R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

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water, big ships could come up the Eraser to it, and that it was easily de-
fensible by a tete du pont on the opposite side of the river, and similar
reasons, that the Colonel was convinced, rowed down the river and ordered
the first cut to be delivered on one of the huge cedars with which the hill


was covered, and named the new town ' Queenborough.' But so great
already was the jealousy in Victoria against the projected new city that
Queenborough was considered by the Colonial Secretary, Mr. W. A. G.
Young, as too nearly a paraphrase of Victoria, the only permissible Queen
city, that after a great inkshed and a long acrid correspondence the name
was proclaimed to be not the Queenborough (Victoria), but Queensbor-
ough, which was quite another thing. The site was put up to auction and
sold at great prices on the understanding that all the money, a large sum,
from the sale should be applied in opening the streets and clearing away
from the lots some of as large and dense timber as the world could possibly
produce^ — an undertaking which it need scarcely be said the government
for lack of money to push its roads and public works could not, or would
not provide, and the purchasers were obliged to tax themselves a second
time and engage in ' bees,' as in old Canada, to get even a small quantity
of the site cleared and to submit to the feeling of having been deceived,
and to see Victoria's streets and roads flourish while Queensborough had to
be content with trails. The sequel may as well be told. The matter was
taken up by the Home Government, Her Majesty was engaged to finally
fix on the name and by Royal Proclamation, Queensborough (a convenient
name) was converted into a Royal city, and the capital of British Columbia
under the name of New Westminster (an inconvenient one), and on the
faith of that many invested their all in it."

The camp of the Royal Engineers was located about one mile west
of New Westminster, where the Provincial Penitentiary now stands. Here
the sappers and miners went to work to prepare permanent quarters and
on account of that was named Sapperton, which as a suburb of the city it is
still known as. Here an official residence for Col. Moody and family and
suite was erected, and here the first church in the colony of British Colum-
bia was raised for the purposes of public worship. Col. Moody moved from
Victoria to his new residence on the i8th of May, 1859. Work on the


clearing of the town site and the making of the streets was carried on.
Oueensborough was on the 2nd of June declared to be the sole port of entry
for vessels entering the Fraser River, and for all goods imported by sea
into the ports of British Columbia adjacent to the Fraser River, and a tariff
of customs duties was established. The first sale of Queensborough lots took
place in June and was most successful. This was followed on July 20th
by a proclamation setting forth that Her Majesty had decided to change
the name of the capital to New Westminster.

Road Building Extraordinary.

Governor Douglas was essentially a road-builder and had he lived to-
day, instead of over fifty years ago, when his energies were at their prime,
he would in all probability have been a railway magnate or as the leader
of a government would have had a strong railway and road policy. Even
at this early date he launched out in a policy of building roads, which in
their every detail remain to-day a monument to the zeal, energy and care
which he displayed in their undertaking. The Royal Engineers were a mili-
tary organization, but their purpose in British Columbia was not so much
that of defense as the opening up of the country by the laying out of roads,
the work of which they entered upon with zest; that they did not persevere
in the good work which they began was due to the fact that the residents of
British Columbia did not think their services were necessary, and there was
the usual jealousy as to their supervision of public works. The alleged
reason for their disbandment, w'hich took place in 1863, was that their special
services were unnecessary. They, however, performed splendid works in
laying the foundation and were a splendid lot of men. Those who wished
to return were given a free passage to England. Those who wished to re-
main were each allowed a free grant of 150 acres of land. The greater
number, enamored with the freedom and abandon of a new country, and
the prospects of participating in coming development, chose to remain, mak-


