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The sea of mountains; an account of Lord Dufferin's tour through British Columbia in 1876 (Volume 1) online

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From this the route lay through a number
of streets in the more residential part of
the town to Government House, at present
occupied only by the Governor-General
and his party. Here there was an ex-
cellent luncheon ready, and from this
point, the bands, fire brigade, schools,
&c., turned back and made their way
home. No business was done, all the
shops being shut. Even the drug stores
put up their shutters, locked their doors,
and left their pills and their draughts to
fight it out amongst themselves.

The decorations of the town were very
pretty and ornamental, and the imagina-
tion of the decorators had been much
exercised (not always very happily) in
devising mottoes for their arches and
banners. Amongst others were these
mottoes : " Hearty Welcome to the
Governor-General ;" " Fiat Justitia ;"
" Carnarvon Terms ;" " Develop our Re-


sources;" "Fuimus;" "All Nationalities
welcome the Governor-General ;" " The
Iron Horse the Civilizer of the World ;"
" Cead Mille Failthe ;" " British Columbia
welcomes Lady Dufferin ;" " Coal, Gold,
Lumber, and Fish ;" " A Thousand Wel-
comes;" "British Columbia for British
Columbians ;" " Honesty is the best
Policy ;" " Our Railway Iron Rusts ;"
"Hail to the Chief;" "Free Port;" "In
Union there is Strength; Psalm xv.,
verses 5 7 (Prayer Book) ; " Hyas Tyhee,
Hyas Kloosh, Mika Chakoo ;" " God Save
Victoria, Empress of India;" "British
Columbia the Key of the Pacific;" "Re-
peat your Visit ;" " The Pacific greets the
Atlantic ;" " Loyal to the Crown ;" " No-
lumus Leges Mutari ;" " Carnarvon Terms
or Separation ;" " United without Union ;"
" Confederated without Confederation ;"
"Railroad the Bond of Union;" "Wel-
come;" "God Save the Queen;" "The
Prince of Wales and all the Royal Family."
The Chinese arches, which were three,


bad the following mottoes the first :
" Glad to see you here ;" the second
"English Law is liberal;" third "Come
again." These arches were in pagoda

Before entering the city, it had been
intimated to Lord Dufferin that in the
intended course of the procession one of
the principal arches was surmounted by
the motto, " Carnarvon Terms or Separa-
tion," and he asked that this street might
be avoided. The route was therefore
taken in another way, and I am told that
some anger is felt not with him, but with
those who informed him, or rather advised
him, as it is assumed, on the subject.
One or two silly persons tried to turn his
horses' heads towards the objectionable
route. The arch is a most conspicuous
one, and was one of the first that caught
my eye. It is hardly necessary to com-
ment upon the taste of the individual who
endeavoured to thrust a threat into the
face of the Governor-General on his visit to


Victoria, particularly as the question is one
within the range of Parliament's powers ;
but I fancy it was but an ebullition of
feeling on the part of some one whose
perception of a discourtesy was not as
clear as it might have been.

Readers will observe that many of the
mottoes have reference direct or indirect
to the Pacific Railway, and it may- be said
of the Victorians that they have the Pacific
Railway not only on the brain but through-
out their entire frames. My opportunities
of learning the general sentiments of the
people have as yet been limited, but
judging by what I have seen and heard,
I should say that all alike feel anxious on
the subject, and that a certain line of
politicians endeavour to cultivate the feel-
ing of anger and the expression of angry
sayings as much as possible. In the
following Chapter will be given the copy
of an address, which, at a Public Meeting
held a few nights ago, it was agreed to
present to the Governor-General during


his stay in Victoria. It was at first
adopted by the Meeting in much stronger
terms, but, on reflexion, they moderated
the warmth of their language.

