B. C. 1887
A Ramble in British Columbia
by J. A. Lees and W. J. Clutterbuck

“What’s the matter with you?”

“Oh, please, sir, I stole a man’s farm, and now he is coming back with a lot of his pals, and going to kill me.”

“Well, you deserve to be killed!”

“Please, sir, it was an Indian I stole it from.”

“Oh, well, I’ll call out the army.”

[Page 201]

James Arthur Lees (1852–1931) and Walter John Clutterbuck (1853–1937) first made their mark as the anonymous authors of Three in Norway “by two of them”. They must have enjoyed the travel-writing business, because they went on to produce other books, both separately and together. This is their second co-production.

Clutterbuck reappears as “the Skipper”, while Lees—the former “Esau”—now goes by his real name, Jim. Their third Three in Norway companion, John (“so called for no better reason than the fact that he had been christened Charles”), has married and settled down; his place is taken by Lees’s kid brother “Cardie”.

The photographs are a new feature; Clutterbuck must have acquired his camera after returning from Norway. Some drawings are signed “A. L.” Though the artist is never credited, the same signature shows up in Lees’s later solo production, Peaks and Pines, so we can safely stipulate it is (James) Arthur Lees.

Fun fact: Walter Clutterbuck is the namesake of Mt. Clutterbuck, whose elevation of 8,749 ft. places it among the—wait for it—1,000 highest peaks in British Columbia. About a mile to the northwest is Mt. Lees, measuring a comparatively modest 8,444 ft. And, in case anyone wondered: Three in Norway was also a big hit in Norway, where it has been trans­lated several times. The publi­shers, knowing a good thing when they saw it, called the present book Three in Canada.


This etext is based on the second edition, published in 1892. I think the only difference is the added footnotes, generally labeled “November 1891”.

The younger author died in 1937, so the book may still be under copyright in some parts of Latin America. If your cutoff is “Life +85” or less, or is based on publication date, you may continue reading.

In the printed book, illustrations were always centered on the page—an equal number of lines above and below. I’ve moved them to the nearest appropriate paragraph break. Full-page plates have been similarly shifted. The drawings of birds are adapted from Audubon; late in the book, the authors themselves brazenly mention “absence of international copyright”. Funny how that works.


Spelling is generally less creative than in Three in Norway. Some specifics:

People and places:

Other names will be noted as we go along.

Typographical errors are marked with mouse-hover popups and are listed again at the end of each chapter. The word “invisible” means that the letter or punctuation mark is missing, but there is an appropriately sized blank space.

B. C. 1887.

Three in Norway. By Two of Them. With a Map and 59 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 2s. boards; 2s. 6d. cloth.

The Skipper in Arctic Seas. By W. J. Clutterbuck, one of the Authors of “Three in Norway.” With 39 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 10s. 6d.

B.C. 1887, A Ramble in British Columbia. By J. A. Lees and W. J. Clutterbuck. With Map and 75 Illustrations. Crown 8vo, 6s.

About Ceylon and Borneo: Being an Account of Two Visits to Ceylon, one to Borneo, and How we Fell Out on our Homeward Journey. By W. J. Clutterbuck, F.R.G.S., Author of “The Skipper in Arctic Seas,” and Joint-Author of “Three in Norway” and “B.C. 1887.” With 47 Illustrations. Crown 8vo.


men and tents in foreground, mountains in background

The Charr Camp, near Hot Springs, Upper Columbia Lake.

Page 161.

B. C. 1887








pair of birds, see page 140






All rights reserved

Ballantyne Press




The rapid changes which are taking place in the western part of Canada have made it advisable to supplement the original matter in these pages by additional information. This has, whenever practicable, been obtained and added to the present edition, so as to keep it as far as possible level with the march of events.

Nov. 1891.


“To any person who has all his senses about him a quiet walk along not more than ten or twelve miles of road a day is the most amusing of all travelling. . . . If advancing thus slowly after some days we approach any more interesting scenery, every yard of the changeful ground becomes precious and piquant; and the continual increase of hope and of surrounding beauty affords one of the most exquisite enjoyments possible to the healthy mind; besides that real knowledge is acquired of whatever it is the object of travelling to learn, and a certain sublimity given to all places, so attained, by the true sense of the spaces of earth that separate them.”—Ruskin.

“Reading makes us intelligent and learn about things we would otherwise hear nothing.

“It is pleasant to recapitulate stories to persons who probably have not had the opportunity of reading them, and it therefore passes many a dreary hour away and makes many a person renew his happiness by hoping for such a favourable end as some characters as are described in the book.”—English as she is taught.



VI. THE C.P.R. 50
VIII. B. C. 68
viii XXI. PACKING 225
XXX. MUD 333



The wise men, we are told, came from the East, a fact which is conspicuously apparent to any traveller in those counties which are reached from Liverpool Street Station. Whither they have gone is another matter not so easily decided, but it seems to be very natural to suppose that they went to the West. Through countless ages the same process has been going on, and still the wiser ones of our own time year by year betake themselves to those regions which, in the words of an eminent divine, are “bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by the Setting Sun, on the north by the Aurora Borealis, and on the south by the Day of Judgment.” Thus it came about that the writers, seeing no other chance of commending their wisdom to a too censorious world, determined to try a ramble in the mountains of British Columbia.

But for the benefit of those who may have scanned the pages of Three in Norway (and survived), it must be confessed that a slight change has taken place. John—good luck to him—is married and settled; the Skipper unmarried but settled—in his determination to remain so; and Esau married but unsettled, and searching for a place to settle in, in which quest the 2 Skipper volun­teered to assist him. A third companion neither married nor settled was deemed necessary, and a very suitable one was found in Esau’s younger brother, who will be known throughout the following pages as “Cardie,” while Esau himself reappears as “Jim,” a title which he considers more appropriate to his present domesticated condition. Our only reason for using these names is that as they happen to belong to their reputed owners, it saves us the trouble of inventing others.

Cardie is long, dark, and good-looking: he lives absolutely alone in a log-cabin 10,000 feet above sea-level in the Rocky Mountains, accompanied only by a silver (?) mine rejoicing in the appropriate title of the “Micawber.” As the silver has not yet “turned up,” he was easily persuaded to make one of the party. Jim and the Skipper are, we hope, sufficiently well-known already.


Our object in exploring this little known country was to test its capabilities as a home for some of the public-school and university young men who, in this overcrowded old England of ours, every year find themselves more de trop. What are they and their wives, the English country girls, to do? The Girton and Newnham young ladies are of course a sufficiency unto themselves (and even more than that to most other people), but what of the not unimportant majority? They cannot dig—that handicraft having under the new Slade Professor been eliminated, we believe, from the academic course,—their soul is distinctly unfettered to an office stool; the Arts, the Professions, 3 and the Services are all “Full inside,” while in that indefinite article the Stage the “Free List is Entirely Suspended,” and even on the Turf the supply of welshers always seems in excess of the demand. Emigration is the one hope left, and from all the information we could obtain in England, the region selected seemed likely to provide the necessary attractions for this class of colonists.


A glance at the map will reveal a curious fact in the physical geography of our only Pacific province. Almost the whole of the south-eastern portion is occupied by three parallel ranges of high mountains—the Rockies on the east, further west the Selkirks, and still further the Gold Range. It is only in the valleys, which in some parts attain to the dignity of plains between these ranges, that any room can be found for a man to live and plant domestic animals and vegetables, without being in danger of falling off a ledge or slipping into a mountain torrent.

Close to the intersection of lat. 50° and long. 116° is the Upper Columbia Lake, the head waters of the mighty river of that name, which flows out of the lake in a northerly direction. It will be seen that another river, the Kootenay, which rises in the Rockies north of this point, almost runs into the same lake, the strip of land which separates them being in fact little more than a mile in width. Having avoided that premature termination to his career, the Kootenay continues his southerly course across the border into Montana and Idaho. There, apparently not thinking 4 so much of Republican institutions as those who have not tried them are apt to do, he takes a sudden turn northwards, and again becomes a British river shortly before flowing in placid grandeur into the great Kootenay Lake. In the meantime the Columbia, repenting of the precipitate behaviour which led her to turn her back on the Kootenay in the giddy days of her youth, has about lat. 52° made an equally sudden turn to the south, and arrived so close to the Kootenay that it is an easy matter for the latter to simply rush into the arms of his long-lost love; after which they no doubt live happily ever afterwards. The result of this coquettish separation and subsequent reunion is that the land on which the Selkirks stand would be an island but for the narrow isthmus close to the Columbia Lake already spoken of. The guiding principle of our wanderings was the exploration of as much of this river-girt region as could be accomplished during the autumn months.


The reader is now in possession of all the knowledge that we had while on this side of the Atlantic. If with us he will struggle to the Pacific, he will obtain various additional pieces of information, the value of which he is at liberty to estimate for himself. We say at once, however, that the seeker after sporting adventures and nothing else will be disappointed. Rifles and rods were necessarily taken, but their use was almost strictly confined to providing food, there being no time in the five months that were spent on the expedition which could be 5 devoted to “the chase” pure and simple. Another and more selfish motive (but one which will, we hope, commend itself to many readers) for the absence of much hunting lore is this:—The country abounds with game of various kinds, but except in the winter it is extremely difficult to find places where any sport can be obtained. We did in our wanderings find out a little about such spots, but knowledge so hardly won is too precious for publication, and—we hope to make use of it ourselves in the near future. Voilà tout.

We ought to say that nearly all of the birds whose portraits are given are careful pen and ink copies of Audubon’s beautiful plates. To him and to the artist who drew them we hereby express our thanks.


And now all explanations being made, the story of the Three and all that they did, and a great deal that they didn’t, and even more also, will be found set forth in the succeeding pages.


Notes and Corrections: Introduction

skip to first chapter

bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by the Setting Sun . . .
[I don’t know if there is a locus classicus for this description, or if “an eminent divine” is just another joke. Variations crop up many times in the latter half of the 19th century. The earliest example I found was in Emerson’s journal for July 1849:
The Kentuckian said that his country was “bounded on the east by the rising sun, on the north by the aurora borealis, on the west by the precession of the equinoxes, and on the south by the Day of Judgment”.]

a silver (?) mine rejoicing in the appropriate title of the “Micawber.”
[There really was a mine by this name, incorporated in Colorado in 1880, but the authors can just as well have made it up.]

Girton and Newnham
[I wish I could say that these were, respectively, the first women’s colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. But in fact both were Cambridge; Oxford took about ten years longer to get on board.]



Things looked very promising for a successful start, when, on Wednesday the 27th of July, this note was received from the Skipper:—


Dear Jim,—I shall leave here to-morrow for Liverpool, so as to be in good time for the steamer on Friday. Wire if you want me to get anything.—Yours ever, Skipper.”

Any indication of where “here” might be was carefully omitted, and as the Sardinian with our berths secured was timed to sail on Thursday afternoon, this missive was productive of much disquietude. Frantic telegrams were hastily despatched to every address which had ever been known to act as a home for the Skipper during his comet-like visits to the British Isles; but no answers having come to any of them, it was with a sinking heart that Jim approached the landing stage at Liverpool, about mid-day on Thursday the 28th. Mournfully he boarded the tender, and at once stumbled over a huge pile of what the Skipper imagines to be absolutely necessary personal luggage.

And then the recriminations commenced which will 8 by any one who has undertaken a like expedition be understood to have continued (with brief intervals for refreshments) during the next five months. These encounters, by the way, always terminate with the satisfactory and cogent piece of argument, “Oh yes, I know; but then you’re different.” However, a mutual desire to reserve our most telling rhetoric for really great emergencies smoothed matters to some extent, and we were driven into an alliance offensive and defensive against the common foe—the dock porter. He, worthy soul, having during your wrangle with the cabman captured and carried off every scrap of your possessions, graciously informs you that the charge for each article transferred is One Shilling. This he announces with the assured air of one protected in a hazardous calling by a special act of Parliament. Your indebtedness for the porterage of rug, umbrella, sketch-book, fishing-rod, and cigar-case is therefore the same as that for the five huge commercial sample boxes which two cranes and a lighter are with difficulty swinging on to the tender.

Having compounded with this fiend for a sum at which rate we calculate his income to be about £2000 a year, and thereby acquired a knowledge of three distinct novelties in the art of blasphemy, we soon stood on the deck of what it is usual to call the good ship Sardinian.

It may as well be said at once that in these days of improved transatlantic communication the Allan Line is an anachronism; but if this word is libellous, we apologise, and substitute one that is not. For their own sake, as well as in the interests of the mother-country and the great colony between which 9 they form the most important connecting link, the Allan people ought to bestir themselves. Why should they not get their fleet up to the same standard of modern excellence as that of all the great lines steaming between Great Britain and the United States? It is probably not too much to say that the inferiority of the Canadian service is accountable for a large proportion of the preference which is still shown by emigrants for the Republic as their future home.

Happily we have reason to believe that the enterprise which has given Canada her splendid railway is not to stop there, but that we are shortly to see established a line of swift steamers inferior to none on the ocean in point of accommodation, and superior to even the swiftest of the present wonders in point of speed. We may therefore confidently look forward to seeing at no distant date the journey between Liverpool and Vancouver City, the furthest point by land of the Dominion, performed in absolute ease and comfort in 10½ days.*

* See note, p. 15.

It cannot be too often pointed out that with a fast Atlantic service the saving by this route over all others (the Suez Canal, the Cape, and Cape Horn) to any point east of Singapore is immense. At a low estimate it will be between England and Sydney two days, Brisbane four or five, Hong-kong two, Shanghai a week, and between England and Japan nearly three weeks. And not only is the actual distance to all these places much shortened, but the climate throughout is temperate, the land journey is over British territory, and the sea courses are direct and free from the dangers of coasting navigation.


Having had our little grumble at the Allan line, which, we trust, as the nurses say, will be a warning to them, we admit that the Sardinian is a good, comfortable sea-boat, and makes her thirteen knots or so with considerable regularity. The state-rooms are badly lighted and not remarkable for smartness or convenience; the attendance on passengers is not good, the supply of stewards being apparently hardly adequate; but she shines nobly in the commissariat department.

While lying at Moville we studied the intricacies of this question, the times of the various meals being a very important—in fact, the only important—matter on shipboard. We elicited from the steward that breakfast was at 8.30, but that most of the passengers took a cup of tea or so and a handful of biscuits or some such trifle in their cabins before turning out; luncheon, with soup, hot meat, and pudding, &c., at 1; dinner at 5; tea, with hot buttered toast and jam, at 7; “and,” he went on with glee at the growing look of horror on our faces, “supper is served hot at 9.”

Well did Horace exclaim, “Illi robur et æs triplex circum pectus erat.” Surely that man was fashioned like unto a three-hooped oaken barrel who first went to sea.

And how did one of us who shall be nameless bear his part in the conflict? Simply by meanly lying in his berth for two days and taking no food at all, unless half a pint of champagne may fairly be so-called. Having thus on the third day got a handicap of ten meals in his favour, he naturally was able to eat twice as much as every one else for the remainder of the voyage, and to traitorously scoff at any one who 11 suggested that feeding-time came round with perhaps unnecessary frequency.

Life on the Atlantic is a dull performance, and it is singular to note how very scarce are the amusing episodes, and how very amusing those that occur appear at the time to be. The passengers, with few exceptions, were uninteresting, but we had a few shining ones revolving among us. The greatest of these was a Cambridge professor of the very highest celebrity, who knew everything and divers other matters. Before we were two days out he had taken charge of the entire ship from truck to kelson, and from the captain down to the Irish baby, and very well he did it—for a Cambridge man.

ship’s official talking to passenger on deck

Then we had among the steerage passengers an irrepressible Frenchman in a blue blouse, who before we were clear of the Mersey invaded the sacred soil of the saloon deck. At him went the third officer, “Parlez vous Francais?” (with an unimpeachable accent). Frenchman, with the most affable of smiles, 12 “Mais oui, M’sieu.” “Then (“then” is delicious) you mustn’t come to this end of the deck.”

Nor must there be forgotten the dear old bespectacled and chinabowlpiped German, who seemed to be generally lost in profound meditation, and was never able to find his way to the cabin where he and a friend were lodged. Shortly before Jim became convalescent this worthy Teuton appeared one day in the doorway of our state-room, and after gazing at him in stolid bewilderment for a couple of minutes, remarked, “Ach! Dot aind’t you.” We regret to say that the untruthful answer he received was, “No, it ain’t;” but perhaps the trials of sea-sickness are a fair excuse for bad temper.

oddly dressed man in doorway of ship’s cabin

A Terrible Apparition.

Another individual who became of some importance to us was bringing over to Canada for free distri­bution samples of Edwards’ Desiccated (or Dissipated) Soup. 13 We are not quite sure what desiccated means, and certainly a large number of packages were dissipated before we arrived, so we do not commit ourselves to either word. We were presented with half a dozen small tins of the stuff, and found it about the best portable soup we have tried.

Then there was an exceedingly knowing gentleman of uncertain nationality who informed us in confidence that he was “not exactly of any profession, something between a solicitor and a broker,” but who struck us as being much more likely to be between two policemen. And we had several members of the Canadian rifle team returning from Wimbledon, good, quiet fellows, with an insatiable appetite for deck quoits and mild poker; two ladies and several other members of the more selfish sex; a well-known member of the Canadian Bar; and some schoolboys going home for the holidays, who, with the last-named Q.C. and a navy man on special service, were the best company on board.

Nothing very exciting occurred. We had the usual fleet of icebergs in and about the Straits of Belleisle; very beautiful some of them were under a brilliant moon, with their white gleaming snowy slopes and sharp blue pinnacles wherever the bare ice could be seen. The announcement of these caused the whole company to clothe their eyes with telescopes, the naked eye being insufficiently powerful to discern the coldness which is an iceberg’s most prominent characteristic. And how the man with the longest telescope lied as to what he could see on the most remote berg! A few whales and petrels served to break the monotony of the constant dining, and a 14 strong enough breeze sprang up in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to keep our decks awash and make landsmen again of some of the passengers, who during the mild weather of the Atlantic had developed into the jackest of jack-tars.

At last came the customary misery without which no North Atlantic voyage would be complete. The enemy had threatened all along the banks of Newfoundland, now lying in light smoky wreaths all round us, and anon lifting in patches under the gleams of a dazzling sun for a few minutes, only to shut down in greater density for a like period, and then perhaps without any warning or apparent reason to vanish as if by magic. Right in the mouth of the river there swooped down upon us the coldest, densest, drizzling sea-fog that can be imagined, which, with the smoke from our own funnels, made the atmosphere something akin to that enjoyed by travellers on the Underground Railway, and left the decks and everything on them in the filthiest condition of black slime.

Is there a more weird, dispiriting, and God-forsaken sound in the world than the perpetually recurring wail of a great ship’s steam-whistle? We only know of one, and that is the miserable though half defiant yell of that Ishmaelite the coyote. Fortunately Providence has ordained that where the coyote is there the steam-whistle cannot be, for anything more suggestive of the lamentation of lost souls in Sheol cannot be imagined. And through it all we could only pace the slippery deck and grumble, first at the half-speed and then the stopped engines, and picture to ourselves our friends at home, probably lying on the grass under the green lime-trees, while we who brave the 15 raging seas have to submit to this scene of desolation and utter loneliness, surrounded by misty immensity. Occasionally came the evidence of the existence of other mortals in the despairing cry of another steamer in like pitiable plight, and then the fateful rattle, rattle, bang of the cable, and the change from that awful whistle to the still more exasperating ding, ding, ding, ding, ding of the bell, and we were informed that we were anchored for that indefinite period “till the fog clears.”

Note.—These anticipations, which in 1887 were usually considered profligate, have already been more than realised. The C.P.R. has now actually running on the Pacific three of the finest steamers afloat (the Empress of Japan, the Empress of India, and the Empress of China), all of 6000 tons, 10,000 horse power, 485 feet length, and 18 knot speed, with, of course, electric light, and all the latest improvements in marine construction. The sailings are at intervals of about 3 weeks, and the usual time from Vancouver to Yokohama 13 or 14 days, and another week or 8 days to Hong Kong. These figures are, however, much more modest than the record of accomplished facts. On Aug. 29, 1891, the Empress of Japan arrived at Victoria (Vancouver’s Island) in a little under 10 days from Yokohama, and 7 hours afterwards the mails were at Vancouver City, on the mainland. Another hour was spent in transferring them to the train, and then the C.P.R. performed the marvellous feat of carrying them across the continent to New York in 3 days 15 hours and 35 minutes. The Inman liner City of New York took them across the Atlantic, and they were in London within 21 days of leaving Yokohama. The ordinary time by the Suez route is set down in the Postal Guide as 43 days.

When (and when will that be?) we get a Canadian Atlantic service equal to the Pacific one, the time will be still further reduced.—Nov. 1891.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter I

Edwards’ Desiccated Soup
[I hope the authors got paid for Product Placement. This is only the first of several mentions.]



Most things have an end, and by noon on the 6th of August we were, with our pilot at the masthead—for the fog only lay for a few feet above the water—slowly steaming with frequent pauses up the mighty river, losing many of our passengers at Rimouski, where the mail tender meets the steamer, and the inter-colonial railway is available for any one to whom a few hours are of importance.

The weather kept improving, and soon the wooded southern bank of the St. Lawrence was plainly visible, and the air was laden with the delicious scent of the pine forests, while the eye was charmed and rested after the weary waste of waters by the ever varying and ever harmonious green and grey of the distant hills, and the spotlessly white dwellings of the French Canadian settlers along the shores. Howbeit, we are told that much enchantment is lent to the view, and that it is more pleasing to every sense to contemplate these inviting-looking cottages from afar than to form a closer acquaintance with them and their inhabitants, human and otherwise.

Everything except the forests is whitewashed, and a school of whales which accompanied us about this period seemed to have undergone the same operation, 17 but we can only speak to their appearance, and it is possible that the silvery gleam of their tummies in the water is due to some other cause.

Having prepared ourselves for our experiences in America by a strict course of Fennimore Cooper, Mayne Reid, and Mark Twain, we knew all about “buffler bulls,” “bars” and “catamounts,” “shooting-irons” and “pill-pumps,” and were carefully on the watch against the well-worn traveller’s tales with which the native of foreign parts is wont to delude the unwary. It was therefore no surprise to us to hear the pilot enlarging upon a “bar” that he had shot a day or two before, and all the lead that it had taken to do it. We smiled incredulously and disputed it not, but when he presently announced that he thought the mist had cleared enough for him to shoot the “bar” again, and we perceived nothing but the same wide expanse of river, without so much as a bottle-cork for a “bar” to hide behind, we felt that he was deceiving us. It was only when we saw a couple of leadsmen in the chains, and heard the cry of 7, 6½, 6, 5½, 5½, and then suddenly 8, 10, 14, that we realised that the “bar” was the one at the bottom of the river.

Life is too short to bother with precautions against those miscreants who deem it entertaining to entrap their fellow mortals. When we were in the middle of the gulf, and the nearest coast was 200 miles away, a Yankee quietly remarked, “Wal, I guess we are quite close to land now; it ain’t more than three-quarter of a mile away nohow.” Personally we took no interest in facts of this nature, so were content to sit and believe, but many excited travellers dashed out of the 18 smoking room to have a look at the long hoped for continent. They presently came back in the worst of tempers, and said that the charts and other authorities all declared it to be at least 200 miles away, and there was certainly none in sight. Then said the champion seller, “Wal, I didn’t say the shore; I guess there’s land right under us not three-quarter of a mile away.” These ancient impositions ought to be posted up in a conspicuous place on every ship by order of the Board of Trade, and any one practising them should be made to walk the plank.

The last part of the voyage was as charming as the prelude to it was wretched. We left the fog to drearily linger far behind us, and instead we had that rarity in a Canadian summer, a cloud-flecked sky, giving additional beauty to the scene by the shadows which alternated with the most glorious sunshine over the rippling water, rocky islands, and steep fir-clad banks. The whole of the river, after it becomes narrow enough for its shores to be seen, is exceedingly beautiful with its constant succession of lovely islands, which, now when the grass has just been cut in patches, have a most vividly green undergrowth, and the most perfect background of hills looking marvellously blue in the evening light, with here and there a waif of mist still flitting across them. Once by a curious effect of mirage a piece of the river was seen high up the hillside, looking so like a lake that it was difficult to realise the absurdity of a lake tilted on one side sufficiently for us to see its surface from below.

At last we passed on the north bank the splendid falls of Montmorenci, and soon afterwards came into 19 full view of one of the three most grandly situated cities in the world—Quebec. Edinburgh surely deserves a place among them, but who will agree as to the third out of Athens, Constantinople, Genoa, Salzburg, Granada, and a host of others? By the time that the big ship had made a circle under the frowning Heights of Abraham, and was lying alongside the wharf at Point Levis, night had come on, and the city was outlined from citadel to water’s edge with twinkling stars of electric light, reflected and multiplied to our feet by the ripples of the restless river.

Here we lay all night, and here again we had cause to be dissatisfied with the Allan management. Just before arriving at Quebec we were told that all luggage would be landed there, and that any one who wished to go on to Montreal would have to watch the landing, and prevent his or her property leaving the ship. All this might have been arranged with the greatest ease during the last two days when we were doing nothing in the river, or even provided for by a notice to that effect and careful stowing at Liverpool, but nothing of the sort had been attempted. Late at night, by the light of a miserable ship’s lantern at each of the two hatches, the work of hoisting the baggage out began, while frantic passengers stood helplessly round and clawed at their belongings, not unfrequently getting a heavy trunk dropped on their toes, and being reviled for it by the slaves of the capstan.

One lady who was travelling by herself was naturally unable to attend to two hatches about thirty yards apart at once, so we volun­teered to look out on her behalf. Of course our only chance was to 20 stop everything which bore the least resemblance to her baggage, as hastily described; the result was that when the last package had been swung on shore, there was to be seen on the deck at each hatch a heterogeneous pile as big as a haystack, which we confidently asserted to be “Miss C.’s portmanteaus,” and as luck would have it she did ultimately succeed in unearthing from the depths of this loot all of her trunks save one, a kind of a low one-roomed cottage on wheels, which ladies take about and imagine to be a bonnet-box, or some such necessity of existence. This we afterwards heard she ultimately recovered at Winnipeg, as it was abundantly addressed, and simply could not be lost. Even the man who lost the big drum would have had no chance with it.

We fared about the same, losing in the darkness and confusion one of our most cherished packages, a box full of the best photographic plates, which of course could not be replaced here, though we were lucky enough to get very fair substitutes. This box turned up at Toronto five months afterwards, just in time to give us all the trouble of passing it through the Custom House at Montreal and Liverpool, so naturally we are still annoyed at the Allan people and their want of method.

Quebec has been described and re-described ad nauseam. We do not intend to add to its literature, but Ichabod may be written on its walls, if, as the apostles of Free Trade teach us, commercial prosperity is the only test of greatness and the only goal for a nation’s ambition. In vain did hostile armies encamp against her and pour out blood and treasure to bring her into subjection, but what the guns of the French 21 and the devotion of Arnold failed to do, the steam-dredger and that potent engine trades-unionism have accomplished. The pre-eminence of Quebec is a thing of the past, for there is now a low-water channel of twenty-five (soon to be twenty-seven) feet* clear up the river to Montreal. While the struggle between the two cities was going on, and Quebec was still a formidable rival in many branches of the shipping trade, the final coup was given by her own dock-labourers, who one day took it into their sapient heads to decree that no man should work under a price that seemed good to them in their wisdom. They were not troubled in the execution of their edict; this sword thrown into the balance turned the scale against Quebec; the shipowners then and there forsook her, and Montreal is now beyond question the port of Canada. At the time we lay at Point Levis there was but one solitary barque in the harbour, and we were told that this is now quite an ordinary state of affairs there.

* The dredging of this channel to a depth of 27½ feet was completed in November 1888.

Early on Sunday morning we were once more under way, and enjoyed the rare delight of a daylight cruise up the river—as a rule this run is made in the night-time—passing numerous places large and small, all with a tidy and prosperous appearance about them, and getting a very good view of the magnificent water-way, with here and there the mild excitement of a passing steamer or a quaint old-world boat, Argo-like in rig, and with a perfectly flat bow like the end of a barrel, strange contrast to the modern fleet of dredgers moored in some obstinate reach of shallows. The 22 course is buoyed or marked with long poles the whole way. One cannot but admire the pluck which has carried out this splendid enterprise—pluck which will, we hope, be sufficient to place Canada in the front rank of nations, if not actually at the head of them.

single-masted ship with billowing sails, seen from the front

It being Sunday, we had service of a mixed Church of England and Free Kirk character. The captain had parti­cularly impressed upon us all that on no account must we miss seeing the town of Three Rivers. Owing to the diffi­culties encountered by our worthy “meenister” in fusing the two services together, he had only just arrived at “sixthly and lastly,” when the whistle warned us that the town was in sight. And then did the resource and politeness of the captain rise to the occasion most nobly; the saloon door suddenly opened, and in came a 23 long string of seamen whom the thoughtful commander had sent, so that if as he expected the congregation proper rushed out of church to look at Three Rivers, the preacher might not feel slighted, but would still have a room full of eager listeners to pound away at. Original, and, like all great ideas, simple, was it not?

