R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

. (page 26 of 79)
Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 26 of 79)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

importance to the salmon is the halibut, which is found in great quantities
in Hecate Straits and along the coast to the northward. Within the last ten
or twelve years, the halibut industry has developed into large proportions, and
now over ten to fifteen million pounds is being shipped annually by the New
England and other American companies, from Vancouver and Seattle, to the
Eastern markets.

The range of foot! fishes on this coast is not as wide as on the Atlantic,


■: 1 V

f .\'l K


but the quantity available in each is much larger. The prime food fishes out-
side of the salmon and halibut referred to, are the oolachan, or candle fish,
herring, sea bass, cod, sturgeon, shad, and a fish found in great quantities on
the coast of Queen Charlotte Islands, known as black cod or " skill," some-
what resembling the mackerel. The herring industry, recently inaugurated,
promises to become important, as the herring run in immense numbers. Whale
fishing has been inaugurated on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and a
guano factory has been established in connection. There are other fish, such
as dog fish and sharks, which are utilized to some extent for their oil. The
principal game fish in the Province is the trout, which is found in all the waters
of British Columbia, and the spring or tyee salmon. Those who have paid
attention to the fishery resources of the Province claim that there is a great
future ahead, as soon as markets have been found. Considerable capital has
been exj>ended in experimental work in various processes in the curing of fish.
So far it has not assumed large proportions.

Forest Wealth.

Turning now to the timber resources of the Province, it is rather hazard-
ous to make an estimate of the amount of standing timber available for com-
merce. No estimate can be regarded as reliable. Official publications give
the timber area of British Columbia as i82,75o,ocx) acres, but a great deal of
that, while timbered, is not commercially of use except for local purposes.
Much of it is covered with small trees, only fit for fuel and mine timber. How-
ever, it may be safely stated, that the largest and most important reserves of
timber available on the North American continent for commercial purposes,
are to be found in British Columbia. There are large detached limits of useful
forest in the southern interior of the Province, now being utilized for export to
the Northwest. This timber is much smaller than that found on the coast,
where the trees grow to very large proportions; but still large as compared
with that grown in the East. On coast limits as high as three hundred


thousand feet of timber have been cut from one acre, but the best limits aver-
age from twenty-five to fifty thousand feet. These are found on the lower
Mainland, on Vancouver Island and the adjacant coast of the Mainland, and
intervening islands as far north as the northern part of Vancouver Island,
where the Douglas fir disappears. The principal timbers are the Douglas fir,
which is the most important and widely distributed of the commercial trees,
red cedar, spruce, western white pine, western yellow pine (or bull pine), hem-
lock, western larch, and to a limited extent, yellow cedar. There are no de-
ciduous trees of great commercial importance. Alder and maple are used in
a limited way for finishing woods, but the supply is not large. There is some
oak on the southern end of Vancouver Island, but of little use commercially.
Cottonwood has been used for the manufacture of " excelsior," while arbutus,
dogwood, buckthorn and crab apple have occasional special uses. It is pos-
sible, however, to greatly diversify the useful hard woods of the Province, as
walnut, butternut, hickory, elm, oak, beech, hard maples, ash, etc., can be culti-
vated and grow rapidly. The utilization of spruce, hemlock and Douglas fir
along the coast, for the manufacture of paper pulp, has had considerable atten-
tion paid to it within the last few years, and several large companies have
been organized with the purpose of engaging in the pulp and paper industries.
Only preliminary work has yet been undertaken, but great hopes are enter-
tained for the future. There are over one hundred saw mills in the Province,
big and small, with a combined daily capacity of over two million feet, but
this limit has never been reached; the annual cut running between three
hundred to three hundred and fifty million feet. An important feature of the
timber industry in recent years has been the manufacture of shingles from red

A large market is found in the Northwest and Eastern Canada. With .
the exception of the foreign export trade, amounting to about fifty million
feet per annum, and a considerable local demand, the principal market for the
timber of the mills of the Province is found in the Northwest provinces


and Manitoba. For a long- period of years, the timber industry was in a de-
pressed condition, but with the opening up of the Northwest, a new avenue of
trade was found, and this market has been increasing in importance with
the remarkable rush of population which has taken place recently, so that at
present, the lumber industry is in a more prosperous condition than ever it
was before. Timber lands have been in great demand, and new mills are being
erected and old ones enlarged and modernized.