The resolution, appointing the follow-
ing gentlemen to present the address to
Lord Duflferin, was then read and
carried :

A. J.. Langley, A. C. Elliott,

M. W. T. Drake, Jas. Trimble,

Jas. Fell, K. Beaven,

J. P. Davies, J. Douglas,

A. Bunster, T. B. Humphreys,

W. F. Tolmie.

Nominees of the Meeting.
J. Spratt, Chas. Gowan,

S. Duck, Wm. Wilson,

A. McLean, T. L. Stahlschmidt,

Alex. Wilson, W. K. Bull,

Eli Harrison, J. McB. Smith,

J. Williams.
The Meeting then separated.


Soon after luncheon, Lord Dufferin, who
was very much pleased with the reception
that had been given him, and who admired
the taste with which the route had been
decorated, caused the following letter to
be written to the Secretary of the Recep-
tion Committee :

" Government House, Victoria, B. C.
August 16, 1876.

" Sir,

" I am instructed by His Excellency the
Governor-General of Canada to request
you to convey to the President, the Vice-
President, and the other Members of the
Reception Committee, and through them
to the inhabitants of Victoria and Esqui-
malt at large, His Excellency's very deep
sense of the magnificent welcome with
which he was greeted on his arrival on
your shores to-day.

" The care, forethought, and considera-
tion shown on the occasion were beyond
all praise, while the beauty of the various
decorations, the large concourse of citizens,


the unaDimity of kind feeling which pre-
vailed, and the admirable manner in which
the procession was marshalled, were in
every respect most gratifying. The pic-
turesque display of the Indian population
in their gaily dressed canoes, and the
characteristic ornamentations exhibited by
the Chinese residents, contributed a novel
feature to what His Excellency cannot
help regarding as one of the most success-
ful and flattering demonstrations of loyalty
and welcome with which he has ever been
honoured, and has made him at once feel
completely at home amongst his British
Columbian fellow-subjects.

" I have the honour to be, Sir,
" Your most obedient servant,
" E. G. P. LITTLETON, Lieut.-Col.

" Governor-General's Secretary."



The "Rebel Arch" The Victorians and the Pacific
Railway Vicissitudes of British Columbia Sinister
Intentions attributed to Canada Evening Reception
Position and Aspect of Victoria Climate of Van-
couver The Coal Interests of Vancouver Proposed
Meeting with the Indians Chinese Population of
Victoria Peculiar Distinction of John Chinaman
Chinese Servants.

which at one moment appeared
* likely to prove an unpleasant inter-
ruption to the general warmth of the
welcome given to the Governor-General,
promises now to be only a fit subject for
" chaff." The arch upholding the objec-
tionable motto, " The Carnarvon Terms
or Separation," was raised by certain
gentlemen who, while feeling very strongly


upon the subject of the Pacific Railway,
repudiate the supposition that they in-
tended to threaten the Queen's representa-
tive. They intended the motto as an epi-
grammatic expression of their political
sentiments, and not as a threat, although
to ordinary observers it bore a very pistol-
at-your-throat aspect. It was really a case
in support of the proverb that out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,
and even those who regret and those who
condemn what is now called " The Rebel
Arch," are not slow to say that the political
condition of British Columbia requires
serious consideration.

It always happens that the local con-
tentions and animosities are in an inverse
ratio to the size of the community, and in
Victoria the isolation of the country has
an intensifying rather than a mitigating
effect ; but the hearts of all, black or
white, red or yellow, are alike filled to
overflowing with hopes and fears begotten
of their union with Canada, and the sub-


sequent unavoidable delays which have
occurred in the realization of that which
to them seemed the great boon of Con-
federation. The Pacific Railway is their
thought by day ; perhaps their dream by
night. To them it is the all in all. In it
they see progress, prosperity, and happi-
ness ; without it the prospect looks gloomy,
ruinous, and hopeless. They believe that
to be confederated they were cajoled ; that
in Confederation they have been cheated.
They hardly see that in truth they were
unduly elated, and are now unduly de-

I am now speaking of Victoria only ;
perhaps it may be found that northward
and on the mainland the feeling is not
quite the same, or, if the same, not so
intense. In Victoria, however, it is
general, though variously expressed.
There are those who speak of the matter
calmly, sensibly, and patriotically; there
are others who regard it from a purely
selfish view ; others who are not thoroughly


informed upon public affairs bearing upon
the subject, and a small per-centage whose
time would be more profitably occupied in
almost any other manner than in discuss-
ing a question of such magnitude and
importance. I have no intention of re-
producing all or any of the recriminations
which are levelled at Canada for what is
termed her want of faith.