Notes and Corrections: Chapter II

a strict course of Fennimore Cooper
spelling unchanged

the man who lost the big drum
[Maybe something like this, from Volume 5 of The Monthly Chronicle of North-country Lore and Legend (October 1891), pg 475:
Railway official to inebriated bandsman who is without an instrument:
“Noo, then, let’s hev yor ticket.”
“Man, aa’ve lost hor.”
“Nonsense! ye cannet hev lost it!”
“Wey, man, aa’ve lost the big drum!”



The tale of the river has been as much and as well told as that of Quebec; and of Montreal we have nothing new to add: its great Cathedral of Nôtre Dame and still greater copy of St. Peter’s, its Tubular Bridge and docks, its Windsor Hotel and its mountain, are all well known to the world, and our stay there was of the briefest. We had just time to hustle through a parti­cularly obliging custom-house, part with all the last faithful remnants of our once large party, and jump into a sleeping car on the Canadian Pacific (or C.P.R., as it is always called out here) bound for Toronto, where we expected to get whatever we needed for our up country journey.

The cars on this line are as near perfection as skill, taste, and money can make them; we have not seen anything approaching them for comfort on the American continent, and of course Europe is out of the running altogether in the matter of railway travelling. To understand what an enormous amount of discomfort it is possible to secure by a lavish expenditure of time and cash, it is unnecessary to do more than travel in the best wagon-lits that France and Spain can boast, from Calais down to Irun and Cadiz, or by the mail from Paris to 25 Brindisi. Such a journey is about as fit to be compared with one on the C.P.R. as the speed and luxury of an ancient coach with that of the Irish mail of our own time. Suffice it to say that this great railway has been written up, puffed, advertised, and belauded in the most extravagant terms, and yet it is really doubtful whether one single word in excess of its deserts has been or could be said. The only evil fate that could befall it would be a feeling that enough had been done for glory, but with the men at present at its head there is little fear of any lotus-eating. The C.P.R. will go on as it has begun, and we hope prosper as it deserves to do.

The above paragraph owes much of its inspiration to the fact that when we tumbled into the train in an extremely dishevelled and hungry condition about eight o’clock at night, Jim discovered that “lunches are served hot on board the cars,” and in about five minutes he was seated at a table, on which the whole of the fare mentioned on the bill was arranged before him. The Skipper had haughtily retired to the smoking room, and did not know what was going on until he had finished a cigar and spoilt his appetite for food, and it was beautiful to hear his lofty remarks on the vulgarity of eating in a train, and the imprudence of people who ate scrambled eggs and Welsh rarebits just before bed-time—all very improving and moral, but somehow reminding the hearer of the Fox and Grapes too much to make any lasting impression upon him. Then the evil-doer turned in and slept the sleep of the unjust until breakfast-time, when he arose like a giant and shouted for more. The poor Skipper meanwhile having been informed by a 26 courteous stranger in the smoking car that this was a “sudden” train, was unable to sleep a wink either from pondering over the suddenness of the travelling, or from want of food.

Ottawa was passed about midnight, and breakfast-time next morning found us in the Queen’s Hotel at Toronto, a most comfortable place. Jim had only just had breakfast in the train, but meanly making as his excuse those ten lost meals on the first two days of the Atlantic, insisted on eating another in the hotel before commencing our real work, which was to begin here.

Most instructors of the people seem to take it for granted that every one knows all about American hotels, but as this knowledge cannot really be universal, we propose to enlighten the ignorant, and the learned may skip this part.

In those which prevail at places of any size, both in the States and Canada, you enter by a large hall, bounded at one end by a long counter, behind which are the clerks and other authorities. These are very great swells indeed, and smoke cigars and chew toothpicks with such a lordly air that you probably fear to address them, and moreover it is very little use to do so. You take your turn with the other arrivals to write your name in a book of fate which is called the Register, and against this the clerk writes your destiny by the number of a room, hands you a key with that number on it, and leaves you to find the room as best you can. The most satisfactory method is to keep asking every one you meet, which, though annoying to them, is on the whole less trying to yourself than wandering up and down miles of passages for a day 27 or two, and camping out on the stairs. There is no place in most of them where you can sit with any comfort, as the corresponding apartment to an English coffee-room is used only for meals, so that you have to spend your indoor time in the hall among the smoke and spittoons, unless you go up to the “parlour,” which is either empty and fireless, or else tenanted by half a dozen ladies in full talking array.

The meals are at set hours, generally breakfast 8 to 10, lunch or rather dinner 1 to 2.30, supper 5 to 8. The man of thrifty mind usually attends them all, as he will have to pay for them whether he eats them or not, the charge for board and lodging varying from 8s. a day up to about 25s., according to the standing of the hotel. An enormous variety of dishes is provided, and you are at liberty to partake of them all if you like, and are young enough to do so. A breakfast carte of the Queen’s Hotel will give some idea of the usual fare, the supper being still more elaborate.

Fruit and Marmalade.

Fish.—Fresh herrings; broiled fresh fish; salt mackerel; Loch Fyne herrings; fish balls; finnan haddie; salt codfish with cream.

Oysters.—Raw; stewed; fried.

Broiled.—St. Louis ham; mutton chops; kidneys; sirloin steak; English breakfast bacon; veal cutlets; calf liver and bacon; pork chops; beefsteak and onions; tripe; Glasgow beef ham.

Pigs’ Feet.

Stewed.—Kidneys; corned beef hash; chicken.

Fried.—Veal cutlets breaded; calf’s liver; tripe; sausage.

Potatoes.—Fried; Lyonnaise; sauté; baked; stewed.


Eggs.—Boiled; fried; scrambled; poached; plain omelette; stirred omelette with parsley; omelette with ham.

Bread.—French rolls; Graham bread; white bread; corn bread; dry and dipped toast; Graham rolls; hominy; Irish oatmeal; griddle cakes; maple syrup.

English breakfast tea; coffee; green tea; chocolate.

But if you happen to arrive at the hotel late at night or between any of the fixed meal-times, you can get nothing to eat until the next one comes round, which is distressing to the last degree. There is generally a cigar-cum-newspaper-and-novel shop, a barber’s, and a bar in the hall or somewhere near it, which in wet weather is convenient.

When leaving, you pay your bill at the counter in the hall, and are not pestered for tips by the waiters; but if you wish to get any attention from these coloured gentlemen, it is advisable to commence your career by the presentation of a dollar, as they do not understand the English custom of tipping after favours received. On the whole, however, there is not the same necessity for this as in England, as the white men, with very few exceptions, will not take money, though they are not too proud to allow you to stand drinks.

The American village hotel is a very different institution: its cheer­lessness can hardly be imagined. There is only one public room, which is generally full of roughs, in the spaces between the spittoons. It has a stove in the middle, and smells unpleasantly if wind proof; but if, as more usually happens, its walls are largely composed of cracks held apart by logs, the draughts whistle through the apartment with an intensity unknown to good stay-at-home people. Even 29 if you are lucky enough to get within reach of the stove, the only chance of keeping your circulation unfrozen is to warm one side at a time, while the other one rapidly drops below zero.

log cabin with sign “SALOon”

The lowest depth of all is reached in the “saloon” of the western “city” or miner’s camp. This is simply a drinking-shop, where very ardent liquids are dispensed at a price which one would suppose would rapidly lead to fortune. No doubt it would do so, were it not for the proprietor being compelled to drink so much of his own merchandise as a guarantee of 30 good faith, that his constitution always “caves in” just before affluence is attained. A saloon seems to be the very first need of any civilised community out West; in fact we passed one place which consisted entirely of a saloon, the rest being left to the imagination. In this instance the building was a log-cabin about eight feet wide by ten long, and more than the whole of its facade was occupied by a board on which an ambitious painter had over-reached himself in endeavouring to instruct the world in the very largest type. The termination of the word was consequently somewhat inglorious and unworthy of the spirited beginning.

It is at such places that most of the rows commence which occasionally chase away the ennui of a backwoods life.

One of these, alluded to by the journals of the place as “Another shoot on,” came under our notice in the most interesting way on a previous journey. We were disturbed from our peaceful slumbers by the report of pistol shots about two in the morning, and found that a certain saloon keeper called Dave (we don’t print his other name, as he is quite capable of coming over to scalp the publisher of this work) had had an altercation with his next-door neighbour, another gentleman in the saloon profession. Mr. Dave was in his tamer moments a most agreeable and desirable companion, and had been extremely civil to us, but his spirit could not brook restraint, and during the night his annoyance had developed to such a degree of wrath that he felt it incumbent on him to point out to his opponent the error of his ways. This he did by taking a revolver in each hand, and having broken in 31 the door and windows of his neighbour’s house, fired off all the barrels of both pistols at the unfortunate man and his bar tender. Being luckily in a somewhat advanced stage of intoxication, he produced little effect by this; so going back to his own abode, he reloaded and fired at the house, as being easier to hit than two dodging men, until he was tired. Next he again entered the house, and in the most affable manner pounded his adversary’s head with the butt of a revolver, and smashed all the smashable furniture to show the impartiality of his feelings, after which he departed with the same perfect absence of ceremony.

When next morning we looked at the house, which was exactly opposite our hotel, its front was pretty well covered with bullet-marks and holes; and its unfortunate owner’s face, or what could be seen of it for the towel in which it was huddled up, was considerably battered. One of Dave’s men who had assisted in the “racket” had been arrested, but the public deemed it more discreet to leave Dave himself alone in his then agreeable humour. We were told not to suffer any anxiety, as it was already pretty well understood that the witnesses would be all right (for Dave), and that nothing parti­cular would come of it.

The manners and customs of these wild communities are strange indeed. In the same place (North Platte, Nebraska) we went to hear the trial of a man who had shot another one through his own door, while the poor fellow was sitting with his wife and family. The prisoner’s counsel was addressing the court for the defence when we entered. He struck us as being a very able advocate, but his appearance was scarcely dignified. He was dressed in a brown 32 shooting coat with a velvet collar, and he wore no collar or tie: he had a quid of tobacco in his cheek, and kept spitting on the floor between his sentences, which were delivered in a most impressive and sonorous tone. Many spectators were seated round about the court: all who were not smoking were chewing and spitting anywhere about the floor—a habit which goes further to render a Britisher’s life miserable in America than all their other customs put together—and most of them had their feet on the backs of the row of chairs in front of them. A notice was posted on the wall requesting gentlemen “to pocket the stumps of their cigars and not throw them on the flooring.” The part of the room devoted to business was railed off from the rest, much after the fashion of a chancel in a small church, and within this rail the jury were lolling about in what the Skipper called an extremely dégagée and décoltée manner. There was no question of the guilt of the prisoner—in fact his counsel in defending him began by assuming enough against him to get him penal servitude for life; but the upshot of it all was that as usual he got off scot free.

We did not chance upon anything of the kind during our stay in British Columbia, but are told that justice there is a very different thing from our experience of it in the States, and that any one indulging in the luxury of shooting a fellow creature is almost as likely to test the strength of a rope as he would be in England.



All this time we are forgetting Toronto; but our stay there was short. If the reader will kindly imagine two days of really hard shopping—groceries, cartridges, a tent, fur-rugs, and blankets being the most important requisites—he will get a pretty accurate idea of what we saw of the town. It is, however, a first-rate one as towns over here go, barring its mud, which appears to be composed of Portland cement and glue in equal proportions. It would, according to our notions, be an improvement to the appearance of the streets if a glimpse of the sky were here and there allowed to be caught through the fabric of electric wires which pervade the atmosphere. The very sparrows have given up trying to fly, and now cautiously walk about from place to place on the network like Wainratta.

One evening we boated upon the lake and crossed over to an island—“The Island,” in fact—which is opposite the town, where dancing, singing, and high jinks and junketings generally seemed to go on with great spirit. But as Mr. Burne Jones says, “How they vex the soul.” They did ours, for we lost no less than two shillings in trying to perform an absurdly easy feat which we have never seen at 34 English festivities of a like nature. A table is marked out with many circles about six inches in diameter, as closely as they can be drawn. The player is provided with half a dozen metal discs of the same size as the circles, and all he has to do—a ridiculous all—is to cover up one, only one, and any one out of all those circles with his six metal discs, throwing them from about a yard away. When other trades fail, we know a certainty now, which is to be a proprietor of one of these unhallowed boards. We suppose there is not a more impossible thing to do in this wide world than to obstruct the view of even half one of those magic rings; and yet it seems so easy.

Toronto is characteristically English as compared with the utterly French Quebec and the Anglo-Frenchness of Montreal. It is a nice place to stay at: there is plenty of society more nearly approaching to that of home than as far as we know any other Canadian city can boast, though any traveller knows what a vast difference there really is between the social composition of England and that of even the closest imitation, not always, however, in favour of England. There is tennis and boating in summer, and in winter ice-boating, snow-shoeing, tobogganing, and all the well-known sports which we associate with the name of the Dominion.

Jarvis Street is one of the very prettiest roadways in the world: an avenue of well-to-do dwelling houses all standing back a long way from the road, with the sweetest of English gardens and lawns in front, no two houses being alike, and all vying with each other in quaintness and pictur­esqueness of design. On a blazing day, such as was now making life almost insupportable 35 and very thirsty, it was a real treat to walk down this shady street for a mile or so, and gaze at the refreshing green lawns and bright flower-beds, from among which often came the tinkling plash of a little fountain, while from lattice and verandah dense masses of cool feathery climbing plants hung in festoons, lighted up here and there by brilliant clusters of blossom.

Nor must we omit the important fact that they have—or had—a pack of foxhounds. A good many years ago we were here during the season, and hearing that a hunt was to take place, we went forth to the chase, let it be whispered only, in a “shay.” The meet was fixed for 3.30, to suit the convenience of business men, and was at the only real public-house that we ever saw in Canada, with a real signboard swinging in the breeze—a most unique specimen, for here every pothouse calls itself an “hotel,” and most of the first-rate hotels are dignified by the title of “house.” There were about thirty horsemen, and a few other shays had come like us to see the fun. There are no bad horses in Canada, and though those at the meet were not hunters, they were a very neat and shapely lot of good-looking hacks: but the men, ah me! Tautz and Lock would have torn their hair with envy and despair; and the fancy-free methods of equitation of some of them were indeed a wild weird sight. The master was correctly costumed in pink, and riding a bay horse lately imported from Ireland. And now we must confess that the object of pursuit was not invariably a fox, but when it was a fox, then he was brought in a bag, as the lateness of the hour gave no time for drawing coverts, or any 36 subterfuges and interludes of that nature. On this occasion the more humble red herring was, we believe, the quarry we were after.

Another difficulty in carrying out the sport in old country fashion is the form of fences peculiar to the country. They are composed of several heights of huge split rails, and present insurmountable obstacles to any jumping horse. We think the object of their existence must be to prevent any creature getting over them—unlike our English fences, which we believe to be constructed entirely for the maintenance of gaps, for there can be no question that the day which sees the last fence will also witness the extinction of that great institution the gap. Therefore the sportsmen who run the drag take care to remove a certain number of the rails of each fence they cross, so that every jump is made of a legitimate and convenient elevation—in fact, not too much obstacle, but just obstacle enough.

Soon after we arrived on the scene, an agreeable old gentleman of sportsmanlike appearance came up and entered into a description of the whole proposed run for our benefit. We soon discovered that he imagined we were two direct descendants of Pomponius Ego, and were out here for the special purpose of describing for an English newspaper a run of the Toronto Hounds. The Daily News of all papers we believe it was! It was of course useless to deny it: he politely assented, but continued in his description of all the principal performers, and kept close to our carriage all the afternoon, so that we might always be in the best place for observing the chase. This benevolent intention we regret to say caused considerable 37 ill-feeling between him and our driver, who imagined he knew quite as much about the matter as his self-appointed mentor.

The hounds went right away for a quarter of an hour’s sharp burst at the start, then there was a short check, and amid frantic excitement they went off at score again: our old friend, after galloping madly up and down the road for some time, and quarrelling with our driver till we were nearly dead of suppressed merriment, selected a spot where he had ascertained the drag had crossed and the fences were reduced to a practicable condition. Then presently we were gratified by the sight of the whole field, who, led by the master in a most masterly manner, leaped into the road with an air which showed that they felt that the eyes of England (as represented by two Daily News reporters) were upon them. And then as a fitting climax, the first whip jumped off his horse and handed round his hat to the spectators in the carriages, as who should say, “Now don’t that beat a circus? But you don’t see all that for nothing, you know.”

We drove home much impressed by the sport of Canada known as “foxhunting,” and wishing that the Daily News myth had had a solid foundation, for truly the experience was well worthy of a penny-a-liner’s attention.

Doubtless things have changed much since those days; they have a knack of doing most things well in Canada now.

One noticeable feature everywhere is the absence of mongrel dogs; dogs are plentiful enough, but almost without exception seem to be exceedingly well-bred 38 English types. Setters are the commonest, Irish, Gordons, and Laveracks; pointers fairly numerous, mostly the old liver and white; spaniels we saw of several kinds, the Irish water spaniel and Sussex being the most popular; and a few terriers, retrievers, and collies, but not a bad bred dog among the lot. And this is a pretty good illustration of the modern Canadian method. They believe in their country, and think that any money spent now in pushing her to the front will be a safe and before long paying investment.

It is a pity that all English Prime Ministers are not compelled to visit our colonies, and thus get to understand for themselves the strength of the love for the old country, which, like some of our native trees, seems to flourish in the new soil with a vigour unknown at home. We did not come out to talk politics, but could not help hearing the opinion of many Canadians; and the intensely loyal and patriotic feeling common to all classes would surprise our “Perish India” school of politicians. We did meet one specimen of the “Down with heverythink” and “Rightly struggling to be free” type, but we do not know whether even this man’s opinions were the same when he was sober, for we only saw him twice.

To us who know the devoted reverence with which Mr. Gladstone is still regarded by numbers of his fellow countrymen, it was strange to notice his universal unpopularity (to use a mild term) here. The desertion of Gordon seems to be the unforgivable offence which has aroused and kept alive so long the indignation of a warm-hearted people, in curious contrast to the apparently slight effect it had at home. 39 We came on a lonely hunter in the heart of the Rockies who was what they call “ripping and cussing around” in a very excited state, and we found he had only just heard the story of the Egyptian Expedition from one of the voyageurs who took the boats up the Nile. He wanted to know what England had done about it, and why somebody responsible hadn’t been hanged; but as we could not enlighten him on these points, we fear he is still in the same unpleasant state of mind.

Art is the great agency for refining and subduing rugged natures. We are not quite sure that we were the first discoverers of this truth, but it was irresistibly borne in upon us at the Queen’s Hotel. On the walls of the entrance hall were many paintings, exceeding fine and large, and of surpassing interest. A Yankee, who, like us, was reposing after the fatigues of luncheon, suddenly got up and critically surveyed one of these pictures with an admiring eye. Then he stuck both his hands as far as possible into his pockets, and pushing the inevitable quid over into his left cheek, turned to the Skipper and said, “That, sir, is a remarkably fine work.” The Skipper not venturing to disagree, he continued, “Jest observe the light in the top of that lighthouse; looks nat’ral now, don’t it? Wal, if that ain’t high art, I’m beat.” After this, he gravely retired, and whistled softly to himself; and as we watched him gazing vacantly at his boots, we felt that the light from that painted beacon had penetrated his very soul, and in conjunction with the contemplation of the blacking, filled his troubled breast with a calm which the quid alone had failed to induce. And he returned to the consumption of 40 his tenth “whisky sour” with a placid joy hitherto unknown to him.

The system of checking baggage, though we by no means regard it as an unalloyed blessing, is certainly carried to great perfection. Each piece has attached to it by a strap a disc of brass with a number on it and the name of the station to which it is consigned, while the owner is provided with a corresponding disc, on production of which the property will be delivered up to him at his destination. At many of the good hotels you can check your baggage to another hotel say 1000 miles away, and thus remove all thought and anxiety on its account from your mind till you find it safely reposing in your next bedroom. The only inconvenience that this causes is that you cannot get at your property anywhere between the two ends of the checked journey, but a man soon learns to obviate this by packing all that he can possibly need in one bag, and taking that “right along on the cars.”

There is nevertheless another really terrible objection to the American management of baggage: it is that only trunks which are constituted of about the same durability as a burglar-proof safe have any chance of surviving even one journey. It is a solid fact that a new leather portmanteau is sometimes reduced to a mere shapeless mass of pulp and rivets in about 1000 miles, if changed fairly frequently from one line or even from one baggage-car to another. The men who look after this part of the business hurl things about in the most light-hearted and unsparing way, and we think the check system is to some extent responsible for their conduct. No man 41 with a heart could behave so were he surrounded by the appealing and agonised faces of portmanteau proprietors, as he necessarily would be if travellers were obliged to keep an eye on their belongings. Moreover those travellers would be willing to give untold largesse rather than see their beloved treasures catapulted about exactly as if they had been intended by nature for destructive missiles.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter IV

like Wainratta
[Wire walker Walter J. Wainratta, “king of the wire”]

how they vex the soul
[An often-quoted letter from Edward Burne-Jones (with hyphen) to Charles Hallé, dated 3 October 1887, referring to the Grosvenor Gallery, concludes “how they all vex the soul”. Reading between the lines, the phrase must have been one of the memes of 1887.]



One advantage of travelling in Canada is that so many of the people one meets hail from the “old country”—as Canadians and also Americans almost always call the British Isles—and very often it happens that just as some small but vexatious delay has arisen, there comes to the rescue a total stranger, who, in some extraordinary way, knows all about you at home. Our baggage diffi­culties were smoothed in the first place by a most obliging permit from the C.P.R. to carry as English travellers just twice what we were entitled to. Later at Toronto Station when there was absolutely no time to get it all through, the baggage master suddenly discovered that the Skipper and he came from near the same obscure village in Wiltshire,—a place which they both fondly imagined to be a town,—and in a moment all the vast pile was checked and safely deposited in the car. This was a great piece of luck, as this official, though in reality one of the most good-natured of mortals, is a perfect terror to late arrivals, and if he had been obdurate we must have lost three days’ time in waiting for the next steamer.

There are two routes during the summer by which it is possible to get from Montreal to the West, and 43 the C.P.R. give passengers the choice. One is through Ottawa to Toronto, and thence to Owen Sound on Lake Huron, where a steamer twice a week awaits the train and carries its freight, animate and inanimate, up to the western shore of Lake Superior, meeting the main line again at Port Arthur. The other is all railroad along the northern shores of the lakes, and takes about a day less to do, but is naturally much hotter and dustier and more generally unpleasant in summer than the steamer route. In winter there is no choice, as the lakes are ice-bound from about the end of November till the general breaking up at the end of spring. Time was not of the utmost importance to us, so we chose the lakes, and never regretted the decision.

small steamer in the middle of a lake

A C.P.R. Lake Steamer.

A few hours easily passed in a comfortable Pullman took us to Owen Sound, where to our surprise quite a huge steamer of oceanic appearance was ready to receive us. This was the Alberta, about 2000 tons register; she and her sister the Athabasca 44 have been built on the Clyde specially for this service, and are as good specimens of the modern floating hotel as it has been our lot to see. The design is rather curious according to European ideas, the whole of the upper deck being roofed in and made into one huge saloon. The state-rooms are all along the sides of the saloon, each with a large window, but the saloon itself can therefore only be lighted from the top. Running round the structure, i.e. between the state-rooms and bulwarks, is a narrow passage which might fairly be called a verandah, but there is no deck at all in our sense of the word, except a very small one right in the bows where the forecastle ought to be, and a still smaller one aft. The roof of the saloon holds the boats and what little rigging there is, but is not available for walking purposes, so you must either promenade inside the saloon where you can see nothing, or sit outside, for the verandah is too narrow for two persons to walk abreast. The wheel-house and bridge are perched on the forward end of the saloon. Inside the rooms are large and beautifully clean and comfortable, the saloon as luxuriously fitted as any one could desire, the whole ship lavishly lighted by electricity, and the food really excellent.

At the risk of being supposed to think of nothing else, we give a dinner menu; and then after one luncheon later on we will refrain from tormenting the reader with glimpses of that Paradise which he is not allowed to enter. Please to observe the lovely mixture of English and (culinary) French.


S.S. Alberta, Aug. 11th.

Soup.—Purée of Peas à l’Anglaise.

Fish.—Lake Superior white fish, with matelotte sauce.

Boiled.—Sugar-cured ham; chicken; parsley sauce.

Roast.—Loin of mutton—onion sauce; sirloin of beef; ox-heart—mushrooms; spring lamb—new peas.

Cold Meats.—Roast beef; beef tongue; corned beef; ham.

Entrées.—Apricot fritters; Glace au Rhum; salmis of spring duck; veal cotelettes; Saute a la Napolitaine.

Salad.—Sliced tomatoes; German salad.

Vegetables.—Mashed and new potatoes; new cabbage; new beets; string beans—cream sauce; new green peas.

Pastry.—Blueberry pie; lemon pie; cabinet pudding; wine sauce; Madeira jelly.

Dessert.—Water melons; English walnuts; almonds; filberts; bananas; figs; oranges; jelly cake; raisins; sponge cake; fruit cake.

The charge for this and every other meal on the C.P.R. is three shillings; and though of course no one wants to eat three such meals a day, it must be confessed that you can get your money’s worth at each of them, if you give your mind to it, regardless of the consequences.

The engine-room on this boat contains the most gorgeous and dazzling aggregation of pipes and cylinders that we ever beheld. Even the Skipper, who hates mechanism of any description, was so entranced by their beauties that he spent most of his time in gazing at them. Apparently they keep three or four extra hands employed in nothing but polishing and burnishing, till the engines look much more like the jewels of Aladdin’s enchanted cavern 46 than the sober hard-working slaves who transport him and his palace from place to place. The pace is nothing extraordinary, about twelve or fourteen miles an hour, but the vessel is more free from unpleasant vibration than any we have travelled in; up in the saloon the revolutions of the screw were almost imperceptible unless one took considerable pains to detect them.

Again we had what they call here a “streak” of good luck. Watching from the verandah the shipping of our goods and chattels, we were horrified to see that the faithless grocer in Toronto—may dogs devour his grandfather’s beard—had packed our most precious supplies in a rotten box, and the whole thing only just survived the perils of the gangway, and collapsed a mere rope-bound collection of atoms, on the lower deck. A stern refusal met our entreaties to be allowed to repack it: it was checked, and must not be touched till it reached Golden City, 2000 miles away; its chances of doing so in that condition being absolutely worthless. Once more our good genius sent a friend in the nick of time, this time a Lancashire man, who had charge of the hold; and aided by him we soon had all our stuff (excellent Biblical word this) securely repacked in an unbreakable cask with which he provided us.

This episode served to wile away a good portion of the time, which otherwise would have passed somewhat slowly. Although this ought to be the hottest time of year, it was on these lakes undoubtedly very cold, and also inclined to be drizzly. For the first day nothing could be seen owing to a chilly Scotch mist which obscured the glorious views which we are told 47 are to be enjoyed in favourable weather. In the early morning we left the lake and steamed along the Garden River, passing a good many Indian lodges of the familiar conical shape on the banks, their sides apparently formed of mats or large sheets of bark.

We had a Despicable Person on board who devoted his time and presumably his brains to the manufacture of wit, as thus—“You’re on Lake Superior now.” Polite Stranger.—“Pardon me, sir, you are mistaken; this is Lake Huron.” The D. P.—“Yes; I only said Huron is a superior lake.” Polite Stranger.— “D——”

In due course we arrived at Sault St. Marie, which is pronounced Soo, and indeed is now pretty commonly spelt and alluded to as “the Soo.” Here is the junction between the two great lakes, and as there is a considerable difference in their levels, a lock has been constructed which is said to be the largest in the world, and is certainly a very fine specimen of what modern engineering can do in that branch of its work. It is on the American side, and is the only place at which Canada is still dependent on her great neighbour for assistance in transferring her commodities from end to end of her domains. Here the missing link is to be supplied by a new canal and lock on the Canadian side, the works of which were in progress as we passed.

One way and another it took about an hour to get the Alberta through the lock, and we amused ourselves on land during this period of inaction. The great sport of the locality seemed to be running the rapids in canoes, or rather sitting in canoes while Indians, 48 with what looked like a highly manufactured excitement, yelled their way down the turbulent stream; but there was no time for indulging in this game even if we had wished to do so, so we were content to watch the self-conscious air with which the heroes who braved these perils came to shore, and the evident relief with which they left their frail vessels.

Another object of interest to the traveller was a board surmounting a house on the American side, and bearing the legend,


a combination of thrift and accuracy very pleasing to contemplate.

Close to the lock the fishermen who make their living here have built some ponds in the bed of the river, allowing the water to run through; and here for pieces of money they stir up with long poles for your benefit divers monsters of the vasty deep, sturgeon, white fish, and lake trout being the varieties that we noticed. High up the river, just at the head of the rapids, were visible the piers of the new railway which was to connect with the C.P.R. at Sudbury, and from which great things are expected in the way of trade from the corn-growing States of America and the rich mining country through which it passes. These piers had in several cases risen only just above their foundations; but we believe the first train ran across the new bridge within six months of our passing the Sault.

