Molyneux St. John.

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

. (page 9 of 13)
Online LibraryMolyneux St. JohnThe sea of mountains; an account of Lord Dufferin's tour through British Columbia in 1876 (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

which had to be suffered under the ban
of secrecy. The Vice-Regal interviewer,


however, was forced to write something
for the public something in reply about
the address voted by the Philharmonic
Meeting. It appears elsewhere. Its pur-
port was not unexpected. It fell, not
like a wet blanket on the people, but pro-
duced a feeling of profound indignation
everywhere in the city. It was summed
up as an attempt to hoodwink and bilk
the people in the name of royalty ; an
effort to shirk royal responsibility whilst
acting as Vice-Regal spy ; an effort to sow
dissension everywhere, and, if possible,
win laurels as the price for degrading the
high office of Governor-General. It is
useless for us, as an organ of public opi-
nion, to say anything else. Were we to
speak out still plainer, we might give
utterance to expressions that are popular,
but which we deem unwise and impolitic
to utter. It is better to be moderate,
but firm, and uncompromising in making
a demand for our rights, than give ex-
pression to popular indignation in a way


that will not facilitate the object to be
attained. Lord Dufferin and the Mac-
kenzie Ministry are mere birds of passage.
Neither the one nor the other can cajole
anyone in this country into a final deci-
sion against the interests of the Province,
the Dominion, and the Empire. Battles
have been fought out successfully in this
Province before, with greater odds against
their success than what now present
themselves ; and if the people be true to
themselves, whether some be true or not,
the country will win. The attempt yes-
terday of Lord Dufferin to temporize,
instead of giving a frank and manly an-
swer to the Philharmonic address, stamps
his mission with discredit; and unless he
can find means to explain his conduct, his
departure will be ranked with Edgar's,
and his efforts either to ignore our rights,
or meet Mackenzie's wishes, will be equally
useless. But we cannot waste time even
on so eminent a person as Lord Dufferin.
There is a more important power than


even he. That is the people. If they
do their duty, all the Edgars, Mackenzies,
and Lord Dufferins may hide their dimi-
nished heads in chagrin at their failure.
Let the people act."

The " Colonist" a journal that supports
the present Dominion Government speaks
of the chagrin experienced by the people on
hearing of the abandonment of the Island
Railway, but suggests that the question
should be calmly considered. " What now
is best to be done in the matter?"

The people here are one and all sore
and disappointed at Canada's determina-
tion, and I think I observe that this is
slightly intensified by the knowledge that
the Mainlanders are not with them on the
question, and that possiWy an impartial
investigation of the subject might lead to
the conclusion that the construction of
the island railway must be due to the fact
that it was embodied in the Carnarvon
Terms, rather than from any commercial
necessity for its being. I have not heard


any argument advanced in support of the
railway other than that it formed part of
the Carnarvon Terms. The extreme men
call for " the terms, the whole terms, and
nothing but the terms ;" while the more
moderate say, " We desire the terms, and
we ought to have had them before now ;
but if they are out of the question let us
know what immediate equivalent you pro-
pose, and whether it will be accompanied
by an Imperial guarantee. We do not
desire separation if our remaining with
Canada can be made mutually advantageous,
still less have we any thought of seeking
to change our allegiance to the British
Crown an idea distasteful to all but we
regard the present position of affairs as
useless to both parties, and its continua-
tion an absurdity." These people feel
equally sore with the others, and a little
distrustful about anything Canada may
promise. The article in the " Colonist"
this morning, thinks that Lord Carnarvon
having proposed an additional expenditure


for the building of the Esquimalt Railway,
the Imperial Government should have done
something in the way of assistance, and
altogether I am inclined to think that
while the moderate party will carry the
day here in spite of any momentary row
which a few unquiet spirits would like to
create they will desire to be well assured
that there can be no further mistake or
delay in doing that which is to be done.