Statistics of the timber and lumber industry are not available prior to
the year 1888, when the reports of the Inspector of Forestry began to be pub-
lished. Since that time a very complete annual statement has been included
in the report of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works. However, a
careful estimate of the cut of timber in the Province since the commencement
of the industry, made from available data in various years, gives the following
results: To 1871, 250,000,000 feet; from 1871 to 1888, 595,000,000 feet;
from 1888 to 1904, inclusive, 2,569,759,262 feet, or in the aggregate, 3,414,-
759,262 feet. If we add to the above the amount of lumber manufactured on
Dominion Government lands, and that cut from private lands concerning
which there is no official record, the total will be very materially increased.


Reference has already been made to the permanent character and bright
possibilities of the agricultural industry in British Columbia. The achieve-
ments in this direction for the past ten years are sufficient upon which to base
the most sanguine anticipations. There are several elements which give great
promise to the industry. The first is climate, which except in the most re-
mote northerly parts of the Province, is conducive to the best results. On the
Coast it is particularly mild and equable, and, therefore, favorable to small
fruits, pears, plums, cherries, and several varieties of apples, to nearly all
kinds of vegetables, for dairying and stock purposes, and to grain growing,
with the exception of wheat, which does not ripen sufficiently hard for milling.


In the interior valleys, where the heat is much greater in the summer time and
the winters are dry and cold, the range of agricultural products in all lines
is even greater because we have added to the fruits and grain already referred
to those which require more heat and greater cold for maturing perfectly, for
instance, it is possible to grow tomatoes, peaches and grapes, which require
greatei" heat, and a greater variety of apples, which reach their perfection in a
cold, rigorous climate. The finest of wheat for milling purposes can also be
grown. The soil suitable for agriculture is everywhere very productive, and
the yields on the average are greater than in any other part of Canada. This
productiveness is a result of a combination of soil and climate. The growing
season is long and conduces to the best quality. From a commercial point of
view, the conditions are peculiarly favorable. The distance from Eastern
Canada afifords a' natural protection in the way of freight rates, and the duty
on agricultural products prevents over competition from the Pacific Coast
states of America. The condition, however, which peculiarly favors fruit
growing in British Columbia is the continuity of the Northwest Territory,
now rapidly filling up with population. In addition to the home market, which
is a large and profitable one and continuously growing, the fruit-grower has
the Northwest practically to himself, and has heretofore been able to obtain
the highest prices for all he could grow of the right varieties properly packed.
The market, in fact, for fruit is increasing more rapidly than the ability of
the fruit grower to supply it, and particularly in view of the expanding popula-
tion, there need, therefore, be no anxiety for many years to come in regard to
over production.

There has always been, too, a large local demand for dairy products, poul-
try and eggs, which the home product has been unable to fully supply. Farm-
ers obtain the highest prices for their butter, eggs and poultry. With the ex-
ception of the interior valleys — where stock growing has been carried on on a
large scale, by being able to take advantage of the bunch grass ranges of the
hill sides — British Columbia is not a country for large ranches ; all the condi-


