up into slices and strung on a sharp stick,
or carried in his hand to the rest of his family.

At a big feast there are always several masters of ceremonies and a
number of waiters in attendance. These never sit down while the eating
is going on, though often a feast will last for six or seven hours,
having as many courses. There are numerous small, every-day feasts
where neighbors call upon each other in a happy, social way.

One of the greatest offences to an Indian is to refuse to accept an
invitation which he has given you to eat with him and his friends.


With most feasting is usually associated dancing and other merriment.

The readiness with which the Indians pick up our beautiful hymn tunes
and learn to play our musical instruments has been remarked. Indeed,
these people are naturally very musical, and in their heathen state
were passionately fond of singing their own native melodies. Of songs
they had a great variety: war songs, marriage songs, songs for feasts
and public gatherings, mourning songs for the dead, songs when the fish
came, dancing songs, canoe songs, and many others. When we asked the
old dance-song maker where they got their music, he replied:

“We get it from the wind in the trees, from the waves on the sea-shore,
from the rippling stream, from the mountain side, from the birds, and
from the wild animals.”

As for musical instruments, we are all familiar with the simple Indian
drum, made by stretching a deerskin tightly over a hoop. Besides this
they used as a drum a big square box, painted in different colors, with
figures of birds and animals upon it.

When the drummer was at work crowds would, accompany him, beating time
with sticks upon boards. The sound was weird in the extreme, if heard
at the dead of night, coupled with the shouts of the heathen dancers.

Besides the drums were rattles of various shapes, used by the chiefs
and conjurers, and pipe whistles--indeed, whistles of many kinds,
imitating birds and animals--some of which were used by the hunters in
pursuit of game.

With much of their music is associated their pagan dancing. There are
professional dancers among the tribes, who as a rule are identified
with the clans of the medicine men. The heathen dances are very
fascinating to the heathen mind, and in nothing is the “backsliding” of
the Indian more noticeable than in his return to the dance.

At the dancing season certain persons become possessed, or as the
An-ko-me-nums say, “the you-an, or dance-spirit, is on them.” They
dream dreams and see visions, and move about in a hypnotic state,
unable, or at least declining, to work, and roaring out at intervals a
sort of mournful sobbing, “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh.” Then they go from house to
house, hunting up every kind of food they can get hold of, and gorging
themselves many times a day. At night these dancers, all daubed and
plastered with grease and paint, would gather in the large houses,
where the people were assembled, and work themselves up into a frenzy,
prancing up and down and round about, performing numerous contortions.
Then they would break out in song, or in monotonous recitation relate
their dreams and visions and tell many weird tales. Then round and
round, and up and down again, they would prance, until they dropped
from sheer exhaustion, or fell, perhaps, into the fire, and another
took their place. All this time the onlookers watched and listened
to the chanting and the story, or screamed and pounded in frantic
accompaniment to the dancing.

The heathen dance is certainly demoralizing, and, like everything of
heathenism, is of the devil.


Early in my stay at Nanaimo four or five of the leading chiefs came to
me with the proposition that if I would allow them to go on with their
potlatching and wild dancing every day in the week, they would come to
church and rest on Sunday.

“No; you had better stop all your heathenism,” was my answer.

Nothing daunted, they came back again later. Now they would all be good
on Sabbath and stand by me if they could dance. It was not very bad,
and they had to keep up a little of what their fathers told them. And
if I would not speak against it or pray against it they would all be
good soon and would have all their children go to school.

“No, I cannot have anything to do with the old way, the dance, the
potlatch, etc., it is all bad,” I said.

Then they whispered to each other, “Oh, he is like a post; you cannot
move him.”

To give an idea of the scenes witnessed on these dancing occasions: Old
Sna-kwe-multh, a man who had been taken a slave by some northern tribe,
but who had found his way home, wished to demonstrate his bravery. At a
great feast he came rushing in half naked and danced before the people.
As his frenzy increased he slashed at his thighs with some kind of
sharp instrument, and then with both hands caught up his own blood and
drank it, to prove himself a brave.

A number of white men, who had been witnesses of the shameful scene,
ran out and cried, “The devil is in the man.”

I denounced the custom and pleaded with them to give it up. Speaking
to the old Chief Squen-es-ton, I said, “You must stop it. It is of the

“Oh,” said he, “the white man’s dance worse than the Indian’s dance.”

“How do you make that out?” I said.

“Oh, Indian man, alone, dance all round the house and sit down. And
then Indian woman she dance all round and she sit down. But white man
take another man’s wife and hug her all round the house.”

What could I say to the argument? What would you have said?


Of the many evils of heathenism, with the exception of witchcraft, the
potlatch is the worst, and one of the most difficult to root out.

At one time its demoralizing influence was so manifest that the
Government passed a law prohibiting it, but this excellent law was
seldom properly enforced.

“Potlatch”--the word is from the Chinook and means “to give.”
Literally the idea is the giving away of everything a man possesses
to his friends. In return he gets nothing except a little flattery, a
reputation for generosity, and poverty.

“Tlaa-nuk” is the An-ko-me-num word, and it suggests something more
than “a giving,” or a feast, or an entertainment, or a ceremony, for
it is all of these and more. It is a system of tribal government which
enforces its tyrannical rule upon all, and overrides all other laws of
the nation or the individual.

Its outward manifestation of the heathen feast and dance, with the
giving of gifts to all present, is bad enough, but this is as nothing
to the unseen influence behind it all.

The potlatch relates to all the life of the people, such as the giving
of names, the raising into social position, their marriages, deaths and

A man desires, or thinks himself entitled to, some coveted position,
property or distinction, and for years, perhaps, makes preparation to
secure it. This can only be done by the law of “tlaa-nuk” (potlatch),
and so when ready he calls together from far and near his friends and
relatives, when, after much feasting and dancing and speech-making,
he gets up on a high platform and proceeds to give away all that he

The ambition of an Indian to be thought greater, richer and more
influential than any of his neighbors leads him not only to give away
a large part of his goods--which, as a matter of fact, he expects
returned with interest on some future occasion, at another such
gathering--but wantonly to destroy very much in such a manner that it
can never be restored. For instance, think of a man taking a fine large
canoe, valued at, perhaps, one hundred and fifty dollars, and smashing
it into pieces; or of another seizing a number of beautiful new guns
or rifles and bending and breaking them so that they would be utterly
useless; or of another setting fire to piles of food and of goods. Some
few years ago, at one such gathering, the poor, foolish creatures took
rolls of new bills, the product of their summer’s work, and threw them
into the fire.

I knew a man at Nanaimo who, together with his wives and children,
worked for years saving and getting together much property; and then a
great potlatch was given, and everything went, to the last stitch of
clothing, and he and his family were left practically naked to face the
winter, without any provisions. His children nearly starved, while he
contracted a cold which led to consumption, from which he died.

Some time ago it was rumored that the law against the potlatch was to
be repealed. This drew a strong protest from several quarters, among
them from some of the Indians themselves.

About that time the following letter, which explains itself, appeared
in the local press, signed by an Indian whose identity was vouched for
by a gentleman who knew him well:

“Having heard that in the last session of the provincial parliament
a resolution was passed asking Dominion Government to reconsider the
potlatch question with a view to repealing section 114, and that there
is to be an inquiry as to the evils of the potlatch, we should like to
tell the public what the potlatch is.

“Really and truly it is destruction to life and property, as we shall
show. The first is that the women go from home to other places for
immoral purposes, to get money or blankets to give away, or potlatch,
as people call it. The second is that they sell their daughters to
other men as soon as possible, sometimes twelve or thirteen years old,
marriage they call it; the people do not care so long as they get
blankets to potlatch with. And the third is that they hate each other
so much because of their trying to get one above the other in rank, as
it is according to how many times they potlatch that they get the rank,
and keep it, too. If they could they would even poison one another.
Even now they think they kill one another by witchcraft, with intent
to kill, and they believe that they do kill. A man does not care for
any relatives when the potlatch is in question. The potlatch is their
god; they will sacrifice everything to it--life, property, relatives,
children, or anything, must go for him to be a ‘tyee’ (chief) in the

“A man after giving a potlatch will sit down, his children, too,
without knowing where he is going to get his food and clothes, as he
has given away everything, and he has borrowed half of it, for which he
has to pay back double. And another thing is, when they are mad with
one another they will break canoes or tear blankets or break a valuable
copper, to shame their opponent. The potlatch is one fight, with
quarrelling and hating one another.

“And another is the desecration of the dead. The hamatsa, or medicine
man, when he first comes from the woods, carries a dead body in his
arms, professing to have lived on such things when in the woods, and
as soon as the hamatsa comes in the house the other hamatsas all get
up and go and tear the body to pieces among them like dogs; besides
all this they bite the arms of one another; and the other thing is
that when a man gets ill he thinks he is witchcrafted, and then his
relatives will go and take the dead body that they think he is fixed
with: they cut and mutilate it to undo the work that they think has
been done to him. We have just heard of such a case from Kurtsis, of a
woman’s dead body having been taken out and cut, to undo the work that
they think has been done to a certain man. All these things are pure
facts, and we are prepared to prove them if need be, and could tell
other evils, but we are afraid of tiring the public.”


The Indians are passionately fond of gambling. In olden times they
gambled, not with cards, but usually with round wooden pins about three
inches long, or with shells and pebbles.

The gamblers would sit opposite each other on the grass or in the large
houses, and a great crowd would gather on both sides, making a rattling
noise with short sticks on boards, and singing to work themselves up
for luck, or “power,” as they called it. The gambling would go on night
and day, almost week in and week out, until they had not a shred of
clothes left. Money, muskets, canoes, horses, and sometimes the houses
over their heads, they would stake on a chance.

The story is told of one old man among the Kling-gets who gambled away
everything he had. Then, with the hope that he would have a lucky
day some time, he put himself down and gambled away for days, still
losing, until his wife, seeing that he was “going,” persuaded him to
stop. She had to pay two hundred blankets to buy him back.

The gambling passion still lives with them, and now some of them have
adopted the methods of their white brothers--they were always fond of
imitating him, even to their own hurt--and are going deeper and deeper
into sin.


  “Ye whose hearts are fresh and simple,
   Who have faith in God and Nature,
   Who believe, that in all ages
   Every human heart is human,
   That in even savage bosoms
   There are longings, yearnings, strivings,
   For the good they comprehend not,
   That the feeble hands and helpless,
   Groping blindly in the darkness,
   Touch God’s right hand in that darkness
   And are lifted up and strengthened....”

The An-ko-me-nums, like most of the Indians of British Columbia, were
spirit worshippers. First of all, they believed in a great Chief
Spirit, who created all things and was all-wise and all-powerful, and
ruled over them for good, but who was not actively concerned for them,
and whom they never called upon except in cases of great difficulty or

Then they believed in a multitude of lesser spirits, who were in
most cases evilly disposed towards them. These inhabited certain
mountains and headlands and rocky, dangerous points, around which the
waves raged and tossed their frail canoes, and sometimes upset them.
A swirling eddy, a dangerous rapid, a lonely lake in the mountains,
a steep precipice where perhaps at some time or other one of their
people had met with disaster and possibly death, was the abode of a
“Stlaw-la-kum,” or evil spirit.

They prayed a great deal to the sun, to the moon, to the Great Being
who gave them all the fish and food, or to the spirit whom they
believed might be responsible for any impending danger. They were often
found in the woods praying. Hunters would pray and fast for days in
the mountains, bathing themselves and performing certain exercises, in
order to be successful hunters. They would pray, while fishing, for a
successful catch. And for weeks before going on a war expedition they
would fast and pray and bathe and paint themselves in preparation for
the undertaking.

Food and drink were often thrown on the fire as an offering to the
unknown Divinity, while the ascending smoke bore the prayers of the
poor blind worshippers onward to the Great Chief above.

Speaking of this, one of our native preachers says: “My grandmother in
the early morning used to kindle a fire as she sat on the river bank.
When it was a clear, quiet morning and the smoke would ascend, as it
seemed, straight up to the land above, she would say, as she prayed for
more food or for protection from sickness or trouble, ‘Now our prayers
will be answered.’ But if the wind blew the smoke about, she would say
it was no use praying, as such prayers were useless.”

Out on the water, with the tempest threatening, they were accustomed
to turn around and whistle and wave their hands to the wind, to keep
it away, and when it grew stormy they would pray to the mighty wind.
Crossing the Gulf of Georgia on one occasion in a big storm, the
old heathen captain and his wife, with whom we voyaged, prayed most
appealingly, “Oh, you big storm, don’t you drown us; you are so strong
and we are so weak; don’t you make such a rough sea. Why should we go
down? We are all dirty, our clothes are dirty, we are very dirty; if
you take us down we shall dirty your clear waters, they are so clear
and blue. Don’t have us dirty your beautiful waters.”

The south men, as well as the north, would throw out food and even
clothes as a sacrifice to appease the storm.

When becalmed on a fair day the conjurer or “windmaker” would volunteer
to raise the wind. He would begin by whistling and waving the hand,
and then praying to the Spirit of the locality. Should a light breeze
spring up they would shout and hurrah because they had brought the wind.

Of their traditions we have not much to say. In common with many
other peoples, they had legends of the creation and of the deluge.
Their stories of the flood are very local in coloring, and usually
gather around a certain mountain peak, the highest in their immediate
vicinity. The legend of the thunder bird is one which is repeated in
varied forms all up and down the coast. The Nanaimos told how the
thunder was made up between two mountains. Between two large rocks,
near the shores of a little mountain lake, some great birds which made
the thunder had their nest. Then the little thunders all came out, and
they with the big thunders clapped their wings; then the roll and roar
of the thunder could be heard echoing through the hills.


The An-ko-me-nums believed in a future existence, and placed upon
the graves the toys and trinkets of the children, the weapons and
belongings of their braves, the canoe or horse of the chief, which they
thought would be of service to the former owner in the land to which he
had gone.

They buried their dead in various ways. There are evidences that in
times long past they put many of them in rocky tombs and hid them from
their enemies. During times of war they buried them in large pits,
which were covered with ashes, and huge mounds of shells were heaped
on the top. At Comox, on Vancouver Island; Musqueam, near Eburne, at
the mouth of the Fraser; at Port Hammond, and other places, where these
mounds existed and have been opened, human skulls and bones have been
found in large numbers.

Fifty years ago they enclosed the bodies of the dead in boxes and
placed them upon a scaffold, some ten or twelve feet high, to keep them
out of the way of animals. In still later times they placed them on the
ground and built little houses over them. To-day they are buried in the
earth, after the Christian fashion.

Such fear had they of death that the dead were not kept very long, but
were placed in a box and hurried out of the way as soon as possible.
They were particularly cruel and indifferent to their old people, even
placing them in their boxes before they were quite dead.

I recall the case of a poor old man at Nanaimo who had been sick for
some time. I called one day at the house and did not find him on the
miserably dirty old cot. I then asked his son, a heathen, a chief, and
past middle age himself, where the old man was. “He is in that box,”
he replied, at the same time pointing to a native cedar box, about
eighteen inches square and two feet deep, made without a nail, and
bound with cedar withes.

I went to the box, and opening it I found the poor fellow, where they
had placed him, according to custom, crowded in and doubled up, his
head between his knees, but still alive. I had him taken out at once,
but he died the next day.

Some time ago, on the west coast, a man who had been very sick, and
whom they expected to die, was thus buried alive. His legs were
broken and his poor body was jammed into a box, and it was put away
on an island. A woman picking berries heard the man groan, and with
considerable grit for an Indian woman went and opened the box and
let him out. He is still living, though as a result of his horrible
experience he is compelled to make his way about as best he may on all


Several years ago smallpox raged along the coast and swept off many of
the Indians as well as the whites. The city and government at Victoria
appointed certain white grave-diggers to bury the numerous corpses
found upon the beach, among the trees, in huts and in canoes.

In many cases the grave-diggers found poor creatures almost, but not
altogether, dead; they knew they would be fit for burial soon, and did
not care to spend time waiting for the last gasp. It is said they were
taking one poor fellow off to the grave, but he objected on the very
proper ground that he was not dead yet. He was told to shut up, as he
was dead, but too delirious to comprehend the fact. So they carefully
placed him under the sod to await the resurrection morn.


The coal company at Nanaimo were building a wharf from a point in the
harbor, and paid for the removal of a number of Indian bodies which had
been buried near the spot. New graves were dug on a little side hill,
and to these the remains were transferred. The holes, however, were
quite shallow, owing to the presence of a clay hard-pan underneath.
Next day a great outcry was made in the camp, and intense excitement
prevailed, for most of the boxes had risen up and had come out of the
graves. We went down to discover the cause of the disturbance, and what
had seemed to the poor people so strange and uncanny had been caused
by the heavy rain of the night before filling the shallow graves and
floating out what they contained. It took some time to quiet the fears
of the people.

The men who do anything in any way in the digging of the grave or the
handling of the body are paid excessively for their services. This may
be due, in part, to their horrible fear of the dead.


The Indian mother grieves for her children with the same intensity
of feeling that characterizes her white sister. After the burial she
will return to the grave in the early morning and weep bitterly. She
often continues this for days at a time. She wails and calls up the
looks of the little one, its acts and words. She will carry the clothes
and playthings to the little grave, and cry and talk away to her lost
darling, and pathetically plead for its return.

There is, however, a kind of professionalism about a great deal of
their mourning for the dead. When a chief or leading person had passed
away women were accustomed to rush into the house from all parts of
the village. Perhaps on their way there they might be chatting and
laughing about trifles, but as soon as they got near the house where
the dead lay, they would commence rubbing their hands down their faces,
and really seem to pump up their tears, for before they were fairly
seated the tears were flowing, while they wailed and told all the good
qualities of the dead.

After this had gone on for some time, someone belonging to the house
would hand around a dish or basket containing water. The crying then
ceased, and dipping their fingers in the water they bathed faces and
hands, and received the strips of calico or clothes of the deceased,
which was their reward for their weeping.


The medicine-man, or witch-doctor, that demon among heathen peoples,
held sway among the An-ko-me-nums when I first went to the Coast.

The shaman, or medicine-man, is the representative of the grossest
features of paganism. He has wielded, and still wields to some extent,
a marvellous influence over the people, because of the supernatural
powers which they believe him to possess.

He professes to have acquired his power by long months of retirement in
the mountains or beside some lonely lake, where he fasted and prayed
and held converse with the spirits and with nature.

Returning, he practises certain magical rites, and by this means is
able, so he claims, to heal the sick and raise the dead and look into
the future, and even cause the death of many who may oppose his magical

The tyranny of this wretched despot and the awful absurdity of his
miserable pretensions, together with his fiendishly bitter opposition
to everything that is good, leads him to be feared and hated.

Their method of treating disease was not by means of medicine. It
was left to the old women of the tribe really to administer such
simple remedies as they might be acquainted with--poultices, lotions,
emetics, purgatives, and such-like. The witch-doctor preyed upon the
superstitions of the people, and by his conjurer’s rites deceived and
beguiled them.

When called in, in case of sickness, he would shake his rattle and work
himself up to a frenzy, scream and howl, and if it was a case of fever
he would rattle away for hours. If there was some fixed pain, he would
grab hold of the chest or forehead or place where the pain was said
to be, and then get down and suck and squeeze and suck away until the
blood came through the skin. Then repeatedly spitting the blood into
his hands, he would shout for his attendants to rattle harder and sing
louder, “It was coming.” Finally he would jump and scream or cheer
and say he had got it out, and then proceed to show a piece of shell,
glass, pebble, or a nail, which he claimed he had taken from the body,
and which was the cause of the trouble.

A cousin of Sallosalton’s, a bright youth who had attended our school,
in whom I had become very much interested, was taken very sick with a
fever, and the conjurer (witch-doctor) was called in. I visited him,
and saw that the old conjurer’s rattling and the additional noise of
the people beating time to his rattle or drum and boards, together with
the yelling and singing for hours, was only distracting the poor boy
and making him very much worse. I went to the town and consulted the
only doctor there. He came to see my young friend, and said he felt
sure that if the medicine were administered properly, and we could keep
the old conjurer away, there was good hope of his recovery. So I told
the people that we did not want the conjurer there any more, and that
they must help me to keep the lad quiet. Night after night I sat up in
order to administer the medicine and keep the old imposter away, and
thus give him the necessary quiet. But I found that secretly during the
day, while I was resting, they would call in the conjurer again, as his
friends had more faith in him than in our medicine and nursing.