But if the " Standard" is to be believed,
moderate men will, as is commonly said,
" have no show." Here is what it
says :


" So far as we can gather, Lord Dufferin
is endeavouring to persuade people that
the Island railroad will not be built, and
quotes Lord Carnarvon as his authority
for saying that compensation is the only
equivalent for the Island railway. Now
we prophesy that the railway will be
built ; and that the Carnarvon Terms will


be carried out in spite of either of these
noble lords. Tf not, there will be a


" To what degradation have the Imperial
and Canadian Goverments not descended,
when the Governor-General resorts to
secrecy to hide the reply of Lord Car-
narvon to our appeal last winter."


"When will the Meeting be called to
receive the report of the secret (?) inter-
view with Lord Dufferin ? Let us have a
Meeting anyhow, and that at once, and
declare * war to the knife.' '


" A Convention will be convened at Vic-
toria to take into consideration our rela-
tions with Canada. Due notice will be

Mr. De Cosmos means what he says, for


tbe following issue of his paper contains
an article in which he says :

" Yet we are asked by Lord Dufferin,
backed by Lord Carnarvon, to accept com-
pensation accept money. What for ? To
surrender a route to which Britain, Canada,
and Columbia are pledged a railway
route that has been endorsed by the most
eminent statesmen and engineers of the
Dominion, and accepted by the greatest
capitalists and commercial men of the
continent. This, then, is the pith and
substance of Lord Dufferin's mission. But
it is what we will never consent to, no
matter what compensation may be offered
or what influence may be brought to
bear. That is the ultimatum of this
country. Hence, if we cannot get the
railroad fromEsquirnalt to Bute Inlet, and
thence to Montreal, we prefer separation
to union with a Government that offers
money for principle, and asks us to sacrifice
a solemn agreement between England,
Canada, and Columbia. If Lord Dufferin


wishes to break up the Confederation, and
separate this province from the Dominion,
let him continue his seductive work. Let
him endeavour to persuade our people to
surrender the Carnarvon Terms. When
he fails, let him recommend separation. It
had better be done constitutionally, for as
sure as Lord Dufferin is here to-day, so
surely will separation follow, at any and
at all hazards, if the Carnarvon Terms be
set aside."

I think Mr. De Cosmos will fail in his
purpose. He has created the impression
that he is too unsteady of temper, and is
too ostentatiously unattached to any
political family or flag to be taken as a
guide by a people who, though irritated,
disappointed, and perplexed, are not
desirous of acting in a rash and foolish
manner, and still less of flying off at a
tangent from the associations of a lifetime
and the traditions of their forefathers.
The name of the editor of the " Standard"
proclaims his extended and cosmopolitan


ideas. His love for his fellow-man is
large and impartial, and I don't know that
anyone has a right to throw a stone at
him on this account. But on the other
hand, the more narrow feeling and the
more practicable one which men call
" patriotism" is that to which the majority
of mankind will cleave with pride and
pertinacity. It may be a noble thing to
love a Turk, and a Chinese mandarin may
be fully equal to a Lieutenant-Governor
under the British Constitution, but while
Mr. De Cosmos is spreading out his
affection in a necessarily thin layer so as
to embrace the world for is his name not
that compound of Latin, French, and
Greek, Amor De Cosmos ? other men
will consider that it is better to con-
centrate one's powers of affection and
retain the not altogether insignificant
title of a British subject. And Mr. De
Cosmos' allegiance being known to fit
lightly upon him, men are not disposed to
step in the direction of a terminus which
VOL. i. p


they intend to shun. However, the result
remains to be seen. One difficulty in the
way of an easy settlement will arise from
the fact that a monetary compensation for
the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway must
necessarily be paid in to the Treasury,
and be at the disposal of the Legislature.
Thirteen out of the twenty-five members
are Mainlanders ; and the Mainlanders
judging from what I hear will see
Vancouver Island at the depths of Gehanum
before they consent to all the money being
used on that branch of railway. Yet the
Vancouver Islanders will probably regard
the compensation as peculiarly their own,
as being in lieu of a railway which was
for their special benefit. Unless therefore
'a distinct understanding is arrived at
before the money is paid, there will be an
awful scrimmage over its distribution.