tions are opposed to farming on a larg^e scale. Therefore, the agriculturist
is, by virtue of such conditions, compelled to undertake mixed farming on a
small scale, which, in the experience of the world, has proved to be the most
profitable and most permanent. One of the conditions referred to is the cost
of securing land and bringing it into cultivation, or if it be located in the dry
belt, it requires irrigation, or if low-lying, demands extensive draining and
under draining. In other words, taken as a whole, it is much more expensive
to bring land under proper cultivation in British Columbia than in most other
parts of America, and therefore not favorable to land holding in large areas,
but once fitted for cultivation, it becomes by reason of a combination of favor-
able circumstances, exceedingly productive, and yielding large dividends upon
the capital invested. It is a country eminently suited to intensive cultivation
of whatever character, and as at the present time fruit growing and dairying
give promise of the greatest returns, particular attention is being paid to these
branches of the industry. Within the past ten years no other industry of what-
ever character has made such rapid and substantial progress as that of farm-
ing, and no other has such bright prospects of continuous expansion and en-
during success. It has not been usual in the past to regard British Columbia
in the light of an agricultural country, and therefore it has become better
known on account of its mineral, timber and fishing resources, but it is esti-
mated that the value of farm products for 1905 was six million dollars. It
will thus be seen that it compares favorably in agriculture with other natural
resources. As an instance of the possibilities in this respect, the census of
1 89 1 gives the extent of improved land at considerably less than half a million
acres, and as a matter of fact, much of that is only partially improved. It
would be safe to say that the area actually under cultivation does not exceed
two hundred or two hundred and fifty thousand acres at the outside, so that
the amount of arable land in the whole Province, the area of which is about
two hundred and fifty million acres, is very small in comparison ; there is never-
theless, sufficient to afford room for an agricultural population of half a mil-


lion persons, allowing each farmer, or head of a family, ninety acres each, or
at the present rate of production, capable of producing one hundred million
dollars worth of farm produce annually. It is impossible at the present time,
basing figiires upon official returns, to give an accurate estimate of the areas
of the various arable districts of the Province, but in a rough way it is possible
to give approximately the following: The lower Fraser valley in the West-
minster district, 350,000 acres; the southeastern portion of Vancouver Island,
250,000; the north end of Vancouver Island, 300,000 acres; Okanagan district,
240,000 acres ; north and south Thompson River valleys, 75,000 acres ; Nicola,
Similkameen, and Kettle River valleys, 350,000 acres; Lillooet and Cariboo,
200,000 acres ; East and West Kootenay, 1 50,000 acres ; Canoe River valley,
75,000 acres; the Chilcoten, including the Nechaco and Blackwater valleys,
750,000 acres; Bulkley and Kispyox valleys, 200,000 acres; Ootsa Lake, 150,-
• 000 acres; Bella Coola and other Coast districts, 150,000 acres; New Cale-
donia, including Peace River, 5,500,000 acres; making a grand total of nearly
9,000,000 acres. This is an estimate that cannot be verified officially, as but
little is known as to the exact extent of some of the valleys enumerated, but
it will probably be found to be not far wide of the mark. It will be seen that
only a small percentage of this land has yet been made available, in fact, by far
the largest part of it is still in the hands of the Government and until com-
munication is effected, settlement and population must necessarily be slow. To
show how rapidly the agricultural industry is developing, it may be stated that
in 1897 the output of butter from the creameries did not exceed 75,000 pounds,
whereas in 1904 there were about 1,120,000 pounds manufactured, with
fourteen creameries in operation, showing an increase of 160,000 pounds
over the previous year.

The possibilities of further development is shown by the fact that in 1904
considerably more butter was imported than was manufactured, or butter to
the value of $1,180,000, which came from the Northwest, Oregon, Washing-
ton, California, New Zealand and Australia.


The value of the fruit shipped in 1904 was estimated at $240,000, and

the total value of the fruit produced and marketed exceeded $500,000, which

amounts were largely exceeded in 1905, though returns are not available at

the time of writing. The area of land planted in orchards, according to

census returns of 1901, was 7,430 acres, the estimated value of the acreage of

orchards planted in the three following years was 6,000 acres, so that at the

end of 1904, there were about 13,500 acres of orchards, and it is estimated

that in 1905, taking the number of trees planted as a basis, between 7,000 and

10,000 acres of land was added to the area under cultivation, and devoted to

fruit growing.