Several days passed before I discovered their doings. But one day I
slipped into the house unexpectedly and found the old fellow rattling
over him, with a number of his friends keeping time with sticks on a
board, to assist the old imposter, as he said, “to get the power.”
I rushed in and ordered him to stop and leave. A day or two after I
found him again at the same thing, all painted up and nearly naked,
and partly stretched out upon the body of the sick man, howling and
rattling away. My indignation was aroused, and I said to him, “If you
don’t stop you’ll kill that boy. Leave at once! and if you don’t I’ll
bundle you out of the house.”

[Illustration: “One day I slipped in and found the old fellow rattling
over him.” _p. 121_]

He saw that I was making for him, when he got up and crawled out,
saying that he was there by invitation. Of course, the father, mother
and friends, who were responsible, were very much disgusted at my

I continued my watch by the poor boy for several nights, and had the
joy of knowing that he was trusting in Jesus. However, I was suddenly
called away to the Fraser River, and, much to my regret, had to leave
the sick one. After I left they got the conjurer back, and finished
their work, for the boy died soon afterwards.


It is lamentable to behold the superstitious dread of these people of
the power of the witch-doctor to do them harm.

During my stay at Nanaimo a bright, intelligent young man, about
nineteen years of age, by the name of Charlie, attended our school. I
missed him for some days, and on inquiry learned that he was sick. I
made my way to the old heathen house where he lived, and there found
him lying on a wretched cot, covered with his old dirty blanket.

I said, “Charlie, what’s the matter?”

“I am sick, sir,” he replied.

I felt his pulse, made general inquiry, but could discover very little
the matter with him. Giving him some medicine, I told him to “have a
strong heart,” as he would soon be well.

Two or three days afterwards, on a beautiful sunny spring morning, I
visited him again, and found he was still lying in the same place. I
got him up and out of the old house into the sunlight, but he seemed to
grow worse rather than better.

Finally I said to him one day, “Charlie, what’s the matter with you?
You are not sick!”

“Oh, you cannot understand my sickness,” he replied.

“Where are you sick? What is the matter?” I continued.

“Oh,” he said, looking very serious, “white man don’t understand my

“Tell me where your sickness is?” I urged.

Pulling down his dirty blanket, and putting his hand upon his stomach
he said, “It is here. An old conjurer has made me sick. He has blown
something into my inside.”

“Oh, nonsense, Charlie!” said I. “It is no such thing. No man has power
to do that.”

But he shook his head and replied, “Oh, I told you, you don’t
understand my sick. The Indian has power, and he is using it on me, and
I shall die.”

Day by day I visited the poor boy and tried in every way to get him to
arouse himself and to go out with the rest of the boys. But no, he lay
there and sickened, and in about six weeks he died.

I do not believe anything was the matter, except his superstitious fear
that the old witch-doctor had put his spell upon him and was killing


If there is a class that deserves severe treatment among the Indians
it is these miserable reprobates, who still are busy preying upon the
credulity of the people and working incalculable mischief.

At the present time there are several of these imposters among the
bands in the Lower Fraser Valley. They have been for years a nuisance,
the priests of paganism and the prophets of evil.

Their miserable pretensions we have ignored, and have left them out, as
far as possible, in our social gatherings among the people.

Several years ago invitations to the wedding of two of our young people
were sent to many of the Indians of the community, these witch doctors
alone being purposely left out.

This enraged them so much that they announced that they would kill
three persons who were at the gathering before a year was gone.

Shortly after one of the little pupils at the Institute, who had been
ill for some time, died, and they immediately claimed credit for the
child’s death. A little later a woman who attended was taken sick and
also died, and according to the statements of the conjurers she was
victim number two.

During the following summer a number of our Indians, as usual, went
down to the salmon fishing at the mouth of the river, among whom was
a middle-aged chief, one of our most intelligent Indians, and, we
considered, one of our truest Christians.

Typhoid was epidemic that year at Steveston, and this chief was taken
down with the fever.

Dr. Large, our energetic and successful medical missionary at Bella
Bella, was then at the Fraser River for the summer season, and visited
and gave the chief medical attention. He appeared to improve under
treatment and bade fair speedily to recover, but in an unexplainable
manner to the medical man the recovery was delayed. He found, on
inquiry, that the chief was not taking the medicine prescribed, and
had said that he did not think he would ever get well. When pressed
for his reasons, he confessed the belief that he was the third
victim of the witch-doctors’ rage, and that he could not live. The
missionary reasoned with him, pleaded with him, prayed with him, but
without avail, and finally the poor fellow died, the victim of his
own superstitious fears, upon which the conjurers had worked all too

We were grieved beyond measure that such a noble life had been thus cut
short, and that the power of superstition and ignorance was still so

This power of the medicine-man is coupled with the Indian’s belief in
witchcraft. No heathen Indian ever dies a natural death, for every
sickness or accident is due, according to their superstitious view,
to the evil eye or malign spell of someone who is evilly disposed
towards them. When calamity or sickness comes they immediately apply to
the witch-doctor to perform his incantations and discover the witch.
Sometimes it is an old woman of the tribe, whose term of life is now
necessarily short; sometimes it is a slave or a bright girl or boy,
and sometimes a whole family are pointed out as the “guilty ones” and
doomed to death. The atrocities committed by the natives, moved by this
dreadful superstition, are numberless and in many cases too dreadful to
relate. How fervently we pray that the enlightening influence of the
Holy Spirit may penetrate the gloom of heathen darkness and forever
drive out all the nameless horrors which belong to paganism.


  “Mourn for the lost,--but pray,
     Pray to our God above,
   To break the fell destroyer’s sway,
     And show His saving love.”

For hundreds of years the natives of the Pacific Coast of British
Columbia have been exposed to the temptations of the white man’s
whiskey. The traders on ships in those early years thought it to their
advantage to take a good supply of rum with them in the traffic for
furs, and the poor people became so infatuated with it that while it
lasted they would not even go out after the pelts. Whether it was the
awful effects of the whiskey traffic upon the natives, or the risk that
the Company’s servants ran in dealing with drunken Indians, or the
loss to the Company’s business due to the condition of the natives,
we cannot say--perhaps it was all of these--but finally Sir George
Simpson, the Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, forbade the sale of
liquor at any of the trading posts.

Strong drink has been the greatest enemy to the Indians of the Coast
and one of the greatest difficulties in the way of Christianizing and
civilizing them.

At our first mission station, history has it, a coal mine was sold
for a bottle of rum. We are not sure just how this occurred, but it is
stated that an old Indian who made discovery of the first vein of coal
was promised a bottle of rum and repairs to his old flint-lock musket
if he would bring to Victoria, seventy-five miles away, a sample of the
mineral, and afterwards show where the vein was located. The old man
loaded his canoe with coal and paddled away for days until he reached
the place, and delivered it to the party, who gave him the bottle of
rum as agreed. The Indian was always afterwards known as “Coal Tyee.”

In our first work among the natives hardly a day passed but they had
liquor, procured either from the miners or sailors, or from those
contemptible characters who spent their time in vending the accursed
“fire-water” among these deluded people. Many a score of bottles of
whiskey had to be destroyed in those days. Sometimes, of course, the
owners became terribly exasperated at our action, and we were always,
while living right among them, exposed to danger from wild, drunken
men. Two men followed me one night for some distance, and said they
were determined to break my head with a bottle. Sometimes for whole
nights together it would seem as if all of the people of the village
were intoxicated, and often I have been called up at the midnight hour
to settle some trouble, or possibly to prevent bloodshed, due to the
presence of whiskey.

On a trip along the coast, near where Ladysmith now stands, a young man
under the frenzy of whiskey had shot down his own father. A council of
the chiefs and people was being held, and I was called in to witness
and hear the speeches and the talk of vengeance on the white man who
had given them the liquor. One after another spoke, and finally one
chief directed a most appealing address to me.

“Oh, Missionary,” he said, “you bring us good words, the Book tells of
good things, but look at that dead chief. Are you not ashamed of your
white brother? Why don’t you convert him? He has the Book, why don’t he
stop making and selling whiskey? Why don’t you convert the man who gave
the liquor to that man who shot his own father?” And as the old orator
poured forth his eloquent address in his own language, I felt, for the
first time, ashamed that I was a white man.


More than once, realizing the awful effect of this dread traffic upon
the natives, the Missionary felt impelled to take the law into his own
hands in dealing with this illicit trade.

[Illustration: WITCH DOCTOR. _p. 119_


“COAL TYEE.” _p. 127_



One fine day in Victoria, another preacher and myself, crossing the
bay on the old ferry boat, saw a canoe coming from under a wharf with
boxes in it. I said to my friend, “That looks like whiskey.” We hurried
the ferryman up, watching at the same time where this canoe would
land. Leaving my friend, I ran over the hill, shouting as I passed the
chief’s house, in his own tongue, “Give me an axe, an axe I must have.”
Jim, the chief, successor to old King Freezee, ran out of his house
with an axe in his hand. Seizing it I ran towards the canoe, and
just as the men landed their cases of “tangleleg,” as it was called at
that time, I smashed them open with the axe, sending the blade through
the five-gallon coal oil cans full of this terrible stuff. Much of the
liquor then sold to the Indians was a vile combination of camphene,
coal oil and other fiery material, which seemed to set the natives
wild when they drank it. The men by this time had run away, one up the
hillside and the other some distance down the beach, looking back to
see what would be done. I do not know whether they thought I was an
officer of the law or not, but at any rate we got rid of that much of
the abominable stuff--“chain lightning” it was sometimes called--which
might have caused much trouble and loss of life in the camp.


On a journey down the east coast of Vancouver Island my Indian boy,
Charlie, and I, having travelled about twenty-five miles in a small
canoe, touched at a little village on a beautiful island where I had
often visited and preached before.

Just as our canoe struck the beach, on the north point of the island,
a young man by the name of Jacob, who was already “half seas over,”
called out, “Mr. Crosby, whiskey, whiskey!”

I jumped out and ran across the point of land, and here was a big
fellow, named Comox Tom, with a large canoe, just pushing off.

Too late to reach them, as they paddled away as quickly as possible,
I turned around through the village and found they had had a “whiskey
feast.” And, oh! what a sight! nearly all drunk--men, women and

Seeing that I could do them no good, I turned and said to my boy
Charlie, “Will you go with me, and we will overhaul that canoe, or they
will do the same bad work at another place?”

“Yes, I’ll go, sir!” he replied.

Just then Jacob, the man who had called to me, came forward and jumped
into the canoe, saying that he would go too.

Off we went, following the big canoe, which was now well over towards
the other island, some three miles away. Our little craft, with three
good paddles and plenty of elbow grease, fairly leaped over the water,
and it was soon evident that we were catching up to them with their
heavy canoe.

As we got near I saw the old man at the bow set his musket by his side
and the man at the stern get his ready also, while the two women, who
sat in midships, each armed herself with an axe. It looked as if they
were getting everything ready for a fight.

I stopped paddling and called to the big fellow, Tom, who was steering
the large canoe, to stop and listen to what I had to say.

“Tom, we have not come to fight,” I said, “but I must have the liquor.”
And then to my helpers, “Pull up alongside, boys!”

As soon as we were alongside of their big canoe I seized hold of a
five-gallon can of whiskey and began pouring it out. While I was doing
this my boys in the bow of the canoe hauled on board a case of “Old
Tom.” The big Indian, in the meanwhile, got hold of the can as I was
pouring it out and claimed it as his own.

“Well, Tom, pour it out yourself,” I said. “Pour it out, I tell you!” I

Tom held it over the side, just near to me, and poured away until it
was nearly all gone; then he stopped, and in a pleading voice said,
“Oh! let me have just a little, sir!” But I kicked it out of his hand
overboard and warned him not to sell liquor among the people along the
coast any more.

I asked if we had got all the liquor, and Tom, feeling bad at losing
his, nodded to me, pointing to the boxes on which the women sat, as
much as to say, “There is more liquor there.” But try as we could, the
women remained firm, sitting like statues, and we could not remove them.

Turning to Tom I said, “I might have had you put in the
‘skookum-house’” (as they call the jail), “but I want you to do better.
Will you be a better Indian and stop this business?”

He readily promised. Then I called to the boys in my canoe to hand me
the case of liquor, and taking the bottles two by two, I smashed them
together until they were all destroyed. Just as the last two were going
the young fellow, Jacob, who had worked so well and had evidently come
with us in expectation of being able to secure a little more, reached
to me and said, “Oh, do let us have a little, sir!” Poor fellows, how
feebly they seemed to realize the awful effects upon themselves of
strong drink.


A few days after this I had been preaching to settlers on Salt Spring
Island, and while visiting a settler on the east side, a young Indian
came rushing into the house crying out, “Mr. Crosby, Mr. Crosby,
whiskey, whiskey!” and pointed to the beach, where he said there were
some northern Indians selling liquor.

We started down to the shore. I ran some distance above where he said
the canoe was, and got down on the beach, where I could now see them
bartering away whiskey from their big canoe to parties camped on the
shore. I made one straight bolt for them, jumped on board the canoe,
and began throwing out their coal oil cans of whiskey. While I was
doing this, four big fellows were pushing off their canoe from the
shore and carrying me with them out to sea. In a moment I made a plunge
for the shore, coming up to my neck in the water, and got to land. We
destroyed the whiskey and shouted after the savages that they must stop
their unlawful deeds.

My readers may wonder why the missionary took the risks he did, and
interfered in matters that may seem to be outside of his regular
evangelistic work. It was because he recognized this terrible traffic
as the greatest enemy to the work in which he was engaged, and firmly
believed that in fighting it he was taking the most practical method of
preaching the Gospel to a people who were being destroyed, soul and
body, by this trade in strong drink.


At Departure Bay, near Nanaimo, there was a notorious resort, properly
licensed, of course, but kept by a wretched fellow who made no pretence
at keeping the law.

This place went by the name of “The Synagogue,” and was suspected of
being the quarter from which many of the Indians, on their way north,
secured their supply of liquor. Besides this, on an island near by, a
quarry had been opened by a gentlemanly American, getting out stone for
the new Mint Building in San Francisco. The nearness of this liquor
joint resulted in continued drunkenness among the workmen at the
quarry, and consequently the neglect of their work.

When it came time for renewing the licenses, I circulated a petition,
in which I was strongly supported by the proprietor of the quarry, and
which was signed by most of the respectable and leading men of the
town, and presented it to the magistrate, praying that the license for
“The Synagogue” should not be renewed, as we believed that liquor was
sold to Indians at that place.

On the day appointed, when the case was under consideration, the
magistrate read out my petition and said, “I can’t renew this license
to-day.” Nevertheless, after a few days we learned that the license had
been given.

It was in the afternoon of the same day that I met the proprietor of
“The Synagogue,” with some others, on the street, and he swore he would
slap my face, though he did not get at it.

Later on, emboldened by securing his license, he went to Victoria and
got out summonses for twelve of the leading men of the town, whose
names were on the petitions. He didn’t include Crosby, as he said, “He
isn’t worth the powder and shot; he has no money!”

We met and engaged one of the best lawyers in the country to look after
the case. He told us it would be wise for us to get evidence that this
house had sold whiskey to Indians.

So one evening, shortly afterwards, I took two Indians in a small
canoe, and we went up to “The Synagogue.” And while I stood in the
dusk by the canoe, where I could see what went on, they purchased each
a bottle of whiskey and brought it back to the canoe, and all the
evidence needed was at hand.

Our friend, the proprietor of the house, soon discovered what had
happened, and did not press the cases against the petitioners. The
summonses all remained in the hands of the parties until the next
spring, when our lawyer forced them to bring the matter into court.
The fellow was fined, his license taken from him, and it cost him some
two or three hundred dollars. He treated the poor Indian missionary as
politely as a French dancing master after that.


Those were wild times, and I had more than one unpleasant experience,
among whites as well as Indians.

On my way to camp one evening, a party, composed of a big Indian and
two women, all drunk, rushed out of the bush and seized me. I liberated
myself from them by pushing one one way and the other another, smashed
the whiskey bottle that the man held in his hand, and then ran as hard
as I could.

On one occasion I was kindly invited to stay at a logging camp back of
Oyster Bay. After supper I preached to the “boys,” and was listened
to with respect and attention. When it came time to rest, they put me
up in the top bunk in the bunk-house. And glad I was before morning
that I was up aloft, for later on some of the boys came in the worse
of liquor, passed around their bottles and had a most hilarious time.
I don’t know how it commenced, but very soon a fight ensued; and, oh,
how they did batter each other, while I lay in my blankets praying that
God would, in some way, stop the quarrel. I did not get much rest that
night, I assure you.

Next morning some of the poor fellows came and humbly apologized, and
years afterwards one of them met me and asked if I recalled that night
and its scene of turmoil and revelry.


On one of my trips, very early in my missionary experience, we came to
an Indian camp where a number of men and women were drinking whiskey
in one of the large houses. The house having been pointed out to me, I
rushed in without ceremony.

The man who had been serving the liquor to his friends around the fire,
having heard my footsteps, was just in the act of putting a bottle away
in a box. I rushed towards him, and seizing the bottle from him, I
poured the contents upon the fire. The vile stuff blazed up with a blue
blaze as if it had been coal oil.

I told the people I was not angry with them, and invited them to the
service. The little bell was now ringing, and there gathered into a
large house about thirty or forty persons, who sat around the fire,
some on boxes and some on beds and mats.

We had sung in the native language, and were now singing in English,
“There is a happy land, far, far away,” when in came a man crazed
with the drink, all painted up, with only a blanket on, waving a
scalping-knife in his hand and shouting at the top of his voice, “I’ll
fix the white man! I don’t care for the white man!”

He jumped on a bed behind where Cushan, my assistant, and I were just
in the act of kneeling down to prayer. Cushan, the interpreter, prayed,
and I prayed, for the first time publicly in the Indian language, for
God to have mercy upon the poor people, and especially upon the poor
man who had the knife and was so angry. I had not prayed very long
before he stepped down as stealthily and quietly as possible and walked
out of the house.

After the service was over Cushan said to me, “Mr. Crosby, that man
very angry. You not know Indian. He want to kill us. All the time when
I pray I shut my eyes when I pray, but this time I shut one eye and
open the other. I watch and pray.”

The episode was over, and the missionary smiled at the native
shrewdness of his helper.

Poor Cushan himself had been a slave to the drink. In his early years,
when a servant of the Company, he had acquired a taste for it, but
becoming a Christian, he gave up the habit. There were those, though,
who knew his old weakness, and were not pleased at the change in him.
Some time after the incident above narrated, one night in Nanaimo,
passing by a log cabin, he was entrapped. Two white men who knew
him--shall I call them men? demons in human form--invited the poor
fellow in, locked the door, and tried in every way to persuade him to
drink. Failing this, one held him and the other poured into him the
accursed stuff. Then, alas! poor fellow, the old desire was awakened,
and he drank. It took him a long time to get over this. But by the
grace of God he did finally overcome the enemy, and lived a good
Christian life.


Oh, the horrors of the drink traffic! How many awful tragedies may be
laid at its door!

The whole village of Nanaimo was aroused and terrified one morning when
a canoe came round the point with the bodies of two dead chiefs who had
been murdered about thirty miles to the north. Old Chief Quee-es-ton
and a number of his party, who had been hunting on the island, were
visited by some white men in a sloop laden with grog. Fired by the
influence of what he had drunk, the chief demanded more. A quarrel
ensued, and the white men shot the chiefs dead, put up their sails and
sailed away, and were never heard of after.

The bodies of these poor victims were brought home to their people,
which set the whole tribe in an uproar, and they swore vengeance on
those who had murdered their friends, or any other white men.

In consequence, not long after this a white man by the name of John
Brown, at Cowichan, was murdered, and poor innocent Robinson, a colored
man, was shot in his cabin on Salt Spring Island, and about the same
time Hamilton, another white man, was killed near Nanaimo.

In connection with the latter crime, Jim and Quin-num, Indian names
with which we are already familiar, were arrested and put in jail.

Quin-num turned Queen’s evidence, and implicated poor Jim, who was
afterwards hanged. I visited him in the prison, and was with him
all night before his execution, and finally stood beside him on the

I believe he was soundly converted while in prison. On the sad day of
execution he said to the hundreds of spectators:

“I was with Quin-num when he shot the man. I did not do the deed. I go
to the Great Judge who will do right. But I say to the young men, keep
out of bad company. If I had not been drunk and gone with Quin-num, I
should not have been here.”