ing their selections out of unoccupied land. Col. Moody and staff, accom-
panied by some twenty-five or thirty of the force, returned to England.
Road building was a conspicuous feature of the years between 1859 and
1864, the year of Governor Douglas's retirement. Speaking of that we may
again quote the remarks of the late Sir Henry Crease. He remarks that,
" Next to the great financial principle for government which he professed,
roads in Vancouver Island and British Columbia were the one great object
which Governor Douglas, during his long reign, always kept in view. He
was a king of roads. As a Hudson's Bay Company officer he had traveled
from end to end of this great country from the earlier days of the Hudson's
Bay Company down to the time he had charge of its affairs, and knew
the difticulty and delay caused in getting in supplies to the out-stations, and
was thoroughly convinced that no mining could be carried on for any
length of time profitably without giving the greatest possible facilities for
getting supplies to their works, and in Vancouver Island in enabling farm-
ers to take their produce without difficulty to market. So everywhere around
Victoria for miles splendid roads, much better than they are now (1897),
well macadamized, abounded. Many and good roads were made into the
interior and along the coast, where the configuration of grounds made them
practicable. Thence, they were extended into the districts outside of Vic-
toria — e. g., Cowichan, Chemainus, Saanich and Lake, were duplicated, nay,
even at times, as for instance at Comox, triplicated — and a still greater and
bolder enterprise was contemplated by Sir James Douglas, and indeed com-
menced by him on the Mainland, no less than a prospective toll wagon road
from Hope, the then head of navigation of the Fraser River, through Hope,
Similkameen and Okanagan, down and across the Columbia to Kootenay,
and more ambitious still, through the Rocky Mountain Passes and across the
Indian territory via Edmonton House to meet a similar road from Canada
westward towards British Columbia, which he confidently expected eastern
Canada would build to meet him at Edmonton, and form together a great


British Canadian colonization road, England being too far off to expect any
general colonization from thence. General immigration from Canada east
was always his idea, fostered, no doubt, by his familiarity with the Hudson's
Bay Company coasts in that direction and away north. Convinced always
that population ultimately would come from Canada there is reason to be-
lieve that so satisfied was he of the benefit it would be both to British Co-
lumbia and Canada, that he was inclined to press such a scheme as a toll
colonization road if it could be favored by the Home Government, and he
' hoped to obtain from them what then would have been an impossible com-
mission. At first his aims were confined to opening the country by roads
along the Fraser up to the bars and placers where already gold was found
in paying quantities and more expected further up. Miners and prospectors
fitting out at Victoria took at first the " Otter " and " Beaver," the only two
Hudson's Bay Company steamers which had come out to this country round
Cape Horn to Queensborough, and by sternwheel steamer to Douglas. Then
from Douglas they proceeded along the Pemberton Portage and the Lakes,
which were crossed by steamer to Lillooet, where they joined the Fraser
and its gold bearing bars again. From Lillooet a wagon road was pro-
jected to climb up Pavilion Mountain by the well-known Rattlesnake grade
and go on to Clinton and from thence on through the green timber and
the fifty-mile alkali belt along Lac La Hache to the i5oMile House, thence
to Soda Creek, Alexandria and Quesnel Mouth; thence direct east by Cot-
tonwood and Van Winkle to Richfield and Williams Creek, some of the
richest gold-fields of the rich Cariboo country. The Similkameen road from
Hope was commenced as a trail, with the progress and prospects of which
Governor Douglas was so pleased that he directed it to be converted into
a wagon road. This he intended as a toll road to Kootenay and across the
Rockies, but required a petition from the people of Hope, who would have
been enriched by the business of the road, requesting him to impose a small
toll on goods and passengers to authorize him to raise and expend the neces-


sary money. At the instance, however, of a petty local opposition the peti-
tion was not signed. The Similkameen route as a through road fell through
— although, as will be shown, a good and valuable trail was afterwards made
in that direction.

" Failing at Hope, a public meeting was held at Yale, the merchants
of which were delighted at the chance, and warmly espoused a wagon road
along the rocky canons and forbidding defiles and banks of the Fraser,
passing Lytton and up the Thompson by way of Ashcroft and the Bona-
parte to join the other part of the wagon road at Qinton, thus making the
connection with Caribco complete — and giving the whole of the Lillooet-
Yale road to Cariboo the general name of the Cariboo Road — a monument
to the determined will, outlay and skill of the chief who ordered and the
men who executed this (even at this day) wonderful effort of engineering
skill, and which opened up such a long and wide tract of auriferous as well
as agricultural country."

Tlie men who constructed this great work were the Royal Engineers,
who were paid by the Colony, and local men. A list is here given of the
roads constructed under Sir James Douglas's regime, and the men who
made them :


The road from Everett's "Horse and Jockev" to Esquimalt, built in i860 by (now
Sir) J. W. Trutch.