The Province of British Columbia, though it has material and the natural
conditions out of which to create great industries, has not yet been placed in
the position in relation with the commercial world to take advantage of its
opportunities. Development in that direction is a matter of slow progress,
and follows in the wake of trade with the Orient, via the Pacific Ocean. Re-
moteness from centers of supply, price of labor, the relatively high cost of
transportation as compared with the Atlantic ports, and, in particular, with
the great ports of Europe, with which the Pacific Coast must come into com-
petition when striving for foreign trade, and other conditions, all enter into
the problem of success, and have to be overcome by degrees. Trans-conti-
nental railways and trans-Pacific stseamship lines and Pacific cable and the pro-
posed Panama Canal, are altering the conditions, and we are gradually build-
ing up Liverpools and New Yorks. It is, therefore, almost as certain as the
sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that in time the center of commer-
cial gravity will be shifted. We shall then stand in the same relative position
in regard to the trade of the world as those world centers, and in point of in-
dustry British Columbia will have exceptional advantages in relation to the
Orient. The large industries which effect the international situation are iron
and steel, pulp and paper, timber, fishery products, preserved and canned fruits


and vegetables, manufactured wcxjlens, etc. Respecting all of these and others
that might be included, no country is in a better natural position to compete.
It has not only geographical advantages by ocean navigation, but it has a great
wealth of natural resouces easily accessible. It is indeed, in a much better
position than Great Britain ever was, and the Mother Country until recently
stood unrivalled in trade and industry. We may, therefore, look with un-
bounded confidence, even though we have to exercise patience, to the future,
when mammoth factories of various kinds will produce goods for every part
of the globe, to be conveyed thither by fleets of steamers. Our ocean ports
will be the entrepot for commerce flowing freely to and fro along the new route
between the Occident and the Orient, and from the nether hemisphere of Aus-
tralasia to the northern and congenerous parts of the same empire. Progress
towards that end, as has already been remarked, has been extremely slow, and
those in the early days who dreamed dreams of things we now see and have
more certain knowledge of their approach, experienced many disappointments.
They saw truly but too far ahead to reap of the harvest they had anticipated.
In Hudson's Bay Company days there was a considerable trade carried on
with points on the Pacific coast north and south, with the Sandwich Islands,
China and Siberia, and of course, with Great Britain, from which all mer-
chandise came. The Oregon territory then produced furs, wheat, lumber,
meat and skins, flour, etc. This in a small way gave promise of things to
come. After the organization of the colonies, subsequent to the first gold rush,
there was little exported except gold, lumber and furs, which percolated
through Victoria, principally from the northern and interior posts of the com-
pany. For a number of years these were practically the only items of ex-
port. Canned salmon did not enter the list until after 1876, while the exports
of foreign lumber never materially increased from the early days. Practically
everything important in the line of export trade is modern.

To some extent, it may be said that British Columbia for years existed on
prospects. The first gold rush produced an excitement and real estate booms


in Victoria and New Westminster, followed by extreme depression, which
was relieved by the second rush, the result of the Cariboo excitement and dis-
coveries. Depression then became and remained chronic, with occasional
spurts arising out of new finds and rushes here and there, or new developments
in the political situation, promising union, or confederation, or the building
oi the railway. It was only after the building of the Canadian Pacific Rail-
way became a certainty and work actually began, that the business of the
Province revived. Then inflation in real estate set in, the like of which Brit-
ish Columbia never experienced. Business in every line revived, and specu-
lation was greatly stimulated by the prospects. The movement grew in
strength until about 1890, when it had attained its height, and had reached
every inhabited part of the Province. Vancouver City was the center of the
speculative whirl, but Victoria, New Westminster and many other places
boomed out of all proportion to business actually being done. Speculation
extended to timber limits, wild lands, farm lands, to mining properties, and
even to the fisheries. After the climax had been reached there was a very
rapid shrinkage in values, and in 1893, 1894 and 1895 the after effects were
very severe. In 1896 matters began to improve and improvement may be
said to have continued ever since, though mining, fishing and lumbering
each has experienced ups and downs of a serious character, hard body blows
from various quarters and for various reasons too long to explain. At the
present time, the opening of the year 1906, the Province is in sound condition
industrially and commercially, and enjoying general peace and prosperity, with
prospects of railway construction and development that have not seemed so
assured for many years. It may be that we shall be carried on the whirligig
of fortune through past vicissitudes, and land in a position somewhat sim-
ilar to what we were in 1893-6. The exercise of business discretion and wis-
dom fraught of experience should steer us through the inevitable era of de-
pression safely, and without the acute sufferings following reckless and un-
warranted investments and business ventures. That period of reaction, how-