Little wonder that the missionary acted at times the part of a
detective, smashed up the barrels and coal oil cans and bottles, or
brought to justice those unprincipled men who took advantage of the
weakness of the natives.


About the time of these thrilling experiences the Victoria papers
reported a very sad incident, under the heading, “A Life for a Bottle
of Whiskey,” which goes to show that the missionary’s concern for his
people, and his hatred of the traffic in “fire-water,” were amply

“The coroner’s inquest has decided,” so reads the report, “that William
Bailey, the Songees Indian, who was shot on the reservation, came to
his death by the discharge of S-- L--’s revolver. The whole trouble
arose, as do most troubles with savage people, out of whiskey. In
defiance of the law, someone had supplied the liquor, having no regard
for the consequences of his unlawful act. A life for a bottle of
whiskey, that is the total of the lamentable affair. Almost every day
some serious trouble is reported from one or other of the reservations.
In every case the trouble is directly traceable to whiskey.”

On one occasion, two white men were brought before the Honorable Chief
Justice of the Colony, charged with assaulting each other.

The trial was completed, and his Honor was about to pronounce sentence.
Turning to one of the men, who had lost his nose in the fray of the
night before, he said, “For twenty-five years I have sat on the bench
of this colony, and I have invariably found liquor to be the chief
cause of all trouble and serious infringement of the law. If an Indian
shoots a white man, it’s been whiskey that has done it. If a white man
shoots an Indian, whiskey is at the bottom of it. You, my friend, have
lost your nose; your brother white man became a cannibal under the
influence of whiskey and bit off your nose.” And, giving his sentence,
“You will have to bear the penalty, and in the future I advise you to
let the whiskey alone.”

Don’t wonder if the missionary, above every other man, should be a
strong total abstainer and hate the very sight of liquor or its trade.


  “When passing through the watery deep,
     I ask in faith His promised aid;
   The waves an awful distance keep,
     And shrink from my devoted head.
   Fearless, their violence I dare,
   They cannot harm--for God is there.”
                             --_C. Wesley._

Soon after I got the language of the people, other teachers took the
school work, and I went out travelling from place to place, literally
“paddling my own canoe.”

There were few steamers in those days, and none between Nanaimo, the
centre of our work, and New Westminster and the Fraser River, where I
was often called in my labors among the natives.

These trips were invariably made by canoe, except for the chance of
catching the river steamer which journeyed from New Westminster to Yale.

The canoes of the Pacific Coast are of the type usually called
“dug-outs,” that is to say, they are mostly cut out of a cedar log.
In the south, the large ones were spoken of as “Chinook” canoes, with
rather a stub or short stern and a very high bow or neck. There were a
great variety of smaller canoes used for hunting and fishing, as well
as what they called a “spoon canoe,” flat-bottomed and nearly straight,
with hardly any bow or stern, which was used for travelling on very
shallow rivers. These latter were often made of cottonwood, while the
other types were always made of cedar.

The largest canoes were made in the north. The great war-canoes, with a
very heavy bow and stern, and capable of carrying easily fifty or sixty
people, were so shaped that, when properly managed, they would sail
over almost any sea. The Hydahs of Queen Charlotte Islands made the
largest and best canoes; they had larger cedar trees on their islands
than could be found on the mainland opposite. These canoes were often
from thirty to forty feet long and five or six feet beam, a beautiful
model, with gracefully shaped bow and stern, that would in English
phraseology be called a “clipper” for sailing. One of the largest of
these canoes, seventy feet in length by eight feet beam, was presented
to Lord Lorne when he visited British Columbia during his term of
administration as Governor-General of Canada.

The medium-sized canoe was the best. With two large sails and well
manned, one of these northern canoes would safely ride almost any sea.
It was by means of these smaller craft that I made many a toilsome
journey up and down the east coast of Vancouver Island, among the
beautiful islands which lie along that coast, across the Gulf of
Georgia, up the Fraser River, down into Puget Sound, and in and out of
the many inlets which pierce the coast of the mainland. In one year I
made four trips across the Gulf of Georgia and up the Fraser River and
back. Twice I travelled the distance from Nanaimo to Yale and return,
a round trip of about 340 miles, paddling the whole way.

In journeying to and fro I travelled over two thousand miles a year in
all kinds of weather, braving the dangers of stormy seas and the eddies
and swift currents of treacherous rivers, and enduring the discomforts
of the wild, open life in a new country. In it all I see the good hand
of God saving me from manifold dangers.

In time one becomes used to such toils and difficulties, and, after
all, they were only the common, every-day experiences of the miner or
the frontiersman of those early days.


In the days when steamboats were few, and only one plying between
Victoria and New Westminster, we were summoned to the latter place by
the Chairman of the District, from Nanaimo, to attend District Meeting.
This was in March, 1865.

A little iron steamer had just been brought out from England by the
coal company, by which we had hoped to cross to New Westminster, but,
unfortunately for us, she ran upon the rocks on Protection Island,
in front of the harbor of Nanaimo, the night before we had to start.
Disappointed by this, Rev. E. White and I went to the Indian village
and engaged the largest Chinook canoe we could find. A man accustomed
to travel by canoe, when he saw it, said, “I would just as soon go in
that craft as the steamer _Enterprise_.”

We started with a crew of three Indian men and one woman, Chilk,
the captain, an old heathen, having his wife with him. A Dutchman
joined us, who said he had been a sailor for fifteen years, and thus
there were seven of us in the party. It was a glorious day, and with
provisions, paddles, sails, and all things necessary for the journey,
we were soon away down south among the beautiful islands of the coast.
We made a good run and camped for the night. In the evening one of our
party shot a fine deer, which we added to our stock of provisions, and
after a bountiful supper we enjoyed the sweet rest of an open-air camp.

We aroused the men about three o’clock next morning, as we were anxious
to secure an early start. After a good breakfast, in which venison was
the chief feature, we gathered for prayers, and then were ready to
commence our journey across the Gulf.

It was one of those cold, grey mornings in March which promise almost
anything, and the Indians were unwilling to start out so soon, thinking
that the weather was uncertain. We felt, however, that we must press on
or be too late for District Meeting.

When we got out some distance from shore we found a strong north-west
breeze after us, which, in a very little while, blew a gale of wind. We
now tried in vain to get back to shore; the wind blew so hard that we
could see the branches of the trees breaking off on the island behind
us. There was nothing left for us but to go before the wind, keeping
our course as well as we could straight for the main channel of the
Fraser River.

As the sea began to dash over us, the Dutch sailor shouted out, “Take
down the sail! Take down the sail!”

I told him to mind his own business and bail the water out. But again
he shouted frantically, “Take down the sail!”

“If you don’t stop you’ll have to go overboard,” I shouted at him. “Let
the Indians alone, they know more about managing a canoe than you do.”

It was clear to anyone that had the sail been taken down--we had furled
more than half of it--we would have been swamped in a very little
while, as it was the only thing that gave her headway.

As the great sea swept over us, three of us were kept bailing out,
while the other men managed the canoe. Every few minutes old Chilk
would shout, “Hold on! There is another great wave coming.” We would
grasp the side of the canoe and hold on for fear of being swept out,
and then to our bailing again every chance we had. Thus we dashed on
over the mighty, angry waves until we came to the sand heads at the
mouth of the Fraser, and were in danger of foundering on the bars.

It seemed as if that awful trip would never end, and yet every moment
we were busy, so busy that our exertions kept us warm, in spite of
the bleak March weather. At one time a tremendous wave broke over us,
followed by another, and still another, close after, and the canoe
dipped into the water as if she were going down nose first. The water
seemed to rush forward for a final plunge, while all held their breath,
expecting every moment to be submerged; then, all at once, she made a
lurch up with her bow and the water rushed back. When the old captain
saw hope he shouted, “Tlil-a-sit! tlil-a-sit! tlil-a-sit!” (“Bail out!
bail out!”) The very shout sent a thrill through everyone on board, and
we were bailing out as hard as we could to get the water down. It all
seemed done in less time than it takes to tell it.

[Illustration: “We were bailing out as hard as we could.” _p. 146_]

As we neared the mouth of the river the reason for this awful sea was
made clear. The waves raised by the gale met the mighty current of the
river, and the awful tide-rip at the sand heads was the worst we had to
pass through.

In two hours and a half we reached the mouth of the Fraser River, all
drenched to the skin, but thankful to a kind Providence which had
brought us safely through.

“I did not hear you ministers pray at all in the storm,” said the old
heathen captain, after we had landed.

We told him we prayed in our hearts while we were working. But there
was no doubt about his prayers, for we could hear him and his wife
shouting back at the great waves, “Don’t drown us! Don’t take us down!
for the missionaries are on board. Oh, you great big angry waves, don’t
be so angry, and we will be good if you don’t drown us.” And then
all the Indians would join in the cry, “Don’t take us! Don’t drown
us!” True to their custom, I think they would have liked some food or
property to give as a sacrifice to the angry waves.

I told the old captain I was glad to hear him pray, as I had never
heard him pray before, but he should give his heart to God and become a
Christian, and he might be useful in leading others to Jesus. He was a
strong, daring fellow, a great dancer, a confirmed gambler, and, poor
fellow! he was a terror when drunk.

On one occasion I found poor old Chilk standing at bay, with a pile of
cobble-stones beside him, with which he was defending himself against
anyone who might come near. He was dangerous when drunk, and two
policemen were vainly endeavoring to get close enough to arrest him.
When I came along the police appealed to me.

“Oh, Chilk, you should not do that. Go home and be a good man,” I said
to him as I passed.

“Don’t talk to me! Don’t talk to me!” he replied.

I did not stop to argue with him, but, passing on, I immediately
wheeled around, and while his attention was again being taken by the
policeman, I ran back and grabbed him by his long hair and pulled him
over backwards. He commenced to kick and bite, but the policemen seized
their opportunity, and before he could do any harm they had him bound
hand and foot, and shortly afterwards landed him in jail.

The next day, sober and in his right mind, and liberated, Chilk came
to me and thanked me most earnestly for the part I had played. Nor was
there any sarcasm in his action, for, he said, “I am so glad for what
you did, for I might have killed somebody and been now in jail.”


Just as we entered the Fraser River we were surprised to see the little
steamer _Enterprise_ coming down, and as we passed her the chairman,
Dr. Evans, and his colleague, Rev. Arthur Browning, bowed to us.
District Meeting was over, and they were going home to Victoria!

Next morning, when we were down at the wharf at Westminster, there
came in the Hudson’s Bay Company’s steamer _Labouchere_, and the
Union Pacific Navigation Company’s steamer, _Shoebrick_--the latter
carrying supplies for the overland telegraph line, which was to unite
the continents by way of Alaska, which enterprise was broken up by the
successful laying of the Atlantic cable. The men on the wharf wanted to
know from the captains of the ships why they had not come yesterday.

“Oh!” they said, “it was blowing a terrific gale on the Gulf, and we
couldn’t cross.”

“Ha, ha, ha!” taunted the bystanders, “Parson White and his crew
crossed in a canoe, and you couldn’t come over with your large
steamships.” But they little knew what a trip we had had.

And now our old Dutch sailor had to have his say. He went boasting
about the town that he had had his eye on Parson White’s gold watch--a
present to him as he left New Westminster some time before--and that if
we had upset he was going for that. Poor, miserable fellow, he was the
greatest coward in the crowd.

This was one of the many terrible canoe trips we had to take while at
our work, when to all human appearances there was every possibility
that we would never reach shore. Once after I made the journey in
the opposite direction in a small canoe, with a single Indian as my
companion, and again we were nearly swamped before reaching the shore.

To-day, as always, I sympathize with the hundreds of fishermen who go
out to the mouth of the river and venture into the Gulf, braving the
awful storms which so often sweep down across this treacherous arm of
the sea. Nearly every year reports have reached us of those who have
risked their lives, and of some who have lost them, on this part of the


We usually travelled in a much smaller canoe than the one in which
we made the trip narrated above. On several occasions, when on my
missionary tours, I took Her Majesty’s mail to Victoria from Nanaimo.

On one occasion Dr. Evans and I made a trip along the east coast to
look out ground for an industrial school, where we might educate our
young native men, with the hope of preparing them for teachers or
missionaries. This was in 1868. We selected a fine place, on an island,
but the Missionary Society could not see its way clear to undertake
this work. Strangely enough, this was the very spot where afterwards
the Dominion Government built Kuyper Island Industrial School. As the
Methodist Church did not see its way to undertake this charge, the
Government placed the school under the direction of the Roman Catholic

One fine day on that trip a very amusing incident occurred, which
illustrates the Indian’s superstitious dread of anything which seems
unnatural. As we were paddling along the Doctor was relating a joke
about a miner and an Indian woman on the streets of Victoria. In order
to appreciate the story, one must be told that the Indians lived to
a considerable extent upon clams, which fact was made the butt of
continual jokes, while the miners, in those days, subsisted largely on
bacon and beans. The Doctor said: “An Indian woman was passing a group
of miners on the street, when one of them drawled out, ‘Cla-ms!’ in a
mocking tone of voice. The woman at once turned around very sharply
and, much to the amusement of the crowd, retorted, ‘B-b-beans!’”

As the Doctor, in relating the story, was attempting to imitate the
Indian woman’s way of saying “beans,” his set of false teeth fell out
and very nearly went overboard. The Indian in the stern, seeing the
teeth fly out, threw up both hands and very nearly went overboard

“Ah-na! ah-na-na! this man has come from the grave!” he cried.
“Spul-queet-sa! Spul-queet-sa! I can’t go on. This man is not a living
man, he is a spirit,” he told his friend in the bow.

The other man refused to believe that a man could handle his teeth, as
it was said the Doctor had done. They commenced to wrangle over the
matter and were losing time.

“Doctor, you will have to show the other fellow your teeth,” I said. In
an instant the Doctor pulled them out and held them before the man’s
face. With that he threw up his hands and screeched and screamed till
we thought he would fall overboard. Then they got a little quieted down
and paddled on, but every once in a while they would stop to discuss
the thing, whether this was really a living man or a ghost from the
grave. They watched him, especially when we went ashore to camp for the
night. When they saw that he could eat and laugh and talk like the rest
of us they could not understand it.

This reminds me of a trader’s wife, a devoted Christian, living up the
coast, who had a native servant. The girl had been with her for some
time and had become very much attached to her mistress. She used to
go home to the camp every night and return to her work early in the
morning. One morning, as the lady, whose name was Viona, was busy with
her toilet, and was in the act of brushing her teeth, the Indian maid,
returning, chanced to look in at the door. Seeing her mistress putting
her teeth in her mouth, she cried out, “Oh, Viona! Viona!” and ran
away as hard as she could run. She told her friends that the lady was
a ghost and had come from the grave, and she could not be persuaded to
return for many a day.


I had been preaching down the coast and was returning when, at the
north end of Salt Spring Island, I fell in with old Chief Chil-qua-lum,
from Nanaimo. He, too, was returning home from a hunting and fishing
expedition, and had with him his two wives and their families, and
their “iktahs” (belongings)--dogs, cats, fish traps, and a load of
fish, dried meat, clams and other Indian eatables.

He allowed me to get on board on condition that I would work my passage
by helping him manage the big canoe. With hard paddling we got along
very well until we reached Dodds’ Narrows, seven or eight miles from
Nanaimo. Through this passage, at certain stages, the tide rushes at
about ten miles an hour, forming whirlpools that would at times engulf
any small craft whose misfortune it might be to be caught in them.

At first it was a question whether we should venture through or not
with such a load of freight and human beings, but as the tide seemed
fair and the old man wished to push on, it was a great temptation.

In going through it was difficult to keep the heavily-laden canoe
straight in the centre of the passage, and, veering a little to one
side, we were caught in one of the whirlpool-like eddies. We were
tossed about like a chip on the current, round and round, whirling
like a top, two or three times, until it seemed as if we would surely
be sucked down into the vortex that yawned before us. The old women
jumped to their paddles, the children screamed, and the most intense
excitement prevailed. But it was only for a few moments; soon the
exertions of all told, and we were out and on our way again, safe and

Now it was the old wives’ turn, and they gave the chief a good
tongue-lashing for his foolhardiness. They discussed what would have
been the result had the missionary been drowned, and turning to the
little children they told them that God had saved them from going down
to the “Stla-la-kum” (evil spirits) in the water because the missionary
was on board.


Missionary meetings were being held at Nanaimo, and Rev. A. E. Russ,
then of Victoria, was the deputation. When he was about to return home,
he learned that I was going down the coast to visit the different
tribes, and wished to take the trip with me.

We called at Chemainus, where he preached, and there baptized Abraham
and Sarah, two Indian children. The romance of it impressed him, and he
spoke on the subject of the old patriarch and his wife.

It was a very fine day, and going on further, the lazy Indians ran the
canoe upon some rocks which were covered with barnacles. I told them to
get out and pull her off, but they sat, one in the bow and the other
in the stern, and tried to push off with their paddles. It was my own
little craft, which I had painted and fixed up, and of which I took
the utmost care. I could see the twisting of the canoe, and knew that
it was in danger of splitting from end to end, so I jumped into the
water, clambered up on the rock, seized the canoe and gave her a shoot
backwards, springing into the bow as she went.

My friend Russ said, “Crosby, you will kill yourself; you are a strange

“Never fear!” I replied; “but I will show those lazy fellows how to do

We reached Cowichan in safety, where Brother Russ took the steamer for


In our missionary journeyings we visited the west coast of the
mainland, preaching to the Seaschelts, Squamish, and other tribes as
far north as Cape Mudge. On Vancouver Island our work extended from
Cape Mudge, on the north, to Race Rocks, near Victoria, a distance of
160 miles.

In making a visit to the former place, with a party of three men, we
were again in imminent danger of being lost. We had camped for the
night above Qual-a-kum and got an early start in the morning, when a
south-easter blew up. It was a stiff breeze, but all was well until we
got near to the south end of Denman Island, where the lighthouse now
stands, when our sail, mast and all, broke away from the socket, and it
was a miracle that we were not upset.

Some of our experiences were humorous as well as trying. I took passage
one day with Chief Tsil-ka-mut, who with his wives and children was on
his way to the Fraser River, where the Indians congregated to pick and
dry berries, and to fish and dry salmon. The trip across was uneventful
until in the fog and darkness we lost our way at the mouth of the

The chief put his pole down in the mud and anchored his canoe, as he
supposed, and we went to sleep on board the craft. Next morning we
found we were high and dry in the mud on a bar that seemed to be miles
away from any water. Oh, the mud, mud! There is nothing that compares
with the mud of the Fraser for slimy stickiness when the tide is out.
It was near noon the next day before the tide again reached us, and
there we were all those hours in the scorching sun, a disconsolate
crowd indeed.

At that time there was no white man to be found settled on the Delta
lands of the Fraser. Soon after this the Ladner brothers took up land
on the south bank of the river and gave their name to the place. Then
followed Ferris on Lulu Island, and Boyd and Kilgour on Sea Island,
and others at different points, every one of whom was voted a fool for
“taking up” these swamps with cat-tails and bulrushes and frog-ponds.
Now these districts are covered with some of the most beautiful and
productive farms to be found in any part of the world. The shores are
lined with large canneries for the packing of salmon, and thousands of
people occupy these old-time mud-banks.


It is the easiest thing in the world to find fault with people of
whose conditions and circumstances we know nothing. And sometimes a
little taste of the trials and toils which others have to endure is
the best cure for such unfair complainings. We had an old friend,
a Yorkshireman, on that coast, who was very apt to find fault with
others, and especially with the ministers.

“Thoo knoa thease preeachers have good teams wi’ theeir fat salaries,”
he would say. And then, seeing the gleam in my eye, he would hasten on:
“Ah dean’t mean you, thoo knoas. Ah mean thease men ’at ez t’ big fat
salaries; they can sit roond an’ dea vary little.”

“Stop your noise,” I would say to him. “I am a preacher, and don’t like
to hear you find fault with the ministers.”

On one occasion he came to me and asked when I was going to New
Westminster. When I told him and inquired why he wanted to know, he

“Ah would like to gang wi’ you.”

“You can go with one understanding,” I replied.