The Governor-General goes on board
the Amethyst to-night, I believe he sails
to-morrow and this afternoon a grand
regatta takes place up the arm of the sea


which runs into the city. There is a small
steam yacht to accompany the Amethyst
throughout the tour, and Lord Dufferin,
with his usual kindness, arranged that she
should be at the service of three corres-
pondents who are accompanying him.

p 2



Amusements and Social Contact with the Yice-regal
Party Lady Dufierin's Garden Party Gary Castle
Women at a Garden Party Ball-room at Govern-
ment House Representatives of the Chinese Com-
munity The Regatta Scene at the Races Display
of Indian Canoes A Pretty Pageant The Heidah

SIDE by side with the " topic of the
day" the material effect of the
Governor- General' s visit runs the less
exciting and more pleasant interest con-
cerning amusements and social contact
with the Vice-regal party. During the
week which the Governor- General has
spent in Victoria, Lady Dufferin has amply
availed herself of the opportunities afforded
her by the temporary possession of the


Lieutenant-Governor's official residence.
The hospitality for which Rideau Hall has
of late years become so renowned has been
evinced in like degree in the capital of the
Western Province. Following the evening
reception held in the Legislative Assembly
Chamber on Monday was a garden party
given at Government House on Tuesday.

Gary Castle now Government House
was built by a gentleman who some sixteen
years ago suddenly found himself in the
position of Attorney-General of the newly-
born Crown Colony of Vancouver Island.
He was a young English barrister possessed
of unmistakable ability, and in a short
time built up for himself a considerable
reputation and a house to match. After
enjoying both for some time, he parted with
the house, and in due course of time
removed to a lunatic asylum in England,
where he died. The Local Government
having purchased Gary Castle, proceeded
by means of prison and other labour to
transform it into a suitable residence for


their head and front, and in doing so
displayed considerable taste and judgment.
It is situated on rising ground, overlooking
the straits and mountains on one side,
and beneath it the fruitful-looking fields of
a farm that seems to have been dropped
from Heaven amongst the rocks. The
house is surrounded by a terraced garden,
and here, in the midst of luxuriantly
growing roses and shrubs and flowers,
attaining an almost tropical growth, Lady
Dufferin received her guests.

There are few places in which pretty
women look to better advantage than at a
garden party. They are themselves the
roses of creation, and seem to fall naturally
into their places amidst that which is
lovely and fragrant in inanimate nature ;
and no woman is ever cross or disagreeable
when she finds herself in a garden. She
forgives her enemies, is at peace with the
world, finds solace for the superior beauty
of another woman's bonnet in the gift of a
flower, and is in all respects loving and


loveable. When one sees a young matron
slowly sailing across a lawn, dressed in
the rich material permissible to married
women, conscious of the dignity that
pertains to her state in life, and yet radiant
with the look that pleasure lends to a
gentle-natured woman's face, one feels
that a woman is not a woman till thirty
summers have passed over her head, and
the first brunt of life's battle has taught
her the necessity for patience and for-
bearance. Juno and Minerva must have
been beauties amongst the fair ones of
Olympus. What is there to excel a comely
face graced by a gentle, courteous smile,
and woman's dignity stamped on every
movement ? Nothing ! is there ? And so
one feels until a Hebe of eighteen comes
springing over the green sward, half
talking, half laughing, and all impatient
as she moves a beauty clothed in masses
of diaphanous material, garlanded with
flowers, and tingeing everything with her
own youth and freshness, whose wish is a


law which fifty envious males contend to
obey, whose gratified expression for fealty
owned is itself the reward of obedience,
and whose mission in life is to knock into
a cocked hat the heart of every youth who
ventures within range of her spells.
Perplexed mankind must fall in love with
all, for choice is out of the question.

Yielding to the seductive influences of
the scene, my Damon and I wandered
through the groups, admiring as we went.
There was a brunette who came tripping
across the lawn, whose dress of " deep
deep blue" was surmounted by a carnation
nestling in the folds of what looked like
white sea foam around her neck, and
Damon looked and he was lost. He turned
again, and standing by the window en-
trance a nymph in white and pink ap-
peared. Her hair was fair, and through
her locks a rosebud duplicated by her lips
was peeping out, and Damon's fickle
heart was lost again. Could he have told
what in his thoughts was seeking for ex-


pression, he would with brave Macheath
have said,

" How happy could I be with either,
Were t'other fair charmer away."