At this moment the D. P. was again to the front with his ill-starred buffoonery. His difficulty was this: “If Sault spelt Su, and aye spelt i, and sighed 49 spelt cide, why didn’t saultayesighed spell suicide?” To decide that any man who would jest on the orthography of the English tongue was an outcast unfit to live was the work of a moment: with one yell of hatred his fellow passengers sprang at his throat, and his mangled corpse is now fattening the fishes of this very superior lake. “Justifiable foolicide” was the way the jury spelt it.



We arrived at Port Arthur, the modern successor of the ancient Fort William, which stood a few miles away, about mid-day. It is uninter­esting except from the usual standpoint of commercial prosperity: probably it has a future as the lake port for all the country to the westward; but the wandering stranger finds little to delight him therein. Howbeit we bought there two buckets—not the largest stable buckets, but still fair-sized pails—of strawberry and raspberry jam, and in the shop windows we gazed with veneration at glittering specimens of ore, and with delight at certain creatures which Jim asserted to be porcupigs, stuffed out of all recognition of themselves or their relations.

After this we wandered about the forest primeval above the town, or more correctly the site of the forest primeval, for the thing itself has almost without exception been burnt down in every part of the country, and the present forests are of modern growth and struggling with many disadvantages. Here we found raspberries, currants, and strawberries in profusion, and felt very pleased with ourselves when, having eaten our fill, we could lie on the sunny bank and gaze out over the foam-flecked surface 51 of the lake to where the dark mass of Thunder Cape reared itself in the distance. In this healthful and intellectual pursuit we chased the happy hours away until the arrival of the train which was to bear us westward for the next three days. This was timed to take place at 15.10 (i.e. ten minutes past three, for from Port Arthur the time is reckoned on the twenty-four hour system), and the C.P.R. reputation for punctuality was well sustained.

It was strange to see a resident drive up to the station on a very light kind of bogie running on the railway lines and propelled by a hand-lever, accompanied by two huge black Newfoundlands. He did not seem to consider his appearance in any way remarkable, but it distinctly was, as he came gliding along the track on his uncanny machine, with long black coat-tails flapping in the breeze, and an incongruous solemnity pervading his countenance.

simple three-wheeled handcar on train tracks

We had intended to give a long and graphic description of the scenery and other accessories of this railway journey, because although it has been already done and even overdone by lots of travellers, still we 52 felt that we were the boys to do it better than any of them. Just before we left Toronto the C.P.R. agent presented us with a bundle of what we took to be tracts, but soon discovered to be the literature of the railway, and one of these has taken all the conceit out of us. We shall at the right time make a quotation from it which will be enough to show the hopelessness of any attempt at competition in the art of fine writing. Suffice it therefore to say that we saw and did what every one else sees and does on this part of the road, which being interpreted means we ate and drank, smoked and slept, played cribbage and other games of skill, sketched, wrote and gazed out of the window, and then did it all over again. It is curious that one should not be bored to death by this routine, but somehow one is not. Travelling on a main line like this is very comfortable if you are willing to pay the extra price for a seat in the Pullman car, costing roughly about ten shillings a day, for which you get practically a double seat and a large bed (on the C.P.R. a very large bed indeed). Travellers by the English Pullman sleeping cars, which are built to go through our old-fashioned tunnels, have no idea of the comfort of these American berths. We as a rule take what is called a section, i.e. the two double seats facing each other, so that we can if we wish have a table between us, and at night this section makes up into two berths one above the other.

The negro porter who looks after this car is, we fancy, a bit of a wag. Before you can get a place allotted you have to produce your railway ticket, and he gives you a slip of paper stamped in a variegated 53 fashion, which is the voucher for your seat. We saw a traveller who did not comprehend this system holding his slip up and asking, “What the dooce is this for?” “Dat,” said the porter, “dat’s the certificate of youah berth.” For a brief moment we hoped to see a real row, but these porters are all cast in the chucker-out mould, and the other man concluded to let it slide. Some time afterwards we guessed he had grasped the fact that there are two words pronounced birth, for we saw him in amicable converse with the object of his anger.

In old days the upper berth was not thought so good as the lower, because of the dust and draught from the ventilators; but all annoyance from this cause is obviated by the construction of the present cars, the ventilators being provided with gauze screens and placed high up in the roof. The windows are very large, and all have double glasses, which assist an even temperature and keep out dust. At one end of the car is a smoking-room, bath-room, and lavatory for us; and the ladies are equally well provided for at the other end, though we believe they have no smoking-room. Probably there is a bonnet-shop or confectioner’s there instead, but we did not look. There is a stove with hot-water pipes which heat every part of the car; and this is to our notion almost a nuisance, as they are much too fond of getting the temperature up to somewhere about the seventies, and if, as on our return journey, the thermometer outside stands at 35° below zero, the change of 100° or so whenever you leave the car for a moment is sufficient to kill most people on the spot, and gave us colds to which during the whole of our 54 wanderings through snow and rain we were quite impervious.

Every now and then a man comes aboard and walks up and down selling books and papers, and another one hawks fruit. The latter is an excellent institution, as the fruit is always good and cheap, but the bookseller is naturally not as interesting as one of Mr. W. H. Smith’s emporia (we are nothing if not classical). Moreover he tempts you by dilating on the charms of the newest of his wares in a kind of disinter­ested manner, and in the middle of his harangue he affects to be called away, leaving the book, the plot of which he was describing with fervid eloquence, lying by your side. He does not come back until you are turning over page 74, where “Lord Marmaduke seized one ruffian by the heels, and using his quivering corpse as a bludgeon, was in the very act of scattering the brains of his cowardly assailants to the four winds of heaven, when an agonised shriek rang wildly through the welkin, and from the postern rushed the Ladye Ethelreda pursued by a sheriff’s officer——” At this thrilling moment you become slowly aware that he has been again by your side for some unknown period, and feel compelled to pay a dollar for that startling narrative, not because you care two cents what happened to the Ladye Ethelreda, but because you would feel mean if you acquired so much of her history gratis.

If you choose not to travel in a Pullman, you are hardly as comfortable as in a good third-class carriage at home, as there is only one car for all sorts and conditions of men, and that is inclined to be dirty and draughty. The C.P.R. have however put on a capital 55 “colonist’s car,” in which very good berths are provided at a low charge, and which appeared to be clean and comfortable, and will no doubt be a great boon to the large number of emigrants going West.

The line on leaving Port Arthur runs for many miles along the valley of the Kaministiquia, a most charming and trouty looking river; and we longed to get out and commence operations there, especially when a party of young Canadians were seen at one of the stations welcoming a canoe which was handed out to them from our baggage car. But we had no days to spare for frivolity, so controlled our feelings, though we spent a good deal of time out on the platform at the end of the car, whence we could see all the inviting rapids and pools of the lovely stream.

A traveller with a great fund of information pointed out to us a dismal swamp with a history. An engine and tender had run off the line and been so completely swallowed up there that when next morning he went to look at the marsh there was not a trace of injury outwardly apparent, though, as he plaintively added, “he knew it had a tender inside.”

We passed dozens of little stations, all pretty much of one pattern, the only place of any importance being Rat Portage, which we left in the small hours of the morning, and at breakfast-time next day were at Winnipeg.

This city is famous, as the children’s geography books say, for the largest and best blueberries we ever saw. It has other points of interest, details of which may be culled from the various guide-books which infest the traveller. It certainly is a surprising 56 place, as there appears to be no very adequate reason for its existence, but it is distinctly there, and all there. Judging from its present progress there is hardly any limit to what it may in another ten years’ time have reached in size and importance, for beyond question it must be the focus for all the converging railways, many of them already in existence, and many more projected, which will carry the produce of the enormous fertile region surrounding it.

Leaving Winnipeg, we come to the prairie lands, not, however, so absolutely flat and uninteresting as we find them later on. Farms are plentifully scattered along each side of the track, and the soil looks as if it needed the very slightest provocation to grow anything. In fact they say any one who has corns need only walk across a field once to ensure a plentiful grain crop, but it is so difficult to know how much to believe of what one hears.

Once in a while there come clanking through the train a couple of the scarlet-coated North-West Mounted Police, nominally in search of intoxicating drinks, which are contraband all through the provinces into which the old North-West Territory has been divided. They draw these covers, however, in a very perfunctory way, and it is easy to see that their hearts are not in this part of their duties, which is hardly to be wondered at, for they are much too fine and soldierly a set of men to be employed on the somewhat undignified task of opening old ladies’ reticules and smelling at bottles labelled “Lavender Water.” They are really soldiers in everything but the name, and soldiers of whom any nation might well be proud. The Irish Constabulary are the only 57 body of men we can think of equalling them in physique and general appearance. Most of them are old country men, English, Irish, and Scotch, and no doubt “gallant little Wales” sends a contingent, though we did not happen to meet a Welshman among them. A good number are French Canadians, with a sprinkling of Swedes and Norwegians; and not a few are younger sons whom red tape has lost to our own army. The force is only about a thousand strong, but that number is found sufficient at present for preserving order in the vast country over which they rule. Their reputation acts most powerfully as a moral check on any attempt at disorder, for malcontents can never be sure what such men as these are not capable of if the occasion arise. We travelled some distance with Colonel Herchmer (whose name we trust is correctly spelt), who has the chief command of this little army, and very pleasant companions he and a young English subaltern were; indeed the same may be said of all its members whom we met.

Late at night we passed, without seeing anything of it, Regina, the capital of Assiniboia, and by daylight next day were speeding along an ocean-like expanse of yellow prairie, which rolled away for ever in illimitable billows of grass-grown wilderness. Standing on the aft platform of the train, the two rails gleaming out from under our feet could be seen absolutely straight behind us and gradually approaching each other, till they merged into one silver wire far away on the blue horizon. The soil all along this portion of the route is so elastic and the line so straight and level that the train goes humming along without jar or vibration, and the sensation in these cars, with 58 their six-wheeled bogies and well arranged springs, is more like what one imagines flying to be than a mere matter-of-fact railway journey.

At long intervals we passed lakes, their shores covered with brilliant crimson, which we took to be some kind of water-weed, set off by an equally startling band of white alkali. On and round about all these lakes water-fowl of various kinds swarmed; at least five species of ducks, two of geese, gulls, pelicans, and a few avocets, lots of green­shank, and a close imitation of Kentish plover. Twice only we saw antelope, which we were told are often to be seen in great numbers close to the railroad.

This part of the journey ought to have been pretty dull, but did not seem so. We had been rejoined at Winnipeg by Miss C., with her rescued cottage, and this invaluable building had been proved to contain a wonderful collection of home-made cakes and other delicacies, with which we made merry in defiance of the N. W. Police. The dining cars which were attached to the train for our meals were also most interesting; and here—as said the undergraduate who was asked what he knew of John the Baptist, “it would not be amiss to give a list of the kings of Israel and Jud—” that is, of the fare provided for our lunch.

Oyster Soup.

Fish.—Boiled salmon trout; egg sauce.

Boiled leg of mutton; caper sauce; boiled ham; braized turkey; cranberry sauce; roast beef; baked potatoes; roast lamb; mint sauce; boiled chicken and bacon.

Entrées.—Salmis of duck; scalloped oysters; pork cutlets; tomato sauce.


Boiled and mashed potatoes; string beans; green peas; stewed tomatoes; mashed turnips; green corn; beets.

Salad; water biscuits; Stilton cheese.

Pastry.—Jam roll pudding; peach tart; sandwich pastry; compote of pears; wine jelly.

Green tea; black English breakfast tea; chocolate; coffee; apples; oranges; nuts; raisins; figs; prunes.

row of houses with railroad tracks and electric wires

Soon after midday Medicine Hat was reached, and there was some alteration in the time-table to be effected, the result of which was that we were allowed to get out of the train and play for three or four hours. Here the South Saskatchewan is crossed by a fine bridge: the station is crowded with specimens of the noble red man offering articles of vertu, in the shape of bead ornaments and buffalo horns nicely polished and neatly bound together with a bit of skin. The skin, by the way, is not that of the buffalo, for with the exception of one or two herds which survive in much the same way as the Chillingham cattle, this animal is extinct; and with the extinction of the buffalo the raison d’être of the 60 noble red man has also disappeared. Many of the passengers wandered over the town, which consists largely of churches of different denominations: one church to every score or so of inhabitants seems to be about the least number they can get on with. Others of us gathered flowers on the prairie, and led a peaceful arcadian existence. Presently, as is the custom here, without any preliminary whistling or warning, the train moved off, and it was sweet to see the frantic travellers lowering sprint records in the most surprising and entertaining manner, as they rushed at their retreating dwelling. The last man to believe that it was really going and not only shunting was the Skipper, but when he did grasp the situation, the way in which he girded up his loins and fled along the track, with his coat-tails streaming in the wind, and all the people on the platform in ecstasies of pleasure at so ludicrous a sight, was very gratifying. He managed just to clutch the iron rail, and was hauled in by the conductor in a rather exhausted condition.

Railway lines and streets are very much mixed in this country: it is, we understand, the birthright of every man to walk or drive all over every track wherever he may choose, so it is often difficult to know whether you are in a street with railway lines running down it, or on a railroad along which people are driving and walking. At one place—we forget where—a length of street was roofed over, and right and left, instead of the shops which we had noticed a few yards previously, were doors labelled “Baggage Room,” “Ticket Office,” and so on, so that we became aware that this was a station; and then a few yards 61 further it had imperceptibly glided into a street again, and once more shop windows feasted our eyes.

This was one of the most perfect days of our journey. The line after crossing the river at Medicine Hat climbs on to another plateau, and for the rest of the afternoon we sped on through one vast unbroken tract of prairie land, with only the water-tanks and windmill pumps which supply them to break the monotony of the view. Close to the line were long rows of peculiar fences, which are placed there to prevent the drifting of the snow during the blizzards, which sweep across the shelterless flats in winter. On the rolling hummocks at either side could be seen innumerable gophers, a kind of small ground squirrel, and occasionally large hawks of the harrier tribe, which no doubt prey upon the gophers and the rattlesnakes, which are another addition to the attractions of this unattractive country.

Near one station we noticed a slightly raised turf mound and wooden cross, evidently marking a recently made grave, and our conductor gave us its history. The poor fellow who lies there was one of the men who attend to the pumps, and living as he did on this vast solitude, many miles from the next station, he fell ill in his hut and died, without any one noticing his non-appearance as the daily train went by. Several days afterwards the tank was found to be short of water, which led to inquiry, and his dead body was discovered and laid to rest where we saw that little cross. The utter loneliness of such a life and death is terrible to think of: if this huge wilderness can be such a picture of desolation in the summer, one shudders to even imagine it lying through the long 62 winter months shrouded in one far-stretching robe of white.

Just before dark we noticed some little excitement at one of these tiny stopping places, and a man came up to the car with a lynx which he and his collie had managed to kill. It was a miserable, half-starved looking beast, but had some nasty teeth, with which the poor collie’s ears and head had made acquaintance.

And then the flaming sun went down over such a wild scene of glowing yellow plains as can never be effaced from our memories; and as the darkness set in, we could see in the far distance the ruddy glare of prairie fires in several places, though this night being calm, there was not that raging tempest of flame which is occasioned when there is any wind.

This is the great cattle ranching county of the North-West, said to be for climatic reasons superior to the more southern ranges in the United States. It is very rapidly filling up, and no doubt the completion of the railway by the branch lines which will soon be spread over the whole region, will quickly lead to the utilisation of the whole of these natural pastures.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VI

skip to next chapter

Port Arthur, the modern successor of the ancient Fort William
[In 1970 the two towns merged to become Thunder Bay, with a combined population currently around 100,000.]

certain creatures which Jim asserted to be porcupigs
[Though it sounds like a cousin of the jackalope, this old name for porcupine was still in use in 1887.]

the ladies are equally well provided for at the other end, though we believe they have no smoking-room. Probably there is a bonnet-shop or confec­tioner’s there instead
[Back in 1869, Helen Hunt not-yet-Jackson visited Gastein, Austria, sending back descriptions that eventually became part of Bits of Travel (1872):
This room is exclusively for women; opening out of it, in continu­ation of satire on their probable requirements, is a confec­tioner’s shop.]

Rat Portage
[I am sorry to say that, first, “Rat” means muskrat, and, second, in 1905 Rat Portage merged with Keewatin and Norman to become the city of Kenora.]

Colonel Herchmer (whose name we trust is correctly spelt)
[Yes, it is—and was also spelled correctly in the first edition. Lawrence W. Herchmer, to be exact.]

[Whenever 19th-century Canadians got bored, they rearranged the map. This is the 1882 version. The Provisional District of Assiniboia corre­sponds to the southern quarter of modern Saska­tchewan, plus a goodly sliver of what is now Alberta. The northern half of modern Saska­tchewan was part of the—undiffer­entiated—Northwest Terri­tories; the northern half of modern Alberta was the Provisional District of Athabasca. Alberta and Saska­tchewan, by those names, each covered about a third of their current area.]



We were too late to get a glimpse of the Rockies before going to bed, but in the early morning of the 14th August we woke to find that we had passed Calgary, the capital of Alberta, in the night, and were now running at a good pace up a fairly steep incline, with the Bow River hurrying down from the mountains alongside of our track, while already some splendid peaks, whose jagged summits were crowned with snow, were frowning above us.

Some writer quoted in the C.P.R. time-table says, apropos of such a moment as this: “Our coarse natures cannot at first appreciate the exquisite aerial grace of that solitary peak, that seems on its way to Heaven.” We are thankful to say that our natures are not so dreadfully coarse as this would imply, and we were able, even at 4.30 in the morning, with no sustenance but a little chocolate, to take a keen delight in these splendid mountains. Their grandeur is no doubt much more striking from the three days’ preparation of flat vastness which the traveller has undergone.

But neither words nor pencil can picture the true glories of the scene. If the reader wishes for descriptions, they are to be found in plenty, and written with a skill to which we cannot aspire. But none of 64 them can give the sense of freedom, the exhilarating atmosphere, the scent of the pine forests, the glancing and splashing of the torrent, the glow of the rising sun, and the thousand and one adjuncts that go to make up enjoyment, and without which the most lovely prospect imaginable is but a poor thing.

There is only one way by which any real idea of these treasures of nature can be obtained, and that is to go yourself, and for healthful pleasure it is open to doubt whether there is any earthly employment in which your time could be more profitably occupied.

The Bow River is followed for many miles, and then with a sudden turn to the west we are in the heart of the great glaciers and ravines of the main range. We have long since passed Canmore, with its guardian pillars of conglomerate, the witches, so they say, who tried, and for centuries successfully, to keep at bay the white man’s magic. But their time came, their spells at last availed them naught, and there at the rocky gateway they stand, petrified monuments, in eternal protest against the desecration of their ancient sanctuary by the snorting locomotive.

Banff is left on one side, with its medicinal springs and modern palace of an hotel, and still our engine goes panting and groaning its way upwards, till at length we come to a placid little lake, whose waters supply some small portion of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and stop in the Kicking Horse Pass at Stephen, 5290 feet above sea-level.

There is a short delay while our engines are being looked to and their fastenings examined, and then we start on the downward run. No. 144, our front engine, has a huge pair of elk antlers surrounding 65 his head-light, about as incongruous an ornament as could be imagined, and coupled to our hindmost car comes thundering a giant of close upon 200 tons,* so that we feel that we are as safe from a too rapid descent as strength can make us. The view is magnificent, the trees already more luxuriant in foliage than on the bleaker eastern slope, and the rapidly increasing Kicking Horse River dancing madly along by our side in its tortuous and rocky channel.

* So we were assured. The weight, however, seems almost incredible judged by English ideas, and we cannot help thinking there is some mistake. A big L. & N.W.R. engine with tender is 98 tons.

Breakfast at Field—where a chalet-like hotel has been built by the company—was a pleasant break in the excitement of the run; and then for the last time we took our stand on the platform for the few remaining miles of our railway journey. Soon No. 144 (our monster had left us at Field) pulled up, and it was seen that a landslip had blocked a tunnel just ahead of us. A road had been built round a projecting spur of the tunneled rock, overhanging the angry river, but the corner was so sharp that it was impossible to get round with both the coupling chains fastened, and the halt was made for the purpose of unhooking those next to the outside of the curve. This done, we crept very gingerly round, the general impression that it gave one being that the engine would come and walk in at the back of the last car if it were not careful. But we accomplished it, passed a few small stations, and at last, at nine in the morning of August 16th, stopped at no less a place than Golden City. But before leaving the train, we must quote from the book already mentioned the gloriously inspired passage which refers to the spot.


“Here another surprise awaits. The train, escaped from the canyon walls, rushes at full speed along the base of a ridge which confronts it on the right, until it swings around its foot towards the north. Then springs into view a magnificent sierra lifted high against the azure sky: it is the Selkirk range of mountains, lofty, rock-ribbed, and glacial: their base is hidden behind massive folds of foot-hills looking almost black beneath the mantle of spruce which sweeps far up the sides of even the central cones, intercepted here and there by jutting crags, cut from top to bottom in long lanes mowed year after year by the avalanches, and capped by a chain of summits from whose turrets winter never retreats. And when the afternoon sun is dropping slowly towards it, and the mists of the great valley have risen into light clouds that fleecily veil the cold peaks, they swim in a radiant warmth and glory of colour that suggests Asgard, the celestial city of Scandinavian story, whose foundations were laid on the icy pillars of those far northern mountains where the Vikings worshipped.”

To which we can only add—“You bet.”

We are not going to compete with this word artist, but it is nice to know that such things can be written, and comforting to have them by one as a solace to one’s mind when disturbed by the more unpoetical events of ordinary life.

In another minute we were left lamenting the comforts of the train on the platform of Golden City Station, surrounded by our numerous possessions and—horresco referens—a bloodthirsty horde of mosquitoes.

To our inquiries for Cardie the stationmaster reported no such person to have landed, and he had 67 heard nothing of our canoes which three weeks ago had been sent off from Peterborough, Ontario, the birthplace of the modern Canadian canoe. This was all very depressing, for without Cardie we could not start, and without our canoes we could do nothing here. There was nothing for it but to carry our belongings over to the Queen’s Hotel and await in patient torment the course of events.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VII

horresco referens
[Aeneid 2.195, describing the underworld. Educated male readers of 1887 would have recognized this instantly.]


B. C.

The Queen’s Hotel has a fine ring about it, and in fact it is a fine place—so much so, that if it were much finer you could not see it at all. It consists of a low badly built log cabin, which hereabouts they call a “shack.” It has a bar, a kitchen, a room with a bagatelle board in it, a feeding-room, and three tiny bedrooms with barely space for bed and wash-stand, but quite a number of draughts. It was, however, all very clean, and as far as such a place could be, comfortable, and Mrs. Green was an excellent cook. We found on the table in the sitting-room a sedately bound volume of considerable bulk, entitled “Reveries of a Bachelor,” new edition. This implied a neatly veiled compliment to married men, for the book was nothing but an ingenious dodge for evading the N. W. drink regulations, a secret spring which was revealed to us by the landlord disclosing the neck of a whisky bottle most artfully concealed within the leaves. However, lots of books have worse things than this in them.

We wandered about the “suburbs” all day, and made divers discoveries. Item: That the waters of the Columbia, into which the Kicking Horse flows a couple of miles beyond the station, were too “riley” 69 (British Columbian word meaning stained with snow) to allow of any fishing. Item: That the said suburbs consisted chiefly of brush and swamp, and were the lair of millions of mosquitoes. Item: That Golden City, or “Golden,” as it is invariably called, contained one or two good fellows, but was on the whole one of the most pitiful places on the earth.

one-story log house with sign “The Queen’s Hotel”

Since the early days of mining discoveries we imagine this city went steadily backwards, until the C.P.R. put life once more into its sinking frame. Now he would be a bold man who would deny that the future has great possibilities for it, for the Columbia valley above here is undoubtedly one of the favoured districts of the province, and is being rapidly settled. The river is navigable from its source down to Golden, but only a few miles below, and consequently any goods destined for the upper valley are brought 70 here by the railway for transfer to the boats and two steamers which already ply on the river. The Provincial Government is also making a waggon-road along the valley to the lakes which form the headwaters, and on from there down the Kootenay, so that the settlers are not wholly dependent on the navigation, which of course is often interrupted by frost, floods, and low water; and it will not be very long before the iron horse will find his way across the beautiful parks which fringe the river bank, and destroy at one fell stroke the occupation of boats, pack-trains, and waggons, and to some extent even of the steamers.

There is a freedom and heartiness about these British Columbian folk (we shall in future adopt the custom of the country and use only the letters B. C.) which is very captivating to the sophisticated and conventional mind. The first friend we made was a little girl aged about five, who seemed to be living independently of her relations. She said her name was Miss Jenny Lorena Wells, which seems a good deal for one so young; and she imparted many details concerning the life and habits of her doll. Then our landlord was exceedingly hospitable and agreeable. We asked by way of conversation what was the name of the mountain straight opposite his door, a peak so striking in its rugged magnificence that in Switzerland they would have two railways and a dozen hotels planted on it. With princely generosity he replied, “You can call it what you darn like: every outfit that comes along gives it a new name, and I’ll be shot if I can remember what the last one was.” It was gratifying to reflect that 71 we were now an “outfit,” but we could not at that time think of an appropriate title for the mountain.

The east-bound train came in about 17 o’clock; and having nothing better to do, we strolled up to the station to see it pass, when to our astonishment we detected in a youth of fashionable exterior, surrounded by a bevy of sorrowing but high-born maidens, our long-lost and little expected Cardie. It had taken him just a month of driving and training to get here from his eyrie in the Colorado mountains, and it was an extraordinary coincidence that after all the delays and minor calamities we had suffered, we should have thus managed to reach our goal on the same day.

Cardie soon put us right on several points of speech, e.g. we found that “truck” is the great and universal word for any emergency. “Is all that truck yours? What sort of truck have you got in it for cold weather? Yes, that 45.90 Winchester isn’t bad truck to have around for a grizzly. Well, I should put it all on a truck and wheel it to the hotel.” These are the sentences with which we should begin a B. C. Ollendorf. The only other necessary piece of knowledge is “How to use ‘What’s the matter’ in 500 different ways, by one who has been there.” “What’s the matter with some supper? What’s the matter with the bread? (i.e. Please pass it). What’s the matter with skipping out of this first thing in the morning?” Any one who will devote his mind to the study of these far-reaching productions of the Anglo-American tongue will find that the opportunities for their application are endless; in fact we now “have them in our houses and use no other.”


With this newly acquired brilliancy there was no longer any difficulty in christening our mountain peak, and the world will be good enough to take notice that now and for all time it is to be known as the “What’s-the-Matter-horn.”

The canoes not having arrived, we decided to go for a ramble of three or four days to see what the country was like, and as there was no room in the Queen’s for our “truck,” we hired a small shack in which we stored all the more sumptuous portions of our apparel and various other things which we did not need to take with us. That finished, we lunched on the Duchess (the larger of the two Columbia steamers) with the captain, Mr. Armstrong, who was in all ways most obliging. His craft presented a somewhat decrepit appearance, as about a fortnight before our arrival she had been wrecked in the Columbia with a full cargo and some passengers. They had managed to fish her up again out of about fourteen feet of water, and she was now in steaming order, but all her fittings and former smartness had gone where other good things go. Her general aspect, in fact, was that of an old canal-boat into which a travelling gipsy’s van had been hastily crammed without regard to its position or safety. One most valuable thing had, however, been saved from the general ruin, Sam, the Chinese cook: the best cook we “struck” (Anglicé—fell in with) on the mainland of B. C. Here we met also another of the N. W. Police officers, and altogether enjoyed ourselves, for the mosquito seemed unable to exist on the Duchess, though he flourished everywhere else.

five men sitting around a small table on shipboard, with empty chair at front and Chinese cook at back

Lunch on the Duchess—Columbus River.

Page 72.

The general good-fellowship and freedom from 73 ceremony are not without their drawbacks. Within ten minutes of our arrival at Golden, half a dozen total strangers had pressed us to drink, and we thought “What a nice place.” We began to doubt the advantages of it when another total stranger adorned with two lovely black eyes dashed into the shack this evening while we were packing. In the same hearty and informal manner he immediately assailed Cardie and Jim with a selected assortment of the worst epithets yet coined, and challenged them both to mortal combat. We at last persuaded him to go and fight another man, who, we assured him, was thirsting for his blood, and at a late hour that evening were rejoiced to see him relieved of his lethal weapons by the community at large. This man, when sober, was a nice enough fellow, but the drink supplied in these western towns is as a rule bad enough to make even a dog behave disgracefully, let alone a man.