“Weel, what is that?”

“That you work your passage. I never take deadheads with me.”

“Weel, Ah thinks Ah can paddle a little bit,” he said.

So the day came and off we started in our little canoe, down among the
lovely islands which dot the west side of the Gulf, and then across. I
was steering, an Indian sitting at the bow paddling, and our old friend
amidships. He was making a great, effort “to work his passage,” but not
being used to that kind of thing, he seemed to work his whole body in
the effort of paddling, and soon became very tired.

The day was quiet and warm, and we were making straight for Point
Grey, near the north arm of the Fraser River. After he had pulled
awhile, my friend looked round, and said:

“Ah say! do you knoa wot Ah thinks? ’At point deean’t seeam to get onny

“Yes,” I replied, “it gets nearer every stroke. Pull away! Preachers
get used to this kind of life.”

Then he pitched in again and made a great effort, while we were quietly
keeping stroke. We had not gone far, however, before he turned again
and said:

“Now, Ah can tell ye what it is, ’at point deean’t get onny nearer.”

“Of course it does,” I said; “every stroke brings us nearer. We must
push on to get in before it is too dark.” And we pulled on and on until
nine o’clock at night.

A little easterly wind was blowing out of the mouth of the river,
accompanied by a fine rain. The tide was out, and it was difficult to
find the channel, as it was getting dark. We would run into a sand-bank
here and a mud-bank there, until finally we got up the channel some
distance and could see the high dry shore of the river. After some
considerable effort we got up the mud-bank with our camping outfit, and
on to a dry knoll, where we started to make a fire. Gathering together
some blocks of cedar and other dry wood, we soon had supper going.

All this time my friend was standing in the midst of the rain, his
hands in his pockets, shrugging and shaking his shoulders, and
remarking at intervals:

“Ah say, this is a nasty neet.”

“The night is all right,” I replied to him; “stir yourself and let us
get something to eat.”

Supper and prayers over, we lay down under our tent, and, weary with
the toil of the day, were soon fast asleep. It was about one or two
o’clock in the morning when my old friend aroused me by shouting, “Ah
say, t’ water is comin’ doon t’ back o’ me neck.” It seems that he had
got his head close up to the wall of the tent, on the weather side, and
the water was running right over his head and down his back.

“Oh, stop your noise!” I said, I am afraid a little impatiently, “and
let me sleep. Preachers get used to this kind of thing.”

“Man, Ah can’t sleep,” he groaned, “t’ water is coomin’ doon t’ back o’
me neck.”

Next morning we were around bright and early and off up the river.
Sixteen or eighteen miles up the old Fraser against the current
required the strength of every muscle, and all the elbow grease we
could put into it, to make headway at all, but finally we reached
Queensborough (now New Westminster) in safety.

A few days after I met our old friend and said, “When will you be ready
to return?”

“Ah’ll nivver gang back wi’ you,” he replied. “Ah’ll pay t’ last dollar
t’ steamboat, an’ gang roon by Victoria. Ah’ll nivver gang wi’ you.”

It was an excellent lesson he had learned, for I never heard him croak
about the preachers having a nice time after that.


  “Who love the Lord aright,
     No soul of man can useless find;
   All will be precious in His sight,
     Since Christ on all hath shined.”

Many and varied were my experiences among this people, some painful and
distressing, some trying and toilsome, some bright and humorous, some
hopeful and encouraging.

The kindness of the Indians as well as the whites, and their evident
desire to do all they could for my comfort, helped to lighten many a
burden and make smoother many a rough pathway.

I was “in journeyings oft”; sometimes on foot, overland, or on the
back of an Indian “cayuse” (pony); more frequently by canoe, and,
occasionally, on the deck of a steamer. At one time I was acquainted
with nearly every settler within the bounds of my large field--about
160 miles wide by as many long.

After travelling some thirty miles and preaching at different points
on the journey, I arrived one evening at an island where I had often
preached before. As the day had been stormy and I had worked all the
way, I was very wet. The old chief and his wife, both of whom were very
kind and hospitable, made me welcome in their home. Piling up wood,
they built a big fire, and I hung my wet blankets around the fire on
poles to dry.

“How glad we are the ‘laplate’ (missionary) has come,” the old wife
commenced to say, in an undertone, as if to herself. “It is a long time
since he was here before. We forget many of the good words he has said
to us. Why don’t you come oftener, missionary, and tell us more of the
good story, that wonderful thing, you tell us, about the Great Chief on
High who gave His Son?” And then, as if recollecting the needs of her
guest, she said: “Oh, I must get some supper for him.”

By this time she had a small basket that would hold water, threw in
some potatoes, gave them a roll around in the water, and then put them
into a pot on the fire. Reaching down a dried salmon from a pile which
was stored on a platform over the bed, where the cats and rats and
other animals ran over them, she gave it a big slap against the post to
knock the thickest of the dirt off, and then held it up before the fire
to warm and heat it, so that the skin would peel off.

Very soon the potatoes were boiled and rolled out in a little
trough-like dish about two feet long, the salmon was broken in pieces
and laid on top of the potatoes, and the whole was set before the
Indian boy and myself.

All this time she was talking away to herself: “How good it is for the
missionary to come. He has come through all the storm, and we must be
kind to him.”

Having washed our hands, I asked a blessing upon the food, and were
soon at our supper of salmon and potatoes. We were sure that one side
of the salmon was fairly clean, for the skin had been torn off it,
and as for the potatoes, they had their jackets on, but we had to eat
without a bit of salt.

As we were working away quietly at the supper, the old man was stirring
up the fire, keeping away the dogs, and doing everything he could to
make things agreeable. All at once the old woman came and crouched down
by my side, saying: “Oh, the good missionary, we are so glad you have
come. I will help you to peel your potatoes.” And suiting the action
to the word she seized hold of one out of the dish, and with about
two scratches of her long finger-nails she tore off the jacket of one
potato, and then handed it to me, saying, “Oh, it is so good of you to
bring us the blessed light. I’ll help you, I will, to get your supper.”
We would very much rather have peeled our own potatoes, and had her a
little at a distance, with her wretchedly dirty-looking blanket.

Suddenly she sprang up, as if a bright idea had occurred to her, and
exclaimed, “Oh, I had nearly forgot. I kept it for the missionary when
he should come.” Out of a big old box she brought something tied up in
a piece of dirty looking rag.

“I have kept this till the missionary would come,” she said, as she
opened out before us a little flour--possibly the only flour they had
had for months, as the people did not see much flour in those days. “I
will make them a cake, I will.”

We were too busy to notice very closely what she was doing, but we
found in a few moments that she had the little flour in the same basket
in which she had just washed the potatoes. We saw her give her hands
a little rinse in the water, but we were never sure whether she threw
this out or whether it was the same into which she put the flour. Soon,
however, it was worked up into a paste, and taking it out in her hands
she pressed it into a kind of cake. I had a chance then to notice her
arms, bare from the shoulders, looking on the outside very black and
dirty, and on the inside, where her cooking had removed some of the
dirt, a little less dark. No wonder the cake was such a piebald looking

This black and white cake was thrown into a hole, which she had
scratched among the ashes, to bake, while our hostess got some hot
water and made a kind of tea from certain herbs which they used, and
which went under the name of “Indian tea.” In a few minutes, the cake,
now quite baked, was poked out with a stick, broken in pieces and laid
on a dish before us. With this and the tea, as dessert, we finished our

Some have asked, “Did you eat it?” Certainly, we ate it, with all the
relish we could, and would never have thought of refusing it after all
the kindness shown by the dear old people of the house. It is true that
these people were dirty beyond description, but out of a warm heart
they did their best for us, and endeavored to make us comfortable, and
we would have been meanly ungrateful if we had not appreciated it.

After a little religious service we retired to rest, not on the
feather-bed that was offered us by the old chief, but with our own
blankets, now warm and steaming, laid on some smooth rush mats; and
though the dogs crowded around and seemed to quarrel as to which should
be the nearest to us, and the fleas swarmed in such numbers as to drive
sleep far away from one who was not used to them, we managed to rest
very comfortably.


In the Fraser Valley, besides the fleas, we were besieged by myriads of
mosquitoes, that bred in the swales and sloughs and low marshy places,
particularly after high water. They literally swarmed, and in some
places rose in clouds as one passed, millions of them.

I noticed in my journeys on horseback that my little pony, otherwise
gentle and manageable, would jump and run at times in an unaccountable
fashion. At such times the mosquitoes would strike my face and forehead
like a storm of hail. Then it occurred to me that the intelligent
little beast only ran when passing through the spots where these
insects mostly swarmed, and henceforward I let him gallop.

The settlers tell of dogs and calves being killed by the mosquitoes,
and one reputable gentleman maintains that he had in his possession at
one time a cow whose tail had been so bitten by these venomous pests
that it dropped off.

An amusing incident took place at Langley on one of my visits to the
river. The high water was just going down, and the mosquitoes were
very bad. I was invited to stop over night at the home of a settler,
who had just built a little log house of two rooms on a ridge in
front of a great swale. The father and mother slept in a little room
partitioned off, and as the son-in-law was away, their daughter
occupied the room with her parents and left to me the bed the young
people had. The room was open to the shingles, and the hot day and
cooling evening had brought in the little pests in swarms.

Our friends told me they had no mosquito-netting, but mother and
daughter had invented something that they thought would enable the
missionary to have a good night’s rest. They had taken a crinoline
dress, spread like a full moon, all starched up and ready to use, and
tying a rope to the waist, they hung it up over where my head and face
were to be, and tacked it to the clothes and round the pillow. After
prayer and good-nights I was given a candle and told to be careful in
getting into bed, and to keep this thing tucked well around.

I did as I was told, dragged my weary limbs in under carefully, tucked
the skirt around and was soon off in a doze. But, oh, the merry noise
overhead, up and down and round and round, until finally they found
their way, in some manner, inside my shield. They commenced to bore
into my forehead. I stood the torture for a while, thinking it was but
a few stragglers who, when they had had their fill, would leave. They,
however, loaded up, and spread their wings with a whirring buzzing, as
if to call others to the feast. It seemed as if hundreds accepted the
invitation. I tried to keep still, but all to no purpose. About two
o’clock I thought if I could get the candle lighted and inside I could
burn them out and no others would get in, and I might have the coveted
rest. I lit the candle, got it safely inside, and commenced the work of
slaughter. The candle was soon black with the dead insects.

The first thing I knew, the dress was ablaze all around me. In my half
sleepy condition I had got too near the light starched material, and
it caught like tinder. I jumped up and dashed it out with my hands,
burning my fingers; but, oh, the poor dress! I fought the mosquitoes in
the dark the balance of the night.

Next morning the old lady asked me how I had slept, and the whole thing
came out. They laughed uproariously at my expense, and I--well, I made
the best of the joke.

It was on this river that I met two “tenderfoot” Englishmen who were
out looking for land. It was in the height of the mosquito season, and,
unheeding the advice given them to take the steamer, they started off
in a canoe, as they said, “to prospect and see the country.” Some days
after I met them in Chilliwack, and the sight they presented was, to
say the least, ludicrous. They had evidently been in the water, for
the legs of their pants had shrunken until there was quite four inches
between the ends and the tops of their socks. The mosquitoes had been
getting in their work, for their necks and legs and wrists were red
and swollen. It was like perpetual motion, for while there were few
mosquitoes around them, their hands were kept going scratching the
bitten parts and making dashes at imaginary insects.


The comical appearance of these “new-comers” after their trip up the
forest-lined banks of the Fraser reminds me of an occasion when I, too,
must have presented a spectacle worthy to be laughed at.

I was making my way one evening from North Saanich to Victoria, about
twenty-one miles, over a trail, poor enough at the best, but rendered
all the more difficult by the presence of a dense fog. The little
bit of daylight was soon gone, and the darkness which followed was
impenetrable. I groped my way along, part of the time on hands and
knees, to find the road.

Presently I came to a burning log heap a little off the trail, and as
the night was very cold I warmed myself by the fire. Doubtful of my
ability to go much farther in the darkness, I lay down beside the fire
and slept--slept and dreamed that it was a fine day and I was having a
delightful trip. Suddenly awakening, I felt that I must press on if I
would catch the _Enterprise_ at eight o’clock that morning and proceed
on my proposed visit to the mainland.

Daylight opening through the fog enabled me now to see my way, and on I
sped, until finally I reached the outskirts of the city. I met many men
going out to work, who would look at me strangely and nudge each other.
When this was repeated several times I felt sure that it was something
in my personal appearance which was attracting their attention.

Coming to the bridge tavern I stepped in. Just as I entered the door I
overheard a girl say to her mother, “There’s a parson come in to have
his bitters.” Nothing daunted, I refused the proprietor’s offer of a
drink, and asked for a chance to wash.

I soon discovered the cause of the merriment of the passers-by. My face
was black with the dust of the road and the smut of the brush-fire; my
collar was dirty and wilted with perspiration; my necktie was awry, and
all looked as if I might have been on a spree.

But my exertions were all for naught, for the boat I had hoped would
leave at eight a.m. did not get off for a week, so dense were the fog
and smoke.


Very early in our work among the Indians we were encouraged by a
circumstance which gave us to see that our teaching of the commandments
was having its effect upon them.

An exploring party, sent out by the Government, was preparing to start
from Nanaimo across the Island. They hired a number of Indians as
packers and guides. After having engaged these natives they hung around
the town for some days doing nothing. When the week came to a close
they immediately became active, and wanted to make a start on Sunday
morning, but the Indians refused to go.

The first intimation we had of the difficulty was through a letter,
written by the head of the party and published in the _Daily
Chronicle_, in which he stated: “Thanks to Brother Crosby, the Indians
would not travel on Sunday, so we were detained another day.”

The fidelity of the Indians in keeping sacred the Lord’s Day was, until
recent years, a source of great joy and satisfaction to us. Sometimes,
it is true, they were not able to keep an accurate record of the days.
But their sincerity of purpose is shown by the means some of them took
to be sure of which day was the Sabbath.

Py-uke, the old chief of the Penelkuts, started soon after the
missionary came to tie a knot on a string for each day in the week, and
a double knot for Sunday. This he kept up for years, until he had a
great ball of this native twine wound together as his time-keeper. This
he kept, and if any members of the tribes around were in doubt about
the day of the week, they would refer it to old Py-uke.

We have in later years been grieved to see thousands of fishermen at
the mouth of the Fraser fishing on Sunday. The law in the case has had
its damaging influence upon the Indians as well as the whites. There
is no excuse for a law which permits fishing after six o’clock Sunday
evening except that of commercial greed and indifference.


  “Still Thy love, O Christ, arisen,
   Yearns to reach all souls in prison;
   Down beneath the shame and loss
   Sinks the plummet of Thy cross;
   Never yet abyss was found
   Deeper than that cross could sound.”
                          --_J. G. Whittier._

After repeated invitations from the Indians of the Fraser River, who
spoke the same language as the Nanaimos, and who had heard, through
Bros. Robson and White, of my ability to speak to them in their own
tongue, I made my way in a canoe across the Gulf of Georgia and up the
river to New Westminster, where I found thousands of natives gathered
for the celebration of the Queen’s birthday. This gave me the privilege
of preaching to hundreds who would not have heard otherwise. One
evening fully a thousand people were gathered on a square where two
streets crossed, listening eagerly to the message of life, many for the
first time, in their own language.

On this occasion I went up the river as far as Mission, calling at
Kat-sey, Langley and Whonnock, preaching to the people, who everywhere
received me gladly.

The joy of these poor people in hearing the grand old Gospel story,
and their earnest pleading for more out of “the Good Book,” fully
repaid me for the toils of the trip, and led me to seek an early
opportunity to return.

My next visit was made during the time when the country was suffering
from a scourge of smallpox. The disease had been brought from ’Frisco,
and was rapidly spreading among the Indians. Everyone felt interested
in stamping it out. The Government supplied me with a stock of vaccine,
and I passed down the coast of Vancouver Island, vaccinating all whom I
could reach. Near Saanich I came across a very bad case; one had died,
and his body was left on the beach covered with brush, while another
poor fellow, a mass of disease, was still alive and sitting on the
bank beside a little fire of bark. We asked him how he got along for
food and drink. Near him was a little canoe fastened by a long rope,
and he told me that when the tide was up his friends would come from
their village, about five miles away, and put food in the little canoe
and push it towards him. Here the poor fellow stayed until he finally

The Indians dreaded the smallpox, and not without reason. On one
occasion, it is said, there came a thousand Hydahs in their large
canoes from Queen Charlotte Islands, and camped in and about Victoria.
The smallpox got among these people and spread with great rapidity.
Alarmed for the safety of the citizens, the city council met and
ordered the northerners to leave immediately. The next day they started
up the coast, carrying their dead and dying with them. At Nanaimo
they were forbidden to land, and on and on went that awful funeral
procession. At every camping place some would die, and they piled up
wood and burned them, and then went on. One canoe was found floating in
the Gulf, a veritable funeral barge, for everyone was dead on board.
Out of that one thousand members of a fine race only one man reached
Queen Charlotte Islands alive.


On my mission of mercy I passed up the Fraser River and vaccinated
hundreds of people. Some came to my preaching who might not have done
so but for the purpose of being vaccinated. And thus even the smallpox,
in some measure, opened the way for the Gospel.

On this trip we went as far as Sumas and Chilliwack. At the latter
place, while preaching to a small band of Indians and telling them the
old story in their own tongue, the chief Atche-la-lah stepped forward
and laid down a dollar and a half.

“Missionary,” said the old man, “we want you to build a church here.
You have opened our ears. No one ever told us the good word in our own
language before; the other laplates” (priests) “did not talk to us like

This was really the first subscription to the first Protestant church
in the Chilliwack Valley, where now there are six Methodist churches
for the whites and four for the Indians.

Others came with their donations, until $12.50 lay on the table, and
this of their own free will, for I had not talked to them about church
building. During the week which followed I went from village to village
throughout the valley, visiting and vaccinating all who needed it.
At every opportunity I preached to the people and told what the old
chief and his “see-aya” (friends) had done towards a church, until the
donations increased to nearly $100.

The following Sunday afternoon, after having preached to both whites
and Indians in another part of the valley, I came to Squi-ala, a
village at the mouth of the Chilliwack.

Big Jim, an Indian, met me in his canoe, to take me across the river. I
took the saddle off my horse, put it in the canoe, and the intelligent
little beast swam behind us over to the other side.

“Me think not many come to-day, Mr. Crosby. Priest he come.” The
priest, having heard I had made this appointment, had evidently
intended to be there at the same time.

“Well, Jim,” I replied, “suppose you and I and Jesus, we will have a
good time. Ring your bell!”

He rang his little hand bell, and nearly everybody crowded into the big
house where we were going to have service. Among those present I found
a number of white men who had come, some of them, a long distance,
bringing their half-breed families to be vaccinated. As soon as the
service was over I said to the people, “I am going away to-morrow, and
if any wish to be vaccinated, now is the time.”


Numbers came forward, and uncovering the arms of themselves and
their children, I went to work, scratching and putting on the vaccine.
While thus engaged, a knock was heard on the door, and presently it
opened and someone, very abruptly and in broken English, said, “Is Mr.
Crosby here?”

“That is my name, sir,” I replied.

“I would like to speak to you,” said the priest, for it was he.

“When I get through my duty I shall be glad to speak to you, sir,” and
I went on with my work.

This complete, I bade the people good-bye, warning them not to listen
to what the devil might say when I was gone. He would very likely say
that I had taken their money. I expected to be back in three months,
and would then see about building a church. In the meantime I would
leave the subscription list with Mr. A. C. Wells, a respected settler
whom they all knew.

Going to the door, I met my brother the priest.

“You wish to speak to me, sir,” I said.

“Yes, I want to say that you take all my converts away.”

“I beg your pardon! I didn’t do anything to your converts.”

“But,” he persisted, “these are all my converts that are here.”

“Well, sir, I only preach the Gospel to them, as I do wherever I go,” I

“I don’t care about your Gospel; it’s no good,” and the eyes of the
little priest flashed as he continued, “You compel one man to give
money to help build your church.”

“Now, sir, I would like very much to see that man,” and I continued,
“I am in a hurry, but if you let me see that man I will be very much

So he called up a happy-looking lame man, named Tom.