A knowledge that the Pacific Railway is
the one great idea of life here, together
with a study of the mottoes exhibited on
the bridges and arches in the recent
decoration of the city, will serve to show
the temper of the public mind. " Nolu-
mus leges mutari" will be easily translated.
There is no question about the lex to
which they refer. " Our railway iron
rusts" is an intimation that is not to be
misunderstood. " Confederated without
Confederation," has a much plainer mean-
ing than many a Delphic utterance upon
which the fate of nations was made to
turn. " England will see justice done,"


or words to that effect, and numerous
other indirect allusions, testify to the
groove in which the Victorian mind is
running. An effort has undoubtedly been
made with more or less success to capture
this general feeling for less than general
purposes, but there is a very strong dis-
position on the part of the public to regard
themselves as one and Canada as the
other, without entering into the question
of whether the Conservatives or Reformers
are most to blame.

A great number of those who are in-
duced to animadvert upon the present
Government do not appear to be aware
of the difficulties with which Mr. Mac-
kenzie has had to contend. They cherish
the scarcely accurate belief that, because
his opponents were themselves pledged to
the building of the Pacific Railway, no
opposition emanates from that quarter to
the speedy completion of the through line.
An explanation as to some of the real
difficulties with which the Minister of


Public Works has had to contend appears
to open a view which had not before pre-
sented itself ; but the political contentions
of this Province have been such that per-
sons considering the matter find little
difficulty in realizing the probable obstacles
which a Minister of Canada may find it
necessary to overcome. The railway ques-
tion, however, overshadowing everything
else, has necessarily become mixed up
with other matters, and has been more or
less adroitly made to link itself with issues
to which it does not properly belong. But
right or wrong, with reason or without
reason, the people of this place English,
Canadians, and British Columbians have
wound themselves to that pitch of excite-
ment and determination upon the subject
of the Canada Pacific Kailway, that to
discuss or consider other interests is a
waste of time until this has been settled.
Curiously enough, those who are most
impatient of delay so I am told, and I
have partially tested the information are


Canadians. It might have been expected
that they would have proved to be a
fountain of oil for the troubled waters, but
the reverse seems to be the case, and
remembering some experiences elsewhere,
the conclusion asserts itself that once on
the Westward roam patriotism is apt to be
diluted with the more potent spirit of self-
advancement. It is more pleasing to
listen to those who look with aversion at
any threatened political disruption. Let
me give you as well as I can the substance
of some conversations :

" We" says the typical British Colum-
bian whom I am now quoting " have
seen many political vicissitudes. We were
first transferred as it were from the Hud-
son's Bay Company to the Crown. We
were then converted into two separate
colonies, British Columbia and Vancouver
Island; we were then amalgamated and
made one, and as a Crown Colony were
happy, reasonably prosperous, and slowly
progressing. We were then asked to



relinquish our autonomy and become a
Province of the Dominion. It was a pro-
position not altogether fascinating at first
sight, but it was the wish of the Crown ;
much could be said in favour of establish-
ing a great united British Empire in North
America, and it was pointed out to us
that this could only be done by the ad-
mission of British Columbia into the
Dominion, and the connection being made
practical and enduring by a railway from
the Atlantic to the Pacific. So we joined
the Confederation, knowing perfectly that
without such a railway the coupling link
was of thread, and would break under
the first pressure that might be applied
to it.

" The railway was secured, as we thought,
by the most solemn guarantees that could
be devised, but the fulfilment of our con-
sideration was found to be impracticable
by the other contracting party. We
practically admitted that this was so, and
accepted a modified arrangement. This


arrangement was in its turn cast aside
possibly, as you urge, through no fault
of Mr. Mackenzie, but still to our detri-
ment and while we have long been
satisfied that on the opinions of .surveyors
the Government must ere this have deter-
mined upon the route, we have come,
through hope deferred, to be so sick at
heart on the subject of the Pacific Rail-
way, and so doubtful of relief, that while
we turn with distaste from any proposi-
tion having for its object another political
change, we are compelled to admit that
the circumstances of the case do not per-
mit our trusting to the usual efficacy of
time to heal the wounds from which we
suffer. You ask how, taking an extreme
alternative, the country is to be benefited,
and we say that in the first place, without
the trans-continental railway British
Columbia is of no use to Canada, nor
Canada to British Columbia, that a large
and very valuable tract of country is re-
moved from our possession for railway