We discussed here with the authorities what it would be advisable to do whenever (and if ever) the canoes should turn up. We were uncertain whether to go down the Columbia northwards to what is called the Big Bend, or go up it to its source, and crossing the narrow strip of land, paddle down the Kootenay, our own inclination being for the former course. The experts said—“Oh yes, you can get round the Big Bend; one or two canoes have done it all right, but on an average they lose one man out of each party that goes down. You see the rapids are bad, and it is long odds against every one getting down safely.” We talked it over, and made up our minds to go, as we all thought one man out of three would never be missed; but we soon found there was an irreconcilable 74 difference of opinion between us as to which that one was, no less than three names being suggested. So we gave up the Big Bend, and finally decided to go up the river as soon as the canoes arrived, and in the meantime to try a little hunt.

On the morning of August 17th, we started in the Duchess, which was bound for the lake at the headwaters known as Lake Windermere, intending to get out of her at the first promising spot. Our progress was very slow at first, as this part of the river is rapid, and the old stern-wheeler did not make more than 1½ miles an hour past the banks, though she was good for eight or nine through the water. The Columbia depends for its supply on the melting snow, and this was about coming to an end; the water therefore was falling rapidly, and leaving on either side huge marshy lagoons known as sloughs (pronounced sloo). These seemed to offer great attractions to enormous flocks of geese, ducks, and plover, while here and there the white wings of a swan might be seen reflected in the perfectly still waters. The banks of the river are for the most part densely wooded, except where one of these backwaters occurs, and in such places it is often impossible for the inexperienced to detect the true course, there being frequently so many different channels, and these so wide, that there is no perceptible stream in any of them. Skilfully steered, the Duchess found her way through the devious passages, every turn disclosing new beauties, as the two glorious ranges, the Rockies on our left hand (the east) and the Selkirks on the right, became visible above the high wooded bluffs which in many parts overhang the river. Forest fires 75 were burning on all sides, but only making their existence known by a light blue haze, which filled the air and gave just that atmosphere to the view which in a dry mountain climate is so often wanting, and on this perfect day not one thing was lacking to complete our happiness.

Alas, earthly happiness seldom lasts long. We passed the place where the poor Duchess went down, and a little higher up, at a spot where the forest grew more densely than anywhere else, the steamer ran her nose into the bank, and we and our “truck” were bundled on shore. Five minutes later she was a mere puffing speck in the distance, while we were being literally eaten by the most awful mosquitoes it has ever been our lot to meet—or be meat for.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter VIII

or “Golden,” as it is invariably called
[The “City” part was dropped about five minutes after this book was written.]

the future has great possibilities for it
[Current population: a few thousand.]

[Plate facing page 72: “Lunch on the Duchess”]
[I’m guessing the empty chair belongs to Clutterbuck, who got up from the table to take a photograph.]



The only information we could get about this place, which was known as Canyon Creek, was that goats (the mountain white goat) abounded high up the Selkirks, and that there was a hunting trail from this spot which would lead us up into their country. The ground near the landing was slightly swampy, as a small stream (called in this country a creek) here found its way into the river, and all among the trees was a perfect network of numberless smaller rills. The forest was dark, and composed of enormously tall trees, chiefly spruce, hemlock, and cottonwood, with a dense undergrowth of willow, cranberry, raspberry and mosquitoes. We soon found the trail, a very faint and feeble specimen of one, but marked conspicuously by fairly frequent blazes (axe-cuts removing a broad piece of bark) on the trees; so satisfied that all was right, we shouldered our burdens and walked along it, making at best very slow progress, and soon finding that the trail grew ever worse under foot and more difficult to follow. At last it was impossible to see any more blazes on the trees, and the trail itself had become a thing of naught.

Jim, who even at such a time as this could not 77 refrain from what he imagined to be wit, was on ahead making out the track, and after vainly searching for any further sign of it, he pointed to the last axe mark that could be discerned on a huge cottonwood, and opined that “it had run up that tree and apparently gone to blazes.” If the scoundrel who chopped those delusive signals on the bark is undergoing even a small percentage of the fate to which our anathemas condemned him, we can only say he must be having a pretty warm time of it. And yet perchance he was not wicked but only unfortunate, and had merely blazed these trees in trying to find his own way to the apocryphal trail: showing, however, more discretion than we did by turning back when he had struggled in vain to this point.

We, unlike our imaginary predecessor, having come so far, were unwilling to return to the river to see if there might not be another trail on the other side of the creek, so guiding our course by the sun, which could just be seen through the tree-tops, we took turns at chopping our way through the forest towards the still distant rising ground at the foot of the Selkirks. Two hours of this, during which we advanced perhaps half a mile, was sufficient, with the torture that we were suffering all the time from our winged foes, to utterly exhaust us, for the forest in many places had been burnt, and here the fallen trees lay piled over each other in a terribly complicated manner, while in the unburnt portions it was if anything more difficult to force a way through the tangled thicket of brush and swamp. Many of the prostrate trunks were so large that one might just as well attempt to walk over a park wall as to surmount them, laden as 78 we were, and they looked about as long as Wimpole Street, so that going round them was no small undertaking. All this, however, would have been a mere matter of time, but when in addition we had to repel the attacks of countless millions of mosquitoes the case was very different; and through it all remember the thermometer stood at about 90° in the shade, with never a breath of wind to alleviate our sufferings from the heat.

three men in the woods surrounded by clouds of mosquitoes

“Never saw such a chap: always spoiling everything by wanting to go back!”

People at home read of sandflies, Cingalese leeches, stinging ants, mosquitoes, and the like, and the fashion is to treat all such matters more or less as jokes, and to affect merriment at the idea of getting well bitten by any of them, but the truth is that there is no misery on earth equal to a really bad attack of these demons. We all thought we had seen mosquitoes before, in Norway, in India, and in the States, but 79 until now we knew nothing—absolutely nothing—of the concentrated essence of torture that they are capable of inflicting when you invade their real home.

Some writer lately has been advocating the claims of the stinging ants as the worst evil that can befall a man. For us they may come, and bring also their sisters and their cousins; we still uphold the mosquito as facile princeps.

Every step we took kicked up a veritable cloud of new assailants, and though in expectation of their attacks we had come provided with large pieces of gauze which were put over our hats and tucked in under our coats, the protection was soon worthless, for we found that the swarms of insects upon the veils prevented both sight and breathing. We were obliged when moving to take them off, only replacing them whenever exhausted nature could stand the agony no longer and we stopped to rest for a few moments, lighting a fire whenever we did so, and getting a brief respite in the choking fumes of the smouldering wood.

It speaks volumes for the spirit which ever animated our poet that he should have chosen one of these brief halts to compose an Ode, which, had it been completed, would, we feel sure, have conferred undying immortality upon him. Even in its unfinished condition we have no hesitation in presenting it to the world.




On other poets here I place my veto,

Be mine alone to sing the dashed mosquito:


Thou airy sprite, child of the shady grove,

Faithful companion wheresoe’er we rove,

Together have we roamed the wide world through,

And thou alone of all its hosts art true (2).

On Afric’s shores, on India’s coral strand,

The first to meet us in this Northern land:

The last to leave us as its shores recede,

O ghostly gimlet, “treu und fest” (3) indeed.

E’en as a watchful mother bends above

Her babe, and croons a lullaby of love,

So thou, whene’er our nightly couch we seek,

Hov’rest aloft, a “phantom—with a beak” (4).

And with thy sweet small soul-entrancing song,

Thou’lt charm our wakeful ear the whole night long;

When pain and anguish chance to wring the brow,

No wife so constant at our side as thou (5).

But unlike woman, in our hours of ease,

Thou’rt not uncertain, coy, or hard to please;

Content to dwell upon the merest speck

Of ear or nose, or small expanse of neck.

(1). We owe him a good deal more than this, but fear he will never be paid.

(2). Yes, and he bleeds one like a true host.

(3). Note by Printer. Is this word fest or pest?

Author. Fest; comparative, fester.

(4). A beak, alas! who never gives him six weeks without the option of a fine.

(5). Note by the Skipper.

And if the pain and anguish we forget,

He’ll bring ’em with him when he comes, you bet.


see end of chapter


To show the difficulties under which the minstrel laboured, we give the remaining verses in fac-simile from his note-book, embellished as they are by the bodies of the slain. The last stanza was left unfinished, for the subject-matter became too obtrusive in their attentions, and the divine afflatus once gone could never be recalled. Jim had an idea that it was intended to run thus:—


At Helsingfors, or some such far-off spot*

Where other people live, and we do not.

But though we insert these lines, it is only too easy to perceive that they are not of equal merit with the preceding ones, and the true poetic climax is, we fear, irretrievably lost.

* A mosquito always lives on a spot, and if there does not happen to be one when he arrives, he soon makes one.

At last finding a place where the tall gaunt stems of the burnt forest gave a little more chance of light and air, we cleared a very uncomfortable patch just big enough for the tent, cooked some bacon and made tea, and then huddled under our blankets as the only possible asylum from the ever-increasing levies of our relentless enemies. For as the sun went down a new and more formidable variety came upon the scene: in fact we soon found that each period of the day had its own parti­cular detachment, every new one appearing to be more insatiable than the last. Unfortunately the arrival of a fresh contingent did not induce those already on the spot to desist from their labours.

It was an awful time. Sleep was out of the question, for apart from the nervous state in which the ceaseless “ping” of the hovering pests keeps their victims, 83 and the actual aching pain of the old bites, the night was so oppressively close and sultry that to keep a blanket over one’s head for long was an impossibility; and on the other hand it was only by this protection that the enemy could be kept at bay.

When we arose in the very early morning, we all felt that another day of the same sort would be unendurable, and something to better our condition must be done at once. Cardie wanted to know “what’s the matter with skipping out on a raft back to Golden?” “You see,” he said, “if you walk, you’ll have to leave nearly all your things here till we can come back for them; but if you go down on a raft, you go down with all your truck.” We thought it highly probable that if we attempted the navigation of the Columbia on such a raft as could be made under these harrowing circumstances, we should “go down with all our truck;” but the ignominy of such a speedy return was not to be thought of. The Skipper grumbled out that “he never saw such a fellow; comes out for a few days’ pleasure, and is always wanting to go home.” Jim likewise objected to beating a retreat, because, when fetching water from one of the shallow streams which trickled through the forest, he had noticed so many tracks of bears in the soft soil that he believed “there must be a goodish covey of them somewhere around.”

At last it was decided to wander out and if possible strike the trail, which we still felt sure must be somewhere near us up the mountain, while Cardie “guessed he could weather it” with the assistance of many fires until the return of the explorers.

We had not left camp a quarter of a mile behind us 84 when Jim suddenly stopped and pointed to a tree about seventy yards from us, and there, just visible above the thick brush, with his fore-legs clasped round the trunk, was a full-grown black bear. He was the wrong side of the tree, and nothing but his head and paws could be seen; moreover we were at this time walking on the top of a kind of scaffolding composed of a huge pile of fallen trees about ten feet above the ground, which made shooting almost impossible, as the recoil would probably have knocked us off our slippery perch. Jim, who was in front, had only taken a small bore Winchester for birds and other small game, which was by no means the sort of weapon one would choose for carrying on a discussion with a bear; 85 and the Skipper, who had a heavy rifle, was in such a position that he could not fire. We tried to get forward to a place where the ground would give a decent chance of a shot, and managed to reach a fairly open bit not more than forty-five yards from him. Jim was in the act of putting up his rifle, when the bear, who had been watching us with uneasy curiosity, shown by repeated movements of his head, suddenly gave a frightened kind of snort, and before either of us had time to shoot, dodged behind the tree and slid rapidly to the ground, his claws scoring the bark as he went. He was out of sight in an instant in the solid mass of tangled scrub below, and though we could hear him for some little time crashing through the bushes in his flight, and wrathfully despatched a bullet after him, one might as well have fired at the moon. There was nothing for it, after cordially laying all the blame on each other that really ought to have been attributed to the bear, but to go on our way, as we did, very disconsolate, still consumed by the villainous mosquito, and more down on our luck than ever.

bear climbing a tree

“Just visible above the thick brush.”

In Sweden and Norway it is well known that to speak of the animal as a “bear” will render hopeless any attempt to secure him. He must always be alluded to in hyperbolical metaphor, as “Old Fur-jacket,” or “The Wise One,” or the “Disturber;” and if we had neglected this important rule, we should have known that we deserved our fate. But nothing of the sort had happened. We had merely pointed respectfully at the “old one in the fur cloak,” and feel sure that we are guiltless in the matter.


We wandered through the brush about an hour longer, and at last did get to some perceptibly rising ground, where the matted tangle of raspberries and thimble-berries came to something like an end, and walking was less of a gymnastic exercise. Here, led by the sound of rushing waters, we soon stood on the bank of a beautiful ice-cold creek, and following it up a short distance suddenly came upon a ruined log hut and a trail going past it: this we followed, and in another half mile found ourselves at the foot of a very steep hill, down which came tumbling over rocky steps the water which supplied all the little streamlets of our forest.

There was a large pool at the foot of the fall, and close to this a fairly good log cabin and other evidences of human work. A weir had been constructed across the outlet of the pool by the simple process of felling all the trees across it that were within reach, and filling up all interstices with their branches, the result of this engineering being that the water no longer ran in the ancient bed of Canyon Creek, but was diverted over the surface of the land. This being very even in its contour, had not presented any parti­cularly favourable channel, and consequently the torrent was running, as we have seen, deviously, and reaching the Columbia by a multitude of small rivulets. The object of this diversion was of course to search for gold in the bed of the creek thus laid dry, and we supposed that this had long since been done to whatever extent the miners had thought profitable, for there seemed to have been no one about the place for some considerable time. The stream near the weir was very rapid, clear as crystal, cold as ice, 87 about fifteen yards wide, and in the deepest places not quite up to the Skipper’s neck.

There were plenty of trees lying across it, so that it seemed an easy task to go over and up the trail which we now saw zig-zagging up the almost perpendicular hill beyond. So we gaily essayed the passage, which Jim accomplished safely; but just as the Skipper was stepping off his bridge on to the bank the treacherous bark gave way (this is the worst danger in walking on fallen trees), and with a mighty splash he and his rifle went into the deepest hole in the creek. He thought it best to get out at once, but too late to save his watch, which he opened, and found that the escapement had floated round to the back of the mainspring and so jammed the gadget that the chunker-block would not work. But we were equal to the emergency, and in two minutes had frizzled all the water out of the works by unscrewing the large lens of the binocular and using it as a burning glass. It had a wonderful effect, and with a little coaxing the watch began to go; then we hung it on a tree with the mechanism still exposed to the rays of the sun, and went on our way rejoicing.

In a few minutes more we were on the top of the hill, and without a mosquito near us. Thankfully we wended our way upwards along a quite easily followed trail, and at length came to a camping-ground, among splendid timber close to the edge of the canyon, which by this time had widened out to a large ravine about 400 to 500 feet in depth, twice as much in width, and with sides so precipitous as to utterly forbid any attempt to get down them, while far beneath the torrent foamed and roared in headlong descent. This 88 looked so promising a halting-place that we turned back quite pleased with ourselves, and very quickly made the return journey to the miner’s cabin; then instead of retracing our steps to Mosquito Camp, we still followed the trail downwards, confident that it must lead to our landing-place on the Columbia, which we afterwards found to be the case. On this occasion, however, we only kept to it until we imagined by our roughly taken bearings that we were opposite the camp, and then striking off at right angles we were delighted to find that we had made a wonderfully correct shot, and were within a quarter of a mile of our last night’s quarters.

All was now hurry to get away, and we had packed everything except the tent, when suddenly overhead came the boom of thunder, and the big drops began to fall. Flash followed flash in quick succession as the storm drew nearer, and then far up the mountain side we heard, like the rapid cracks of a whip, crash, crash, crash, CRASH, louder and louder, the most startling and terrifying sound, for it needed no one to tell us that these were trees going down before what must be an awful hurricane, apparently sweeping straight down upon us, and mowing a path as it came.

This was a pleasant situation. We were surrounded by straight dead stems of mighty trees, varying from 150 to 200 feet in height, the ground so thickly bestrewn and tangled with trunks and logs and underwood that to move two yards quickly in any direction was an absolute impossibility, even if there would be the slightest hope of successfully dodging such trees on clear ground; and nearer and nearer every moment 89 came the sharp rattling crack and roar of the falling timber. There seemed only one chance of safety, which was to creep under the biggest prostrate trunk that we could find, and hope for the best. This Jim and Cardie promptly did, “trembling,” as the latter afterwards graphically expressed it, “from limb to limb.” The Skipper said, “Who’s afraid?” but got under a log nevertheless. Another moment and the merest puff of air came, just enough to send a shiver through the leaves of the quaking asp, and with that puff close to us on our right we saw tree after tree of the burnt forest slowly lean forward and without a bend or resistance of any kind come to the ground with earth-shaking crash, those that struck on high raised piles of former victims breaking into huge splintered fragments.

And then for the first time we realised, not at all to our comfort, that no storm was needed to level these tremendous sticks of charcoal: the fact is, as we afterwards found, that wind is one of the rarest occur­rences in this part of the country, and from this time throughout the autumn and winter it may practically be said that dead calm is the normal condition. The trees in a burnt forest remain upright, not because they have any hold in the ground, for their roots rot almost immediately after a fire, but because being for the most part absolutely straight and perpendicular, there is no inducement for them to fall. And so they stand until the first breath of wind comes, and then they go down before it like ninepins, just as we had seen.

We are now glad to have been witnesses of the sight, but the half-minute during which it went 90 on was about the most unpleasant month we ever spent. The breeze seemed to pass about forty yards to one side of us, and clearing its course to the river left us, and to our immense gratification returned no more.

When we felt convinced it was all over, and the return of the momentarily dispersed mosquitoes brought the same murderous thoughts to our hearts and the same unkind words about them to our lips which the ninepin trees had banished, we told Cardie of our discoveries and adventures. He was greatly interested in the bear part of the story, as this black bear was a novelty to him, the grizzly being the bear of his mountain home. He wanted to know what it looked like, and after much thought Jim gave utterance to the comprehensive information—“Well, he looked exactly like a great bear” (accent on the bear). When pressed for a little more description of the animal he could only add—“He looked just as if he wanted a bun.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter IX

skip to next chapter

India’s coral strand
[From the hymn “Greenland’s Icy Mountains”]

treu und fest
[Motto of the 11th Hussars]

[Ode to the Mosquito, pg 80-81, handwritten stanzas:]

Yet some repay with base ingratitude

The unending toil of all thy winged brood

Into vile durance some would gladly cram

Both “all thy pretty chickens and their dam”

And some anticipate with joy the day

When autumn chill and drear cuts short thy stay

Ah me! too soon that day must come at last,

And thou must die ’neath winter’s icy blast

Too soon— for still thy birthplace and thy doom

Are hid in Nature s deep mysterious gloom.

Com’st thou from heaven? Nay, we cannot tell,

Nor whither wending, but we hope, to

woman in our hour of ease and Skipper’s note
[An instant cliché from Scott’s “Marmion” (1808):

O woman! in our hours of ease

Uncertain, coy and hard to please

When pain and anguish rack the brow

A ministering angel thou

But don’t quote me; that was from memory.]



The thunderstorm passed, and we then cut a trail through the dripping wood across to the newly discovered one, and before night-fall were up at the log cabin near the foot of the fall. The tent we decided to be unnecessary, as the nights seemed to our surprise to be warm, and we had a waggon-sheet with us which could be made into a very serviceable tent in case of rain. We had a most festive meal up there, for we had shot several squirrels, which make excellent curried rabbit, and the respite from being worried had given us time to bake, so that for the first time since we left the Duchess we were all good-tempered and even agreeable. We found in the cabin a pack of cards, and at first meditated a regular night of it at Whist and Prussian Bank and Grab and other intellectual games. Unfortunately several cards were missing—in fact, to speak truthfully, they were all missing except two queens of diamonds and the four of clubs, and none of us could remember any good game which only needed those three.

That night we slept almost undisturbed, for the more open ground and the coldness of the mountain torrent made a sort of draught which annoyed the 92 mosquito, and prevented him from hunting with any degree of pleasure. We found by the tracks that a bear had passed within forty yards of the cabin during the night, but could not find him.

The next day was spent in the very hard work of dragging all our truck up that vertical hill, but we felt repaid for our toil when at night we pitched our camp on the very edge of the mighty canyon. There the roar of the glacier torrent came up as a soothing murmur to mingle with the tiny music of the fir branches, as their needles trembled in the motionless air, while the twittering of the mountain Chickadee (a little titmouse) and the angry chatter of Ajidaumo were the only other sounds to be heard.

Very jolly it was to lie there that first night and think of the horrors we had endured in the mosquito haunted shores far below us, and to watch the twinkling stars—more brilliant than we ever see them in our murky atmosphere—and the gleam of the rushing waters so white in the starlight. Those restless mortals, Jim and Cardie, must add to the enjoyment of this peaceful time by making a huge fire of trees, and when one of these had become thoroughly well lighted from end to end they would lever it to the edge of the canyon, and with a wild yell send it hurtling down the precipice. Such a firework would make the fortune of a Crystal Palace. The blazing log went twisting and writhing like a fiery snake, gaining in speed at every yard of its descent; and as it sprang from ledge to ledge, at each bound or somersault a glowing shower of sparks flew off, more brilliant every moment as the velocity of its flight fanned the flaming brands, until at last with one 93 splendid leap it whizzed like a rocket over the last cliff and plunged into the seething waters. Ah well, it was a pleasant, careless night, and we made the most of it, little knowing how short a time it would last.

About midnight we all awoke with a start as a blinding flash of lightning illumined with a ghastly glare every stick and stone in the vast gulf of the canyon, and in a few minutes we were crouching for shelter under the waggon-sheet, rather scared with the excessive nearness and blueness of the lightning.

Cardie, in his usual picturesque language, next morning asserted that it was “as blue as a wimberry and as thick as a bed-post;” and if that is not word painting, we don’t know what is.

The storm did not last long—Columbian storms never do, according to our experience—and we were soon comfortably at rest again, with the thunder only growling at longer and longer intervals far above us in the rocky heights of the Selkirks. We found the waggon-sheet so good and easily fixed that from this time we abandoned the tent altogether, and when we used any covering at all, which in the first two months was seldom, we were content to rig up this sheet. All it needed in this country, where we invariably camped among trees, was a couple of poles tied together near their tops, like an X with two long legs. In the fork reposed one end of a ridge-pole, the other end being usually lashed to a tree, and the sheet was just thrown over this ridge and pegged down along its sides. At the Canyon Camp we slept for greater safety from the mosquito with our heads on the very edge of the precipice, thus getting a 94 draught up from the ravine which was sufficient on this occasion to keep the tormentors aloof.

An unfortunate bat formed our acquaintance at this camp in a manner most unpleasant to himself. We happened to light our fire over a little hole in the ground which proved to be his den, and in a few seconds the luckless inmate fled out squeaking most dismally and hung himself up on the nearest tree. We think, however, he was more frightened than hurt.

The next day, a very long one, was spent in searching for the as yet invisible goats, and we made two discoveries. In spite of all our trouble we were still on the wrong side of the canyon, and could not get into that part of the mountains at which we had aimed; and worse than this, other human beings had lately been over the same ground. Goats undoubtedly had recently been plentiful on this tract, as every rough juniper or projecting branch was matted with their long white hair, but we could find no fresh tracks, and began to think of turning back. We afterwards found out that a party of Austrians had actually been up this same trail less than a month before, and had had fair sport there, the natural result being of course the departure of the surviving goats from the persecuted region.

And now a new terror was added to us. The mosquitoes had either followed us up from the lower ground, or else a new kind had been developed, and here on this high and open cliff we found ourselves surrounded by, if possible, a worse plague than before. The night was sultry, but there was no help for it; our only chance of getting any rest was smoke, and we built a huge horseshoe of fire 95 beginning and ending at the edge of the canyon, thus enclosing the camp in a fortress impenetrable truly to the winged foe, but raising the temperature to a barely endurable height. This was the last straw, and in the morning we were all up and swearing—that is to say, breakfasting—at a very early hour, unanimous (for probably the only time in five months) in agreeing that flight was necessary. One day’s work on the down-trail was more than equal to what occupied two long ones in the ascent, and about the middle of the afternoon we were once more on the banks of the Columbia. There we prepared to commit ourselves and all our truck to a raft, death by drowning or any other means being vastly preferable to being eaten alive.

forest camp surrounded by fires at the very edge of a cliff

The Horse-shoe Fire: Canyon Camp.

Page 94.

The first thing to do was of course to light a fire and make tea, which occupied ten minutes. Just as the first cup was poured out the Skipper suddenly said “listen,” and over the mangled plum-pudding which did duty for his face came a look of too-good-to-be-true astonishment. Dead silence for a moment, broken only by the ever-present “ping” of the mosquito and the sound of a human slap, and then distinctly came to our ears the unmistakable pŭff, pŭff, pŭff—pūff of the Duchess. In another moment she appeared round the bend labouring her tardy way against the rapid stream. It seemed impossible after these three awful days that we should have been lucky enough to meet with such precision a boat that only passed about twice a week, and made no pretence of being punctual to within forty-eight hours, but it was the fact nevertheless. In another ten minutes we were once more on her hospitable deck, surrounded 96 by all sorts of luxuries, and with not so much as a house-fly to remind us of the purgatory we had left. Best luck of all, our canoes were on board, having arrived at Golden the evening before, so now we had not a care in the world, and could go on up the Columbia with the lightest of hearts.

photograph of paddlewheel steamer, with men standing on upper deck and Indian with canoe in foreground

The “Duchess.”


Night came on, and when it got too dark to run any longer with safety the Duchess was just tied up to the bank. All her cabins and fittings being still scattered about at the bottom of the river and on the banks several miles below, each man selected what he considered a comfortable spot and went to sleep; Jim and Cardie in the body of a waggon which was being taken up the river, while the Skipper shared a corner with a black retriever and a red Indian somewhere among the cord wood which served as fuel for the steamer.

Note.—No more will the old Duchess gladden the heart of the traveller with her tangle of picturesque débris. She has gone where good Duchesses go, or become a Dowager-Duchess, and in her place will be found a new and comparatively luxurious craft, another smaller steamer having also been placed on the lake above.



With the first morning light we were away once more, and this day for the first time unworried enough to enjoy the lovely weather and the ever-varying beauties which at each bend of the river were presented to us.

bend in river, overlooked by wooded bluffs

Bluffs on the Columbia River.

At first the shores retained the densely wooded character which had hitherto distinguished them, but soon this was changed for high bluffs with small scattered clumps and isolated trees dotted about here and there in a manner unknown to landscape gardeners. 99 The soil, where visible, was a pale yellowish mixture of sand and clay, sufficiently stiff in places to form cliffs which even at a short distance had a wonderful likeness to ruined architecture.

Ospreys abounded along the river, their nests being most conspicuous objects, as they were very large and invariably placed at the extreme top of a bare dead tree, one overhanging the river just above the funnel of the steamer. Ducks and geese literally swarmed, not a few on the river itself, but many more on the sloughs which branched out from it on both sides. Everywhere the belted kingfisher glanced and flashed in the sun, and along the shores ran and whistled the livelong day sandpipers innumerable.

tree with nest at top, overhanging river with canoe

Osprey’s Nest, Columbia River.

Occasionally we had a little mild excitement in the navigation of the boat through a parti­cularly tortuous channel, which in more than one instance ended in the failure of the rudder to keep her head to the swift current; and at such times there was an ignominious 100 stoppage with our nose in the bank, and a great deal of poling and the sort of language which is the inseparable accompaniment of all nautical manœuvres.

On one broad reach a mink was seen in midstream swimming across the river, and the captain, with a sportsmanlike spirit beyond all praise, undertook to run it down with the swift and elegant Duchess, a proceeding somewhat akin to setting an elephant to catch black beetles in the back kitchen. All hands joined in this enterprise with great alacrity, and clustered in the bows with sticks, chunks of wood, and a landing net. The result was that in about thirty seconds the “minx,” as Cardie called it, had dived and disappeared for ever, and the steamer having carried away a large portion of British Columbia, had docked herself in a primeval forest, her decks littered with the ruins of fir-trees, under which lay the Indian, two of the crew, and Jim, all considerably flattened out.*

* We regret exceedingly to hear that the picture on the opposite page has so annoyed the subject of it, owing to the ignoble presence of the bucket and dinner knives, that he has taken his lordly name off the ship’s books, and the future traveller will see him no more.—Nov. 1891.

photograph of man sitting on deck

A Kootenay Indian A.B. ss. “Duchess.”

Page 100.

The next episode was the appearance of a raft bearing down on us, containing three very hungry looking men. They told us they had been lumbering up in the woods, and in some way they had run short of supplies, and were doing their best to get down to Golden, or anywhere where they could find some food. Their raft was beautifully made of logs, held together by three cross pieces which were dovetailed into them, a method of construction only practicable by the aid of a saw. This tool, with their axes, a rifle, and a very little bedding, was all they had with them. They hailed us as deliverers, and were soon luxuriating in Sam’s plentiful fare, while 101 their raft continued its voyage down the river. They did not look comfortable on board that frail craft, and

“Thinks we to ourselves, here’s a lesson to we,

They’re just but a picture of what we might be;”

and of what, but for our luck in meeting the steamer, we should without doubt have been about this time.