So each in her own attractive indivi-
duality, stood or moved the guests who
had come at the invitation of Lady
Dufferin, while their hostess, herself the
winsome Queen among the fair assem-
blage passed to and fro, winning by kind
words and gentle looks the homage which
was ready to be given or withheld. And
round and about stood men whose names
familiar are as household words in that
which appertains to the history of the
Colony. Conspicuous amongst them all
was the stately form of Sir James Douglas,
the honoured father of gubernatorial rule
in Vancouver Island. Near him the first
of the Island Governors, and one now
resting from his labours stood the acute
and active-minded gentleman who most
recently has assumed the reins of govern-


ment, and here and there walked men
whose best years have been spent in guard-
ing the interests of the Colony and develop-
ing her resources.

In the middle of the buzz of conversa-
tion that falls away amongst the walks
and slopes there is a whisper of dancing,
the Hebes are pounced upon and carried
off through the widely opened windows
of the tea-room, which opens on the
terrace to the ball-room. Pallas and Juno
follow after with more stately step, until
all have passed through the other rooms,
and the band of the Amethyst is left dis-
coursing the sweet miseries of Leonora
and the effusive agony of Manrico to the
wondering songsters that are chirping in
vexed rivalry amongst the shrubs and
trees. There is a ball-room at Govern-
ment House that in the matter of "floors,
as well as in other particulars, is a ball-
room indeed. To step upon it, is to
dance; e'en Ben Battle, who, in spite of
sneering speeches, at duty's call had left


his legs in Badajos's breeches as Tom
Hood tells us would here have, perhaps,
regained the affections of the young
woman who so heartlessly turned up her
nose at his double amputation could he
have touched that floor, and as it was
known that time was speeding swiftly by,
and that the hour of departure had been
fixed, the sternest resolutions not to dance
were found to melt away like soft September
snow, and a kaleidoscope of dresses whirled
round and round the room in ceaseless
circles until the moment arrived when the
Vice-Regal hosts themselves stopped
dancing, and stood to bid adieu to the
flushed and breathless couples that filed
past them. Then there followed the more
formal entertainment of a dinner-party,
when guests arrived of other than a dancing

I must not forget to mention that,
regular in their attendance at publicly
notified receptions, or on occasions when
cards of invication have been sent to them,


the leading representatives of the pig-tail
population are to be seen. I can't at this
moment remember their names; which is
which; which my washerwomanman, and
which the head of the Chinese community,
and I'm not sure that it matters much.
One is Youn-Ling, and the other Sing-
Chung. A choice is presented to your
readers. But the fact to be mentioned
is that two or three of the more eminent
Chinamen the merchants who so liberally
and artistically decorated their streets to
welcome Lord Dufferin are constant in
their proper attendance at Government
House. At the public reception they
passed before their Excellencies, as every
one else did, bobbing their respective
heads first to Lord Dufferin and then to
Lady Dufferin, exactly as the little Chinese
mandarin figures do on a mantel-piece.
These eminent representatives of John
one of whom insisted on my smoking one
of his villainous cigars were early in
their arrival at the garden-party, and


were amongst the most loquacious of the
gathering. They did not dance the
occupation being strictly professional, and
not practised exactly at the Embassies in
their country but they commented freely
upon those who found amusement in
saltatory exercise, and seemed to enjoy
themselves and to be as much at home as
if such assemblages were common in their
Celestial land. John is always very
polite, and frequently a great humbug.
Politeness and humbug are often inclined
to an alliance elsewhere than in the
flowery land, and whether it be with John
Chinaman, John Bull, or Johnny Crapaud,
we always prefer a little deftly offered
humbug that soothes our weaker nature,
to truths which seem to us to lack