“Now, Tom,” I said, “you speak in Chinook, for this ‘father’ won’t
understand you if you speak in your own language; and speak the truth,

“Nawitka” (yes), Tom assented. “Spose nika halo delate wawaw, Saghalie
Tyee solleks kopa nika” (“If I do not speak the truth, God will be
angry with me”).

“That is right, speak all the truth, Tom.”

“Well, you came to my house this last week, and you say to me, ‘Tom,
what you think about building this new church?’ I say to you, ‘I am a
Catholic.’ You say, ‘Oh, very well, Tom, suppose you not give anything,
all right.’ But you asked me where my brother is. I tell you my brother
is very sick in the house. You go in and talk very kind to my brother
about Jesus, in our own language, and sing, oh, so nicely, and then you
say, ‘Let us pray,’ and you kneel down and pray in my own language, and
you pray and pray; by and by my heart get very warm, when you pray; and
when we get up, I tell you I give $2.50 to help build your church.”

Turning to the priest I said, “Now, did I compel the man to give money
to my church?” and jumping on my horse, I bade him good-bye, leaving
all the white men and the Indians, who had crowded around to see what
was going to be done by the two priests, to judge for themselves.

I rode on to my evening appointment, where I had promised to preach
to the white people. On the way, whether it was the excitement of my
interview, or something else, I do not know, but I forgot both my
sermon and text. I expected to preach to a number of settlers, some of
whom had families by native women, to whom they were not married.

By the time I reached the farm-house my mind was directed to the
text, “No man cared for my soul.” And if ever the Almighty helped a
poor mortal to preach He did it that night. Thoughts seemed to come
right down from heaven, pouring through my soul to the people around
me. I spoke of the judgment day, when the cry would come from these
dishonored mothers and children, “You sinned with us and dragged us
down, but you never cared for our souls.” God helped me fearlessly to
preach the truth, and then applied it with convicting power to their

At the close of the service I spoke of how the Indians had started a
subscription to build a church, and said that if anyone there would
like to help they were at liberty to do so.

“Well, I think I can give you five dollars after that heat,” said an
old man, whom some thought the worst in the crowd. Several followed his
example and gave five dollars each. Thus the first church in Chilliwack
was subscribed for by Indians and whites alike, and for a time served
the purpose for both.

Early next morning I left for the coast of Vancouver Island.


In January following, 1868, I left my home and work at Nanaimo,
attended some rousing missionary meetings in Victoria, crossed the
Gulf, took a canoe manned by Indians, and went with them up the river.

We pushed on up the Fraser as fast as we could, for it was getting very
cold. A biting north-east wind was blowing right down the river, and
before we reached Sumas one of our men had his fingers frozen, and they
all begged of me to stop. We spent one night at Sumas Landing, and now
the weather moderated a little.

“Where are you going?” said a friend, just as I was leaving on a
preaching tour through the valley.

“I am off to Nah-nates, fourteen miles away, at the head of Sumas Lake,
to preach to the Indians; then back to Tso-wallie (Cultus Lake); then
to Skowkale, and on to Squi-ala, all Indian camps, and back to Sumas.”

“All right! Go and see the Indians,” said my friend, “but be sure and
do not go to the Upper Settlement, as the men have declared they will
do you some bodily harm. You know that fellow. Harry ----, he is the
leader of the party. They declare that they will fix you on account of
the sermon you preached to them the last time you were up there.”

“Good-bye! Pray for me!” I replied, and off I went across the prairie
as happy as mortal could be.

Continuing on my way, who should I see ahead of me but this very Harry
----, travelling alone. As I drew near to him I lifted up my heart to
God that He would give me wisdom to deal with the man in the best way.

When I met him I threw out my hand and got his in mine. Shaking hands
with him I said, “Praise the Lord, Harry, you and I are not in hell. We
might have been there long ago but for the loving Saviour. Oh, how He
has loved us.” And still holding him by the hand, and looking him in
the eyes, I continued, “Harry, do you love the Saviour? You ought to
love Him. He died for you.” By this time his eyes began to moisten.

“How are the boys in the Upper Settlement?” I went on.

“They are all jolly and well, sir,” he replied.

“Tell them that next Sabbath, if all is well, I want to preach to them,
and I hope they will all come.”

“They will be glad to see you, Mr. Crosby,” said the now thoroughly
subdued Harry.

Bidding him good-day, I continued on my journey, praising the Lord that
I had had such a good opportunity of meeting Harry alone.

These were the days of no roads, only blind trails and no bridges, so
that if you could not ford the streams and sloughs you might swim. Woe
betide the man or horse that got into a miry hole. I made my first trip
through to Chilliwack from Sumas over what was called the trail. Poles
had been laid lengthwise over the sloughs to enable one to cross, and
it was really amusing to see the little horses walk the poles. But, oh,
dear, if you had a horse that could not walk the poles!

After visiting the Indian camps as I had planned, I got back to the
Lower Settlement Friday night, where we had a prayer-meeting. On
Saturday night we had a never-to-be-forgotten service at a bachelor’s
house near Miller’s Landing. The old man seldom swept his house, and to
save the trouble of washing dishes, when he had used them on the one
side for a time, he turned them over and made use of the other side. We
had to sit on boxes around the fire, which was built, like any Indian
camp, in the centre of the floor, the smoke finding its way out through
the cracks. I trust the dear Lord blessed the poor man. He died soon

Sunday morning I preached to the white people of Sumas from the text,
“Thy word is truth.” At the close of the service I asked all who wished
to talk about religion to stay behind. Several remained, who showed by
their conduct and conversation that the Lord was at work upon their

During the afternoon I went on to Chilliwack, and at night preached to
a crowd which filled to overflowing the two rooms in the private house
where we held our service. The Spirit of God was present in mighty,
awakening power, and the whole neighborhood was moved. Not an unkind
word was said to me, in spite of all the threats I had heard of. For
six weeks the work of grace continued, until nearly all the people were

The interest awakened led to a desire to improve the means of
communication between the two settlements. Early the following week “a
bee” was called to make a road, with pole bridges over the sloughs,
between Sumas and Chilliwack, which was really the first road in the

In the midst of all this I was taken with congestion of my left lung,
and had to be kept in the house and treated with a steam bath of hot
water and cedar boughs and mustard plasters for several days. However,
the next Sabbath I took four services, and for weeks following preached
night after night, and have never had anything the matter with my lungs

The awakening was so general that, far and near, nearly everyone was
affected. A man came four miles one morning, while I was ill, to tell
me that though he had taken his horses out that morning to work, he
was so troubled in his soul that he couldn’t work, and then and there
gave his heart to God. At once he became so happy that, as he said,
“the mountains looked brighter, the birds sang sweeter, and all nature
seemed to be praising the Lord,” and he thought he must come and let
me know of his new-found joy. On the way he called at the cabin of a
neighbor and found him on his knees praying.

Another man came several miles after midnight to beg me to get up and
go home with him, for, as he said, he could neither sleep nor eat, and
he feared that he would die if a change did not soon come.

“Praise the Lord!” I shouted.

“Man, don’t talk to me like that; I shall die.”

“There is no use in my going with you all that distance,” I replied.
“I have heavy work to do. But I am glad the Lord is troubling you.”
(He had a native woman and several children. I was not ordained at the
time, and could not legally marry him.)

He still begged me to go with him and talk with the poor woman as well.

“Will you promise to be the legal father of those children the first
chance you get?” I urged.

“Yes, I will do anything,” he said, and there was agony in his voice,
“for I shall die in this state and be lost.”

“Then the Lord will convert you on credit,” I said. The poor man was
made happy right there. A short time after, when an ordained minister
came up, he married five such couples.

We had some wonderful testimonies during these meetings.

One night a man got up and said: “I came here with my neighbor to
scoff. But as the meeting went on he said to me, ‘Jim, let’s get out
of this; it is too hot.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘let’s stick it out.’ And now,
friends,” he continued, “I wish you would pray for me; I want to find
this religion you speak about.”

Another old man testified and said: “I was a soldier in the Russian
war, and one time was called up to be court-martialled for being drunk
and disorderly. All I had done was to sing a little ditty in the
presence of my chief officer, and he thought I was drunk. When the
investigation was held, my character in the past was examined. They
looked up the records and said, ‘Sergeant H-- has a clean sheet, he has
never been before the court in the past, let him go free.’ My friends,
when this revival commenced I felt that I was very wicked, and the
sins of my life came before me. But now, bless God, I have got a clean
sheet; Sergeant H-- is forgiven through the blood of the Lamb.”

Another poor man, who had been an Independent in England, said: “When
these meetings commenced I thought, ‘What are these people making so
much fuss about? I am a member of an Independent church, and I am good
enough.’ But the Spirit of God showed me how far I had wandered, and
now I am at the feet of Jesus and trusting in God alone for salvation.”

A quaint Roman Catholic Irishman attended the meetings and used to give
his testimony: “Be jabbers! you are the best praste that ivver came
to these rayjans,” he would say. “No praste ivver blessed the paypul
like you have. I wish the dear man would stay wid us and get some young
gurrls to come here, and then mesilf and some others of the poor b’ys
might get a wife.” (He was a bachelor, and remained one.)

One day during the revival a fellow came to the door and asked the kind
lady of the house for Crosby. She said, “Come in.” “No,” said he, “I
want to see Crosby out here.” I was called to the outer door, where I
met a man who, like many of his neighbors, was living a wicked life,
and thus setting a very bad example to the poor dark pagan Indians.

“Come out here. I want you. I’d like to thrash you,” he cried out.

“Come in, come in,” said I.

“No, I want you to come out here. I’ll thrash you if you said so-and-so
about some of my brothers and neighbors.”

“Well, isn’t it true?” I replied. “If it is true, what are you mad
about? You know it is true, and God will judge you for such conduct. If
you do not repent you will have a hot place in hell. So you had better
get at the confession of your sins to God. If you do it sincerely He
will help you.”

The poor fellow went away in a changed mood without thrashing the
preacher. He was afterwards converted and became one of my fast friends.

After the meetings had been continued about three weeks, Rev. Arthur
Browning came to our assistance, and some memorable services were held.

The glorious work of grace, having thus begun by the good hand of the
Lord, continued until the whole valley was aroused, and many of the
most hardened sinners were awakened and converted. When I left, shortly
after, to attend the District meeting, there was a class of thirty-one
members, nearly all the white people in the valley.

Looking back upon this marvellous work of God, so unexpected by human
foresight, of which I had been a favored witness, I am led with adoring
gratitude to exclaim, “What hath God wrought! Not unto us, O Lord, not
unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.”


  “Oh, it is great, and there is no other greatness, to make some nook
  of God’s creation a little fruitfuller, better, more worthy of God;
  to make some human hearts a little wiser, manfuller, happier,--more
  blessed, less accursed! It is a work for God.”--_Thomas Carlyle._

One of the most beautiful districts in Canada is that which is bounded
on the west by the Sumas River, on the south and east by a spur of the
Coast range of mountains, whose easternmost peak, Mt. Cheam, rises in
majestic grandeur 8,500 feet, its summit crowned with perpetual snow,
and on the north by the Fraser River, and known as the Chilliwack
Valley. The district is divided into two parts, that through which the
old Chil-way-uk River flows being properly Chilliwack; the western
portion, along whose edge the Sumas River flows, being called Sumas.
To the south-east another smaller valley is situated, divided from the
main section by a low range of hills, through which the Chil-way-uk
finds its way by a narrow pass at Vedder Crossing.

The united valleys contain upwards of 80,000 square acres of the
richest soil to be found anywhere in the world. A yield of sixty
bushels of wheat, or of sixty bushels of oats to the acre is quite
common, and some idea may be had of the marvellous fertility of
the soil when a meadow has been known to produce for twenty-five
consecutive years an average of three and a half tons of hay to the
acre, and that without having been re-seeded or fertilized otherwise
than by the pasturing of cattle. On the levels and along the foothills
an ever-increasing acreage of orchards--apples, pears, plums, prunes,
peaches and cherries--may be seen, and vegetables of all kinds are
grown in rich abundance.

This garden spot, beautiful for situation, the joy of all those whose
good fortune it is to live there, was at one time the home of great
bands of Indians belonging to the Flathead nation. Where to-day there
are eight small villages, there were thousands of people governed by
certain great chiefs, whose authority was respected to a great extent
throughout the whole valley. Their numbers have been reduced by disease
and by their terrible tribal wars. The Indians from Cowichan and the
coast made periodical incursions, massacring the people and burning
their property. Their enemies were not always successful, for on one
occasion, when the young men of the valley had gone down to work at
Langley and Victoria, and had secured their pay in blankets, as was
then the custom, the Cowichans became enraged at this interference
with what they considered their labor market, and, gathering a large
war party, they went up the old Chil-way-uk, prepared for the work
of murder and destruction. They were met, however, with a stout
resistance, their canoes were all captured and destroyed, and those who
were not killed were forced to make their way home again stealthily and
on foot.

The Indians still have traditions of the visit of the first white man
to the river, and of how the Gospel first came to the Chilliwack.

We have in this valley what many call a model settlement, whose people
are law-abiding, and whose business is carried on prosperously without
any liquor licenses. Not one was ever granted, and the people do not
want one to-day.

In 1808, when Simon Fraser made his way down the great river which now
bears his name, he landed opposite Chilliwack, at the mouth of what is
now known as the Harrison River. Here he was received by hundreds of
the natives, who thought, as they said, that “he was the pure white
child of the sun.” The chiefs carried him upon their backs and set him
down on mats in the place of honor, and then danced to the sun-god for
days in token of their appreciation of the visit of his son. It was not
long after that they discovered, when rum and disease followed in his
train, that the white man was not the pure child of the sun they had


The Indians of Chilliwack have their own story of how the Gospel first
came to their beautiful valley. Not long after I commenced my labors
among them and began to teach them the translations we had made of some
of our hymns, sung to those grand old tunes which have been used for
scores of years, they told me they had heard those tunes before. Many
years before there were any settlers in that part of the country, or
any white missionary, a visitor came to them from the big river, away
to the south.

Sna-ah-kul--for that was the visitor’s name--told them that some years
before a white man had come among his people to the south and had
taught them out of a great book the words of God. His message had been
a great blessing to the people, who in large numbers turned from their
old ways to God’s way. Following him a few years after, another man
came, dressed in a garment reaching to his feet, “just like a woman,”
who taught the people to worship with candles lighted in the day-time.

Sna-ah-kul remained a little while, telling them about God and His
great love, and cheering their hearts by the singing of some beautiful
hymns, and then he returned to the south once more. Before leaving he
said: “The man dressed like a woman will some day come to you, but do
not listen to him. Wait a while until a man with a short coat comes
among you who will teach you out of the Book.”

And so numbers of the Indians, when I came among them reading from the
Book and preaching unto them in their own tongue, claimed me as the one
whom Sna-ah-kul years before had told them would come.

In all probability this Indian messenger was one of the converts of the
Rev. Jason Lee, the pioneer missionary to the Flathead nation, who had
been sent out by the Methodist Episcopal Church, and had established
himself among the Chinooks on the Columbia as early as 1833. The
influence of his work was felt all along the Puget Sound country,
and some of his native helpers might easily have found their way from
Nisqually, through Sumas to the Chilliwack.

The first visits to the Indians of the Fraser were made by Revs.
Ebenezer Robson and Edward White, the former of whom commenced school
work among them while stationed at Hope, some forty miles above
Chilliwack. These brethren both visited the Chilliwack before I came
there, and told them that a missionary speaking their own language
would soon be sent among them.

The revival which proved such a blessing to the white settlers of
the valley left a similar influence upon the Indians. They saw the
wonderful change which had taken place among the white men, and many
of them became strangely aroused and were savingly converted. Chief
Hal-lal-ton, of Skowkale tribe, was a notable instance of the power
of Divine grace. He was a chief of the old school, and when he was
converted he brought his whole tribe with him. Big Jim, the brawny
canoeman, who more than once ferried me across to his own village of
Squi-ala, “Captain John” Sua-lis, of Tsowallie (Cultus Lake), and
others, were among those who were brought to accept Christ and to
become His faithful followers.

Sua-lis (Capt. John) was a hereditary chief, and at the time of my
coming was one of the most influential chiefs in the valley. His
conversion had a great influence upon others. When I first knew him he
was a poor victim of the white man’s fire-water, but the power of God
transformed this drunken, gambling, semi-heathen chief into a devout
follower of Jesus and a diligent, persevering worker for Him.

He delights to tell of his early experiences and of what Christ had
done for him. In the old days he had charge of a crew of Indians,
freighting for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and hence his name, “Capt.
John.” In the days of the great stampede to the Fraser and Cariboo
gold mines he carried the miners in his canoe across the river, and
accumulated thereby upwards of $2,000. But, on an unfortunate day for
him, he learned the taste of strong drink, and it did not take long for
him to lose the whole of his savings. He began to fear that he would
lose his power as a chief if he did not stop, so going to the priest
who had preceded us, he told him his troubles. The priest gave him a
crucifix, and told him to hang it about his neck and to look at it
when the temptation to drink came on, and it would help him. But the
young chief found no peace from that quarter. He heard of the coming
of a missionary who could speak to him in his own language, and on
his arrival Sua-lis came to hear him. Immediately he received bitter
opposition from the priest, but he paid no attention to him and went
again to hear the messenger. Finally he attended a camp-meeting at
Maple Bay, and there gave himself up fully to Christ.

The conversion of so many prominent men led to the most bitter
persecution on the part of the Roman Catholic priests, who laid
claim to this whole district. The character of the persecution was
illustrated by a picture, about twelve by twenty-four inches in size,
which they had painted and scattered among the people. At the upper
corner of this picture was the representation of a beautiful place
labelled “Heaven,” with the Catholics ascending to it with wings, and
in the lower corner the lurid flames of hell-fire, and Crosby and his
friends going head-first into it. Still the work spread, and scores of
these poor people were led into the pure light of the Gospel, and many
of them still live devoted and exemplary lives.


At the District Meeting held in the spring of 1869, it was agreed that
I should leave Nanaimo and take up the work at Chilliwack, which the
recent revival had opened up. Consequently I left my bachelor quarters
adjoining the little Coal City, and taking my books and trunks by
canoe, and crossing the Gulf of Georgia, made my way up the Fraser
River to Chilliwack, there to take charge of the Indian work, and the
white work as well, until a missionary could be secured for the latter.

It was warm weather in April, and the hot days were followed by cool
nights, when going up the old Chil-way-uk River, after a week’s trip,
there came on a pelting hail-storm, and I was drenched to the skin.
When I reached my destination I was shaking with fever and ague, and
for nearly six weeks I lay upon my bed, sometimes in a delirious
state. No doctor could be reached short of Yale, and his answer to our
telegram was to “give a blue pill every four hours,” until he could
come down. When he arrived he found me prostrate from the effect of
too strong medicine. He looked at me and left, and sent in his bill
for fifty dollars. For some seven or eight days following they did not
think I could live, but the careful nursing of my dear friends, Bro.
and Sister Wells, and others, finally won, and I recovered. The fever,
however, settled in my leg, and I had to go with crutch and stick all

When I was getting about the chairman, Rev. E. White, accompanied by
David Sallosalton and Amos Cushan, came up and held a field meeting on
the ridge over the Achelitz River, on May 24th and 25th, and I assisted
them as best I could.

Camp-meetings have been among the most successful means of reaching the
Indians and bringing them to the light. In June of that same summer
the first camp-meeting ever held in British Columbia took place, on
what afterwards became historic ground, at Maple Bay, some miles below
Nanaimo. Lumber had been brought from Saanich Mills with which to build
a church, and this lumber was used to make “tents” for this first

The steamer _Enterprise_ brought numbers from Victoria and New
Westminster to the camp, and Indians from Chilliwack, Sumas, etc.,
as well as from Nanaimo, gathered in large numbers. It was at this
camp-meeting that “Capt. John” Sua-lis was converted. Following this
meeting we had a mighty spiritual upheaval at Nanaimo, which gave us
great encouragement after the toils of the years.

The second camp-meeting at Maple Bay took place in July, 1870, and
in September of the same year the first camp-meeting was held in
Chilliwack, on the banks of the Fraser River, where the old Chil-way-uk
joins the larger stream. In the midst of preparations for the
gathering, clearing off the ground, etc., a heavy rain came on. We had
got the loan of a great raft of lumber which was to be floated down the
river to the Sumas to build barns; but the raft got past us, and we
feared we should lose it. We stood up to our waists in water to hold
it, and then, after finally anchoring it, had to pack the whole 22,000
feet back to place.