At times we pulled up at a pile of cordwood on the bank and spent half an hour in refilling our decks with the stacks of fuel necessary for our progress, for these wood-burning furnaces have an alarming rate of consumption. At one such place a ranchman came down and mentioned that he had a letter to send in the morning by the returning boat, and would just stick it out over the river on a long pole to be caught as she flew past, a novelty in postal collection.

three men on a raft

Among our passengers was one of those curious vagabond Englishmen whom one meets in every part 102 of the world, always quiet, nice fellows, ready to do any one a good turn, and yet never materially prosperous, though often working hard enough to make a dozen fortunes. This one was a miner, and a parti­cularly good specimen he seemed to be. He had evidently run through the regular degrees of comparison “mine, minor, minus,” and yet was as cheery as if everything always went well with him, and very hopeful about the success of a new find of ore he had recently made up in the mountains. He had been out of England twenty-five years, and had never in that time met any one who could tell him anything of home. Finding that Jim knew something of his native place, a little village just a tandem drive from Oxford, he was very pleased to have a talk with us. We trust his mine turned out all he expected, and that the unlucky wanderer has “struck it rich” at last.*

* See note at end of chapter.

It soon became a race against time whether we should get to Windermere this day or not. The river for a mile or two below the outlet of the lake is very shallow, its bottom consisting of huge gravel beds, the spawning ground for most of the Columbia salmon, and at this late period of the year it can only be navigated during daylight. The chief difficulty (and this is not a traveller’s tale) is caused by the immense numbers of fish heaping up the gravel in the manner familiar to any one who has watched their habits in the old country, thus constantly making changes in the channel. This, when a few inches more or less are of importance, necessitates the utmost watchfulness and care in making the passage, the course being often altered many yards between one voyage and the next.

photograph of man in broat-brimmed hat at ship’s wheel

The Captain of the “Duchess.”


And so it was that up to the time of our arrival at the salmon beds no one knew whether the captain would attempt to get through. He determined to try it, and with men and poles ready in the bows we began to creep up between the gravel banks which in many places showed above the surface. The river here had at length lost the muddy snow-stained character which had marred its beauty hitherto. It was now quite clear, and through the swirl and ripple of its crystal waters we could see the great salmon in numbers slowly moving away from the disturbing steamboat. Darker and darker it grew, till we began 104 to fear that a halt would be inevitable. Still the captain held on, while we in a cluster behind him peered into the blackness and wondered why the dickens he was such a donkey as to pretend he could see anything, but at last with a “Who-whoop” and a snatch of song he let us know that the highest gravel bed was past, and we were safe on the lake.

Here we had still five miles to go, and it was now so dark that the sides of the lake looked no blacker than the rest of it, but the course was straight and the water deep, and he said if he only had a compass he could go on. This was soon provided, a pocket one being placed on the deck, while a candle in a tumbler with a hat behind it made a very passable binnacle.

Presently some one pointed to a light straight ahead: very small and bright it looked, like a clear blaze at an immense distance. We steered for this light a long time and it never came perceptibly nearer, and we were all gazing at it and guessing how many miles away it was, when suddenly the Duchess stopped, and the light resolved itself into a naked candle which a man was holding above his head on the shore of the lake close to a little hut. Such a beacon is all that is necessary on these calm summer nights. Thus ended our voyage in the Duchess, as pleasant an experience as any used-up man need ask for, and now began our real work.

Early on the morning of August 23rd nearly all the cargo was landed with the greatest possible speed, every minute being of the utmost importance with the river falling so rapidly. Indeed it so happened that this was the last voyage for the season 105 on which the Duchess was able to get through the spawning beds and into the lake, though she continued to run up the river (each time to a lower point than the last) for several more trips.

Our present errand was to deposit stores for the police contingent at this little log hut, where three of them were quartered. That finished, we steamed back a few miles to Windermere, where Cardie and Jim, with the canoes and a pocketful of money, were landed to purchase or hire a couple of horses for a little expedition in the mountains. The Skipper, with our other belongings, went on in the steamer to a place known as Lewis’s ranch, which we say is about fifteen miles down the river. Lewis stoutly maintains it is only twelve, but we think we have said the last word on the subject now, unless he writes a book to uphold his view; and if he does, we are prepared in a later edition to put on another two miles.

Note.—We have heard with great pleasure that this mine really has turned out well—so well as to cause quite a rush to the district. The discoveries of ore have at any rate been sufficiently promising to necessitate the establishment at Golden City of smelting works, which are reported to be now in full working order.—Nov. 1891.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XI

picture of what we might be
[Isaac Watts, “The Voice of the Sluggard” (1715):

’Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain,

“You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again.”

. . .

Said I then to my heart, “Here’s a lesson for me,”

This man’s but a picture of what I might be:

But thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding,

Who taught me betimes to love working and reading.

This is obviously just begging to be parodied. There are half a dozen versions on pages 212-213, Volume 2, of Walter Hamilton’s Parodies of the Works of English & American Authors—to say nothing of “The Voice of the Lobster” in Alice in Wonderland.]



Horses in this country are cheap, but that did not spare us any of the rascally formalities which in the old country are inseparable from the noble art of horse dealing. Consequently it was five o’clock before, as the romances say, “two weary travellers might have been seen wending their way across the dusty slopes of the parklike pastures surrounding the city of Windermere. The steed of the foremost wayfarer was of a strawberry roan hue, and it was apparent that some forty summers had calmed the fretful spirit which at some remote age had doubtless animated the heart and heels of this venerable and still handsome quadruped. That which the second bestrode, or, to speak more accurately, urged before him by frequent strokes of a stave and language of considerable intensity, was of a dull brown complexion, and his beauty was of a unique type, being varied, though not impaired, by one blind eye and one of defective vision. He was further distinguished by a foreleg on which the foot below the fetlock had been twisted almost entirely backwards and never replaced, and a general ungainliness and appearance of hopeless idiocy, tempered by resignation, which his subsequent behaviour in no way belied.”


These treasures we had acquired, after listening to enough falsehood to have successfully floated half a dozen limited companies, for the respective sums of £5 10s. and £5, those prices including a good lariat (or raw-hide rope) and the loan of a pack saddle. The roan, whom we afterwards found to be a sterling good horse on the whole, accompanied us for the rest of our travels. The brown, who was without exception the most awful wreck ever seen, turned out simply invaluable for our present purposes, owing chiefly to the various disabilities under which he laboured, and which in the difficult country we were going into effectually prevented his annoying us in any way.

It was amusing to hear the various horse owners in their studied indifference so long as we were still undecided as to which should obtain our custom, for there was no lack of material to select from. At Windermere an hotel had just been started, which at once became the centre of all commercial transactions, and thither came—quite by accident—many steeds and their masters as soon as a possible purchase was noised abroad.

But soon after the selection was made, and the money and horses had changed hands, one benevolent individual meeting Cardie casually mentioned that “he didn’t want to make trouble, but that brown horse is reckoned to be the one that was stolen from Jake, and Jake allows he’s going to let daylight through any one he catches with him.” Another disinter­ested stranger commenced, “Hello, why, you’ve got the old roan, hev you?” “Why, do you know any good of him?” “Oh no; nothin’ partic’lar. My grandfather used to have that hoss down in Montanna; 108 he was a reg’lar old timer. Oh, you’ll find what that hoss don’t know of devilment ain’t wuth knowing.” This perpetual “Why, you’ve got the old roan,” became such an annoyance to us that we were glad indeed to turn our backs on Windermere and all its prophets of evil, and at last get fairly on our way to Lewis’s ranch.

That roan horse proved to be by far the most widely known fact in B. C.: we never met any one who did not say he had owned him; and when at last we fell in with an old old man who discovered a brand which he said denoted that he himself had possessed him as a foal some forty years before, we felt proud indeed of our acquisition.

We had intended if possible to pick up an Indian or two, or even a decent white man, to accompany us, and act as hewers of wood and drawers of water, and possibly, to some extent, as guides, but we soon found that no white man at all suitable was forthcoming. At last some one advised us to apply to a half-breed named Baptiste. This worthy introduced Jim to a young Shuswap, a mere boy, of unpleasant physiognomy, who calmly demanded three dollars a day for himself and two for his horse, a flimsy creature all nerves and viciousness. As we felt sure that the whole of the man’s time would be occupied in catching his horse, and the whole of the horse’s time in trying to dislodge his master, we had not much trouble in deciding to manage without such doubtful aid. But we hope the worthy people at home who send out moral pocket-handkerchiefs to these interesting savages will reflect that men who refuse to work under £1 a day and their food (horses and horse feed cost practically 109 nothing here), are perhaps not such fit objects of sympathy as some of their fellow creatures who have the disadvantage of a white skin.

The fact is, the noble red man has been overestimated. We approached the subject without any prejudice—if anything with a slight predisposition to be pleased with him—and on the whole cannot truthfully recommend him.

The very name of “noble red man” is throughout delusive. To begin with, he is not noble; his impassive dignity and austere reserve are pure inventions—in fact one of his most amiable charac­teristics is a tendency to play practical jokes and to be intensely amused at trifles, and the only reserve we noticed was the “Indian Reserve” marked on the maps. He is not red—at least we don’t think he is; but he has so many layers of dirt on him that though in the summer time he has very little clothing to cover his geology, still we cannot swear that our vision has ever penetrated his stratification down to the real skin: what we have seen is a smoky kind of tan colour. And, finally, about half the time he is not a man, for as the women all ride on both sides of a horse at once, and are if possible plainer, and in other respects more like them in every way than the men, who on earth is to express any decided opinion about it? So we are annoyed at the Indians, and this demand of five dollars a day at once decided us to become our own guides during the whole of our stay in B. C., and put up with the little loss of time that would naturally be the result of dispensing with all assistance.

The path followed by Jim and Cardie led them along the river, where Shuswaps and a few Kootenay 110 Indians were busily engaged in spearing the spawning salmon; across the Reserve, the best land in this part of the valley, dotted with cabins and lodges; past a ranch where a kindly English greeting received them; over creeks, and up and down interminable dusty pastures, with occasional attempts at irrigation; but it was late at night before they caught sight of the blazing fire which the Skipper had kept up for their guidance on a high park-like bluff overhanging the Columbia. There that wretched individual was found in a state of collapse from the awful way in which he had been baited all day by relentless hordes of mosquitoes, which here actually seemed to be worse even than in the forest. Tent-pitching, bread-making, and the higher branches of cookery had all been found hopeless, and our only resource was to make a hurried meal of Edwards’s Desolated (or is it Decimated?) soup, and roll ourselves up in the blankets spread without preparation of any kind on the parched up grass. A man does not trouble to cut fir branches or erect shelters when he is being punctured and poisoned to distraction. And oh! the relief when for the first time the bright moon seemed to bring a touch of frost with her, and we could uncover our faces and drink in the cool fresh air, free from the hateful insects which had so persistently tormented us.

It was the 24th of August when we left Lewis’s ranch, rejoicing in the possession of a cow-bell which he kindly lent us, and began the ascent of the Sinclair Pass. Near its mouth some men were constructing a government waggon-road, intended to connect Golden with the head waters of the Columbia, and to be produced onwards in a southerly direction to Wild 111 Horse; possibly at no distant date still further. It will in any case be of immense advantage to the whole Columbia and Kootenay basins.

We asked the first of these toilers if he knew anything about a trail through the pass, and were promptly told there was one on each side of the creek, which we could at rare intervals discern far below us in a rocky and thickly wooded gully; that they were equally good; and we could take which we liked. Our evil genius prompted us to try the right hand, and after struggling about a mile through obstructions of every kind, which increased every moment, we perceived that Ananias was a mere amateur by the side of our informant. With great difficulty we transferred our cortege to the left hand of the ravine, where we found a decent trail, and a man who told us that there never was or could have been one on the other side.

This trick of misleading the unwary traveller is one of the Columbian idiosyncrasies. By a few well directed inquiries you can lay in a greater store of misinformation in this country than anywhere else in the world, not excepting the West of Scotland or the South of Ireland. As far as we can make out it arises not from any wish to cause trouble, but from a reluctance to confess ignorance on the subject under discussion. We advise travellers to be very sceptical as to the answers they may receive, and to ask as few questions as possible.

The Sinclair Pass is very picturesque, with its creek of ice-cold limpid water hurrying down from the most westerly range of the Rockies, fringed and in most places hidden by the masses of pines and firs, and in some places birches and giant cedars, which abound 112 throughout its length. The luxuriance of the various underwoods, buck-brush, wild roses, and berries of many kinds, the never-failing shimmer of the white-leaved quaking asp, and the multitude of wild flowers, are in their way equally beautiful. Being no botanists, we call these flowers marigolds, chrysanthemums, sunflowers, and michaelmas daisies, and they have the merit of looking like what we call them even if they are not. A short distance from the entrance of the pass a huge wall of the most brilliant red rock is reared far above the forest on either side, narrowing the ravine until it appears impossible for the trail to find its way between the columns of this stupendous gateway. We had just attained to the base of the wall when a very threatening sky warned us to penetrate no further on this day. Here level ground had ceased to exist: some at an angle of 35° or thereabouts was the best that could be found, and before the drenching thunderstorm broke over us we had rigged up the waggon-sheet on this steep slope as a protection for the night. In a very short time everything was comfortably settled, and we were peacefully enjoying a good supper in spite of the pelting rain.

The difficulties of the sloping ground were overcome by pegging four parallel rows of logs across the floor of the “tent” at distances of about 30 inches from each other, thus converting the sheltered portion into practically three steps or berths, with a difference in level at each succeeding step of about 9 inches. A very little removal of the soil from the higher to the lower portion of each berth made a flat foundation for a bed, of which the logs formed the sides, not only 113 preventing the sleeper from rolling down on to the man in the berth below, but adding greatly to the warmth by keeping the clothes tightly tucked in. A layer of spruce branches completed the arrangements for an absolutely luxurious sleeping apartment.

The only real drawback to this camp was the difficulty of getting water; but after the Skipper had fallen down to the river twice, he took an axe and soon constructed a kind of half ladder, half incline, up which it was possible to drag a small allowance without any serious danger to life or limb. And here, let it be noted with a very red letter, the mosquito ceased to trouble, and the weary were at rest.

open tent under pouring rain, with man trying to make a fire

Camping under difficulties: the Sinclair Pass.

The history of our journey through the pass would be one long recital of diffi­culties and dangers from the badness of the trail, which was about as demoralised 114 a one as could be imagined. It was made, we believe, about twenty-five years ago by a surveying party, and since then has been used once a year by a party of Stony Indians who have been accustomed to cross the range by its help for the purpose of trading with their cousins on this side. Indians never take any trouble to make a trail more passable than is barely necessary for their immediate wants, preferring always to circumvent a fallen tree rather than cut through it. The reader will therefore have to strain his imagination to its utmost limits to form any idea of the present state of a road which never was more than a tangled and precipitous track, and which has been steadily increasing its barricades of fallen timber for a quarter of a century.

At one time we were cautiously winding round the face of the wonderful red rock already spoken of, at another after a sharp descent across its scattered fragments we reached the very bottom of the canyon, where the steep cliffs rose sheer on either side and seemed almost to meet far above our heads, their frowning crags and fir-clad ledges shutting out the light of day, while the trail, uncertain of its course, crossed and recrossed the rapid foam-flecked torrent.

In such a place it was that our brown horse thought fit to pause for meditation at a moment when he was up to the girths in the middle of the stream, while his miserable masters were disconsolately perched around on trees which spanned the ravine and were used as bridges whenever a crossing became necessary. It was good to hearken to the objurgations on the one hand and the blandishments on the other, all addressed to this unworthy animal, 115 and the thrill of agony which involuntarily pervaded the remarks of both sides whenever any movement of the steed denoted a half-formed desire to repose his wearied frame in the cooling waters of the creek, all laden as he was with our flour, tea, and clothing, valued at that moment at about fifteen shillings per pound.

Again leaving the watercourse, we climbed up and up, until high above the big trees and dense undergrowth of the valley we wound our way along sparsely timbered hillsides, the track composed of hard loose shingle something of the nature of road metal. In these places the difficulty of maintaining a footing was perhaps not lessened by the knowledge that one false step would hurl horse or man down some hundreds of feet into the gloomy canyon far below, with every prospect of remaining there. Once indeed the roan horse caught his pack against a tree on the upper side, knocking himself clean off his legs; but it chanced just where this happened there grew a good-sized pine which received his whole weight, and fortunately was able to support it until with a scramble he managed to recover himself and regain the path. Often long halts were made until a way could be chopped through or round a newly made block, and still more often our better judgment went to the wall, and an obviously risky passage was attempted to save trouble, meeting in most cases with better luck than it deserved.

At last at an awkward drop in the path, the brown horse, which was being led by Jim, came down on the top of his head, and was with difficulty withheld from rolling down the precipice until we got him 116 free from the pack and succeeded in propping him on his feet again. This animal was what they call in B. C. a “balky” horse, which means that he was shy of encountering any perilous obstacles until he had thoroughly inquired into their nature. As his right eye had prematurely paid the debt to nature, he had considerable difficulty in examining any matter of interest on that side. Whenever he imagined that danger awaited him, he would stop and solemnly twist his head round until his nose pointed over the saddle, thus ingeniously bringing his sounder eye to bear on the object of his fears. In this attitude he presented a grotesque appearance, and we think when frequently performed the operation made him giddy; anyhow it was during such an inspection of the drop before him that the accident happened.

Cardie, who had charge of the roan, and was immediately behind, had an unsparing flow of language in condemnation of Jim’s carelessness, which he said was wholly accountable for the misfortune. The latter, who never submitted calmly to correction, whether deserved or not, retaliated in a spirited manner, so that for a few minutes the welkin rang with the most unchristian sentiments, uttered in tones adapted for conversation with a man at the other side of the canyon. Just however as Cardie was remarking how he should have approached that drop, the discussion was abruptly terminated by the roan toppling forward into the small of the orator’s back, whence he cannoned into a mass of raspberry bushes. Here he luckily stuck fast until the pack could be rescued, when by main force we pulled him back 117 on to the path, Cardie not being heard to analyse the exact causes of the disaster.

fallen tree at the junction of two streams

The Cold Camp—Sinclair Pass.

Page 117.

All these little episodes took time, and we had not reached the highest point of the pass when it became necessary to stop. A camp was made on a beautiful little sandy beach, just at the junction of two creeks which from this point flowed down to the Columbia as the one river whose course we had followed so far. In the fork between the streams towered a magnificent mountain, of which, however, only the lower ridges could be seen from this position, and on either side the banks were covered with beautiful firs. Here also was a profusion of raspberries, and a blue berry not unlike a large wimberry, but growing on a bush often several feet in height; this is known as the Service or Siwash (the latter word meaning Indian) berry, or the Sasketoon, and is good.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XII

[The authors probably expected it to be pronounced Montahna, in the same way that Easterners have to be taught to say “Nevăda”. Maybe they were confused by the fact that Cardie’s state of residence really was (and is) pronounced Colorahdo.]



This camp proved an uncommonly cold one, and had the further disadvantage of having no horse feed nearer than about a mile away. A very early rising revealed the fact that the roan had “skipped out” from the grass where he was tethered, and made off homewards. Cardie went after him, with instructions to bring him back if he had to follow him to the Pacific; the Skipper climbed up the opposite mountain with a rifle; and Jim conducted various domestic affairs, such as baking, washing, and clothes mending, to a successful termination.

Cardie captured the wicked old roan about three miles from home—a piece of good fortune we had hardly hoped for; and consequently he and Jim were able to strike camp and get away over a much better trail before eleven o’clock. This day was so fine, and everything went so prosperously, that the site of an old Indian camp which was reached about one o’clock seemed too soon to stop, and as usual no other place presented itself for several miles. About four we crossed and left behind us the creek, now dwindled to a small brook, and soon afterwards passed what we rightly guessed to be the watershed, and in a few 119 more minutes came to a little lake out of which ran a good-sized brook, bound like us for the Kootenay.

This lake was the most extraordinary green colour, with just a tinge of blue, and through its wonderfully transparent waters could be seen every stick and stone at the bottom, with a few aquatic plants rising to the surface. Swimming placidly about in every part of the lake were numbers of small fishes, which we next day found to be of remarkable excellence. The scene was one never to be forgotten, the fairylike pool with its emerald mirror of unruffled water reflecting the lovely forest which rose from its shores in one unbroken mass of foliage, till it reached the stern lines of the rocky summits, capped by the dazzling snow. The shore was thickly fringed with wild rose trees, and the dark forest on this side carpeted with velvety green moss and the small currant-like leaf of a red berry, which we found nowhere in Canada except here, but remembered well as one of our familiar friends in Norway.

From the lake onward the trail became very bad; the steep hillside over which it travelled had been visited by a severe storm at some recent date, and trees lay piled across the path in dozens. In many places the only course open to us lay down the bed of the rapidly growing stream which danced along by our side. And then the forest changed again, and we reached a tract where no big trees grew, though prostrate trunks of ancient giants of the grove were plentiful enough. Here the forest-fire had left its baleful mark, in the charred and twisted stems of a young pine-wood. All the trees were about one size, from four to six inches in diameter, and the fire seemed to have 120 occurred at some time when the sap was well up in the young bark: this being at any rate our way of accounting for the extraordinary shapes into which the lifeless poles were twisted and distorted as though writhing in helpless agony.

We passed through several similar parts at various times, and very unpleasant facts in our travels they always were. After five minutes’ walk through such trees we were as black as colliers; the labour was terrific, as the hooped stems were interlaced and plaited in cork-screw-like coils of wood as springy as whalebone and as tough as steel wire, so tough that it was impossible to break and very troublesome even to cut it with an axe. To add the last drawback, it would not burn—except on a roaring fire of other wood, although to all appearance perfectly dry. However, one could see daylight and get a glorious view of the snowy peaks around through the bare and blackened bones of this skeleton forest, and the ground at any rate had recovered and even received a new beauty from the effects of the all-devouring flames. As far as the eye could reach it was one feathery mass of pink with the blossom of the flowering willow, interspersed with patches of an enormous columbine, graceful in its foliage as a maiden-hair fern. The horses, we found, considered these plants to be food; so, not without misgivings as to what they would think on the morrow, we unpacked and turned them loose to revel in the bounteous store provided, and by night-fall were comfortably housed in the Black Camp.

Into the midst of this peaceful scene strode the Skipper in a simply fiendish temper, because after 121 wandering all over the Rocky Mountains all day he had descended to the last halting-place, the Cold Camp, expecting tea, only to find himself deserted. It was obvious to the meanest capacity that he must have spent his ten miles of solitary travel in inventing new abusive epithets and terms of reproach, some of which did him the utmost discredit.

His mouth was finally stopped with much food, and after a period of distant coolness he told his story thus:—

“Directly after I crossed the creek I came on a very fresh track of a large sheep which had been down to the water and returned up the mountain by a faint trail, no doubt made by himself and his relations. I thought I might as well go the same way, but it was an awful climb for the first two hours, through pine-trees and a good deal of undergrowth. At the end of that time I had accomplished the first ridge, belt, or whatever you like to call it, and now came a series of undulating mounds on which the timber had all been blown down. This was not quite so steep as the first piece, which was as nearly vertical as any hill could with self-respect be, but the travelling was on the whole worse, and in this part my sheep tracks disappeared. At last I got to timber-line, and from this point upwards the mountain was bare of everything except rocks, and in sheltered nooks a few stunted clumps of piñons and juniper, huddled together to keep some little warmth in their dejected bodies. All this time I saw nothing living except the inevitable woodpecker and a jack-rabbit, and kept crawling up more and more discontentedly till I reached the top of the mountain. I don’t mean to say I got to the absolute 122 top, because of course you know there is no top to a big hill like this—there is always another top a little topper than the one you are on; but still I was on a very decent top, and felt contemptuous of all the lower tops. I ate a lot of berries”——

“Eno is the best antidote,” interrupted Cardie.

The Skipper heeded not——“first, a very noble supply of lovely coral-like beads about the size of a black currant, but the most beautiful colour ever seen; they were juicy, but not remarkable for flavour. The leaf was a darkish dull sage green, about the shape and roughness of a primrose leaf, but not so large. Then there were plenty of wimberries or blueberries, and another berry which seemed to grow on blueberry stems, and which I call the red blueberry. This was green before it was ready to eat, and a dark dull crimson when it was ripe, and it was just as good as a blueberry; but the green ones, well, all I can say is you had better not eat these red blueberries while they are green. All about here there were lots of sheep tracks, and many of them very fresh, and at last I chose a line which they seemed to favour, and began cautiously to descend, with my eyes as wide open as possible.

“Soon I came into the neck of a kind of shallow gully running steeply down the mountain, in which was a good deal of grass and that fern-like herb which you north country folk call sheep’s-grass; I shouldn’t wonder if it is as popular with the wild sheep as the tame. Likewise there were many wild vetches, which I expect vetched them exceedingly. Anyhow, they seemed to like this valley, and there, sixty yards away, staring straight at me, was the father of all sheep, a grand old ram. He was much annoyed at me for 123 coming down to disturb him—at lunch, I think—but hadn’t quite made up his mind how to resent it when I fired at him, and though I had an easy shot, and was sure he was hit, he turned and bolted over the hill, and was out of sight in an instant. It was awfully steep there, but I gingerly followed his track towards a hopeless precipice, and just when I had become resigned to his loss, suddenly came on his corpse lying on the very edge of the rocks, and stone dead.”

“So unusual in a corpse, you know,” murmured Jim.

The Skipper flowed on—“I had lost my knife, and had nothing to tie him up with.”

“No, of course you hadn’t,” burst out Cardie, who is always in a state of fury on this question, the all important one of whether a man can expect any luck if he goes out prepared with all necessaries for dealing with a slaughtered victim. “I do think you are the biggest etc. etc. etc.”

The Skipper peacefully ambled along—“So I skinned him with my pocket-knife, and wrapped up his tongue and some liver and fat in the skin, then strapped it all up with my glass strap, and chucked it down the precipice, as I dare not attempt to carry it down. Well, it took me half an hour to get down myself, and I nearly broke my neck seven times, and I couldn’t find the skin at the bottom.”

“Of course”—— began Cardie again at the top of his voice, and the Skipper mildly concluded—

“I gave it up, and struggled home through more precipices and more logs and bogs and hooped trees than you fellows ever saw or dreamt of, and here I am dead beat; and I say, Cardie, I should like to 124 know what you’d have done to get that sheep’s head off if you had lost your knife.”

“I should have shot it off,” said Cardie with great promptitude.

“Oh, well, it would have fallen over the cliff if you had.” And once more the camp was hushed in sleep.

We stayed here two days, and caught heaps and heaps of the little charr out of the green lake. They were all of one size, about five to the pound, and quite lovely in their colouring. Naturally the Skipper persisted in calling them trout; because, as he sagely remarked, “they are speckled and rise at a fly, therefore they are trout from my point of view.” Cardie and Jim hunted over the highest mountain, but found it destitute of game, and of almost everything else, being entirely composed above timber-line of the hardest, barest, and ruggedest rocks ever seen, varied only by occasional snow-drifts. One thing it could produce, and that was views. On the one side we could see the Kootenay river winding along the valley like a marvellous greeny blue ribbon; on the other the far away peaks and glaciers of those splendid mountains, finer even than the Rockies—the Selkirks, a noble background to the smiling Columbia valley, which lay spread out like a map, every slough and backwater clearly shown, to all appearance at our feet.

The absence of game induced us on the second day to fetch in some mutton from the old ram, whose body we calculated to be lying about twelve miles away. Accordingly, early on a Sunday morning, we—that is, Jim and the Skipper—set out with rifle and hatchet, walked back to the Cold Camp, where we picked up a piece of bacon and a candle end, and 125 then crossed the creek and began to climb the mountain on the sheep-trail.

The first thing that occurred was the Skipper’s knife, which was lying where it had been jerked out of its sheath by a jump from a fallen tree. The next was a glimpse of a brownish body leaping through the brush for a moment before disappearing in a small valley, and “deer” was whispered as rifles were made ready. But on reaching the edge of the valley and looking down we could make out two mounted Indians followed by a young foal, which was the animal we had seen, and to our disgust, as they came nearer, we perceived that hanging over the saddles were the quarters of a large sheep, and, most ominous sign, no skin. Two big dogs of the usual half wolfish Indian breed accompanied them, and the inference was obvious: these wretched poachers on our domain, as we had fondly thought it to be, had with their vile hounds discovered our sheep, and were bearing him off in triumph. The thought was not to be borne, and the Skipper startled one of them badly by suddenly rushing down the hill to them (for until then they had not seen us), while Jim stood at the top ready for the shooting to commence. The Indians and the sheep were put through a careful examination, but without any satisfactory conclusion being arrived at. They declared vehemently that a third Indian was following with the skin; and the Skipper said he could not swear to the sheep, which looked smaller than he had thought his to be, but of course it must be the same. So we reluctantly let them depart, and with the most uncharitable feelings again turned our faces to the hill. Higher and higher we went till we came to the line of 126 valleys in one of which it was that the sheep had been killed, and here with immense anger we came on the tracks of the Indian horses. But we kept on, and after great difficulty in crossing some of the ravines which cut deeply into the mountain side, came at last to the place, and there to our astonishment and delight was the carcase of our sheep, untouched by Indians, but minus one quarter, which had been devoured by a wolverene. The head was quite unharmed, and no wonder that the Skipper was unwilling to speak to the identity of the Indians’ prey, for his sheep was very much larger, a parti­cularly fine specimen. The horns, which were very perfect and symmetrical, measured 33⅝ inches from base to tip along the outer curve, and were 16⅝ inches in circumference at the base, though the latter figure is liable to some reduction for shrinkage in comparing it with that of other well-known specimens, the largest in the British Museum being 16½. Together, aided by the ropes we had brought, we managed to drag the dismembered body to a place where we could work in safety. We guessed the weight of the head to be 70 lbs., and a long time was occupied in cleaning it and getting it packed on the Skipper’s back, while Jim was laden with about 50 lbs. of a hind quarter and the kidneys and remains of the liver.