Douglas Portage.

From Douglas to Six Mile Post by Royal Engineers in 1861 ; from Six Mile Post
to Twelve Mile Post by Royal Engineers in 1861 ; from Twelve Mile House to Eighteen
Mile Post by Hon. J. W. Trutch, 1861 ; from Eighteen Mile Post to Twenty-eight Mile
Post, Little Lake, by Royal Engineers, 1861.

Pemberton Portage.

From Pemberton at head of Lillooet Lake to Six-Mile Post by Colquhoun, in
autumn, 1861, failing to complete contract to Anderson Lake.

From Six-Mile Post across Anderson Portage to Twenty-Seven Mile Post at head
of Anderson Lake, in autumn and winter of 1861, by Joseph W. Trutch, to complete
Colquhoun's contract.

From foot of Seaton Lake about three miles to Lillooet in 1860 or 1861.

Yale- Cariboo Wagon Road.

Mule Trail. — From Yale to Spuzzum Ferry, 11 miles by Powers and M. C. Roberts
in summer of 1861.

From Spuzzum to Boston Bar, 14 miles, in the autumn of 1861, by the same.
Wagon Road. — From Yale to Six-Mile Post by Royal Engineers in 1862.


From Six-Mile Post to Thirteen-Mile Post at Suspension Bridge, by Thomas Spence
in autumn of 1862.

Alejjandria Suspension Bridge, erected in summer of 1863 by Joseph W. Trutch.
From Suspension Bridge to Boston Bar, 12 miles, by J. W. Trutch in 1862-3.

From Boston Bar to Lytton. 32 miles, by Spence and Landvoight. 1862.

From Lytton to Cook's Ferry (Spence's Bridge), 23 miles, by Moberly and Oppen-
heimer, in 1862 and spring of 1863.

Spence's Bridge, built by Thomas Spence in 1863-4.

From Spence's Bridge to Eighty-nine-Mile Post, 9 miles, by Royal Engineers in
1863. From Eighty-ninc-Mile Post to Ninety-three-Mile Post, by Thomas Spence in 1864.

From Ninety-three-Mile Post to Clinton at 136-Mile Post, Moberly and Hood in
1863. (Note. — Clinton, 136 miles from Yale.)

Wagon Road, Lillooet to Alexandria.

From Lillooet to Clinton, 47 miles, by Gustavus Ben Wright in 1861.
From Clinton to Soda Creek, 177 miles from Lillooet, by G. B. Wright in 1863.
From Alexandria to Quesnel Mouth, 40 miles, by Spence and Landvoight, 1863.
From Quesnel to Cottonwood, 21 miles, 1864.
From Cottonwood to Barkerville, 42 miles. 1865.

Now to return to the wagon road from Hope to and across the Rockies.

Having been obliged to abandon his original plan, which was a wagon
road, commenced by ex-Lieutenant-Governor Hon. E. Dewdney, in addi-
tion to the numerous works of surveying and engineering he had already
completed in the Colony — he had done twelve miles of it when it was stopped,
for lack of the supjxDrt I have described from the people of Hope, but the road
was carried on twenty-five miles to Skagit Flat. From thence the Royal
Engineers carried on a trail to Princeton, which was -afterwards much im-
proved by Alison's cut-off. This trail was improved from Skagit to the
Summit. It was then carried through the open, down the Similkameen
country. In 1865, Mr. Dewdney commenced a trail down the Similkameen,
by Keremeos to Osoyoos ; thence he followed the boundary along down Kettle
River Valley to the mouth of Christine Creek; thence across the mountains
to Fort Shepherd east of the Columbia, crossing the Kootenay River at the
mouth of Kootenay Lake. This was in 1865, when Sir Joseph W. Trutch
was Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works. From Kootenay Lake, Mr.
Dewdney carried the trail by the Mooyie to Wild Swan Creek, now called
Fort Steele. This was done from Osoyoos in 1865, but it has been much
improved since. It has always been called Dewdney Trail, and it has been


by means of Dewdney that access has been given to the rich Kootenay coun-
try, and great facilities afiforded for the discovery and exploration of valu-
able deposits of gold in that district. In fact, the Dewdney trail was the
key to the Kootenays.