M 2


purposes, and that the capitalists of Cali-
fornia and other parts of the United States,
who are keenly alive to the scope for
profitable enterprise which the coal-fields
of this country afford, are waiting the
result of our negotiations with Canada,
preferring to seek even less inviting in-
vestments for their capital in United States
territory rather than use it in a foreign
country. There are heavy duties upon
our lumber, coal, and fish-oil, which
otherwise would beat all competition. We
have, moreover, a summer resort hardly
to be equalled on the continent, and we
are satisfied that, should we ever un-
happily be deprived of our association
with the flag to which we naturally cling,
our material prosperity in a new life
would be beyond anything that we could
achieve by other means than that of com-
plete and reasonably speedy connection
with Canada."

I do not give this as British Columbia's
argument, but rather as the mildest way


in which I have heard the subject treated.

The visit ofthe Governor-General, taken
in connection with Mr. Lowther's reply in
the House of Commons to Mr. McArthur's
question on the subject of British Columbia
and the Pacific Railway, is now considered
as being expressly in connection with the
railway question. It is doubtful whether
Lord Dufferin will think it worth while to
enter upon any explanations with a view
to disabuse the minds of the people here
of erroneous impressions which they may
have conceived touching Canada's want of
faith, and so forth. I presume that it is
better to go on steadily towards the con-
summation of Canada's railway intentions,
trusting to the reaction that will follow
when deeds demonstrate the bona fides of
the Canadian people, and convince the
British Columbians since nothing else
will that Canada does not now, nor ever
did, entertain the sinister intentions which
are attributed to her.

The Governor-General has been very


busy since his arrival in making the ac-
quaintance of prominent personages in
Victoria. Having the present use of
Government House, he at once commenced
housekeeping with that spirit of hospitality
that distinguished his residence at Ottawa.
Lady Dufferin has been suffering from a
bad cold, and perhaps from the lingering
results of the very stormy weather between
San Francisco and Esquimalt. This even-
ing Her Excellency holds a reception, and
there is a general buzz about the dry-goods
stores, where ladies are overhauling articles
which I can neither name nor describe,
further than by saying that they are of
the tulle or bombazine, or affiliated order
of stuff; and the gentlemen are, for the
moment, as interested in procuring the
proper white ties as they are to secure
the more important railway tie about
which they have been so much exercised.
The reception is to be held in the evening,
and the ladies all attend in full evening
dress (low neck and short sleeves is, I



believe, the correct expression). Judging
by some of the young ladies I have seen
here, it will be a very pretty and bright

On Monday there will be an At Home at
Government House ; on Tuesday, I believe,
a garden party, and indistinct foreshadow-
ings of a ball or balls meet one every now
and again. The Governor-General and
Lady Dufferin are residing at the official
residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, into
which Governor Richards had not yet
moved. It is a large and roomy mansion
of its kind, and beautifully situated, in so
far as it commands views of interesting and
fascinating scenery. Indeed, the re-
sidential portions of Victoria are all desir-
able localities, for Victoria is one of the
prettiest spots in the northern world. It
is situated on a series or range of small
rocky hills, which were once covered with
pine trees, and which still retain a part of
the growth, and into the heart of the city
run two branching arms of the sea. Look-


ing out from almost any window of the
bungalow-like houses facing the north or
east, a view of the long line of the snow-
tipped Olympic range meets the eye,
separated from Victoria apparently only
by the strip of blue sea that washes the
confines of the city limits and fills the town
and country with its pure fresh breezes.