And then began the homeward journey, which we had carefully mapped out by observation to save a matter of four or five miles of country. The success of this new route was marvellous. We got down without difficulty over the smoothest and least encumbered ground yet seen; it was nearly all loose red shale, very much like the burnt spoil-banks common 127 in colliery districts, dotted with scanty herbage. This shale was also plentifully tramped with sheep tracks, which indicated that we had chanced upon their favourite road up and down the mountain.

Everything went most swimmingly till we reached a little creek which ran into our own, and between which and the trail we knew there was only about half a mile of ground; but a half mile through which we had not been able to plan any parti­cular passage. We rested at the creek for a little, and ate raspberries, and gathered a stalking-glass case full of service-berries, and in great spirits commenced that little half mile. It was a burnt plantation of hop-poles, and if the most censorious critic of this book may be condemned to walk through them just once, we shall be satisfied, whatever he may have said. About two 128 hours after entering it, we struggled out on to the trail, black from head to foot, cut, scratched, bruised, clothes torn, limbs racked, tempers unspeakable, and parched with thirst from the fine charcoal dust with which at every movement the air was filled. A mile more we toiled along the trail, and lo, in the centre of a beautiful little green plot which had once been used as an Indian camp was our faithful roan, and near him the pack-saddle, a fire neatly laid and only wanting a match, water drawn, bread provided, and all the appliances for a supper. All these Cardie, for want of anything worse to do, had thoughtfully brought down from the camp six miles or so ahead.

two men making their way through a hopeless tangle

Bringing Home the Mutton. A Burnt Forest. 28th August.

How we enjoyed that meal, rather too much in fact, for the sun had set before we had packed everything on the horse, and were with renewed vigour urging him along the trail, rejoicing in the luxury of nothing to carry, after being twelve hours on our legs. Probably no horse and men ever went so fast over that path before or since; but in spite of all our speed we could only manage to reach the little lake before absolute darkness had set in. We had still nearly two miles to go over a trail here so indistinct that even in the daytime it was only followed with difficulty. Two minutes after entering the bad part we were hopelessly tangled, and knew that to keep on the path was an impossibility, and to reach camp without keeping on it was another impossibility of a deeper dye, so there seemed nothing for it but to stop where we were and wish for day. But just as we reluctantly made up our minds to this, Jim suggested that we should put to the test the much vaunted sagacity of that noble animal the horse. So we placed a noose 129 round the neck of the roan, wherewith, if needful, to choke him, whacked him, and committed ourselves to his guidance. It was so dark that often the horse two yards in front was a mere sound, and would but for the rope have got away from us, while the path itself was always invisible, and the trees across it only discovered by the aid of a staff or a shin. He went along as fast as we could walk, with his nose down to the ground, as if smelling the road out like a dog, and made not a halt or a blunder until the light of the camp fire and Cardie’s cheery holloa told us that our labours for this day were ended.

Never any more do we scoff at the intelligence of the horse, which really does seem to be a fact, and not a poetic fancy, like the filial affection of the phoenix, and the sympathetic grief of the crocodile.

And the memory of the supper we had that night will dwell in our hearts for aye.


Fish.—18 Charr.


de Mouton du Montagne.

Joint.—Bifteck au Bighorn Sauvage.




The burnt patch was not of great extent, and the next region we came into was one of damp soil, favouring the growth of enormous trees, with underwood of gooseberries and currants, and a most reprehensible path. One stretch there was where we left the little brook, now quite a brawling torrent, and climbed up on to the shoulder of the lower range of hills, and then down a rapid descent into a gloomy forest of huge dark pines. There no squirrel leaped or voice of bird was heard, the sodden moss-grown soil lay unmarked by hoof or paw, and the unnatural stillness of the air depressed the spirits, and made us all thankful to reach a high steep bank, down which we made a last hurried plunge to a flat grassy terrace about 100 feet above the Kootenay river. The poor horses, deprived of grass for so many days, ate till we feared for their safety, and we in a really comfortable camp at last, with lots of mutton, and a river at our feet, were no less pleased than they.

With regard to that mutton, we will just say that it was pre-eminently the very best meat that sinful man ever tasted, and we find it to be an admitted fact, contrary to what one would expect, that though all wild sheep are good, the old rams are the best.


This Kootenay valley is a lovely spot, perhaps rather awful in its lonely grandeur, but with pleasant companions not a bad place to stay in. We found on a flat sandy beach below us, bordered with pebbles and covered with sage-scrub in which resided numerous grouse, the poles of several old Indian lodges or “tepees.” Near the river was the framework of a boat apparently of white man’s design, ingeniously constructed of bent fir branches tied together at their joints by the fibrous roots of the tree. Hidden in the brush we discovered also two rough paddles. We conjectured that this framework was used for crossing the stream by the aid of a temporary covering of canvas or skin, and it was obvious from a number of blazed trees on the opposite bank of the river that the trail continued its course on the other side. The stream, which was here about 70 yards wide, ran very fast, and there was a bad rapid immediately below our camp, in which no sort of boat or swimmer could live. We determined to build a raft so far up the stream as to ensure a crossing being made without risk of these rapids.

As soon as this triumph of naval architecture was completed, Jim and the Skipper, armed with two poles, essayed the perilous passage.

It was an anxious moment as the raft, after swinging gently once round the whirlpool in which it was launched, felt the suck of the stream, and with a little assistance from the poles began the actual crossing. It took us just three seconds to realise that poling was impossible, for the crazy craft would not stand the strain of any forcing against stream, but showed signs of going down by the head whenever we 132 attempted to get a purchase against the rapidly deepening bottom, and with one accord we commenced paddling instead with our unwieldy poles. The result was that when in a very damp and exhausted condition we reached the further shore, we were a good deal nearer to the rapid than was pleasant.

The forest across the river was totally different from the gloomy wood of the western bank, full of life, with squirrels, white-winged crossbills, and jays in great numbers. It was delightful to climb through it and up the steep mountain sides, up, up to the desolate crags where trees are not, where nothing but the sparse grass grows among the cliffs, and no track is found but that of the wild sheep. In the dense timber we found for the first time the spoor of elk (Wapiti), but too late to follow them that evening, and we returned by the friendly raft.

Before we could make another voyage it was necessary to take the ship up the river, further away from the rapid. Against such a stream this was no easy matter, but it was accomplished by the united wisdom of the party.

horse with rider towing a small raft upstream

Towing the Raft up the Kootenay.

Page 132.

Jim flourishing a thick stick, and mounted on the brown, who was for this occasion only provided with a breast-band and traces terminating in a tow-rope, waded up the side of the current, while the Skipper assisted on the raft with a pole, and Cardie on the bank by occasional hauling, and perpetual shouting and “cussing around permiscuous.” Finally we arrived at what was agreed to be a sufficient distance up stream, and Jim having with great skill dismounted on to the raft, bestowed on his unhappy steed (in token of dismissal) a whack of such heartiness 133 that he immediately fell off into about three feet of water. He climbed on again, and abused the Skipper for the occur­rence in such a ruffianly manner, that the latter, who for a wonder felt innocent, replied:—

(Struck out by order of the Lord Chamberlain.)


At this camp we hunted and fished right merrily, for the water, which when we first arrived was too “riley” for fishing, had now fined down, and the river produced those beautiful silvery crisp-fleshed trout which seem peculiar to snow-fed waters. The last time we crossed, our ferry boat lay so near to the rapids that we felt certain the return would lead to trouble; but Cardie shouted that he would bring the rocket apparatus, and with that we had to be content. And so it was that before we were within twenty yards of the shore, we felt the gliding dip which marks the commencement of the run, and in a moment were tossing in all the turmoil of the battle between rock and river. But Cardie was all ready with the lariat, and his first throw sent the line straight between us. A few seconds more, and the raft under his vigorous pull grounded near the land, broke away once, and grounded again more securely, in water shallow enough for us to get ashore with the firearms and rod, which for safety had been lashed to it. Then we freed the ropes which bound the old thing together, and so our trusty ark departed in five pieces on a voyage of its own, and was speedily swallowed up in the turbulent eddies of the headstrong river.

The eastern bank of the Kootenay is difficult ground to traverse; from it rises another (the middle) range of the Rockies, finer in some respects than the western group we had already passed, and just now splendid in robes of newly fallen snow, which reached far down the seamed and riven sides, and at sunset were lighted up with the most glorious 135 ruddy glow long after the valley below was buried in the gloom of night.

We do not propose to take the reader any further through the story of this part of our journey. Suffice it to say that it was with great regret that we turned our back on the Kootenay river, where we had spent such a quiet untroubled time, and once more braved the discomforts of the Sinclair Pass. Time had run on until we had almost exhausted the supply of flour with which we had originally intended to follow the river down to another pass, and so cross the range to Windermere. Without ample provisions this plan over unknown country was not to be thought of; but our experience of the Sinclair enabled us to make the return journey through it in a greatly reduced time.

The horses were loth to leave their pleasant pastures, and the roan signified his displeasure by falling down in a thoroughly forlorn manner about a quarter of a mile from camp. We got him up and repacked pretty soon; but in another hundred yards he went down again, and lay there the picture of helpless prostration. Then it was that a memory of those words, “What that hoss don’t know ain’t wuth knowing,” came over us, and our pity and anxiety ceased. We cut large sticks, and the roan began to take an interest in life once more; we approached him, and he struggled to rise; we raised the sticks, and he got up; we brought them down, and he did a “best on record” to the top of the hill, and never tried that little game on again.

We went much faster than when covering the same ground before; lunched at the Black Camp, 136 where, instead of unloading, we propped the packs by a couple of crutches at each side, thus relieving the horse of all weight on his back; and in good time stopped at the little green pasture, where the 137 poles of two Indian lodges still stood, ready for the next comers.

man standing in front of canvas tepee

A Kootenay Indian and his Lodge.

For the benefit of any one to whom the shape of these lodges is a novelty we will here describe them. From ten to twenty poles are used for each “tepee,” sixteen being about the best number. These are straight and nicely trimmed, about two inches in diameter at the foot, one inch at the top, and fifteen feet long. Four (or sometimes three) are joined together about a foot from their top by a loose band of twisted withy, and are then set up in a conical form, the base of the cone being about fifteen or sixteen feet in diameter. The remaining poles are simply laid in the forks of the original four to complete the framework, their lower ends being about three feet apart, and as nearly in a true circle as can be managed. Over the framework is stretched the canvas, which is now almost invariably used as a covering by the Indians, though still in some few places may be seen tepees of bark or skin. It is provided at the top with two ears, one at each side of the opening which serves at the bottom as a door, at the top as a chimney, the space between these two necessary holes into a house being fastened up with wooden skewers. Hence the well-known Indian nursery rhyme—

“This little Injun maid

Was very much afraid

That her lovers would come to woo her,

So she crept into her tepee

As soon as she felt sleepy,

And fastened up the door with a skewer;”

and very skewerly it is believed she fastened it. 138 The smoke from the fire in the centre of the lodge as a rule goes out properly, but if any difficulty should arise on this score, it can generally be dealt with by a little manipulation of the two ears, which are each provided with a pole, and together act as a cowl. We can only say further that a tepee is the very best movable dwelling yet devised by the wit of man.

The Skipper stayed a couple of hours to fish in the Emerald Lake, and presently arrived with a huge bag full of the finny prey. Asking the way to the water, he was told by Jim, who was busy cooking: “Go in at the front door of that lodge, and out at the back, and you’ll find a trail”—a direction which suffered somewhat in lucidity from the fact that the sixteen poles were all exactly alike. This made it a little difficult to discern which two constituted the door. “Is it far?” the Skipper wanted to know. “Oh, just get on the trail, and keep stopping till I tell you to go on,” was the satisfactory answer. Jim, when his mind is occupied with Irish stew, is a truly exasperating person.

The trees round this place were of exceptional beauty. The last fire seemed to have occurred about twenty years ago, and the present forest showed wonderful health and vigour of growth. “It seems sad,” as Cardie moralised, “to think that all these millions of beautiful firs should have grown up and spent twenty years of their life just in order to provide this one for our sleeping-logs; so wasteful, isn’t it? I don’t see that we can possibly do anything with all the rest. I guess they’ll go on living for another year or two, and then comes a fire, and away they all go into the Ewigkeit.” Thus musing, he drove the axe 139 into the side of a Douglas fir, that would have been simply priceless on a lawn at home, muttering that “it was lumbering up the camp, and its stump would make a good kitchen dresser” (i.e., a chopping block convenient for the dismembering of squirrels and the beheading of charr), and with a few strokes brought it crashing to the ground.

We met in the course of this Sinclair expedition three different kinds of grouse. One frequented the mountains about timber-line; this was a large dull-coloured bird, which Cardie declared to be the same as the Blue Grouse or Timber Grouse of Colorado; but which is more correctly, we believe, the Dusky Grouse (Dendragapus Obscurus). Above it is a dull mottled grey; underneath a bluish slaty grey; tail black, with a grey band at the tip; total length about 20 inches; weight about 3 lbs. These, from the larder point of view, we considered excellent chicken, but inferior as game. They, like most of the other grouse in this country, fled into trees on being disturbed, and there sat while the wily hunter adjusted his sights and got a fly out of his eye, seldom going quite away until after the discharge of the rifle.

It will give some idea of the excessive steepness of the mountains to tell of the first of these grouse which fell a prey to Jim. He had just reached the very top of a sharp knife-edge which made the actual backbone of the range, when he spied the head of a bird poked out from behind a rock a few yards ahead. To blow this object into smithereens was, as the novelists say, “the work of a moment;” but on looking over the ridge for the body, nothing but a patch of blood and feathers was visible, many feet below. 140 Ten minutes’ cautious climbing, and another peep over, and lo! another patch of blood and feathers more feet below; and so on and on he was led from ledge to ledge, always expecting the next one to hold the victim, and getting more and more determined to secure it. To make a long story short, that bird fell more than a quarter of a mile: the slayer was standing on the western side of the Rockies, yet the slain was picked up in the eastern valley, and the pursuit of the headless corpse occupied so much time that nothing remained for the hunter but to climb down the rest of the mountain and go home.

pair of birds

The Canadian Grouse (Dendragapus Canadensis).

Another bird first seen here was the Fool Hen, or Canadian Grouse. The cock in full plumage is an exceedingly handsome bird. Above, black mottled with grey; breast, a rich black with clear white tips to some of the feathers, as is often seen in a red grouse; 141 a wonderfully vivid scarlet comb over the eye; and a black tail. The hen is not so gorgeous, not unlike a grey hen. Size rather under that of the red grouse; say about as large as a Scotch hen-bird.

The popular name for this fowl is well-merited. As a rule you don’t see him, but if you stumble upon him, he flies to the nearest tree and stands there until something happens to him. The Skipper brought some home one day which he had encountered while on the look-out for sheep. These were on the ground at a distance of about 12 yards when he discovered them, and there they remained. So he began to shoot at them, and at each shot moved a yard or two nearer; till at length losing patience at not being able to hit them, he picked up some stones, and with their assistance soon exterminated the brood.

When he came home and we pointed out to him that his rifle had the 200 yards sight up, his remarks were unimproving.

The Fool Hen is the best Canadian grouse we are acquainted with, though that is not the verdict of his own countrymen. His flesh is of two colours, like that of the red grouse, and he more nearly approaches that inimitable bird in flavour than do any of the other transatlantic counterfeits.

One other we saw among the open scrub on the banks of the Kootenay. This was one of the sharp-tailed grouse, probably the Columbian variety; a greyish bird with irregular V-like markings of varying shades of brown and a little black: its feet feathered with pale brown. This was just the size of a red grouse, but only chicken to the epicure.


Two days’ travelling saw us once more on the bluff near Lewis’s ranch above the Columbia River, reduced to our last bake of flour, and all our other provisions exhausted. At the very moment of our arrival there came faintly over the water the familiar pŭff, pŭff, pŭff—pūff of our good genius the Duchess, and in a few minutes she had run her nose into the mud below us. Jim was quickly on board and loading his pockets with milk, tomatoes, salt, and other luxuries; besides getting our first English mail, and writing a lavish order for more stores to be brought up on the steamer’s next trip. And then she was gone, and instead of her panting came the equally familiar “ping” of that diabolical being from whom we had so long been free, the never to be sufficiently execrated mosquito.

The country here is as different from that we had left as if they were a thousand miles apart. There we had rain—though never very much at a time—every day. But here everything was parched and dusty, just as we had left it, and after the brilliant verdure of the other valley, not by any means inviting. Never shall we forget the toil of fetching water up that nearly perpendicular bluff, ankle-deep as it was in dry sandy loam. We knotted all our ropes together, making a line almost long enough to reach the water, and when a man had filled his tins, he fastened the end to his waist, and was hauled bodily up by the fellows on the top.

It was almost worth while to have endured the miseries of the night in order to see the effect of the rising sun on the Selkirks far across the river. 143 As the highest peak caught the first gleam it shone out with a wonderful glowing red above the cold white mists which encircled it. Then one after the other the lower ridges kindled, and rock and glacier blushed and glittered as the bright beams crept further and further down the vast expanse, throwing into deeper shadow the dark clefts and making more prominent the jutting crags, until the flat hazy sheet of dulness that a few minutes before was spread before us shone out into a picture radiant with a glorious wealth of colour; and the artist himself, whose magic touch had performed this miracle before our eyes, peeped down on us from the top of the Rockies. Only one thing that we have seen can be compared with this first glow of the sun on the Selkirk range, and that is the lingering light of his rays on the Rockies as he sinks behind the western mountains. Yet with that, beautiful beyond words though it is, there is a feeling somewhat akin to sadness which is absent from the morning hour.

Not that our mornings do not very frequently commence with a good deal of sadness; at least if wickedness and evil tempers are really as certain to produce unhappiness, as the copy-books assure us they are. Personally we incline to the belief that “the truly good are not happy, and the truly happy are not good.” Anyhow it is not wise to say a word to any one of our party before breakfast, least of all to Jim, who is specially prone to jump down the throat of the foolhardy person who does so. Therefore we all look at the view and mutter to ourselves until nature has refreshed 144 herself with a frugal meal, until, in fact, each man has eaten enough for all three; and then, and not till then, our conversation is filled with gems of poetic fancy, and “friendly” does not approach to being an adequate description of it.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XIV

the old rams are the best.
final . missing or invisible

This little Injun maid
[This must have been a pretty well-known nursery rhyme. Volume 1 of The Satirist: Or Monthly Meteor (December 1807, page 265) writes as if it was already familiar:

There was a little maid,

And she was afraid,

Her sweetheart would come to her:

She bound up her head,

When she went to bed,

And she fasten’d her door with a skewer.]



On the evening of September 4th we passed a little ranch on our way to Windermere, where two men in a very advanced stage of intoxication were shooting with a rifle at some object, which from the diversity of aim exhibited we supposed to be the Rocky Mountains. They met us with entreaties to go no further, as the Indians had risen and were massacring all the white folk in the country. Two Kootenays had been arrested for murder some time back, and having been brought to Windermere to be tried, the rest of the tribe had taken this means of expressing their hatred of litigation.

A little questioning elicited the admission that the Indians had not actually risen yet, but were all assembled round Windermere, and would undoubtedly break out on the morrow. A possible revolution had no terrors for us equal to certain starvation and a very fair chance of getting shot if we stayed within range of our informants, so we pressed on for Windermere, Flour, and Bacon. One word only passed between us in this thrilling moment: “Will you volunteer for active service if there really is a rising?” “No, by George!” “Noble fellow, no more will I.” And with wars, alarums, 146 and excursions thus encompassing us we arrived at the hotel, and once more had chairs to sit upon. The Indian rising we found to have had a very slight foundation: the two Kootenays had really been arrested and tried, but as they were acquitted, any rescue would have been a work of supererogation. As a matter of fact none had been planned, but somehow the rumour had got about, and whisky and fright had done the rest.

tiny one-story house with many windows, with lake and mountains in the background

The Government House—Lake Windermere.

At the hotel we “boarded” to save trouble for a day or two, sleeping at night, whenever the mosquitoes were troublesome, in the Government House, which Mr. Vowell, the Gold Commissioner, had kindly put at our disposal, and on the ground outside whenever they ceased to molest us.

We drew the canoes from the brush in which 147 they had been hidden, and a very jolly lazy time we spent during the days that we were obliged to stay here waiting for our expected stores. We paddled a good deal, and bathed “some” (for this lake alone of the B. C. waters was pleasantly warm), and fished with fair success for the white-fish and squaw-fish which abound in it. The latter name is not flattering either to the fish or the squaws, but really it is difficult to say which has most cause to grumble: we can only state that this fish is the ugliest it has been our lot to meet, and is said to taste worse than it looks, which we simply don’t believe. They ran up to about 8 lbs. in weight, and took a minnow freely, in fact they took two of our best Devons freely home where they lived, 148 but they would not rise to fly. The white-fish also took a minnow, but were not so large, and having very small mouths, were much better caught with a small dry fly. They afforded excellent practice for casting, and were by no means too easy to capture. On the lake were always ducks of several kinds, some grebes, and an occasional flock of geese; but as we were supplied with food from the hotel, they did not come within the scope of our operations.

The city of Windermere consisted of the hotel, with two rooms, a kitchen, and a loft; the store, with two rooms; and the Government House, with four and a cellar. All were newly built, the last mentioned one being barely finished, and at present guiltless of chimneys. The other two were inhabited, but in a very primitive and unkempt state; and the cooking of the store was at this time conducted in a rather picturesque open-air kitchen.

photograph of man in open-air kitchen

The Kitchen—Windermere Store.

It hardly seems likely ever to become a very great place, but no doubt for some few years it will advance rapidly—as long, in fact, as the good ground round about is big enough for new-comers. The supply of this is—as everywhere else in B. C.—strictly limited, and this cause and this alone will, we fancy, prevent any great influx of settlers. In every other respect Windermere is naturally a charming spot, the lake and its surroundings lovely, and the communication, now that the new road is being pushed through, quite good enough.

Our stores at last arrived in one of the flat-bottomed boats known as “bateaux,” which carry on the water traffic after the river has fallen too low for the steamers. These boats are from 30 to 40 feet in 149 length, and carry a wonderful amount of stuff with very light draft. They are manned by two, three, or four of a crew, who have a very hard—though lucrative—time of it during their short season. This one had been plying continuously up and down the lake and a few miles of river for three days and 150 nights. The men had two hours’ rest at the lower end of each trip, but no change of crew, so no wonder that the poor fellows looked pretty nearly played out. They were a cheery, good-tempered lot, too, and excellent company at dinner, for which they snatched a hurried quarter of an hour.

photograph of one-masted rowboat with four men, three oars and no sail

A Columbia River “Bateau.”

The cook at the hotel, who was amusing when he had any time to speak—which was seldom—told us that he had been with the Austrians who went up Canyon Creek after the goats. He said that one of them snipped off with a pair of scissors the proboscis of a mosquito, just when the creature had inserted it to the depth of about half an inch into the back of his hand, “and,” he continued, “you bet your life you never saw such a scared mosquito as that. He just sat there and sucked and sucked away, and got worse and worse bothered, because the more he sucked the more he didn’t get anything——” but here he had to hurry away, and we lost the remainder of the veracious narrative.

Here also we met a man who explained to us that it was no wonder we saw so little game in the Sinclair Pass, for the Stony Indians had passed through only a month before, and of course had scared away everything they did not kill. He added that they were never going through again on account of the hardships they endured, but that was little consolation to us. We, as the poet sings—

“Loathe the poor Indian, whose untutored mind

Leads him to kill whatever he can find,” &c.

A party of Shuswaps came to the hotel while we were there, and to see the start of the cavalcade was 151 as good as a circus. All the horses seemed to be in the most fidgety state of nervousness. All had to be blindfolded to commence with; then there was such a scuffling and rearing and squealing before the riders could mount, which they did from the off-side, each armed with a square stumpy piece of wood furnished with three thongs like boot-laces for a whip. Then the bandages were removed, and with wild yells the party vanished in a cloud of dust of their own raising, with ropes trailing along the ground behind them, and as much fuss and parade and general fictitious excitement as a band of Frenchmen will make when a-hunting they do go.

We had been unable to get either a bridle or a saddle for our future journey. But having tools with us, Cardie soon manufactured a very good pack-saddle of a slightly modified shape, which enabled us at a pinch to use it for riding by strapping a rug over it. A greater difficulty was the bit, as there was not a scrap of iron of any kind to be had for love or money. Jim at last devised one by carefully rolling up the metal of an old tomato-can in a tight coil, and this when soldered along the joint, and its ends bored out to receive two rings, was a complete success. The latter he fashioned out of some strong brass wire which was included in our stores, making the joint with a long splice and solder. Leather and rivets we had with us, and the rest of the head-piece was easily finished.

The cook was greatly interested in these proceedings, and wanted to know—“Where did you fellows learn to tinker? Darn me if any one in this country can do it like you.” We explained to him 152 that our public schools and universities now taught nothing else, that tinking had in fact superseded thinking among all classes and professions, and that our grandest old statesman was the greatest living exponent of the art.

Thus newly equipped, the roan horse and a light pack set out with Cardie on the morning of September 9th, along the trail towards the upper end of the lake. The lamented brown we had re-sold to his late master at a depreciation of five dollars.

The Skipper and Jim, with heavily laden canoes, were to reach the same destination by water; the understanding being that we should “meet at the first place on the river where the trail came near it.” The reader, we hope, understands that there are two Columbia lakes, connected by about twelve miles of river. Windermere is situated on the eastern shore, about five miles from each end of the lower lake.

We trust that last sentence will satisfy those hypercritical people who object to such descriptions as “the middle, or half way down, or up, or along, or midway of, the lower lake.”

photograph of James Lees rowing his canoe

Jim and “Lulie”—Lake Windermere.

Page 152.

Such a lovely morning it was as we gently paddled over the placid surface of the lake, calling at one ranch, where the owner presented us with some capital potatoes, and doing a little fishing and shooting as we went along. The climate tends to produce a slight haze very frequently in summer, and the numberless forest fires no doubt increase the dimness of the atmosphere, so that generally the distant scenery has that shadowy unsubstantial appearance which gives a charm lacking in those regions where the air is free from vapour, and mountains at fifty miles 153 are as hard and clearly defined as the nearest bits of landscape. This was an especially hazy day, and the lake looked interminable as on all sides it melted into the air without any line of demarcation between them; but the distance was not great, and about midday we reached the last rushy bay where the little Police store-hut was situated, while behind it could be seen the white tents of the few men quartered there, and horses grazing on the hill above.

The river ran in at the western corner of the bay, and thither we directed the canoes. The inflow was bordered by enormous reed-beds, round which swam and flew many hundreds of what the Americans call mud-hens (i.e., coots), and a fair sprinkling of duck. Here also, alternately swimming, flying, and, as it were, running on the water, was a small flock of Phalarope; the Northern (lobatus) kind as we judged from its scalloped toes.

two birds, probably copied from Audubon

The Northern Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus).

Above the rushes soared a bald eagle, which Jim asserted to prey upon the mud-hens, and he wanted to know “what well-known lady of title that eagle 154 resembled? Why, can’t you see, the noble Bird ate Coots.” But his canoe did not capsize, and still we paddled on.

We had now penetrated far up the river, which was broad, shallow, and ran at a fair pace; but the higher we went, the narrower and swifter it became, and the denser and wilder grew the vegetation on the banks. When we were nearly two miles from the lake, we perceived that we must give up all hope of meeting Cardie on the river, and turned back to the Police Camp, where we expected to find him waiting for us. By this time evening had come on, and it was too late to do anything except camp. We spent the rest of the evening with one of the Police and the well-known traveller and hunter Baillie-Grohman, who was on his way to conduct the canal-cutting between the upper lake and Kootenay river.

The “Bobby,” as Jim irreverently termed the soldier, was just as smart a young fellow as need be, one of those whom our infern—— we mean our highly organised competitive system annually shuts out of our own army. He had been unable to pass out of Sandhurst, and being really keen, had enlisted here, and was doing uncommonly well. He told us how he had been put to guard the two Indians who had been brought down for trial, having passed the night with one of them chained to his leg, which he naturally did not much care for, but in most respects was enjoying his present life amazingly.