Scarcely had the colony of British Columbia been fully organized, as
described in the last chapter, when an agitation was set on foot for represent-
ative government and union with the colony of Vancouver Island. With the
limited population and the contiguity of the two colonies it was the most
natural thing in the world that union should be suggested. There was dual
governorship, a dual set of officials, a dual system of fiscal arrangements, and
a dual administration of justice. It was obvious that by consolidation a
large item of expense might be saved. There were difficulties in the way
of even so simple a solution — personal interests and sectional considerations.

Early in 1861 a memorial was presented to Governor Douglas from
residents of several parts of the Mainland asking for a representative As-
sembly for the colony of British Columbia. This was inevitable. The colony
was ruled directly by representatives of the Crown, nominally by the sov-
ereign, through a responsible minister, the Secretary for the Colonies, who
conveyed his instructions to the British Columbia officials. These were car-
ried into effect under the supervision of the Governor. Vancouver Island,
a much smaller colony and less important from many points of view, had a
legislative assembly, and it cannot be wondered at that the residents of Brit-
ish Columbia should seek for similar consideration. Sir James Douglas did
not favor, this. There were several reasons which suggested opposition on
his part. His experience so far as the more favored colony of Vancouver
Island was concerned did not argue for its usefulness in his mind. The As-
sembly there was largely the creature of his will, and of his successors, Gov-
ernors Kennedy and Seymour, neither regarded it as of particular import-


ance. The former in a dispatch said : " There is no medium or connecting
hnk between the G( ,^elncr ?nd the Assembly, and the time of the Legislative
Council (which comprises the principal executive officers ) is mainly occupied
in the correction of mistakes, or undoing the crude legislation of the lower
House, who have not, and cannot be expected to have, the practical experi-
ence or available time necessary for the successful conduct of public affairs.
On financial subjects they are always greatly at fault." Governor Seymour
in a dispatch on the same subject remarked : " The loss of the House of As-
sembly would not, I think, be much regretted." That Governor Douglas,
whose nature was to rule with a lone hand, should not have a high opinion
of that Assembly is not to be wondered at. Tliere was, again, the personal
reason that he did not desire to share with any legislative or representative
body the responsibilities of government. A man who had been chief factor
in the Hudson's Bay Company, an aggregation of autocrats, with a long ex-
perience of supreme authority, could not adapt himself to the limitations to
be imposed by what he could not but regard as inferior officials. He had
been reared in the kind of school that did not brook contradiction. But
there was still another reason, and we must do justice to Sir James in sup-
posing that it had due weight with him. In fact, there were a number of
reasons. He was a man of practical ideas. His experience in the govern-
ment of men and in affairs had taught him useful lessons, and one of them
was that a wise autocracy is better than rule by democracy. He cared little
for theories of government. He believed in direct methods and undivided
responsibility. Apart from that there were peculiar circumstances in British
Columbia that rendered the system of government in vogue in England as the
result of centuries of development inapplicable to a new country with un-
stable and unsettled conditions. These reasons he set out ably and clearly
in a dispatch to the Secretary of State, dated April 22nd, 1861. After en-
umerating the steps which had been taken to lay before him the views of the
delegation, which had waited upon him, he pointed out that what they had in


mind was a general reduction of taxation, and that instead of a system of
import and inland duties levied on goods, which were regarded as oppres-
sive, they proposed to carry on the public works necessary for the develop-
ment of the country by means of public loans, their object being to throw
a portion of the burden upon posterity, something which he regarded, as in-
deed, not without a measure of justice in it, and consequently with many
zealous advocates. It may be remarked incidentally that the memorialists
were certainly not antiquated in their ideas of public finance and really antici-
pated a policy that became only too popular in later years, and was carried
to such an extreme as to shift an inordinate share of burden on future gen-
erations, and to seriously impair the credit of the province. In proceeding
to review the various subjects brought to his attention, he remarked :

Douglas's Views on a Legislature for British Columbia.