It was a grand camp-meeting, however, the forerunner of many blessed
seasons of grace which the people of the valley have enjoyed. The
steamboats chartered for the occasion brought large numbers of whites
from Victoria and New Westminster, while Indians from the north and
from the island, as well as a great many from the locality, were
there in large numbers. It was a time long to be remembered. Here
“Old Capt.” from the head of Sumas Lake was converted, and David
Sallosalton preached his steamboat sermon, and Amos Cushan his
never-to-be-forgotten sermon on the final judgment. These two native
helpers were mightily used of God in touching the hearts of and
arousing their own people.


Early in our work at Chilliwack we realized the importance of reaching
and educating the children. But as they were scattered at such
distances, and so few children in any one place, the only real teaching
we could do was when we got them all together in a big rough house, put
up for that purpose, near the Achelitz church, and here we gave them
instructions every Sabbath. It became evident to all concerned that we
must have an industrial or boarding school.

At the District Meeting held in the spring of 1872 the matter of
establishing an industrial school was discussed, and a resolution
setting forth the needs was placed on record in the minutes. Growing
out of this discussion the following resolution was submitted and
passed, and forwarded to the Mission Rooms:

“In view of the foregoing resolution, and the responsibility of
establishing an industrial school on the Chilliwack, and believing that
a sum of not less than $1,000 is requisite for the erection of mission

“Resolved, That this meeting desires hereby strongly to recommend the
Missionary Committee to make a grant of $500 for the above object, and
at the same time to obtain a similar amount by donation.”

This recommendation, however, was not adopted, and it was not until
some years later that anything practical was accomplished, when Rev.
C. M. Tate, who was appointed my successor, seeing the necessity of
getting some of the children at school, gathered a number into his own
home and then enlisted the aid of our Woman’s Missionary Society in
building a boarding school at Sardis.

The first building was destroyed by fire, but Bro. and Sister Tate
persevered in their work, and to-day we have the well-equipped and
beautifully-situated Coqualeetza Industrial Institute, the product of
their consecrated zeal and enthusiasm.



In 1871 we had the joy of a visit to the Pacific Coast by the President
of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference in Canada, the Rev. Wm. Morley
Punshon, D.D. His sermons and lectures are still talked of by those who
had the pleasure of hearing him. Broad-minded, warm-hearted man that he
was, he soon captured the affections of all who met him. One evening,
after lecturing to the people of Nanaimo on “Daniel in Babylon,” he
startled me by saying, “Bro. Crosby, you are to be ordained next
Sabbath in Victoria.”

I went home to the little cabin, but did not sleep that night. Next day
we were to take the party in a large canoe to one of those beautiful
islands that abound on the coast, for an outing, and there I had a
chance to talk with the President. I told him I had not slept that
night, and that I did not wish to be ordained.

When pressed for my reasons, I told him, in the first place, that I
had hoped to go to college for a time, as the brethren had agreed, and
in the second place, I wished to pay a visit to mother and friends at
home; and furthermore, I did not feel myself to be good enough to take
such solemn vows, and would prefer to continue as a lay worker.

“Well,” said the good man, “I am pleased, brother, to hear you speak
so frankly. Now, as to your going to college, I can appreciate your
feelings, and we would like to see it, if it could be. But if you
should go for one year you would want to go for four, and many of these
poor souls will be gone by that time. You have the language of this
people, which is more than a college can do for you, and we believe it
better that you should go on in your effort to save and help them. We
will see that you get a chance to go home; and as to your feeling an
unfitness, that might be one of our strongest reasons for urging you on
to ordination. You had better leave the matter to God and His Church.”
I had no more to say.

Next Sabbath came, and the old Pandora Street Church was crowded to
the doors with an enthusiastic audience, who listened attentively to a
marvellous sermon by Dr. Punshon from the text, “And ye shall receive
power.” At the close I experienced one of the most solemn moments of
my life, when in the presence of the large audience I stood alone and
gave myself in solemn vow to God and His work, and was ordained by the
laying on of hands of the gifted President of the Conference and other
ministers. This was in April, 1871.


  “As laborers in Thy vineyard
     Still faithful may we be,
   Content to bear the burden
     Of every day for Thee.
   We ask no other wages,
     When Thou shalt call us home,
   But to have shared the travail
     Which makes Thy kingdom come.”

Under instructions from the District Meeting, in October, 1872, I left
by steamer _Onward_ for a journey to the vast interior, parts of which
had never been visited by a Methodist missionary. Along the Thompson
River and through the Nicola valley were large bands of Indians, mostly
heathen, who, while speaking a different language, were nevertheless of
the same stock as those among whom I had so long labored.

I took with me, as interpreter, a young man, a native of the Thompson,
who had lived on the Chilliwack since he was a boy, and hence spoke
the An-ko-me-num language as well as his native tongue. We were each
provided with a little Indian “cayuse” or pony, which we shipped by
steamer as far as Yale. In two weeks and three days we travelled 482
miles, preaching twelve times in English and fifteen times to Indians.
The kindness of the people and their eagerness to hear the truth were
remarkable. One Indian chief and some of his friends followed us
fifteen miles to hear me preach again. We preached in court-houses,
hotels, stores, log cabins, Indian shacks, and by the wayside, and
everywhere the people “heard us gladly.”

At Yale I met Sandford Fleming, Principal Grant and their party, just
newly arrived from their arduous overland trip across the continent.
The story of this trip is found in Principal Grant’s famous book,
“Ocean to Ocean.”

The journey up the old historic Cariboo road was exciting and romantic.
We had several narrow escapes from having our horses go over the
bluffs. Had they gone over they must have fallen in some places a
thousand feet or more into the rushing waters of the Fraser River
below. The road hugged the precipice, and in many places was not wide
enough to permit two waggons to pass. The great stage coaches, which
used to convey passengers to and fro over the 400 miles into Cariboo,
would rush by with break-neck speed, while our little ponies stood
aside on rocky ledges to permit them to pass. Here and there we met the
large ox teams, of five or six yokes, returning with empty waggons from
the interior, their huge flapping canvas covers frightening our little
animals until it seemed as if we should not be able to get them by.

The first Sunday I preached in the Court House at Lytton to a mixed
crowd of white men and Indians. The latter seemed eager to hear the
truth, and right gladly did I tell them of Jesus.

At Cook’s Ferry, near the outlet of Nicola valley, we found the
paymaster of the C.P.R. survey, a kind gentleman and an acquaintance
of mine from Victoria, who called out and asked me to take dinner with
him. After our horses were attended to, I gladly joined my friend.
Passing through the bar-room, where crowds of men sat gambling, with
whiskey barrels for their tables, I said, “Gentlemen, as soon as I am
through dinner I would like to preach to you.”

“All right, parson, we’ll be ready and glad to come,” they replied.

Dinner over, I walked out, when the men cleared away their cards and
set an empty barrel at one end of the room for a pulpit, where I
preached to them. I was greatly blessed in delivering my message, and
as soon as I had finished they came forward and left their collection
of bills and silver on top of the barrel.


Next morning we rode to what was called Oregon Jack’s, some fourteen
miles distant, a wayside inn on the road to Cariboo. We tied our horses
to the post outside, and, as we walked in, the man behind his little
bar said:

“Good morning, Bishop, you’ll take a glass of, brandy, won’t you?”

“No, thank you; I don’t take anything stronger than milk or tea,” I

“You don’t?” said he, with an oath. “You are the first parson who has
come to these regions that didn’t take his bitters.”

Ignoring his remarks, which I took for what they were worth, I said to
him, “I will have my horses taken in and fed, if you will.”

“All right. Take the Bishop’s horses and fix them,” he called out to a
little fellow named Jim.

Dinner was soon ready, and my Indian and I sat down, one at each end of
the little table, and Oregon Jack sat about midway on the side. While
we enjoyed the bacon and beans, he kept up a running fire of questions.

“By the way, Bishop, I know you. You are the man that set the country
on fire down there some time ago.”

“Country on fire?” We had great bush fires on the Lower Fraser in those
days, and thousands of acres of magnificent timber were destroyed, and
I thought Jack was about to fix one of those fires on me. “I set no
country on fire,” I said. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, I mean what you Methodists call a revival. You had a revival in
Chilliwack not long ago; we heard all about it. The young fellow who
was at the telegraph line used to be blessing the Lord every night that
such a sinner was converted, and told us all the news along the line
about your revival.”

“By the way,” he continued, “is that old fellow that had a bald head,
who used to swear so that we thought the heavens would come down on us
when he drove his ox team up here, has he got it?”


“Yes,” I replied, “he is converted, and very happy.”

“You don’t mean to say so!” said he. “Does it stick?”

“Yes,” said I.

“Well, that other fellow who stuttered so that he could hardly get it
out, has he got what you call religion?”

“Yes, he is very happy.”

“And how does he tell it?”

“Why, strange to say,” I remarked, “when he tells his experience in
class-meeting, or prays, he never stutters a bit.”

At that Jack opened his eyes wide, and with an even more pronounced and
deliberate drawl and nasal twang, he said:

“You don’t mean to say so! Why, now that must be the genuine article.”

By this time Jim, the little Scotch hostler, who had stood in the
doorway an attentive listener to the conversation, was moved by the
story, and began to brush the tears from his eyes.

Dinner being over, I said to Jack, “Now, after partaking of this good
dinner I would like to pray to God, from whom all blessings come.”

“Certainly,” he said; “you will pray, your reverence.” And he knelt
down with the rest of us.

As soon as prayer was over he shouted out “Amen!” as if he had been a
clerk in a church, and then jumping up, said:

“Now, you will have a glass of brandy, Bishop, won’t you?”

“No, thank you!” I replied; “I will have to be going now.”

When we went to get our horses we found they had about a peck of hard
barley in the trough. The little fellows did not know what it was, and
it was well that they did not eat it.

When we had got started the little Scotchman who had helped with them
shouted after us and waved his hand. I turned back, when he handed me a
five-dollar bill, saying he was sure I needed some money, and he wished
it was ten.

Who knows but some memory of early boyhood days had been awakened in
his heart which would lead him back again to the God of his fathers?
It is thus our bread is cast upon the waters to be gathered after many


I had hoped to spend the next night at the home of my friend S----, but
next day I met him and others going to the Ashcroft races. He expressed
his regret at not being home to receive me, but begged me to stay at
his place that night.

I preached at Cache Creek, and arrived at my friend’s ranch about
evening. His Chinese servant met us, and I said to him:

“John, I met your master to-day, and he told me to stay here all night.
You are to feed my horses, and I am to stay here until morning.”

He seemed doubtful as to my honesty, and in a somewhat peremptory tone
of voice said, “You savee Mr. S----? You savee Mr. S----?”

“Yes,” I said, “and he told me to stop here to-night.”

“You savee Mr. S----? You savee Mr. S----?” he repeated, each time
growing louder and more emphatic.

“Yes,” I replied, in a strong and decided voice, “I know Mr. S----,
your master, and I want you to get my supper, for I am going to remain
here to-night.”

Finally convinced, he took the horses and put them in the stable, and
returning to the house, very soon had a fine supper for us, of boiled
chicken and other delicacies.

After supper I said to him, “John, do you know Jesus? Have you ever
heard about Jesus?”

“Me savee little bit,” he said.

“Then let us pray to God, who has given us all this good food and all
good things,” said I.

We knelt down; I prayed, and my Indian friend prayed in his own
language; then, to our surprise, “John,” the Chinaman, at once began
to pray in Chinese, and, as I should think from the earnestness of his
utterances, made a marvellous prayer. Under the blessed influence of
grace we had a shouting, happy time.

As soon as we got through, John looked at me very earnestly, and, in
an excited tone of voice, said, “Me savee Mr. Piercy, Canton, China,
allee same you. Canton, China, one man, allee same you. Mr. Piercy,
tell me about Jesus. Mr. Piercy, Canton, China, allee same you.” And as
he spoke he grew more excited with his effort to convey to me the fact
that in Canton, his native city in China, he had been led to know Jesus
through the instrumentality of Mr. Piercy, a missionary like myself.

Suddenly it dawned upon me that the Mr. Piercy referred to was the same
George Piercy who, many years before, had left my native village in
England and had gone as a missionary to China. His consecrated devotion
had left a deep impression on my boyish mind, and I had ever since held
him in the highest esteem as a missionary of the Cross.

How little we know of the far-reaching character of our influence. Here
in the interior of British Columbia, thousands of miles from the scene
of his labors, I met the gracious results of the work of this saintly
servant of Christ.

“And they shall come from the east and from the west and from the north
and from the south, and shall sit down in the Kingdom of God.”


Next day we continued our journey, by way of Savano’s Ferry, on the
north side of the lake, visiting and preaching until about opposite
Kamloops, where we had to swim our horses to reach the other side.

On the bank of the river I met two old friends, members of Parliament,
who invited me to take dinner with them. I told them that I would
gladly accept their invitation as soon as I had stabled my horses and
had found out where I was to preach that night.

Kamloops was then a very small place. I met with a Mr. McKenzie, a
local store-keeper, who said I might preach in his kitchen. I then went
back to the restaurant to take dinner with my friends. After a good
repast I walked to the billiard room and called out:

“Gentlemen, we are going to have preaching in Mr. McKenzie’s kitchen at
eight o’clock, and I want you all to come.”

“All right, we’ll be there, parson,” they answered.

A lively chap, with a big overcoat on, followed me out of the door. He
was about three sheets in the wind, and was trying to put a bottle of
whiskey into his big outside pocket as he staggered along, the whiskey
bottle slipping past his pocket every time he tried.

“I know--(hic)--who you are. (hic) You are a Methodist parson. (hic) I
can tell by the cut of your jib,” said he, in a maudlin voice.

“You have struck it. Who are you?” I replied.

“My name is Bill H----,” said he.

“You sinner, you ought to be away home with your family. I visited them
to-day, and they are expecting you.”

“You’re right, I ought,” he replied.

Having called at other places, we were soon at Mr. McKenzie’s house,
and I said to my drunken companion, “This is the place for preaching.”

“I will go to church with you,” said he, and staggered in. Some man
pulled his coat tail, as he was going to the front of the room, and
bade him sit down.

There were about twenty intelligent looking men in the congregation.
After the sermon, which was listened to with respectful attention, I
began to give out that beautiful hymn:

  “Praise ye the Lord, ’tis good to raise
   Your hearts and voices in His praise.”

when Bill jumped up and, with an oath on his lips, said, “I’ll give
this parson five dollars; how much will you give, Jack?”

They said, “Sit down, you fool, the parson is not through yet,” and
pulled him down by the tail of his coat.

Just as the service closed, another man jumped up, took his hat,
knocking in the crown, and said, “Now, Bill, where is your five
dollars? Down with your dust, every one of you, and let us give this
parson a good send-off.”

A few minutes after, the storekeeper came with his two hands full of
bills and silver, and handed it to “the parson” as the collection,
while another man seized the bottle of whiskey out of Bill’s pocket and
said, “Look here, parson, this is the fellow that was so anxious to
give you a collection, and see what he had in his pocket.”

Bill turned around, and declared by all that made him that it was
not his bottle, but that the other man had put it in his pocket. The
collection was $22.50, a token of the hearty generosity of those
rough-mannered but large-hearted men of the West, who respected
religion though they were not in the enjoyment of it themselves.


Next morning we were off down the Nicola valley, through a most
beautiful country. I preached to the Indians and settlers that night,
and next day met a band of Indians with their chief, and preached
Christ to them while sitting on horseback. They seemed delighted to
hear the story of love, and for years they kept up the request that we
send them a teacher.

With the visit to Nicola our missionary tour was at an end, and we made
our way home again as quickly as possible. In all we had travelled
nearly 500 miles, at an expense of $59.50, and without asking anyone
for a cent, we had met the expense, and had fifty cents to the good.

My report to the Chairman of District recommended the establishing of
a mission both among the white settlers of the Nicola valley and the
Indians of that district. Shortly afterwards a missionary was sent to
the settlers of the Nicola, but though the poor natives made fervent
appeals for help, next to nothing has been done for them.

On my return my soul was stirred within me by the news that my dear
friend and son in the Gospel, David Sallosalton, had during my absence
taken ill and passed away to the better land. During his last moments
he had asked for me repeatedly, and expressed the wish that he might
see me before he went to heaven. We were not to meet here again, but
some day we shall greet each other where they never say good-bye.


[5] The Bunch Grass Country was named from a very nutritious grass
abounding in that section, which grows in tufts, and on which cattle
live and thrive all winter.


  “Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their might;
   Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
   Thou in the darkness drear their one true Light.
                                               --_W. W. How._

Among the crowning glories of all missionary endeavor are the living
and dying testimonies of men and women who have been reclaimed from
vice and heathenism by the power of Divine grace.

Among the An-ko-me-nums were many who witnessed a good confession and
passed triumphantly home; too many, indeed, for any extended reference
within the limits of one short chapter.

There are some, however, whose character and service caused them to
stand forth as mountain peaks, to whom we must refer. Among these
were Amos Cushan, our first convert and native missionary; David
Sallosalton, “the Boy Missionary,” and Amos Shee-at-ston, our first
class-leader among the Songees; old Captain Tsit-see-mit-ston, of Sumas
Lake, Snak-wee-multh, Thit-sa-mut, Shee-ah-tluk, August Jackson, and
several others.


Kook-shin (or Kicking-foot) was our first convert to Christianity, and
for many years a most valuable assistant in the work among his people.
He was a youth of some twenty-five years of age when first I took up
my work at Nanaimo. As a lad Kook-shin was trained in heathenism, and
later when a young man learned to love the white man’s “fire-water.”

As a servant in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Company he had acquired
a little knowledge of English, and for some time served us in the
capacity of interpreter.

His conversion was very clear, and so real to him that in after years
he always referred to it with delight. When the enemy came to tempt
him as to his conversion, to use his own words, “I pointed him to that
place in the mission-house garden on the spring morning when I was
working, where God spoke peace to my soul and made me, oh, so happy.
For a long time before this I had had two hearts, but now Jesus became
chief in my heart. Only one chief now. Jesus is my great Chief.”

When he was baptized he was named “Amos Cushan,” and almost immediately
became a local preacher, and to the end of his life was always
concerned for the salvation of his people.

No one who has not known the awful power of the drink habit can fully
appreciate the struggle he had with this demon. More than once he was
overcome, but finally he prevailed over his enemy and triumphed over
every foe.

As an agent of the Missionary Society he spent many years in
evangelistic labors among his own people on the east coast of Vancouver
Island and up the Fraser River, and later visited the west coast of
the island, the first Protestant missionary to carry the Gospel to
Alberni and the country of the Ats. He made many long and trying trips,
preaching in the open air and sleeping where he could, which finally,
after many years of toil, brought on consumption, to which fell disease
he finally succumbed. Notwithstanding the fact that he lingered long,
and the poor body was racked with pain and suffering, yet his spirit
was always bright; he was never heard to murmur. “In fact,” says one
who visited him during his last sickness, “it was a great comfort to be
with him, he was constantly praising God.”

It was Cushan who stood by the missionary in the great battle in
Qual-la-kup’s house, and where, it is said, they saved the lives of
half-a-dozen people. At camp-meetings and on other occasions he often
preached with great power on the terrors of the law, from such texts
as, “In hell he lifted up his eyes,” and “These shall go away into
everlasting punishment.” He was an earnest advocate of missions, and
was in demand at the various missionary meetings held in the district.

During his last illness a big potlatch was held at his native village,
which brought many hundreds of heathen together. And here he never lost
an opportunity to urge all to give their hearts to Jesus. Just before
his death he called all his children to his side, bade them good-bye,
and urged them to be good and serve God. “All, all is peace. Jesus is
very precious,” were among the final words of this devoted servant of
Jesus Christ.

[Illustration: AMOS CUSHAN. _p. 206_





He was generally respected, and a large number attended his funeral.
Some of the hardest hearts were softened as he was laid away until the
resurrection morn.

  “Servant of God well done,
     Thy glorious warfare’s past,
   The battle’s fought, the race is won,
     And thou art crowned at last.”


I will never forget the bright, pleading little face that looked up
into mine one sunny morning in the year 1864, and prayed to be received
into my home and heart.