One of the most interesting social events
that have yet taken place has been the
regatta of Wednesday. The Governor-
General had given a sum of money to be
divided into prizes for boat and canoe


racing, more particularly for competition
among the Indians in and around Victoria
and Esquimalt. Colonel Powell, the In-
dian Commissioner, had taken care that
his department should be well represented,
and an interesting sight was the result.
There is an arm of the sea which runs
past or through the city of Victoria,
narrowing out of the harbour into a strait,
and rushing through a narrow gorge into
a small inland sea beyond. Immediately
before the gorge the strait becomes a bay,
and so narrow is the gorge which imme-
diately succeeds it, that the waters of
the rising tide have not room to flow on
their even level, but rush between the
two approaching rocks and tumble over
in a fall as if the level were of normal
inequality. On either side this strait is
lined by rocky pine-covered banks, and
over the gorge a slight rustic bridge has
been constructed. It was here that the
regatta was to be held, and to attend
it every boat and wherry in Victoria had


been engaged, and numbers were com-
pelled either to walk or drive to the place
of gathering.

As the hour for meeting drew nigh, the
strait became dotted with the boats and
pleasure canoes that were making their
way up from the town. Here were men-
of-war boats, wherries, ships' boats and
Indian dugouts, boat-loads of ladies
and gentlemen, canoe-loads of men and
canoe-loads of Indian women, and every-
one dressed out in his or her Sunday
best. Tents were pitched on the project-
ing promontories, and comfortable-looking
hampers reposed by the doors of their
proper tents. In the bay, and up to the
edge of the gorge, the waters were alive
with the gaily dressed canoes, arranging
for the preliminary demonstration before
the Governor-General ; and in and out
among the huge hollowed trees which, by
art and patience, are made to serve as
Indian ships of war and commerce, the
wherry and the outrigger, with their


closely flannelled occupants, contrasting
so forcibly with the gaudily painted and
attired natives, glided in and out, im-
patient for their turn in the day's per-
formance. The canoes which were to
take part in the grand demonstration, as
well as to compete in the races, were huge
dugouts, varying from twenty to forty
feet in length, and four to five in breadth
of beam. They were divided into two
fleets the Northern and the Southern
Indians for the latter, having lighter
canoes than their neighbours who had
come down the Gulf of Georgia, would
otherwise have been at a disadvantage in

But before the races commenced the
demonstration was to come off, and to
this end each canoe had hoisted a tem-
porary mast, with lines to the bow and
stern, and had covered itself with miniature
flags. The crews were painted and head-
dressed in curious and fantastic ways, and
numbered thirteen paddles in each canoe.


They gathered together waiting the arrival
of the Governor-General, and when he
arrived commenced their congratulatory
song, accompanying themselves by rap-
ping their paddles against the sides of
their canoes, and making the most infernal,
untuneful, hideous noise that ever yet
was offered as an example of melody or
composition. But they made a very pic-
turesque and pretty sight as, gathered
in three squadrons, the canoes of each
abreast, they prepared to receive the Great

Immediately on arriving, Lord and Lady
Dufferin embarked from the main headland
of the little bay in Commodore Chatfield's
galley, and pulled through the fleet of
canoes, by all in which he was loudly
cheered, and amongst the gaily dressed
crowds that floated upon the water, receiv-
ing and returning the salutations of the
Indians and of the citizens. Then the pro-
ceedings commenced with what was really
one of the prettiest pageants that could



have been devised in such space. The three
squadrons of the large canoes, numbering
over twenty, broke from their formation
into single line, and starting off from the
neck of the gorge paddled off at racing
pace, shouting their song the while, up
the strait sufficiently far to make a circuit
round the Governor-General's boat, re-
turning to the point from which they
started. As they were all large, high-
prowed canoes, all gaily decorated with
flags, all fully manned, and each one
closely followed by the next, their appear-
ance was singular and effective, and all the
picturesqueness, grotesqueness and gen-
eral outlandishness that could be desired
was supplied by the drumming, shouting
noise and general frantic energy of their
occupants, whether male or female. When
their performance was over the first batch
of them started in the race, and then
when they were off the band commenced
to play, the baskets were opened, corks
began to pop, and the world there present


sat down beneath the shade of the tower-
ing pine trees or straggling shady arbutus
and dined.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9 11 12 13

Online LibraryMolyneux St. JohnThe sea of mountains; an account of Lord Dufferin's tour through British Columbia in 1876 (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 13)