" The first prayer of the inhabitants is for a resident governor in British
Columbia, entirely unconnected with Vancouver Island. Your Grace, will
perhaps, pardon me from hazarding an opinion on a subject which so nearly
concerns my own official position. I may, however, at least remark that I
have spared no exertion to promote the interests of both colonies, and am not
conscious of having neglected any opportunity of adding to their prosperity.
The memorial then proceeds to the subject of Representative Institutions,
asking for a form of government similar to that existing in Australia and the
Eastern British North American Provinces. This application should, per-
haps, be considered to apply more to the future well-being of the colony than
to the views and wishes of the existing population. Without pretending to
question the talent or experience of the petitioners, or their capacity for legis-
lation and self-government, I am decidedly of opinion that there is not, as
yet, a sufficient basis of population or property in the colony to institute a
sound system of self-government. The British element is small, and there
is absolutely neither a manufacturing nor farmer class; there are no landed


proprietors, except holders of building lots in towns; no producers, except
miners, and the general population is essentially migratory — the only fixed
population, apart from New Westminster, being the traders settled in the
several inland towns, from which the miners obtain their supplies. It would,
I conceive, be unwise to commit the work of legislation to persons so situated,
having nothing at stake, and no real vested interest in the colony. Such a
course, it is hardly unfair to say, could be scarcely expected to promote either
the happiness of the people or the prosperity of the colony ; and it would un-
questionably be setting up a power that might materially hinder and em-
barrass the Government in the great work of developing the resources of this
country ; a power not representing large bodies of landed proprietors, nor of
responsible settlers having their homes, their property, their sympathies, their
dearest interest irrevocably identified with the country; but from the fact
before stated, of there being no fixed population, except in the towns. Judg-
ing from the ordinary motives which influence men, it may be assumed that
local interests would weigh more with a legislature so formed, than the ad-
vancement of the great and permanent interests of the country.

" I have reason to belive that the memorial does not express the senti-
ments of the great body of the people of British Columbia, not that I would,
for a moment, assume that Englishmen are, under any circumstances, un-
mindful of their political birthright, but I believe that the majority of the
working and reflective classes would, for many reasons, infinitely prefer the
government of the Queen, as now established, to the rule of a party, and
would think it prudent to postpone the establishment of representative in-
stitutions until the permanent population of the country is greatly increased
and capable of moral influence, by maintaining the peace of the country, and
making representative institutions a blessing and a reality, and not a by-
word or a curse.

" The total population of British Columbia and from the colonies in
North America, in the three towns supposed to be represented by the memo-


rialists, is as follows: New Westminster, 164 male adults; Hope, 108 adults;
Douglas, 33 adults, in all 305, which, supposing all perfect in their views
respecting representative institutions, is a mere fraction of the population.
Neither the people of Yale, Lytton or Cayoosh, Rock Creek, Alexandria, or
Similkameen appear to have taken any interest in the proceeding or to have
joined the movement.

" From the satisfactory working of the New Westminster Council, es-
tablished last summer, with large powers for municipal purposes, I enter-
tained the idea of enlarging the sphere of their operations, and of constituting
similar bodies at Hope, Yale, and Cayoosh, and all the other towns in British
Columbia, with the view, should it meet with the approval of Her Majesty's
Government, of ultimately developing the whole system into a House of As-
sembly. Part of the system has already been commenced at Yale and Hope.
The Government may, by that means, call into exercise the sagacity and
knowledge of practical men, and acquire valuable information upon local
matters, thus reaping one of the advantages of a legislative assembly without
the risks — and, I still think the colony may, for some time to come, be suf-
ficiently represented in that manner.

" The existing causes of dissatisfaction as alleged in the memorial, may
be classified under the following heads: (i) That the Governor, Colonial
Secretary and Attorney General do not reside permanently in British Colum-
bia. (2) That the taxes on goods are excessive as compared with the
population, and in part levied on boatmen, who derive no benefit from them,
and that there is no land tax. (3) That the progress of Victoria is stimu-
lated at the expense of British Columbia, and that no encouragement is given
to shipbuilding or to the foreign trade of the colony. (4) That money has
been injudiciously squandered on public works and contracts given without

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