“My father and mother are bad. They don’t want me to be good and go to
school; they would rather have me painted up and tattooed and learn to
dance and hunt and fight and go in the old way; but I want to do as you
say and be good, so I think if I live with you I will be good,” said
the dear boy.

My missionary heart was touched by his entreaties, and David
Sallosalton, whose heathen name was then Sa-ta-na, was received
into the mission house, and there trained for the work which in the
providence of God was to result in so great a harvest for the blessed

He applied himself to learn, and became a devoted Christian. On his
reception into the church he was baptized under the Christian name
of David. Shortly after he was put on the plan as an exhorter, and
faithfully and most successfully he assisted in the work of the mission.

For a time he labored in his own native village, and then was
appointed as lay helper at Chilliwack. Later on he became assistant
missionary to the Songees Indians at Victoria, under the Chairman, Rev.
William Pollard.

He was most enthusiastic in his interest in the camp-meetings, which
had become such an institution in our mission work both among Indians
and whites. His zeal and devotion and his eloquent and fervent appeals
contributed in no small measure to the success of these gatherings.

A spirit of utter self-forgetfulness marked the lad. Through storm
and sunshine he plodded on, daring dangers innumerable, and facing
death in many forms. He was tireless in laboring for the salvation of
his people, going from band to band, and seizing every opportunity to
preach unto them Jesus. Hundreds were impressed by his fervent words,
his native eloquence, and his pure and Christlike spirit, and were led
to give themselves to God.

David became of great value also in interpreting for the missionaries
who might not know the language of the Indians. He was for a time
a class-leader at Skowkale, in the Chilliwack Valley, and he had
another class at the head of Sumas Lake, twenty miles away, and a
third class at Squi-a-la camp, which were the blessed fruit of one of
the camp-meetings. Probably it was in his work through this valley
that David contracted the cold which was destined to end his earthly
career. It was often necessary for him to swim rivers and ford creeks
and sloughs and rushing torrents, in order to carry the glad tidings of
salvation to his benighted brethren. Once on such a journey he nearly
lost his life. He was miles away from any dwelling, and was attempting
to cross a slough at the head of Sumas Lake. The ice, being weak, gave
way, and down he went.

He says, in telling of his mishap: “I plunged and broke the ice again
and again as I tried to climb out upon it. The water was so cold that I
was becoming chilled and weak, and I thought, ‘Now, David go to heaven,
and nobody will know where David has gone’; so I got my Bible with my
name in it, and threw it right up on the shore, so that I think when
somebody find it they will say, ‘Oh, David has gone to heaven on the
lake’; but just then, while among the breaking ice, my feet caught on
a sand-bar, and by this means I struggled to the shore. I found my
Bible, and went on my way rejoicing again to be allowed to preach to my
people.” Who will say that Providence did not interfere to save one so
useful and so devoted to the cause of Christ?

David’s preaching was very earnest, very forceful and original, and
full of illustrations from nature. One of his sermons was called
his “Steamboat Whistle Sermon.” We had the pleasure of hearing this
wonderful sermon at one of the Chilliwack camp-meetings, which he
delivered in his broken English to a crowd of white people gathered at
the meeting, and which we doubt not was the means of leading some to
the Saviour.

A great number of white people and Indians had gathered at the
camp-meeting. An English service was first held, followed by a service
for the Indians. Amos Cushan, the old local preacher, who was a friend
of David’s, had preached to them his famous sermon on the judgment,
when, in response to his invitation, the whole congregation rushed
forward to the rude altar of prayer, and then scores of people with one
voice sent up their cries and petitions to heaven for salvation. After
a season of prayer and wonderful blessing a change was made in the
exercises. By this time crowds of white people were standing round the
camp and at the doors of their tents, looking on with amazement, and
many of them with their eyes filled with tears at seeing so many of the
red men anxious for pardon. David, seeing them, seized the opportunity
to preach, and springing to his feet he began in his broken English a
marvellous and soul-stirring address to them:

“My dear white friends,” said he, “you look at our Indian people
here, you hear them cry very much, and you say, ‘What they make all
that noise for, what make them feel so bad?’ Well, I tell you. My
dear people just heard about Jesus now, and they all want to find Him
and love Him. You heard long time ago, some of you; you find Jesus
long time; you love Him. It all same as steamboat on this river.”
(The camp was on the banks of the old Fraser, and many had come by
steamer.) “When she going to start she whistle one whistle, then she
whistle another, and if you don’t get your things very quick and run,
she whistles last time” (boats whistle three times before leaving),
“and she go off and leave you behind, and you very sorry because you
too late. Now Jesus like that. He whistle, He call. He whistle and
whistle, and if you don’t get on board Jesus’ salvation ship, you too
late. I think some my people get on board before some of you, because
they not afraid to repent and come on board. Now, my white friends, you
hurry up, have all your things packed up, be quick and get on board or
you be too late. I think some of this poor Indian people go into heaven
and you left out. Oh, come on board quick, come on board, come to Jesus
now! This a very good ship, room for all you people, and Indian people
too, black and white; come now, all come.”

No one could help being moved at the speaker’s strong, earnest appeal,
a message from a heart burning with love for souls. Oh, how anxious he
seemed; how he pleaded for the people to come to Jesus; how he sought
to show them the need of doing so, and of doing it right then.

We looked around when he had finished and saw a number of the most
hardened sinners in tears and broken down by the earnest, loving,
living message of the young Indian preacher. Who can measure the
results of that strong and sympathetic appeal? Never can it fade from
my memory or its effect be effaced from the heart. We feel that the
Great Shepherd alone can tell how many of His sheep were found by the
call given in that “Steamboat Whistle Sermon” by His young servant on
the old camp-ground on the banks of the Fraser. One man was saved that
day who became well known as a faithful worker among the Indians in
after days. This was old Captain Tsit-see-mit-ston, who lived at the
head of Sumas Lake.

David knew nothing of fear in the prosecution of his work for the
Master. Many a time, in the midst of circumstances most trying, would
he declare his allegiance to Christ. Never was he ashamed of his
Saviour, and his young heart was so full of love for Him that the
influence was felt by all who came near to his warm and faithful life.
Although his opportunities were few and his advantages limited, owing
to a lack of an English education, he was a living demonstration of the
fact that “God often chooses the weak things of the world to confound
the things that are mighty.”

On one occasion he was accompanying me on a missionary trip which
included a visit to a sick Indian who lived up the Chilliwack River.
When we arrived at Skowkale, on the east bank of the river, a priest
came to the opposite side. He seemed desirous of crossing the river (it
was before the river had changed its course at Vedder Crossing), and as
there was no bridge, and no canoe or boat on his side, he called to the
Indians on our side to come over and fetch him. I told them to go for
the man, but they said, “Oh, no, we don’t want that teacher any more.”

“But,” said I, “it is only politeness to row the man over if he wishes
it; you do not need to listen to him or follow his teaching, but you
ought to be kind and help any man when you can.”

At last they were persuaded, and rowed across after the man, bringing
him to our side. When the priest arrived on the bank of the river I

“Good-morning, sir, you seem to be travelling.”

“Yes,” said he, “I am going up to see a sick man at the village above.”

“Oh, indeed,” said I; “my little friend and I were just going to the
same place.”

“Then,” said the man, in a mixture of French and English, “you better
not go, he is my convert.”

“Yes,” said I, “but I have been to see the sick man before, and I
thought of going again.”

“Then,” said he, “you people are all in the wrong way; it is no good
you go.”

“Well,” said I, “which way are you in? Here is my chart,” holding up
the Bible. At this he got angry, and said, “That book is no good.”

All this time David stood quietly by without saying a word, but when he
saw the man getting angry he stepped up and said, “Mr. Crosby, I think
you gentlemen speak too much your own words. Very good, I read some
out of God’s Word.” So he read some striking verse out of his little
Testament. This made the priest very angry, and he tried to snatch the
book out of the boy’s hand, saying, “He can’t read; he is only a little
Siwash” (Chinook for Indian). “It is only something he had committed to
memory, the little Siwash.”

“Yes,” said David, “that’s so; me little Siwash, but this book tell me
if I love Jesus and work for him, when I die I go up to heaven, and I
live with Jesus up there. Me little Siwash, but me love Jesus; Jesus
my friend, Jesus my King; Jesus save me and help me to be good and
not get angry. Cannot I read?” and taking out his Bible he turned to
passage after passage, as if God had inspired and told him just where
to turn the leaves, and read:

“Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ.” “There is one mediator between God and man, the
man Christ Jesus.” And again, “The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son,
cleanseth us from all sin.” “He that believeth and is baptized shall
be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” And so he went
on, reading passage after passage, slyly hitting, without apparently
knowing it, one after another of the errors of the priest’s own Church,
until the countenance of the latter was a study. It changed to purple,
and from purple to livid, in a very short time, until his indignation
mastered him, and he made off up the river bank; not, however, before
our young Indian, turning over the leaves of his Bible, repeated, very
significantly, the passage, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.” This courageous action on the
part of David fired the zeal and enthusiasm of all the Indians, and
gathering together they commenced to sing a part of one of Wesley’s
hymns, which they had learned at the camp:

  “Jesus, the name high over all,
     In hell or earth or sky;
   Angels and men before it fall,
     And devils fear and fly.”

And just as the priest, with the wind blowing strongly against him,
hurried rapidly up the bank of the river, with his long coat-tails
flying in the breeze, the last line of the verse was ringing out on the
air, which is a translation from the Indian language in which it was
sung, “The devil gets afraid and runs.”

We are informed by a lady who often entertained Sallosalton that one
day he was going to visit the Indians who lived across the Chilliwack
River. Having arrived at the bank of the river he saw an Indian on the
other side, and called to him to come across and row him over with his
canoe. The man, being a Roman Catholic, refused to do so, so David took
off his clothes, tied them in a bundle, placed the bundle on the top of
his head, plunged into the river and was soon on the other shore. He
then dressed himself, and went on his way rejoicing that he was able to
carry the blessed light to his heathen people. Nothing could daunt our
young hero, nothing discourage his young heart. He was wholly given up
to his work for the Master.

On the occasion of one of his visits to the head of Sumas Lake he met a
white man whom he had known in Nanaimo. This man was one who had known
the grace of God but had wandered from the fold, and he thought to
cause David some discomfort by his talk.

“David,” said he, “what are you doing here, so far away from your home?
We don’t see you in Nanaimo any more. What’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing,” said David, “I am simply preaching to my people.”

“Oh, you’re preaching, are you? Preaching for the Methodists, I
suppose? How much do they pay you? You know some of these preachers get
good pay; how much do you get?”

“Oh,” said David, “you think me work for nothing? You think me get no
pay? By-and-bye me get great pay. Me get great crown up in heaven.
Jesus pay me. Me be a king up there. Oh, yes, me get pay by-and-bye, me
get great pay.” This set this poor old backslider thinking, and we hope
it was the means of leading him back to Jesus Christ, from whom, by
his worldliness and selling of whiskey, he had wandered so far. David
was not in the least disturbed by the man’s remarks, but marched on,
singing, “There is a happy land, far, far away.”

None could have a higher motive than this for his life’s work. To
David in all his work came the glorious hope of the heavenly welcome,
which, beaming brightly on his earthly way, chased away many shadows
that might otherwise have lingered there. Sunshine and joy seemed
ever present with him, and made him a most desirable companion, while
his deep religious convictions gave the influence of holy thought and
motive as an additional claim to the fellowship which others were
privileged to have with him.

The Rev. Morley Punshon, D.D., before the British Conference of 1873,
gave a good description of this incident, and of Sallosalton’s work. He
says, in speaking of him:

“In British Columbia I met an Indian, one of the most eloquent men I
ever heard. If I had not met Sciarelli (a Hindu), I should have said
he is the most eloquent man who ever stood before an audience. He was
only seventeen years of age, but a youth of very great promise, who
rejoiced our heart with the prospect of long-continued usefulness,
but whom God loved so much that He took him out of the world after a
short time of most earnest and successful labor upon the Fraser River.
This young man, David Sallosalton, wrought a great work among his


At the last camp-meeting David attended he was feeling quite poorly.
For some time he had been sick, for the hard trips he had taken
through storm and tempest were having serious effects upon his frail
constitution, and yet his zeal had brought him, even under distressing
difficulties, to his last camp-meeting. He had fought hard for the
Master during these years, and now he was seen to be breaking down in
health. One arm had been rendered powerless by a stroke of paralysis.
At this camp-meeting of which we have spoken David, as usual, seized an
opportunity to tell his experience. A great crowd of Indians and white
people were standing near, and David said:

“My friends, you see that little tree,” pointing to a little maple
standing near by. “Well, when I first came to camp long ago that tree
was a very small tree; now you see how it has grown; it is a strong
tree now. It is all the same with David’s heart, it grow every day, it
get strong like the tree, but the devil he try me when I come to this
camp-meeting; he say, ‘Now, look, you foolish boy, you go among these
Indians, you preach and travel around in ice and cold, and do what the
missionary want you to do, and you get sick, and be no great man. Now,
if you had not done that, if you had stayed home among your people, you
had been a chief, a great man, by this time. Now you go away from your
people, you preach; you say your people wrong, your people all dark;
and now the old medicine men on the Fraser River not like you preach so
strong, and they make you sick and poor like you be now.’ But I tell
the devil, ‘You go away; Jesus is my Captain, He lead me all right;
by-and-bye I not be sick any more; by-and-bye I be in heaven with
Jesus; no witch-doctors do me any harm.’” Thus he went on addressing
the people, and the power of the blessed Spirit seemed to accompany
his words in great measure, and his face shone as with a light from
heaven, and he said, “Oh, my friends, me think by-and-bye me not sick;
by-and-bye me get to heaven; no sickness up in heaven.” Up went both
arms, one of which, through his paralysis, he had not used for a long
time, and he shouted out with all his strength, “By-and-bye I shall
have wings; I shall fly!” There were shouts of “Praise the Lord,” and
“Hallelujah,” all over the camp, and many of the people shed tears of
joy. All were touched and deeply moved at this wondrously passionate
appeal, and this bright hope for the future, as also the miraculous
movement of David’s paralyzed arm. No doubt of his fitness for the
glory land, or his bright prospects of reaching it. Indeed, he seemed
to all to be living just on the border. The camp-meeting broke up under
a holy influence, for one and all felt the power of one who was soon
to bid farewell to earth and pass over into the kingdom eternal. After
this camp-meeting was over David spent some days visiting his friends
in the Chilliwack valley, where he was always welcome, and whose homes
he brightened and blessed by his happy experience. Then he returned to
Victoria, where he was employed as a native assistant. He gradually
grew worse, getting weaker all the time, and finally his spirit fled to
the heaven to which he had tried to point the way.

The Chairman, the now sainted Wm. Pollard, was his superintendent,
and watched over him to the last. He said David’s death was the most
triumphant he had ever witnessed. In a letter dated January 14th, 1873,
he said: “The death of David Sallosalton was a sad blow to this mission
and to the Indian work in general. He was deservedly popular, and he
was pious, eloquent and useful. He was universally beloved and almost
idolized by the Indians.”

The late Rev. Cornelius Bryant, then missionary at Sumas, who had known
David from his childhood, in referring to his death, paid this tribute
to the worth of Indian Missions: “If no other had been saved than David
Sallosalton, our Indian brother, whose glowing experience I heard in
the church a few months ago, and who is doubtless now a glorified
inhabitant of the skies, we had been well rewarded for all missionary
effort.” Mr. Pollard wrote the following obituary of him:

“The subject of this notice belonged to the Nanaimo tribe of Indians,
and he was born in Nanaimo camp about 1853. His parents were pagan,
and David’s early education was pagan. About 1860 our missionaries
visited Nanaimo, and the Gospel was introduced among the Indians;
this was a new era in David’s history. He when a little boy welcomed
the messengers of mercy, and as far as he could comprehend the light
he walked in it, but it was not until he was eleven years of age
that he was converted. He attended the mission school then conducted
by the Rev. T. Crosby, and was the fruit of his pious and earnest
ministrations. This zealous missionary discovered in his pupil piety
and gifts of more than ordinary promise, and spared no pains to train
him to future usefulness. David from the time of his conversion
maintained an unblemished character, and labored earnestly and
continuously to teach his countrymen the way of life. In September,
1871, he came to Victoria to attend the English school and act as
assistant missionary to the Songees Indians. He made great progress in
his work, often preaching to them every evening in the week, besides
twice on the Sabbath, and the Lord gave him great favor with both the
whites and the Indians. Great hopes were entertained that he might long
be spared as a missionary to his people. He was not only remarkable for
his piety, but had extraordinary natural qualifications for public
speaking in his own language. The Rev. Dr. Punshon, who heard him when
on a visit to this country, pronounced him one of the greatest natural
orators he had ever heard. Last spring his health began to fail, and
though everything was done to prolong his valuable life, yet it was
evident that consumption was undermining his constitution. The only
desire that he seemed to have was to live that he might preach Christ.
During his illness he often spoke of heaven, especially as a place
where there would be no temptation, no whiskey, no devil. Shortly
before his death, when asked what portion of Scripture he wished to
have read, he said: ‘Read to me the death of Christ.’ A few minutes
before he died a friend quoted the first part of the fourteenth chapter
of John. He expressed great joy that Christ had gone to heaven to
prepare mansions for his children, and said: ‘In a very short time I
shall be in my Father’s house.’ He then closed his eyes, folded his
hands, as if intending to pray, and thus fell asleep without a pain or
a doubt, on the 29th of October, in the nineteenth year of his age,
David Sallosalton, the most perfect Christian we ever knew.”


Tsit-see-mit-ston, the old warrior chief of the Sumas, whose home was
at Nah-nates, round the head of Sumas Lake, was a convert of our first
camp-meeting at Chilliwack in 1870. I remember well the tall, rather
fierce-looking man, who impressed one by his stalwart, athletic form
and proud bearing that he might have been a great hunter and a fierce
fighter in his day. We learned afterwards that he had been in many
terrible scenes of bloodshed. Years gone by, when the Coast Indians
came up the Fraser River on their slave-taking expeditions, many a
slave-seeker found his death at the hands of this stalwart warrior. He
had a powerful frame and unflinching nerve, and was alert and agile to
the very end.

His curiosity was aroused when he heard the people were camping in
the bush, and so he, with some of his people, came to attend the
camp-meeting. As the blessed Spirit came in power upon the Indians in
that place, “Old Cap.” (as he was called by the whites) said: “I felt
so miserable I did not know what to do; and when asked to speak my body
trembled and shook. It was not fear, for I had never been afraid of
anything. But what could I say? I could not utter a word. And when the
good people saw how I was, they commenced to pray for me, and led me to
the foot of the cross, where I laid down my burden of sin, and God gave
me a new heart. My difficulty in speaking was soon gone, and I felt
that I wanted to talk all the time in telling of the joy that had come
into my soul.”

The great old warrior would shout and talk, and seemed never to tire
of telling of the love of God in his soul. He became a missionary to
his own people, and by precept and example pointed them to the Saviour
of men. He had the unspeakable joy of seeing every adult member of his
band make public profession of conversion ere he passed to the land of
light and glory. We often stayed all night at his camp, and night and
morning he would call all his people in to prayers, and it was then we
had times of refreshing coming from the Lord.

The old man was wonderfully energetic, and in order to have all his
people at church on Sunday--for they had to journey a distance of
fifteen miles or more--he bought a number more horses, so that he might
have one each for them to ride. These horses he kept on the prairie
during the summer, and in the fall he had a lot of his young men cut
enough wild hay to keep them through the winter. It was remarked again
and again that no matter how stormy the day, “Old Captain” and his
people would be seen at church.

Finally age told upon him, and one day he “fell on sleep,” and died
happy in the Lord. Years have gone by since he passed away, and we
still see the effect of his life upon his people. What a change the
Gospel makes from a savage to a saint.


Snak-wee-multh, or Old Sam, was a native of Vancouver Island, though
in his boyhood he had been seized in one of the many slave raids and
carried away to the far north, where he remained for years, until he
had forgotten his own language, but never lost his love or longing for
the old home of his youth. Long after middle life he found his way back
to his own tribe, but never recovered the fluent use of his own tongue.

In youth he was trained in heathenism, and afterwards acquired a
knowledge of the still more savage customs and heathen practices of the
north people. He was first in all dark deeds and in the heathen dance
among his people; and as he had many new tricks of savage life to show
them, which he had learned while a slave, the dancers looked upon him
as a kind of demi-god, for, as they said, “he had so much power, he
could do more wonderful feats than any one of them.”