ever, is not likely to occur again for several years, and until after the Prov-
ince has made tremendous strides forward and become the Mecca of the multi-
tudes who are now looking to the boundless West for new homes and new
careers. The movement, which is fast gathering force must exhaust itself
before the clouds of adversity again appear on our horizon. That we shall
have undue speculation and inflation, as a consequence of population overflow-
ing the Rockies, is as certain as it is apparently unavoidable, but while those
periods of great activity, like electrical storms, leave many business wrecks
in their tracks, they also sow the seeds of new industries and suggest new
possibilities. It will, at the worst, in the future be as it has been in the past.
Each time when we sink low in the valley of depression we ascend higher
mountains beyond, until some day we shall view the world at our feet.

Author's Postscript.

The Author desires to acknowledge valuable assistance rendered by
E. O. Scholefield, provincial Librarian; Captain Walbran, of the Marine and
Fisheries service; Miss Maria Lawson and Miss Agnes Deans Cameron, of
the staff of the Victoria public schools; and Mr, D. W. Higgins, late speaker
of the Legislative Assembly, all of whom contributed materially to the
information contained in the foregoing pages.







Richard Blanshard ..;... 1849

Sir James Douglas, K. C. B. . Nov., 1851

Arthur Edward Kennedy .Oct., 1864



Sir. James Douglas Sept., 1858

Frederick Seymour Apl., 1864

Anthony Musgrave, K. C. M. G. Aug., 1869



Sir J. W. Trutch, K. C. M. G July 5, 1871

Hon. A. N. Richards .June 27, 1876

C. F. Cornwall June 21, 1881

Hugh Nelson Feby. 8, 1887

Hon. Edgar Dewdney Nov. i, 1892

T. R. Mclnnes .Nov. 18, 1897

Sir Henri Gustave Joly de Lotbiniere . . . . June 21, 1900



Hon. J. S. Helmcken 1856

Hon. James Trimble 1872

Hon. F. W. Williams 1878

Hon. J. A. Mara . 1883

Hon. C. E. Pooley 1887

Hon. D. W. Higgins (resigned March 4, 1898) 1890

Hon. J. P. Booth 1898

Hon. Thos. Forster 1899

Hon. J. P. Booth (died March, 1902) 1900

Hon. C. E. Pooley 1902



185 1











1 87 1















1 87 1












Legislative Assembly, Vancouver Island, First Parliament, 1855 to
1859: Victoria town, James Yates and Jos. W. McKay; Esquimalt and
Victoria Districts, J. S. Helmcken (i) and J. D. Pemberton; Esquimalt
town, Thomas J. Skinner ; Sooke District, John Muir.

( I ) Speaker.

Legislative Assembly, Vancouver Island, Second Parliament, March,
i860 to February, 1863 : Victoria town — First session, March, i860, to Feb-
ruary, 1861, J. H. Cary, S. Franklin; second session, June, 1861, to January,
1862, J. H. Cary, S. Franklin; third session, March, 1862, to December,

1862, J. H. Cary, S. Franklin; fourth session, January, 1863, to February,

1863, J. H. Cary, S. Franklin. Victoria District — First session, March, i860,
to February, 1861, H. P. P. Crease, W. F. Tolmie, A. Waddington; second
session, June, 1861, to January, 1862, H. P. P. Crease (i), W. F. Tolmie,
A. Waddington (2), J. W. Trutch (vice Crease), J. Trimble (vice Wad-
dington) ; third session, March, 1862, to December, 1862, W. F. Tolmie,
J. W. Trutch, J. Trimble; fourth session, January, 1863, to February, 1863,

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 26 of 79)