The other Police were very obliging, but neither they nor any one else could tell us much about the river between the two lakes, which was variously stated to be anything between four and twenty-four 155 miles long. They suggested that we should send our baggage up by the waggon-road which the Government have made, for the rapids were said to be almost impassable even to an empty canoe. We were very glad to take advantage of this, and accordingly next morning before daylight we put everything except guns, rods, axes, and ropes into a waggon which was transporting their stores.

The Skipper having discovered that the lark does not flourish in these regions, is always boasting that he rises with that overrated bird. He did not see any larks when we had to turn out at this unearthly hour, especially when he became aware that a muskrat had been playing the fool in his canoe all night, and had scattered it full of bits of rush and sticks and other debris. But all this was speedily rectified, and soon after seven o’clock we once more began the ascent of the river. The mouth of it was simply black with countless multitudes of coots, and as we turned the corner of the reed-bed and came suddenly upon them, they rose with one accord, making the most prodigious and almost terrifying sound that we ever heard produced by birds, more like the roar of 156 a mighty hurricane than anything else to which we can compare it.

one bird, probably copied from Audubon

American Coot (Fulica Americana).

At first the ascent was easy enough, not requiring any propelling power except paddles; but soon these became insufficient, and we had to land and manufacture a couple of poles for each canoe; and so by slow degrees we forced our way up the now rapid and perpetually winding stream, shut in on all sides by thick woods and huge rushy marshes, the home of geese and ducks innumerable. About noon we came out into a sheet of water about a mile long, which rejoiced in the euphonious title of Mud Lake, and deserved it; for though the water was clear enough, the bottom was a deep tenacious sediment from the river. Here for the first time since we came into the country a strong wind was blowing: we don’t suppose for a moment that there was any elsewhere, but as a wind is the most troublesome thing that a canoe can have to deal with, we naturally were not surprised to get it. By hard paddling we got across, having a little bit of consolation in seeing that one of these much-vaunted Indians, a little ahead of us, was making even worse weather of it than we, though to be sure his “dug-out” was such as Noah might have employed as a dingey to the Ark whenever the hippopotamus wanted to go ashore. Where the upper length of river ran into Mud Lake we found a small colony of these natives, looking very damp and uncomfortable, in an amphibious kind of dwelling.

Just above this, at the first turn in the river, a splendid eagle-owl flew out of a tree right over our heads, and forty yards in front of us perched on a low branch directly overhanging the stream, where he 157 awaited our coming with a very angry look, elevating and depressing his horns, and giving us as good a view of him as could be wished. He was a grand specimen, but we had no chance of being able to carry skins along with us, and cartridges were too precious to be used on any but eatable birds, of which we had already accumulated a number sufficient for our wants, so we allowed him to go in peace.

Now began the really tough work of the voyage. The river had become a rushing torrent, blocked in all directions with snags and barricades of fallen trees, and the next six hours were spent in overcoming these obstacles by the means most suitable for each new device of the enemy. To those who believe in the direct intervention of the Devil, the condition of this river is a matter of easy explanation, but as in these days it has become the fashion to treat Beelzebub as a kind of Mrs. Harris, and to assert that “there ain’t no such person,” we are afraid to state positively that he had spent a fortnight or so on those last four miles. But we think he had. We had plenty of towing line, but the banks were so thickly overgrown with all manner of brushwood that any attempt to walk on them was hopeless, and in many places even landing was impossible. Paddling was almost useless, and poling very slow and unremunerative work. In more than one place we were obliged both together in the water to lift the canoes bodily over opposing logs. Once we came to such a rapid place that the passage was only accomplished by Jim—who had nothing on but a shirt and belt, and found even that superfluous 158 clothing—towing from the middle of the stream, while the Skipper wielded a pole. Even then, in spite of all our care, they shipped a good deal of water from the rapidity with which it raced past, as by sheer strength they were hauled through the waves.

man struggling to tow a canoe with a man standing in it

Between the Columbia Lakes, 10th Sept.

The Lulie proved a better boat for this work than the Hope, from her superior size, and consequently was generally a long way ahead, waiting at impossible places for the Skipper to arrive. The latter on one occasion coming quietly round a bend of the river, found Jim engaged in what he was pleased to call “salmon-fishing.” Armed with his light single-handed trout-rod (which, however, was provided with 100 yards of line), he was nearly waist-deep in the chilly stream endeavouring to capture one of the diseased-looking monsters with which the river was populated, every shallow and gravel-bed holding them in numbers, while the bodies of those which 159 had met an untimely death were scattered along its shores. And once more does the mention of this add to our grievances against the Indian. He without scruple of conscience goes forth with torch and spear and gaily slaughters as many fish as may seem good to him, while the poor white man who has been properly brought up is constrained by his better feelings to angle in an orthodox manner, and consequently to catch nothing.

Here by the way is a picture of Jim’s “fly,” the only one we believe by which the Columbia salmon can be allured, as they do not rise at the more ordinary European patterns. We are told, however, that they take a minnow or spoon in and near the salt water, that is to say, 600 miles below this spot.

triple hook with fly and line

The swiftness of the current prevented Jim from being successful in his dastardly design, though what in the world would have happened to him and his rod if perchance the fish had been hooked is and will remain a dark and deadly mystery, and what earthly 160 use we could have made of the miserable mangy creature if by accident he had been landed is an even darker and deadlier one.

In 10½ hours from the start, nearly all of which had been pretty hard work, we were rejoiced by the sight of the old roan standing on a high bluff near the river, and immediately afterwards Cardie and the tents came into view. Then the river settled down to a sedate four miles an hour, and we knew that our toils were over for that day at least. In a few more minutes we were at our own camp fire, where surely never did wild duck and bacon taste more delicious; for all this day a few biscuits had been our only food, the provisions being with the heavy baggage which the waggon had safely deposited with Cardie.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XV

such as Noah might have employed as a dingey
spelling unchanged

Two Kootenays had been arrested for murder some time back
[This is a historical event that was ongoing at the time of our authors’ visit. In the end all charges were dropped. Whew.]

It hardly seems likely ever to become a very great place
[It would admittedly be funnier if Windermere had turned into a booming metro­polis. Instead it’s a resort town with a permanent population around 1000.]

Loathe the poor Indian
[Alexander Pope, Essay on Man:

Lo! The poor Indian, whose untutored mind

Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind.]

the well-known traveller and hunter Baillie-Grohman
[Like everyone else named in the book, this is a real person: William Adolf Baillie-Grohman (Anglo-Austrian, 1851–1921), author of Camps in the Rockies (1882), Fifteen Years’ Sport and Life in the Hunting Grounds of Western America and British Columbia (1900), and many many other titles.]



This camp was an especially nice place. A little rain having fallen, the small tent and sheet were both pitched on the extreme edge of a high grassy mound immediately over the river. Behind us was a fair stretch of undulating grass, with trees scattered here and there in the park-like manner characteristic of the country, and beyond them rose a steep wooded range, the first step of the Rockies, which here were very near to us, and looked parti­cularly fine, covered as they were with new snow down to timber-line. About half a mile to the south lay the Upper Columbia Lake, with the river meandering from it to our feet through beds of rushes. All the further side of the stream was occupied by flat marshy meadows and sloughs, and at intervals clumps of dark green fir-trees, or bright green and yellow birches, with just a sprinkling of scarlet from the two or three frosty nights we have already had, the whole forming a broad level valley of luxuriant growth. Beyond this a couple of miles away rose the foot-hills of the Selkirk range, and far back the dim outline of their snow-crowned summits.

photograph of forest and mountains

The Rockies from the Charr Camp, Upper Columbia Lake.

Page 161.

Not far from the camp on our side of the river we discovered a rich potato-mine, in which we worked a 162 short time with gratifying success. Hard by was a ranch known as Geary’s, the name being also applied to the landing at our feet, which was the end of the waggon-road and the point of departure for the bateau which was plying upon the upper lake. Geary himself came to see us, and encouraged our labours in the “mine,” which turned out to be “his.” We thus secured some of the best and largest potatoes ever seen, reminding one of those which used to flourish at Evans’s in the time of Paddy Green, when we were merry boys together. From him we learnt with great satisfaction that our canoes were the first to find their way up the rapids, though not the first to attempt it. “They all play out over that,” was his comment on the question.

A short way up the mountain was a spot known as the Hot Springs, where two natural basins contained clear running water at about 90° and 120° Fahr. We were exhorted by the habitués to try the effect of a bathe, which we were assured was a novel and charming experience. One man told us he found the most fascinating way was to soak a short time in the 90° spring, then plunge into the ice-cold water of a little creek hard by, and finish up with the 120°. “Great Scott, and you live to tell the tale?” “Well,” he admitted, “I only tried it once, and certainly I did feel pretty bad for a week, and to tell the truth I have never been free from rheumatism since. But just try it now; you never felt anything like it, &c. &c.”

This anxiety for the rest of mankind to share in one’s own misfortunes is of course not peculiar to B. C. We seem to have read of something like it in 163 Æsop’s Fables; and “the most disgraceful thing I ever read, do look,” “I never smelt anything so nasty, just smell,” are sounds we have heard in our happy English homes: but it certainly is as rife here as anywhere else.

The two romancers who apprised us of the Indian rising were very enthusiastic about the merits of a mineral spring they had discovered, which they said must be “very valuable.” On inquiry we learnt that its value consisted in killing every creature less hardy than a grizzly bear that ventured to taste of it. The ground near it they declared was always strewn with the bodies of birds and beasts, whose craving for patent medicines had thus hurried them into the Hereafter; and they were convinced that if only we would get some capitalists to take an interest in the matter, and make a business of bottling and exporting the water, that there was a large fortune in it. Perhaps they were right. “Aqua Borgia: from the natural spring, B. C.—3s. 6d. per dozen—a charming present for mothers-in-law, tax collectors, and itinerant wine-merchants,” would probably for a time command a ready sale.

Birds were very plentiful here: the large Canada Goose, and a smaller one with a white collar, which we took to be the Black Brant, Mergansers, Mallard, Greenwinged Teal, Black Duck, Buffle-headed Duck, Wilson’s Snipe, and Long-billed Dowitchers, were all common; while in the daytime we had the song of the Western wren, and at evening the graceful flight of the Whip-poor-Wills to entertain us.

Under these circumstances we enjoyed life very much, and our menus began to rival those of the 164 C.P.R. One night we had Coot-stew, with a tin of Dislocated soup added to improve its flavour. This the Skipper called Potage du Bal. “That’s wrong,” remarked Jim innocently; “I shot them with the scatter-gun.” “I call it Potage du Bal,” explained the Skipper with pride, “because it tastes of Coot and tinny.” And when Cardie complained that this jesting on the mud-hen was becoming mud-henous, it was felt by all that, coûte que coûte, it must be stopped.

bird, probably from Audubon

Whip-poor-Will (Antrostomus vociferus)

But revenons à nos mud-hens. We are always very strong on the theory that everything, however lowly or objectionable, has a great and useful purpose in the economy of nature, even embracing in this catholic faith wasps and green-fly: the use of wasps being, as we are instructed, to consume the green-fly, and the use of the green-fly presumably to afford food for wasps. Consequently we are confident that there is—somewhere—a destiny also for the coot. But the reader will do well to take our word for it, that if Nature intended this bald and benevolent bird for soup, she unaccountably omitted some of the most important ingredients, and introduced others 165 more suitable for the production of soap. Merganser soup, which graced our table on the following day, is a very different thing, and altogether laudable, though one would hardly expect any great results from the employment of that fowl as an article of food.

Menu.Sept. 12th.



Entrées.—A little more Charr, please.

Removes.—I say, Cardie, I wish you’d fry another or two of those Charr.

Dessert.Chorus.—By George, I never tasted anything like those Charr.

These Charr were discovered the first day of our stay here. They frequented the river from about 200 yards above the landing up to the lake, and appeared to be identical with the great Scandinavian charr, running in size from 1 to about 20 lbs.—we saw one over the latter weight, though without catching him. They were beyond all question the best fish-food that man may hope for in this wicked world, unless we except that rare delicacy, burbots livers.

We may mention here that we subsequently found a river where these fish reached a much greater size—in fact an Englishman, in whose word we could implicitly trust, and who had fished it for many years, told us he had caught them there up to 80 lbs. in weight. We have not the smallest intention of letting the reader into the secret of that river, 166 but we thought he would be pleased to hear of its existence.

A minnow, or still better a spoon, seemed to be what they chiefly fed upon, though we got a few, and also some lovely silver trout, with a rosy tinge on the belly, with fly. They took the bait more with the deliberation of a salmon than the dash of a trout; their subsequent behaviour on the whole rather resembled that of the former fish; and they furnished as good sport as any one could desire.

The first day Jim alone fished a couple of hours, getting eight with the loss of two minnows. While one of these, a two and a half pounder, was being hauled in, another of about 12 lbs. made a rush at him: unquestionably it is necessary to use a very big bait for the big fish. The angler came home rather disconsolate, and would tell us the story of how he didn’t catch the greatest fish of all:—

“You see, after I lost the first minnow I was nervous about the other one, so I put on a stronger trace, and just under the cliff up there I hooked a regular monster. I can’t tell how big he was, but he made a whirl in the water like a whale when he’s harpooned, don’t you know.”

“I wonder he didn’t break your painter,” sneered the envious Skipper.

“Well, you see, the anchor dragged a bit, or it would have broken,” went on the historian, in perfect good faith.

“Oh! and what did you do then?”

“Do! Why, I just hung on all I knew how, and he took out 50 yards of line at the first run, and then he kept getting more and more, till I only had the 167 last few turns left on the reel, and of course it was simply a question of who could pull hardest. He must have been down about opposite here,” continued Jim, gazing pensively at the cliff at least 200 yards away along the winding river—“yes; the line would do that easily. Just when I made sure something would go, he came back a bit, and there, as Uncle Remus says, ‘up and down we had it, ’sputing and contending.’ At last I got him up within 30 yards of the canoe, and began to think it was all right. You’d have lost him long before then, Skipper, with your wretched ideas on the subject of playing a fish.”

The Skipper not being ready with any appropriate remark, merely glared, and the narrator proceeded. “I suppose he’d been on about twenty minutes, and I heard a splashing behind, and saw the bateau coming down the river. I thought what a piece of luck it was to get a ‘gallery’ in this desolate place just at the moment when I should gaff this big fish, and I began to feel uncommonly pleased with myself: you’d have had side enough on to upset the boat if it had been you, Skipper. The men were all watching eagerly as the bateau went by, and I was trying to look as if I caught twenty-pounders—he was all that—every day; and whether it was the boat that scared him or what I don’t know, but he made a terrific run, took out every scrap of line, and—— bang went twa-and-saxpence; trace cut against a rock close to the minnow. What? No, I didn’t say a word—at least, I mean nothing to what you fellows would have said. But just wait till to-morrow.”

Accordingly in the morning the Skipper and Jim 168 went in one canoe to take turns at fishing and gaffing. Landing nets were too cumbrous to be taken with us, and we always used a miniature gaff made out of a largest size salmon hook, with a little temper taken out of it, and nearly all the barb removed. This when lashed to a small stick made a very useful and portable weapon, and with it fish even as small as a pound in weight could quite easily be landed.

We had a pretty good morning, but of course wrangled the whole time, Jim declaring that fine tackle and careful working were as essential to the capture of these denizens of the deep as of any other; while the Skipper, who had produced some huge Phantoms and the coarsest of traces, with which he had been wont to ensnare the great lake trout in Finland, as stoutly maintained that their only fault was excessive delicacy, and that the more floppierly you threw the bait, the more it would catch. Each one in turn took a hand at spinning, and commenced, “Now I’ll show you the way I should fish this pool; of course I may be quite wrong, but still——&c.” We both caught the same number of fish, so the point is still undecided. But as we saw a man from Geary’s going fishing with a clothes-line and the bowl of a gravy-spoon tied to it just above a grapnel, the weight of evidence seems to be on the side of the Skipper.

It is probably unnecessary to state that the united efforts of the pair succeeded in losing the best charr, which must have weighed at least 12 lbs. He was for a wonder very lightly hooked, and seeing this, we made a shot at him before he was ready to come on board, with the usual result.

two men fishing from a canoe

“Missed him, by thunder! Well of all—— My good fool, it’s entirely your own—— Why the dooce didn’t you—— What on earth you—— I should have thought any idiot,” &c. &c. &c.


The biggest we actually landed were several of between 5 and 6 lbs., the best just failing to pull down the scale at the latter figure; but these on the light trout rods, which were our only weapons, proved quite sufficiently troublesome. They are strong, game fish, and fight hard for life; and as the river is very full of snags and sharp rocks that have fallen from the cliff above, they have rather more than a fair chance. As regards appearance, their dispro­portio­nately big head and long body are not prepossessing, but on the other hand their colouring is beautiful: the dark striped and spotted greenish hue of the upper portions, and the lovely reddish orange shading into clear white of the lower, is perhaps more striking than anything their cousins can boast of. They have this further recommendation, that the bigger they are the better they are, which is 170 by no means the case with the trout. Their flesh was a light pink, and “nyum nyum” but faintly expresses its quality.

A morning’s fishing in one canoe was as much as we could stand without coming to open war; and in the afternoon we again went out in the Hope and Lulie, Jim taking the higher reach, and the Skipper the part nearest to the camp. The method adopted was to have a rope running through the ring at the bow of the canoe, and tied to this a fairly big stone to serve as an anchor. When we wished to change our position we had only to haul on this rope until the stone left the ground, and as soon as the boat had drifted far enough again “let go the anchor.”

capsized canoe


Standing up to spin in these cranky craft is not the easiest thing in the world, and the weather, which 171 was decidedly stormy, had now begun to favour us with sudden gusts of cold northerly wind and rain. One of these squalls swooped down upon Jim unawares and wafted him clean out of the canoe into the river—so clean, in fact, that though he had time to throw the rod into her, the Lulie never shipped a drop of water. It was bitterly cold, and not pleasant to discover after he had landed on the rushy shore that the canoe being peacefully anchored in mid-stream, there was nothing for it but to behave like the swan in the poem:—

“The swan swam over the river; swim, swan, swim!

The swan swam back again: well swam, swan!”

Which accordingly had to be done. His ancient and trusty hat had

Sailed into the fiery sunset,

Sailed into the purple vapours,

Sailed into the dusk of evening;

And its owner from the margin

Watched it floating, rising, sinking,

Till its ragged brim seemed lifted

High into that sea of splendour,

Till it sank into the vapours

Like the new moon slowly, slowly,

Sinking in the purple distance.

And he said, “Farewell for ever,”

Said, “Farewell, O Hat in water.”

And the forests dark and lonely,

Moved through all their depths of darkness,

Sighed, “Farewell, O Hat in water.”

And the waves upon the margin,

Rising, rippling on the pebbles,

Sobbed, “Farewell, O Hat in water.”

And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,

From her haunts among the fenlands,

Screamed, “Farewell, O Hat in water.”


Thus departed Jim’s old head-gear,

In the glory of the sunset,

In the purple mists of evening,

To the regions of the South wind,

Of the South wind Shawondasee.

To the Islands of the Blessed

To the kingdom of Ponemah,

To the land of the Hereafter.

As a few minutes later, dripping, and adorned with water-weeds, he passed the Skipper, the latter, who was then struggling with a great charr, was observed to smile and chuckle in a superior though undemon­strative manner. This malicious enjoyment of his friend’s misfortune was not to go unpunished, for he not only lost that fish, which he solemnly declared—and even believed—to be over 20 lbs. in weight, but never hooked another that day.

At evening we walked up to Geary’s ranch, which he “runs” as a kind of hotel for the few travellers who pass this way. Conspicuous on the wall of the only room was the jawbone* of a horse, with the word NO on one side of it and HERE on the other, a quaint conceit which in the interests of truth might be adopted in most of our English gun-rooms and smoking-rooms.

* “Jawbone” is voyageur slang for “credit.”

There we found Baillie-Grohman, seriously ill, lying in a makeshift bed on the floor, and did our best to doctor him. Whether Jim’s plan of presenting a couple of 5 lb. charr to a man who could take nothing but chlorodyne and gruel was likely to result in any very startling cure was open to doubt; but as his men managed to get him away to Windermere, where luckily a real medicine-man met him, we had not an opportunity of seeing our efforts successful. 173 Suffice it to say that either we or that other doctor did restore him to health; and as we had the first shot at him, we think we ought to have the credit of it.

We had another patient here to practise upon; one of the Police, who piteously begged for pills. We knew enough of the healing art to be sure that he might just as well swallow flat-irons; but to show our sympathy we at last presented him with half a dozen blue pills, extra size, 40° above proof, each of them about equal to a Jacob’s explosive bullet in strength. And next morning early he sent word that they had done him no good, and would we please give him a few more.

Just at bed-time a low howl which seemed to come from far away up the lake was wafted to our ears, and Cardie, who teaches us many things that we (and for the matter of that, he) never knew before, said, “There, that’s the first coyote I’ve heard in this country.” Very much interested, we listened intently, and in a few minutes it burst forth again, this time obviously nearer. But when at the third cry we perceived that the coyote had accurately picked up the air and even the words of “Oh what a surprise,” and was coming down the river in a bateau, our faith in Cardie as an instructor of youth went down to zero.

We had brought out from England a tin box full of home-made gingerbread as a present for that spoilt boy from his ancestral cook. On the way out we opened it to see whether they were keeping all right, and found they were, but that they were a little too sweet. At Golden we delivered the box, carefully retied with that intricate system of “grannies” so dear to the female soul, and Cardie, who opened it 174 with avidity, said, “What a rum thing she didn’t pack this box full.” So we said it was funny, but the shaking they had had would account for it, and if they hadn’t been so sweet they would have shaken down still more. Each day we have been out they have become less sweet, and the allowance served out has grown larger; and when the last of them went at the Charr Camp, we felt indeed that a blight had come over our young lives, and that henceforth the world would be a dull place. There can be little question that gingerbreads in two or more large boxes are an absolute necessity for camping, as the best safeguard against fevers, broken limbs, and suchlike calamities, from all of which we enjoyed immunity.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XVI

skip to next chapter

The swan swam over the river
[Another nursery rhyme that everyone in 1887 knew (but I didn’t). Quoted without change.]

Sailed into the fiery sunset
[There is a fuller Hiawatha parody in Chapter XXII. This passage:

Sailed into the fiery sunset,

Sailed into the purple vapors,

Sailed into the dusk of evening:

And the people from the margin

Watched him floating, rising, sinking,

Till the birch canoe seemed lifted

High into that sea of splendor,

Till it sank into the vapors

Like the new moon slowly, slowly

Sinking in the purple distance.

And they said, “Farewell forever!”

Said, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”

And the forests, dark and lonely,

Moved through all their depths of darkness,

Sighed, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”

And the waves upon the margin

Rising, rippling on the pebbles,

Sobbed, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”

And the heron, the Shuh-shuh-gah,

From her haunts among the fen-lands,

Screamed, “Farewell, O Hiawatha!”

Thus departed Hiawatha,

Hiawatha the Beloved,

In the glory of the sunset,

In the purple mists of evening,

To the regions of the home-wind,

Of the Northwest-Wind, Keewaydin,

To the Islands of the Blessed,

To the Kingdom of Ponemah,

To the Land of the Hereafter!]



The north wind which blew Jim into the river was so favourable for the voyage up the lake that we agreed to leave this pleasant place. Naturally in the night it changed; and by the time that Cardie with the horse had started along the trail which skirts the eastern shore, and the canoes had cast off from the landing, there was a perfect gale from the south right in our teeth. We stopped a couple of hours to fish in the favoured reach, getting two big fish and several between 3 and 5 lbs., and one good trout. When at last we emerged from the rushes on to the open lake, the sea was running mountains—twenty inches at least—high, and it required the utmost care and hard work to keep the canoes head to wind and avoid swamping. With their heavy loads the freeboard was reduced to four inches, and their wonderful natural buoyancy to a great extent destroyed. Every now and then we shipped a big sea over the bows; but our waterproof sheets were so placed over all the baggage, and secured with their edges overhanging the gunwale, that very little water stayed in the boats. The labour, however, was terrible, and by four o’clock we had only progressed about a mile and a half, and were tired to death. So we 176 landed in a sheltered bay, baked, and cooked a supper; and opined that the close of day would allay the tempest and bring peace to these troubled waves.

Sure enough, as the red sun sank to rest behind the Selkirks, the wind stopped with a jerk, as if by the application of an atmospheric break, and by half past six we were once more afloat, and urging the canoes over the surface of the lake, still heaving and tossing with its late angry passions, but without a breath of air to oppose our passage. This was simply delightful; the smooth even rocking of the canoes as they swiftly rode over the glassy billows being such a relief from the inch by inch struggle we had so lately been engaged in, when often our utmost strength could do no more than hold our own, while furious squall after squall, all wet with flying spume and froth, swept down upon us in quick succession.

Night came on apace, and long before we had been able to make out with certainty where the real end of the lake might be, we were left in darkness to reach it as best we could. We took our bearings for what we supposed to be our destination while it was still light, and soon the stars came out, and laying our course by them we went steadily on. After about two hours we suddenly caught sight of a tiny bright spark a little to the left of the point we had been steering for, and knew that this must be the beacon which it had been settled Cardie was to display for us after nightfall. It looked a very long way off, and now against us, tired as we were, once more the wind began to rise. The ominous plash of the surf against the unseen rocky shore, and the uncanny feeling of the cold reeds waving across our faces as we 177 occasionally passed over shallows, made this part of the voyage anything but pleasant. And now to increase our discomfort the beacon light, which had never seemed to get appreciably larger, grew fainter and fainter, until at last it altogether disappeared; and again the big rollers began to break over the bows into the canoes. We had almost made up our minds to attempt a landing, and camp on the inhospitable shore whose shadowy outline loomed above us; but first tried signals of distress by firing off the double-barrel. Almost immediately in answer the fire flared up again, and this time so large that we could see we had not much further to go. Another half hour of hard work brought us into smooth water, and on a pebbly beach we drew up the canoes, and heard Cardie’s hail close above our heads. In a few more minutes we were cosily supping in a perfectly sheltered 178 little nook, under some fine pine-trees which grew on a steep bank at the south-eastern corner of the lake.

tiny speck of light in the distance at the far end of a lake, with two canoes approaching

The Beacon—Upper Columbia Lake.

It was very soothing to lie comfortably under our waggon-sheet and listen to the angry roar of the hurricane as it hurtled through the branches of the big pines with ever-increasing strength, shaking them to their very roots. And it was pleasant to reflect that if we had been ten minutes later we should probably at this moment have been shivering among the bare rocks of that desolate shore, or else with the canoes smashed, and our goods, and possibly ourselves, at the bottom of this mighty ocean.

Altogether we consider we got out of this piece of folly better than we deserved.

Cardie was away early, with instructions to find the landing-place of the bateau, where we expected to see a trail which would take us across the flat to the Kootenay river. That found, he was to build a sleigh on which to transport the canoes in the manner we had proved to be so convenient in Norway. We followed, coasting along the low rush-grown shore towards the south-western corner, keeping a bright look-out for any channel which had any appearance of being used. We soon became aware that this marshy waste of rushes, grass, willows, and water swarmed with every sort of moisture-loving bird, from geese down to sand-pipers. All the commoner ducks were plentiful, though wild, while the snipe and dowitchers were so tame as to be uninteresting. By quietly cruising along the little tortuous channels which intersected the land in all directions we were able to get all the shooting we needed.


We spent more time over this fascinating spot than we had to spare; but at last the Skipper refused to issue any more ammunition, and we began to paddle up what we guessed to be the arm leading to the landing. More than a mile we followed this delusive stream, remarkable for the numerous springs which everywhere gushed up from crater-like basins at the bottom, while round them grew the most beautiful and luxuriant water-weeds ever seen, their delicate filigree-work of many-hued leaves and tendrils all clearly defined in the limpid water. And then we rounded a corner beyond which the channel was not, and with the usual recriminations turned back again to the lake.

Right in the corner we at last came on another opening which looked promising, and though before we arrived at the end it had become very unpromising indeed, it did eventually turn out to be the right one, and before sunset we rejoined Cardie at the landing-place.

On the bank was reposing the emblem of modern progress, a steam-boiler, destined for the saw-mill which was to cut the lumber for the building of Kootenay City, which future metropolis at that moment consisted of a single one-roomed cabin.*

* See note at end of chapter.

Cardie had finished a first-rate sleigh, with two birch wood runners, cross-pieces, and diagonals, all firmly rabbeted and nailed together, and in a short time we had started with one canoe, the other and some of the baggage being packed together under a sheet against the impending rain. Somebody propounded the theory that if you want a horse to drag anything, the more weight you put on his back the 180 easier his work will be; consequently the way that unfortunate roan had truck piled on to him was just sinful.