When there is a slight breeze blowing,
you may open the window of your room
and imagine that the ocean is rolling
beneath you. You may walk to Beacon
Hill, which is in the park of the city, or
drive to any of the neighbouring outlets,
and all the blessings and pleasures of the
sea-side are at your command. If the
Province of Manitoba and its continuation
could be put at the back of Victoria, the
city would become one of the choice spots
of the Western hemisphere. It Is ag-
ricultural room that is here lacking. At
one time it was believed that Vancouver
Island would be good for nothing but as
a port for British Columbia, but that was


a fallacy which time has exposed. There
is a great deal of rock in the country, but
in the midst of the rockiest parts, within
ten minutes drive of the Post-office, are
fertile fields and abundant crops. Further
back in the country are large stretches
which I can remember uncultivated wastes,
but which are now, I am told, raising
grain and garden fruits in rich abundance.
Vancouver is particularly blessed in its
climate, and the luxuriance with which
flowers, creepers, and fruit grow in what
appears to be a not very rich soil is quite

Of course, it is not pretended that
Vancouver is an agricultural country.
The rich open prairies of Manitoba have
made Canadians fastidious about their
choice of farming localities, and the wealth
of this country is in its coal and minerals
and lumber. The prairie has such at-
tractions for some people that they are not
to be frightened by long and severe winters,
and they find beauty rather than the


reverse in the wide treeless expanses of the
North-west; but I have met some who
have returned from the prairie complaining
bitterly of the peculiarites of that country.
They did not like its immensity, nor its
cold, nor its heat, nor anything that
appertained thereto. If they still must
roam let them come here, for they will have
a climate at which they will not be able to
complain, they will have a superfluity of
wood, and they will be able to raise without
difficulty all that they may require. Just
now the coal trade, which is a very important
interest in Vancouver, is dull. A great quan-
tity of wheat is shipped from California to
England, and the vessels outward bound
carry coal to San Francisco as ballast. They
are therefore able to undersell theNanaimo
collieries. There is still, however, a de-
mand, because the amount brought out
does not supply more than a fourth of the
quantity used. The Governor-General
will visit Nanaimo somewhere about this
day week, when I shall be able to acquire


some information upon the subject of the
coal interest from trustworthy sources.

Lord Dufferin leaves here on Thursday
the 24th, in the Amethyst) and will first
go to New Westminster to meet the
Indians. By some misunderstanding
they were summoned to meet him, and I
hear that there will be a very large
gathering of them. It will afford a good
opportunity for comparing them with the
Chippewas, Crees, and others of the
plains. Those that we see about Victoria
are not favourable specimens, but Indians
resident in the midst of a white population
have but one certain fate before them.
Their demoralization is always speedy and
complete. The Dominion and Provincial
Governments, however, have appointed an
arbitration commission here to settle the
question as to the amounts of land to be
ceded by the Province for each Indian re-
serve ; a commission on which the Domin-
ion Government is ably represented by
Mr. A. C. Anderson, a gentleman of long


experience in this country ; and it is
probable that the unsightly and in every
way objectionable Indian hamlet touching
the city of Victoria may, with equitable
arrangements for the Indians, be removed
for ever.

In speaking of the arrival of the Gover-
nor-General here, I referred to the cosmo-
politan nature of the city and appearance
of the people, and further inspection con-
firms the impression. It is in that respect
like a miniature San Francisco, and as in
the city of the golden gate, John China-
man is a large element in the population.
One thousand was the number of China-
men given to me by a trustworthy infor-
mant ; about the same number or perhaps
a few more than the Indians who make
this neighbourhood their home. John is
a very active and useful member of society
here. He works hard and works steadily.
He is in all grades, from that of a mer-
chant to the less dignified, but equally
useful one of washerman. Some murmur-


ing is occasionally heard about cheap
labour, but the advantage of cheap
labour is so palpable that for some time at
any rate the Calif or nian cry against John
must here echo in his favour. It may not
be natural to employ an adult pig-tailed
son of Confucius to wash one's clothes,
but when the alternative is not having
them washed at all or paying more than
they could be bought for, one does not
hesitate for a second about employing
John's services. John is employed in all
capacities, save that of ladies' maid, by
the inhabitants of Victoria. He is a good
cook, he makes a capital housemaid, he is
docile and obliging. At times he is a

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