Sam kept on this way until he became very sick, and as he lay on his
sick bed I visited him, and had the joy of pointing him to Jesus.

During this sickness he several times begged me to give him some
medicine to make him sleep. He said he wanted it so strong that he
would not wake up again. He said he had heard the white man had this
medicine, and if he could only take some it would be so good of me to
give it to him. Again and again did he beg for a sleeping-powder.

I told him I could not give him that kind of medicine, but if he would
only give his heart to Jesus he would then be happy all the time. I
kept up my visits regularly, carrying him simple foods from day to day.
Finally the light came in upon his dark mind, and oh, what a change!
How he would thank me and praise God for the comfort he had in his

For years he had been very fond of tobacco, and, like most of the
Indians, had used so much of it that no one could come near him without
noticing the dreadful effects of it. Everything seemed to be saturated
with the smell of tobacco, and he would use it the last thing before
going to bed and the first thing in the morning. After he was converted
he had a dream. He dreamed that One grand and pure sat by his side and
said, “You would have been lost if it had not been for your wife”--she
had helped him to the light--and the pure One went on to say, “You will
have to stop the use of tobacco, for if you get up to the shining gate,
and the great and pure One smells any tobacco on you, He will send you
away, as no one can go into that happy place who smells of that stuff;
it is not so much different to rum and whiskey, so stop it or else you
will be lost.”

Poor Sam had a great struggle, but he got the victory. And finally,
after months of sickness, when he was sinking rapidly, he told us that
“with a clean mouth, and not with the smell of dirty tobacco, he was
going home to heaven, washed in the blood of the Lamb, and had no doubt
of a welcome in the skies.”

And so, from that heathen house, with an earthen floor, a poor cot, and
heathen surroundings, the scene of many a weird heathen dance and much
bloodshed, Old Sam passed away to the mansions above. Oh, the power of
the blood of Jesus! A slave, a poor dark pagan, saved--a saint, a king!


Shee-at-ston was a native of the Songees tribe of Indians, who lived
opposite the City of Victoria, B.C. He was born about the year 1855. He
was a high caste Indian, in the line of succession from Chee-at-luk
(old King Free-zee), the hereditary chief of that district.

In his early life he was doubtless introduced to all the abominations
of paganism, and was, when I first knew him, still carrying out the
practices of a real heathen life. He, with others of his people, had
become victims of the white man’s fire-water, being so close to a town
where so many were ruined by it.

He must have long desired a better life, for on several occasions he
found his way into the old Pandora Street Methodist Church, Victoria,
and was asked by the kind usher to take a seat. About this time the
attention of a number of Christian workers of that church had been
directed to the depraved condition of the Indians, not only at their
camps, but of the numbers who were wandering about the towns in
dissipation and shame, and they were moved to take up work among the
Songees people.

Shee-at-ston was one of the first to come to the little Sunday-school
which these Christians were conducting. There he heard the word of
life, and after awhile gave his heart to God and was baptized, “Amos

As soon as he became a Christian he built himself a neat little house,
and moved out of the old lodge with its associations of heathenism.
Some fourteen of the Songees Indians were converted and formed into a
class, which met in Amos’s house, and of which he became the leader.

His conversion to God created great excitement and aroused a good deal
of persecution from his heathen people. Many a time evilly disposed
ones, who may have been put up to it by wicked white men, would bring
their bottle of the accursed fire-water to tempt him again to drink,
but by the grace of God he was kept faithful.

Amos was a great help to the workers after they hired the old bar-room
in town for evangelistic purposes. He was always in his place at the
time of religious service, and ready to give his testimony to the power
of grace, either in the Chinook or in his own language. Thus saved
from heathenism and a life of degradation and drunkenness, he was
the means of helping many of his friends to the true light. His wife
became converted, and her sister as well. They afterwards lived happy
Christian lives, and then went triumphantly home to the skies. The wife
of Amos was christened “Sarah.”

When the summons came to devoted Amos Shee-at-ston, though sudden, he
was ready to obey the call. That terrible disease, the smallpox, had
spread among his friends in the “rancheree,” and finally seized our
faithful and devoted class-leader, and in a short time he exchanged the
garments of earth for the robes of heaven.

       *       *       *       *       *

How gladly would we make extended reference to many others who
witnessed a good confession and went triumphantly home, but our space
will not permit. There was true-hearted Charley Thit-sa-mut, the chief
who succeeded “Old Captain” at Sumas Lake, who for twenty years lived
such a faithful life that whites and Indians alike bore testimony
to his worth of character; and “Big Jim” Shee-ah-tluk, of Squi-a-la,
who also was one of the converts of our first camp-meeting, an
earnest-hearted Christian, who always delighted to have the missionary
come to his house, and was ever ready in the olden times to ferry
the preacher across slough or river in his canoe; and Chief Dick, of
Achelitz, quiet, conscientious and devoted; and Thomas Sallosalton, the
brother of David, who lived a happy life among his own people till God
said, “Come up higher”; and his sweet-spirited sister, Mrs. Sunneah,
who, when she was passing over the river, called her friends to see the
white-winged angels who had come to take her home.

Then there was August Jackson, of our Victoria Mission, who was
converted to God in his youth and became a most devoted assistant to
the missionary. Besides his work in the church, he was a council-man
in the Songees tribe, and much respected by all who knew him. I know
Brother Tate hoped he would be called into the work as an agent of
the church. He married a bright girl from Coqualeetza Institute, at
Chilliwack, and all seemed to promise fair, when, by an accident in the
saw-mill in which he worked, he received a wound from which he never
recovered. He died July, 1903, at the early age of thirty-three years.
Bro. Tate, his pastor, speaking of him, said, “He was, without doubt,
one of the best men I ever knew.”

And, finally, we must mention poor old Annie Lay-why-eton, who died
of smallpox after successfully nursing her son through that awful
disease. She was a sincere member of the Church for many years, and
in her eagerness to hear the Word used to trudge in feebleness from
Kultus Lake, on the Upper Chilliwack, to the church at Skowkale, a
distance of about five miles, and back. She was blind, and had to cross
the river on a single log. The very last time she attended church she
spoke at the class-meeting, and told how she thought that morning she
could not get to church, but she felt such a longing desire to have her
soul fed once more that she made the attempt. Coming to the log she
feared she could not get across, but looking up to God for help, she
got down on her hands and knees and crawled over. What a rebuke to the
careless indifference of many professed Christians to the privileges of
religious worship.

We rejoice as well in the faith and devotion of many who are still with
us, among whom are Capt. John Sua-lis, who for thirty-five years or
more has been our faithful native assistant at Chilliwack, and Chief
Wm. Sapass, our devoted class-leader at Skowkale. When the “roll is
called up yonder,” we are persuaded many will answer to their names
who went up to the glory-land from the various bands and tribes of the
An-ko-me-num people.

Before leaving Chilliwack and Sumas, the kind friends of that valley
gathered to bid farewell, and presented me with the following address,
which I have treasured in loving memory of the precious years spent
with them and among the Indians of the Fraser River. I insert this
letter because I believe my readers will sympathize with me in my
declaration of the exceeding comfort and encouragement which it gave me
in the prosecution of the work to which I had devoted my life.

  September 22nd, 1873.

  _To Rev. Thos. Crosby_,--

We wish to take the opportunity of your leaving this district for
Ontario to express our hearty admiration of the untiring efforts you
have put forth in the work of evangelizing the natives of this land, a
work in which you have been eminently blessed by God. But as you have
materially helped the work of God amongst our own race by preaching
to the scattered settlers in various parts of this province, and
especially so on this mission, which you were mainly instrumental in
founding, we beg to assure you of our sincere sympathy and love as
you leave us on a visit to the mother churches of old Canada, and to
your friends and relatives living there. At the same time we tender
you the accompanying purse as a small expression of our affectionate
regard, hoping that after you have fully accomplished your mission
East we shall have the pleasure of welcoming your return. We subscribe
ourselves, on the part of the lay-official members and friends of the
Wesleyan Methodist Church on this mission,

  A. C. WELLS.

[Illustration: SKOWKALE CHURCH.]



  “Work for the good that is nighest,
     Dream not of greatness afar;
   That glory is ever the highest
     Which shines upon men as they are.”
                       --_W. Morley Punshon._

It was in the fall of ’69 that a few Christian friends in the City
of Victoria undertook the organization of a Sunday-school and other
services among the Indians who lived in and about the city, as well
as the Songees people on the reservation opposite. In February of the
following year, Amos Sa-hat-son, a Songees chief, and two others of
the same tribe, experienced the converting grace of God through the
instrumentality of these services.

In many cases it was native or lay agents who first commenced practical
mission work and so prepared the way for the regular missionary. The
efforts of our brethren and sisters in the various centres where the
Indians congregated is worthy of all praise. It is my joy to speak
kind words of appreciation of the help given by Brothers Bryant,
Raybold, Raper, Brinn, Tate, Green, and others in Nanaimo; by Father
McKay, Sister Russ, Brothers J. Bullan, J. E. McMillan, and others in
Victoria. At New Westminster, too, Brothers Dawson, D. S. Curtis, R.
Wintemute, and other young men, assisted by the pastor’s wife (Mrs. A.
E. Russ), held meetings and carried on a Sunday-school on behalf of
the hundreds of Indians who lived near that point. After the revival
referred to at Chilliwack, Brothers A. C. Wells and J. Whitfield
commenced a Sunday-school at Atchelitz, and carried it on successfully.

These Sunday-schools and locally conducted services were a great
blessing, not only to the natives, for whose benefit they were held,
but also to the teachers themselves. There is nothing like some form of
Christian activity to keep the spiritual life strong and healthy.

As we look about us on the many lines of missionary need--Chinese,
Japanese, Hindu and Indian--we cannot help feeling that our young
people and Leaguers are missing an opportunity, which God has placed at
their door, if they do not endeavor to reach out for these “strangers
within our gates.” An opportunity, too, which, if made use of, brings
its own reward--the joy of unselfish and successful service on behalf
of others.

In all our mission fields we should make a more general use of the
talents of our native converts. What matter if they are not educated.
When their hearts are filled with love and zeal get them to work--as
class-leaders, exhorters, local preachers, visiting the sick, in
evangelistic efforts of every kind--and out of a full, happy heart
they will tell, as did the early Methodists, what the Saviour has done
for them, and what He will do for others. When Amos Cushan, our first
native preacher at Nanaimo, went out he could not read, but he could
tell of the disease and the cure. When Sallosalton commenced his work
on the Coast the people marvelled and asked, “Where did he get this
wisdom?” Unsaved, hardened men melted before his burning words and
loving heart, and his Christian friends were led to rejoice as they
listened to him. Many others of our native brethren, like Capt. John
Sua-lis and August Jackson, have been mightily used of God in spreading
the Gospel among their people.


The services at Victoria were first held on the reservation, and
then transferred to a building in the city which had been used as a
bar-room. In this building, still bearing the sign of its earlier
occupancy, a work of saving grace was begun and carried on, the
results of which eternity alone will reveal. It was a service held
in this “old bar-room” which was instrumental in opening the way for
the Methodist Church to enter those great fields among the Indians of
the North--Tsimpsheans, Kit-eks-yens, and Hydahs on Queen Charlotte
Islands, Hylt-chuks and the Kling-gets in Alaska, and others--where, in
the providence of God, I was afterwards to labor.

On a Sabbath morning in October, ’72, Elizabeth Deex, a chieftess of
the Tsimpshean nation, who had left her home at Port Simpson, wandered
into the “old bar-room,” and there by the preaching of the Word was
brought under deep conviction for sin. At a prayer-meeting held later
in her own house she was savingly converted to God, and immediately
entered into the work of bringing others to Christ.

That meeting proved to be the beginning of a revival which lasted
continuously for nine weeks and resulted in the conversion of upwards
of forty natives, among whom were a number of northern people.

It was our great privilege to be with the dear friends for some time
in that blessed revival, and when the people were starting north we
bade them good-bye, urging them to stand up as witnesses for Jesus, and
promising them that, if possible, we would visit them some day.

This was in the month of September, 1873, when, by a strange
providence, the way was opened for a visit to my friends at home. And
now as they started northward I started eastward, little imagining that
I should so soon follow them to their northern home, and remain with
them so long--for about the next quarter of a century, indeed.



  “‘Rejoice with trembling,’ may we think of this,
      When life’s full cup is with Thy bounty crowned,
    That so we be not blinded by our bliss,
      Or fall asleep upon ‘enchanted ground.’”

It seems appropriate, in closing this record of my first twelve years
of missionary labor, that something should be said concerning the
progress made in the Indian work in British Columbia, as well as in the
settlement and development of this one-time colony, but now the richest
and most wonderful province, from the standpoint of natural resources
and marvellous possibilities, in the Dominion of Canada.

It is only a short time since British Columbia was described as “a sea
of mountains,” uninhabited and uninhabitable except at long distances;
covered with forests, a great part of which were inaccessible; its
rivers filled with fish, and its river beds streaked with gold.

The marvellous resources of the country were little dreamed of by
Canadians--as the inhabitants of Ontario and Quebec were alone
called--when I reached home on this first visit. Speaking to large
audiences in the leading cities and towns in the East, of the great
cedars and firs, which attain immense proportions, “sometimes towering
three hundred feet in the air, and having a base circumference of from
thirty to fifty feet”--of whole forests of these magnificent trees
that would average one hundred and fifty feet clear of limbs, and five
to six feet in diameter--the people appeared incredulous. And when
I turned to the subject of fish and told them I had seen in a small
stream flowing into the Fraser River the large salmon so numerous that
in forcing their way up the stream they had rubbed off their fins and
tails, my audience looked at one another. When I went on and told them
of having seen a wave come in at Departure Bay, on the east coast of
Vancouver Island, and deposit bushels of herring on the shore, the
preachers on the platform pulled my coat and said, “Oh, Crosby, that is
an awful fish story!” But when I went on and spoke of crossing a little
stream in the upper Chilliwack Valley, and of my little pony stepping
on some of the beautiful silver salmon that lay thick in the stream,
and that they jumped about so violently as to nearly knock the animal
off his feet, the people laughed outright, “Oh! Oh! Oh!” and I knew
they did not believe me.

To-day, however, the eyes of the financial world are turned towards the
profitable investments in British Columbia. An ever-increasing number
of companies are establishing great saw-mills, and shipping lumber to
all parts of the world. Whereas once the Indian bands alone congregated
at the mouths of the great rivers during the fishing season, to gather
for their own consumption, now scores of large and magnificently
equipped canneries, employing large numbers of men, line the river
banks, and are engaged in packing salmon of different varieties as
well as other kinds of fish. The mountains in all directions are being
prospected for minerals, and fresh discoveries are being made almost
every day. Agriculture has advanced with the general advancement of
the country, and it is now known that there are millions of acres of
land suitable for cultivation which have not yet been settled upon.
In the raising of fruit, particularly, the opportunity is almost
unlimited, and some day the hillsides and benches which were thought
to be worthless will be planted with orchards. In a recent interview,
the Hon. R. G. Tatlow, Minister of Finance in the local Government, a
gentleman of wide experience and of twenty-six years’ residence in the
province, expressed himself as follows:

“I am satisfied that every industry in British Columbia is only in its
infancy. We have forests illimitable for lumber, land in millions of
acres for agriculture, and the seven thousand miles of shore line are
washed by seas teeming with fish.

“The total production of the province for the year ending June, 1906,
was over $50,000,000.

“Details of this production should be of public interest. Taking,
first, the lumber industry, the value of the lumber cut reached over
$6,500,000. The mineral output of the province was $22,461,325, with
eleven smelters in operation. Agriculture also advanced in common with
other lines of work during the year. The product of provincial farms
and orchards reached the sum of $6,500,000.

“There are splendid opportunities for mixed farming in many sections
of the province. The best evidence of this is the fact that we exported
butter, eggs, poultry and cheese to the value of nearly $2,000,000.

“Horticulture is rapidly coming to the front. It is becoming one of
our most important industries. In 1891 the acreage under fruit was
6,500; ten years later it had only reached 7,500, but advancement has
since been phenomenal. A year ago there were 22,000 acres cultivated by
orchardists and fruit-growers, and I fully believe that by the end of
1906 there will be 40,000 acres used in this manner.

“Fishing, of course, has long been an important item in the commerce of
the province, but even this industry shows signs of great expansion.
The total values from our fisheries amounted to $7,500,000.

“When one considers these facts, can there be the slightest doubt that
the present prosperity will be maintained?”

The future for British Columbia looks very bright, with four
transcontinental railways seeking entrance through her unopened valleys
and stretches of upland to ports on her magnificent shore line; with a
climate unexcelled for variety, from the clear, bracing, dry climate of
the interior to the mild, humid climate of the coast; with her abundant
resources of timber, minerals, fish, farm and orchard; with the
ever-widening market of the Orient, as well as in the great North-West
Provinces, for her products, she must speedily take her place as the
imperial province of our great Dominion.


  “For the road leads home,
     Sweet, sweet home!
   Oh, who would mind the journey,
     When the road leads home?”
                       --_J. M. Gray._

It is less than a short lifetime since, in the year 1864, we received
into church membership, at our Nanaimo Mission, Kook-shin (Kicking
Foot) and his wife--our first Indian converts. Since then thousands
have heard the Gospel, vast numbers of whom have received the truth,
and many have lived devoted lives for years, while some have passed
away, leaving a bright testimony of a blessed hope of everlasting life.

Many hundreds still live, and prove by their sincerity and devotion,
and the zeal with which some of them endeavor to bring others into the
light, the reality of their Christian profession.

A glance at their villages will show the change which has taken place,
for there is a marked contrast between the old heathen lodges and their
new and neat Christian homes.

In 1872-3 we reported 108 Indian members in British Columbia, of
whom 18 were at Victoria, 36 at Nanaimo, 4 at New Westminster and 50
at Chilliwack. To-day we have, in our Indian work, 32 churches, 24
mission houses, 12 schools and 4 hospitals. There are 43 workers in
the field, evangelists, doctors, nurses, teachers and other agents;
and 1,645 members, among some six different nations, speaking numerous
dialects. The total missionary givings of these recent converts from
heathenism and their workers amounted in 1905-6 to $1,245.60. Out of a
total Indian population of 25,000 in British Columbia, we are teaching
by the Word about 7,000 people.

What has been accomplished is nothing to what might have been
accomplished had the Church always been alive to its duty and
privilege, and made haste to enter every open door.

To-day there is urgent need for more laborers in this department of
missionary effort. Shall we listen to every other call, and close our
ears to the cry of our Indian brothers and sisters, who appeal to us
in the name of a common Saviour to help them into a noble Christian
manhood and womanhood? Shall we?

       *       *       *       *       *

A few closing personal references will be permitted. I have written
of my promised furlough, and of the road leading me to “Home, sweet
home.” Those who have spent years away from home and loved ones will
understand the joy with which, after the twelve years of toils and
triumphs which I have striven to describe, I once more turned my face
to the East. I well knew the greetings which awaited me. But I found
more than my beloved mother and brothers and sisters on my return
to Ontario. It was during this visit, in the early months of 1874,
that I found the faithful wife who did not hesitate to turn her back
upon home and friends and the comfortable conditions to which she had
been accustomed, and undertake with me the hardships and privations
of a pioneer missionary life among the benighted Tsimpshean and other
tribes of the far northern regions of our Pacific coast. She is the
youngest daughter of the late Rev. John Douse, formerly a well-known
figure in Canadian Methodism, and who, more than twenty years ago,
went to his reward in the better land. During the next twenty-five
years, in which I labored among the Indians, with headquarters at Port
Simpson, she was a self-denying sharer in the toils and discouragements
and the loneliness of that protracted period of missionary effort,
and a delighted witness of the triumphs of the Gospel, as these poor
benighted peoples gradually emerged from the darkness of heathenism and
became sharers in the blessings of civilization and Christian hope.
Of these trials and triumphs, and the wonderful experiences connected
with that marvellous work, I hope to have the privilege of writing in
another book.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Footnotes have been moved to the end of each chapter and relabeled
consecutively through the document.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.

The following change was made:

p. 50: rancharee changed to rancheree (the “rancheree,” as)

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