The flat is about a mile and a half across along the trail, quite level, and composed of rich black soil, which no doubt at some time was a portion of the lake-bed. At the side nearest to the Kootenay river we came for the first time into the region of the Yellow Pine (Pinus ponderosa). These splendid trees grow in open order, the ground underneath them almost clear of everything except grass and small creeping berries. Their trunks, branchless for half their height, are covered with deeply indented rough bark of a rich reddish brown colour, the lines of the dark cracks which score their sides giving them a singularly striking appearance. Shaded by a group of these majestic pines we pitched our tent at evening close to the Kootenay river, here grown into at least twice the size of the turbulent stream we had known it at the end of the Sinclair Pass. It was to some extent sobered down from the headstrong folly of its early career, but still running at a great pace, with the ceaseless sound of the distant rapid making itself heard—or felt—it is difficult to know which is the right word.

On the flat were camped under the command of O——, a rare good fellow, whose acquaintance we had already made, several men, working on the various undertakings which were intended to make communication between the Columbia and Kootenay possible. The canal was to start from the channel up which we came, and join the Kootenay somewhere near where we were camped, and the saw-mill, a 181 store, and other buildings were to be hurried on as fast as possible. A bridge was also being built over the Kootenay, for which purpose the noble pines were being ruthlessly sacrificed, and altogether there seemed every prospect of nature being very much “improved” in a short time.*

* See note at end of chapter.

Cardie, O——, and his brother were looking at the dead birds, when Jim, pulling a dishevelled dowitcher out of his pocket, asked whether they supposed that might be a Solitary Snipe. [He hadn’t at that time the smallest notion of what it was himself.] So they looked it carefully over, and the verdict was, “Yes, that’s a Solitary Snipe all right; you see, it has only got its young feathers yet, &c., &c.” “Because,” proceeded the naturalist, “I suppose it is characteristic of the Solitary Snipe that you always kill three at a shot.” And it then came out—for Jim was too proud (!) of his perfor­mance to keep it to himself—that this unprin­cipled person had been stalking the unfortunate birds and shooting them on the ground. He had killed fifteen in five consecutive shots, in which, however, he did to some extent redeem his character by a skilful right and left flying, which resulted in three to each barrel. The scarcity of cartridges will, we hope, be accepted as a good excuse for this outrage: it makes one acquainted with strange methods of procuring game.

Early next day Cardie and the Skipper took the sleigh for the Hope and balance of our baggage, while Jim departed to his beloved marshes for further researches among the birds. He came back very discontented, because the average had dropped from 182 three to two head of game for every cartridge expended; but as a new delicacy was added to the bag, in the shape of a lot of golden plover, we did not see much cause for grumbling. Oh for a week on that flat with an unlimited supply of eights and a retrieving spaniel. We had nothing but fives—as the best all round shot—and had to be very economical with them.

men and horse, tent and canoe surrounded by tree stumps

Across Canal Flat—the Camp on the Kootenay.

The long-billed dowitchers are very much like a large snipe, of a pale cinnamon colour, spotted and irregularly marked with dusky tints, the upper parts being duller and darker than the lower, with a good deal of white about the tail. They frequented the sides of the little pools and runnels in groups of half a dozen or so, wading also deep in the water, for which their legs and bill, slightly longer than those of a snipe, 183 were well adapted. In flight they were not so snipey as the genuine article, and had an unlucky (for themselves) habit of closing up into a compact clump at the first turn, of which the pot-hunter was not slow to take advantage. The Wilson’s snipe were very numerous, and nearly always got up singly or in couples, affording shooting that was simply ideal: they seemed to differ very slightly from the European variety. The same may be said of the plover, which, however, for young birds, were more plentifully speckled with gold than our own.

bird, probably from Audubon

Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata).

All of these birds were excellent, but the English-American language has no words to do justice to the last named. We can only ask in the inspired idiom which comes nearest to expressing the tenderest feelings of our inmost soul, “What’s the matter with the golden plover?” and echo—with more sense than she usually exhibits—answers “Love her.”

We saw here in the big trees on the banks of the Kootenay the olive-backed thrush, the only time that we have met with it in our journey.

Cardie had a wish to look at a gold-mine which 184 some English people had started on a stream known as Findlay Creek, a few miles from here. Accordingly we arranged to meet at Skookumchuck Creek (“the stream of the rapid torrent”).

On the morning of September 17th he departed on the roan, while we set out in the canoes down the river. It was bitterly cold at first: our water-can had three-quarters of an inch of ice in it when we awoke, but soon the sun shone out bravely, and by the time we started one could not wish for a more perfect day. And everything else was in keeping with the weather, as if for once the wand of an enchanter had been at work to give us a dream of unalloyed happiness. How the hours flew as without a care in the world, revelling in the intoxication of the rapid movement through the bracing air, we rushed and glided over deep and shallow, past island and forest, cliff and sand and shingly shore. Every bend disclosed new beauties, new risks, new excitements, as snags and rocks raced past us, and foam-flecked water hurried by our side, or the crested surf with sudden flash leapt at us as we darted by. A turn of the river, and lo! the noise and turmoil past, we would be quietly floating in some deep dark pool, with only a gentle murmur to remind us of the rapids left behind, its placid water reflecting the grey rocks and drooping branches of the bending pines. Short were the periods of calm: another bend, and the river would be hurrying with swirl and eddy past a piled up mass of shattered timber which the fierce floods of early summer had with resistless force carried down, ever increasing in bulk, until at last the channel itself had been blocked, and the impatient torrent compelled to 185 carve a new way for itself to right and left of the huge barrier. Then as we plunged through such a cleft, the leaning trees, half their support already gone, meeting above our heads, again would come the music of the rapid, the spray, and foam, and ever deepening roar, and in another moment, every nerve tingling with excitement, and every muscle straining at the paddle, we would feel the startled dip and quiver of the canoes as they flew into the very midst of the seething, hissing, dance of waters. So the livelong day we raced and shouted and laughed from sheer high spirits; and when at evening we landed on the bank of a little river which we guessed to be Skookumchuck, we felt that one more surfeit of delight must be counted with the past, and that never again could we know the joy of a first run down the Kootenay river.

bird, probably from Audubon

Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon).

Only one regret we have, and that is for the reader: the photographs which during a brief halt for lunch and fishing the Skipper took of some of 186 the unequalled scenery we passed were unfortunately spoilt. We can only give a portrait of the bird most constantly seen on American rivers, the Belted Kingfisher.

It took us 3½ hours (exclusive of stoppages) to get down to Skookumchuck, the distance being by land sixteen miles, by river we guessed it at over twenty. In one length we supposed that we covered ten miles within the hour, without using our paddles more than enough for steerage way. Often as we silently and swiftly darted round some projecting bluff, we were in the middle of a flock of duck before they were aware of our presence; and on one of the huge timber jams which so often occurred we passed close to a wolverene, which, before a rifle could be grasped, plunged hastily among the logs and disappeared, though the speed at which we were going was a sufficient protection for him. Speaking generally, the river was not as dangerous as we had been led to believe, though of course it is not one that an inexperienced or timid voyageur could attempt with safety. We heard that a few weeks before a bateau laden with provisions had tried to run it and been wrecked, though without loss of life, and we had been entreated not to go down except with the help of some man who knew the channels. But our own impression is that with a bright look-out and no special bad luck any one who thoroughly understands the management of his boat ought to do it safely. There are no rapids that we consider really hazardous in regard to the perils by water, i.e., from eddies or waves big enough to swamp a boat. The real risk is from snags, which are very numerous, 187 and in spite of the utmost care cannot always be guarded against; from these we had not a few narrow escapes. There are some nasty rocks which, however, are more easily avoided, and several places where there is great difficulty in steering clear of overhanging trees. These are specially bad because though they are perfectly easily seen, the set of the stream is often so strongly towards and under them, that only the quickest co-operation of eye and hand will avert a disaster, whereas in cases of submerged obstacles the stream itself at the last moment always has a tendency to sheer away from the danger.

The high steep mountains which up at the flat had hemmed us in had on the western side gradually receded, until at Skookumchuck they were so far away as to be almost invisible, the range on that bank being now only low forest-clad hills of undulating outline. On the east the Rockies were still near, and looking back towards the Columbia one conical peak in parti­cular shone out all white, the most conspicuous object in the lovely landscape.

The forest on the western shore (to which, on account of Cardie, we were tied) had been burnt down near the creek, and no nice place for a camp was immediately to be found, so to save time we slept this night on the shingle-bed at the mouth of the creek in a sandy hollow a few yards wide. It was bitterly cold, and in the morning a dismal change had come over this inconstant climate; dark misty clouds enveloped us, and after a terrific thunderstorm, the weather settled down to a miserable drizzle.

We spent a long and weary day cutting a trail through the tangled mass of burnt trees and dense 188 scrub to a little open glade about a hundred yards back from the river, and some distance further down it. There at last we pitched both the small tent and the waggon-sheet (the large tent it has already been explained was sent back to Golden after the one night in Canyon Creek), and became once more comfortable householders, leaving a flag-pole and note for Cardie at the mouth of the creek.

Note.—We are informed that the cutting of the canal and construction of the locks was finished in 1889. The “City” had grown at that time sufficiently to include three dwelling-houses, the sawmill and some warehouses, a store, post-office, and an hotel, all of which were excee­dingly busy. The canal has now been taken over by the B. C. Government in accordance with the terms of the concession to the company; but we understand that the navigation of the river between the Columbia lakes is still pretty much as it was. This, however, is no longer of the old importance, as the waggon road is now carried through.—Nov. 1891.



The creek we soon found to be a much better fishing place than the river, in whose cold snow-stained water the trout either do not exist in plenty, or have some peculiarity of habits which makes them useless to the angler. We have caught few, and those only small, in the Kootenay; but in the creeks which run into it—well, the less we say the more chance of being believed. Wandering a mile or so up this “stream of the rapid torrent” we came upon a beautiful grassy prairie on its south bank, surrounded by and dotted at intervals with clumps of splendid pines, a spot at which one involuntarily looked round for the stately mansion which such a park must in some sheltered bay of trees contain. Sure enough there was a trail, and presently a bridge, burnt and half destroyed, but still spanning the creek; and on the other side two little huts also much dilapidated, but bearing traces of having been inhabited, though not very recently. The Skipper was unfortunate in taking a length of water not favourable to fly fishing, and though he brought home a fair bag, he had nothing special to relate. Jim happened upon a reach not far below the huts 190 which he declared to be just a wonder, and this is his account of it.

“It was a lovely long dark pool, with overhanging cliffs and trees on the other side; big rocks with black-looking turn-holes, and bits of falls among them, every stone making exactly the place you could swear to as holding a trout. I’ll bet there were more in that length than in the whole of the Thames.”

“I suppose you put on a minnow?” interrupted the Skipper.

“Well, I did at first, so as to make sure of getting a breakfast, but it was only a little one. It got three beautiful game fish in the first three throws. Then I thought this was a wicked shame.”

“So it was; how you can be such a brute with your education,” growled the Skipper.

“Well, I watched the river a bit, and saw there was a fish rising within reach, so I put on a lovely ‘string of bugs’—a perfect Joseph cast—and he wouldn’t look at it. As soon as I was sure he must have seen the coat—the cast I mean—of many colours, and had no use for it, I looked about and caught a regular deuce of a stone fly—you never saw such a stone fly in your life—about two inches long, and as fat as a cockchafer, and sent it floating down on a bare hook. It hadn’t gone a yard before two great trout simply whooping with excitement came right out of the water at it, and of course I jerked it away in a fright, and caught neither of them. However, the fly was all right, so I sent him down again, and that time one of them got him, but missed the hook, which I expect 191 was a bit small. This seemed good enough, so I put on a fine cast, and my own ‘beetle,’ which I firmly believe to be the best fly ever invented.” (The angling reader already knows so much more than we can tell him, that we feel sure a description of the “Beetle” would have no interest for him, and reluctantly refrain from inserting it.) “I waited for a rise, and then sent this fly dry to the place, and in an instant was fighting with a good fish, which with the fine tackle and heavy water gave plenty of trouble before I could land him. The stone I was on was very awkward, and I lost several fish in trying to gaff them, but it was about the only place where you could get a dry fly out, because of the bushes. I never saw such a pool for fish: they kept rising, and I believe I hooked every one that rose.”

man fishing in mountain stream

“Two great trout simply whooping with excitement came right out of the water at it.”

Page 190.

“Yes, they must have been pretty easy, or you wouldn’t have got them,” commented the Skipper.

“Oh, you’re jealous! besides, as it happens they were awfully hard to catch, neither of you fellows would have got any”—this with great complacency; and he went on:—

“I was there a little over an hour, and got as many as I could carry without moving a yard, and did you ever see a better lot than these?” So saying, he turned out a bag of spotted brown trout with a very old-country look about them, as different in colour from the silver beauties of the Kootenay as the water of the clear Scotch-looking creek is from the slightly opaque greeny blue of the river. The smallest was just over a pound, and they were fat and well liking; and well liked when they came out of the frying-pan.

While coming back along the creek Jim thought he 192 heard a hail, and listening intently was sure he could distinguish Cardie’s voice loudly uplifted. So he shouted back, and after a time got a real reply. Presently that unhappy wight appeared on the opposite bank with the roan horse, both looking bored to death, and exceedingly pleased to once more luxuriate in free and open pasturage.

Poor Cardie had had a tough time of it coming down from his visit to the gold mine, where, however, he had enjoyed himself very much. The only directions he had for finding Skookumchuck began “Directly you cross the creek——” So he travelled a whole day in the rain before he came to any creek at all, and at night camped in the heart of the dense dripping forest. He could not even keep a fire going satisfactorily; had very little food; no drink; and the cheery sound of the hooting owls was his only solace. To-day he started very early, and as it chanced struck the crossing just when Jim was there, otherwise he would have missed our tent, and gone on a long way to a place where he would once more have found a trail and a note on it from us. But what his brother imagined to be a shout was really only the exhortation necessary for the guidance of the impenitent roan, who whenever the going is bad makes such a perverse beast of himself that as Mr. Ruskin says, “The mountains are voiceful with perpetual rebuke,” and nothing short of the very loudest anathemas has any effect on his pigheadedness.

It is a remarkable and melancholy fact, but certainly seems to be universally true, that the open-air life in a mountainous country conduces to the practice of loud swearing. Everything in nature is on such a magnificent and stupendous scale that we suppose 193 ordinary talk is felt to be out of keeping and inadequate for the expression of one’s ideas. This crude thought has been so ably dealt with by the great writer just mentioned, that we venture to make use of his felicitous words:—

“Much of the apparently harmful influences of hills on the religion of the world is nothing else than their general gift of exciting the poetical and inventive faculties in peculiarly solemn tones of mind.” (Just so; any one hearing a discussion between the roan and his master would admit—at a distance of three-quarters of a mile—that the tones were “peculiarly solemn.”) “Their terror leads into devotional casts of thought, their beauty and wildness prompt the invention at the same time” (they do, they do; the poetical novelty of some of Cardie’s remarks is surprising), “and where the mind is not gifted with stern reasoning powers . . . it is sure to mingle the invention with his creed.” (That’s exactly what he does; the description is accurate to a dot—or dash.) “Strictly speaking, we ought to consider the superstitions of the hills, universally, as a form of poetry, regretting only that men have not yet learned how to distinguish poetry.” . . . (There it is in a nutshell: if men would only look upon all this mountain-bred efflorescence of nervous English as “a form of poetry,” all would be well; but alas, they “have not yet learned how to distinguish poetry” from profanity, which, considering the language used by modern poets, is perhaps hardly surprising.)

The readers of Mark Twain and Bret Harte are familiar with the fervent imagery of speech (usually denoted by blank spaces) with which the miners of 194 the Sierras are credited, and the general impression derived from such works is that their heroes must be an awfully wicked lot. No such thing. It is only their way, and the mountain air and scenery are responsible for it. Take our own case, for instance. At home we are all sorts of respectable things, such as churchwardens, bookmakers, sons-in-law to rural deans, &c., and don’t use fifteen shillings’ worth of wicked swear words in a year. But put us out here in B. C. (and we don’t need to be much put out either), and the language we habitually use at the top of our voices would disgrace a meeting of teetotallers. The curious thing is that we are not ashamed of it, mean nothing by it, and pay no attention to it, so we are convinced the blame rests with those “centres of imaginative energy” the mountains, and are happy.

We went down the river about a mile one morning to drive a little island which looked promising for game, and as luck would have it, just missed getting a bear and a deer which were on it, and should, if they had behaved according to the rules, have come to the guns. These deer (the White-tail) seemed to be very numerous about here, and indeed all along the Kootenay Valley.

The great black woodpecker was frequently seen near this camp; and here too we first fell in with the Ruffed Grouse, a very handsome bird about the size of black game, and with a beautiful ruff of feathers of varying hue (often glossy greenish black) standing out from his neck. Above, his colours were darkish browns and greys slightly mixed with white; below, buff, brown, and white; tail rusty 195 grey, with small faint bars and a broad dark band near its end. This bird henceforth was the most common and useful to us of all we met. The Canadians esteem him very highly as the best grouse they possess, but our opinion is “different.” He has a noble expanse of white-fleshed bosom, which looks very nice, but we failed to distinguish any superior flavour to that of the aged garden fowl of Great Britain. True, we never gave him a fair chance, as we generally ate him within two or three days of his demise, and always skinned instead of plucking him, which does not tend to improve the delicacy of any bird; but we treated all our other game in the same way, and think the Fool-hen much superior.

bird, probably from Audubon

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus).

The Ruffed Grouse has a habit of sitting on trees or fallen logs, and by a peculiar drumming of the wings raising such a racket as to scare folk who hear it for the first time and do not know what it is—the noise being very deep and far-reaching, more like the sound of a distant threshing-machine, or the “fearfulness and trembling” stop on a big 196 organ, than anything we can think of. It is altogether a most ghostly sound, beginning slowly, with long intervals between the beats of the wing, and gradually increasing in speed until the thuds succeed each other in a rapid continuous roll.* His recognised name is now, we believe, Bonasa umbellus; but being widely spread, with slight local variations, over a large part of Canada and America, the Ruffed Grouse has become known under several other designations.

* See note, p. 202.

For instance, one scientific traveller of not very recent date puts him down as “Tetrao Phasianellus—the Grouse, Pheasant, or Partridge.” We venture to alter the Latin title to Phasianellimus, for there is certainly “very little pheasant” about him, and to add to the English ones “Teal, Kestrel, or Cock Robin;” and now we think this bird is as extensively named as any biped not a member of a Royal family has any right to be. We can only suppose this Scientist was too much occupied with the intricacies of the diamond hitch, or the diffi­culties of baking, to find any time for looking out the Latin for “ruff,” or possibly the dictionary had fallen over a precipice with a pack-horse. At the same time we cannot too strongly protest against the cowardly outrage this lavish distri­bution of titles inflicts on an inoffensive fowl. “Grouse, Pheasant, or Partridge” forsooth! just imagine a wretched creature having three shooting seasons in one year. We presume they begin gunning for him on the 12th of August, shoot him a little more on September 1st, and kill him finally and fatally dead on the 1st of October. True, he also gets three close times; but as these 197 seem to overlap the open to some extent, it is doubtful if they would mitigate the severity of his treatment.

two men shooting from canoes

Geese over!—on the Kootenay River.

Page 197.

The Skipper wanted to know what he should do with the birds he was preparing for food, and was told to “make the old ones into soup.”

“How the deuce am I to tell which are the old ones?”

“Why, hold ’em up by the bill of course, stupid.”

(N.B.—The amount of head which remains on a bird after a .45 bullet has struck it is so insignificant that the meanest man would not trouble to bring it home, even if he could find it.)

The river from this point downwards is much less rapid and turbulent, and our voyage between Skookumchuck and Mather’s ranch, where there is a small ferry, was uneventful. It was only diversified by occasional volleys of rifle shots at flocks of geese, as discoursing with their usual volubility they streamed over our heads. The numbers of water-fowl visible about some flat marshes opposite the ranch induced Jim to suggest a halt. Of course this was strenuously opposed by the Skipper, and only decided after ten minutes of anything but amity by the aid of a toss-up, which said “Stop.”

A wonderful place was that swamp for water-fowl: teal, widgeon, and mallard, geese and brant, dowitchers, snipe, and plover all swarmed, and we picked up on the shore of the river a small bird, name unknown, which was more like a Little Stint than anything else, possibly a Peep. Just as we finished breakfasting in the cold white mist which enveloped the hard frozen flat, an Indian galloped up, and picketing his horse, 198 came and stood by our fire. It was difficult to say whether ugliness or cold and hunger predominated in his face. We gave him the remains of our breakfast, which were neither plentiful nor good, for here as a matter of duty we were disposing of a dreadful ham which had been sent up from Golden City instead of the “Best Breakfast Bacon” we had ordered.

We will remark for the benefit of future travellers that they can acquire more bad food at a higher price at Golden than at any other city of our acquaintance.

So it is possible that this Indian did not really enjoy his food; but still he sat there for half an hour, and ate all the ham, and half a loaf, and lots of lard, and some fish, and some Golden City coffee (!) made of beans—and not the best beans either—in which the sugar was so thick that it was positively plastic; and then, so please you, he just walked to his horse and got on it and rode away. And we are ready to make oath that he never nodded or even looked at us or did anything in the world which could be intended or taken as being meant to express thanks. And yet the good missionary-loving folk at home are shocked to hear that the prevailing sentiment throughout this enlightened continent is “Darn all Injuns anyhow.”

These people we know will have plenty to urge on his behalf. They will say he felt unwell, which is not unlikely, from the way he ate; but good gracious, is gluttony to be an excuse for ingratitude? They will say that he has never had the advantages of a Christian education; and that will be wrong, for all the Indians in this part of B. C. are Roman Catholics. Probably they may go so far as to say that our moroseness and want of sparkling conversation at 199A.M. in a freezing fog were sufficient to quench any attempt at society manners; and that is not the reason either, for there is more to come. A little lower down the river we came to a place where there was a small pine-bark canoe drawn up on one side, and an Indian on a horse at the other. By this time the sun was up, gloriously up, and we were overflowing with the milk of human kindness, so when the Indian hailed us and pointed at the canoe, Jim politely paddled to him, took him on board, and at no slight trouble to himself ferried him across.

This time there was no want of brilliancy in our talk, for Jim chatted most pleasantly to him all the time, asking him among other things, “Had he observed that the mud-hens which frequented the river, in spite of the numerous materials ready for them, used only two sorts of reeds in the construction of their nests?” And the Indian inquiring what kinds those might be, was told, “Straight ones and crooked ones,” a right merry quip highly provocative of mirth and good-fellowship. Furthermore, he was informed it was a “fine day for the race.” And that Indian behaved even as the other: he just stepped ashore, and never deigned to give another look to either of us. We understand that as a matter of fact they have no word expressing in any way the idea of gratitude.

No; we fear the Indian, if he ever really was noble, has much deteriorated, and it is enough to make one feel some sympathy for Mr. Labouchere in his attacks on the House of Lords when one sees the demeanour of this hereditary nobility.

The few months we spent in this country were of 200 course not enough to allow us to form a very confident opinion on the “Land Question,” but we give our ideas for what they are worth. In the first place, the Indians have not in any sense of the word owned much of the land that is worth owning, any more than a white man who has camped and passed on can be said to own the spot whereon he may have pitched his tent. Such places surely are open to any one, red or white, who chooses to settle there. On the other hand, many places there are which have been owned and lived on by Indians in a perfectly regular manner, and we believe that the Government has paid very little attention to facts of this kind, but treating all the land as Crown land, has in many instances sold such plots to white settlers. They have given the Indians, it is true, certain reserves, but these often inadequate in amount, and selected without much regard to the feelings of the allottees as to position or quality.

At present the question has not reached a very critical stage, because in these newly settled places the red men so dispro­portio­nately outnumber the whites, that the former have not thought it worth while to resort to violence, and the latter have found it the best policy to give no excuse for it. But even this peace-at-any-price, secured by such means as exemption from game laws, lower prices for commodities, ferriage, and the like, and a general disposition to stand from an Indian behaviour which from a white man would be instantly resented, has its drawbacks. Under it they have grown to have a wonderful opinion of themselves, and already the whites are beginning to growl under the yoke of self-restraint towards a race they really despise. Our 201 impression is that as the whites get more numerous they will get less careful not to tread on the corns of the natives, and from the scarcity of good land the squeezing of the latter, which has already begun, will before long arrive at a crisis. Then we shall have the old story:—

“What’s the matter with you?”

“Oh, please, sir, I stole a man’s farm, and now he is coming back with a lot of his pals, and going to kill me.”

“Well, you deserve to be killed!”

“Please, sir, it was an Indian I stole it from.”

“Oh, well, I’ll call out the army.”

After the first unfortunate squeezers have been scalped, and a ridiculous expedition has been massacred according to the established routine in these matters, the Indians will be ruthlessly put down, the survivors placed on reserves they don’t like, and the fire-water and other civilising influences of the palefaces will do the rest of their deadly work.

We only hope this forecast and our notions generally are altogether wrong. It would be a grievous pity if we are right, for considered as Indians, these inland races of B. C. seemed to be of exceptionally good quality. Many of them, the men especially, are of fine physique, and good looking, and we have seen a few girls (as we supposed, though they might have been boys, heaven knows) also distinctly comely; and they are, though independent to a fault, not usually unpleasant neighbours. Some of them will work, and even work fairly steadily, and they are considerably more honest than ordinary whites, though perhaps that is not an ambitious standard.


Altogether, to sum up in the Skipper’s words, they are the most painful savages; they believe in Christianity, and have only one wife, plait their hair in a manner lovely to behold, and lead most homely and tame lives; all of which is exactly the contrary to what he considers the correct conduct for his copper-coloured brethren.

We will add that in our probably worse than useless opinion the threatened catastrophe could still be averted by giving the Indians really good reserves of sufficient size to keep their stock, though we suspect that this would account for a great deal more of the sparsely scattered good land than the Government have any intention of thus sacrificing. After that, sternly suppress at whatever cost any invasion of rights by either red man or white. The present system, to our uninformed intelligence, looks rather like alternately encouraging the settlers to crowd the Indians, and anon timorously bullying them whenever the crowded ones begin to look nasty.

Note.—No one has yet clearly shown how the Ruffed Grouse produces the extraordinary booming note of this drumming. Lots of people know all about it, but the mischief is they all know it differently. It is certain that he brings his wings almost, or quite, together in front of his breast, rather high up towards his throat, in what looks like a very strained and unnatural position. Possibly he smites them together as a pigeon does, but if so he gets a very different sound out of them from that bird. Possibly again he thumps himself upon his manly bosom after the manner of a cabman or Du Chaillu’s gorilla, and if his lungs were highly inflated at the time, that might give the much-discussed result. But what he rather appears to do is to bring the two wingfuls of air violently together without striking them against themselves or his breast. The movement is too strong and rapid to be properly followed by the eye.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XVIII

firmly believe to be the best fly ever invented.”
close quote missing

his felicitous words
[The following passage is from A Celebration of Mountaineering. The earlier quotation was from Influence of Mountain Solitudes.]

one scientific traveller of not very recent date
[Either the traveller was mistaken, or the present writers are, because Bonasa umbellus is a completely different bird. Tetrao Phasianellus is Linnaeus’s term for the bird now called Tympanuchus phasianellus. Taxonomers seem to have spent much of the past century slugging out the differences between Tetrao, Bonasa and Tympanuchus.]



The great Indian question being disposed of, we will resume our voyage down the Kootenay.

We now began to get into more like a settled country—occasionally even a fence was seen, and in one place cows. On the hillside far away to the left was a pack train wending its way towards the Police Camp, which we knew to lie a few miles ahead of us—a picturesque sight, with its curiously caparisoned horses and mules clearly cut against the sky in their long drawn out procession. When near to our destination we stopped to take a photograph, and at that time there came up the river, which here was beginning to increase in speed, a boat poled by two men, whom we found to be a Swede and a Norwegian. These men were making their living by rafting lumber down to the great city of Galbraith’s Ferry, and looked as if the life suited them.

still water reflecting row of trees and distant mountain

The Kootenay River, near Galbraith’s Ferry.

Page 203.

We shot down the last remaining two miles of our present voyage at a speed entered in the diary as “less than no time” (probably inaccurate), finishing up with a glorious bit of really fast though quite straight­forward water, and about noon landed at the ferry just opposite the mouth of St. Mary’s river. 204 There is a steep ascent from the ferry-boat landing up to the store at the top, and there we found a number of Indians and Police, and the heterogeneous particles which go to make up a pack-train. Nor must we omit mention of Mrs. Clark, the first white woman we have seen since we left Golden more than a month ago, and one of the noble three who at present represent the sex in the few hundreds of miles which this valley contains.

We proposed to leave the river at this point for a short time, while we made an inland expedition to Cranbrook, a place about twelve miles away belonging to Colonel Baker, who had most kindly asked us to stay there, although he himself and his son would both be away. The latter we met at the Police Camp here, and had the invitation repeated by him. This camp was the headquarters of the contingent of N. W. Police now serving in B. C., numbering about seventy men, and four or five officers. The whole place was neatly laid out in military order, with mess-tent, farrier’s shed, haystacks, kitchens, &c., all complete, on a high plateau between the Kootenay and a creek known as “Wild Horse” running into it on the eastern side. At present all were under canvas, but the men were occupied in erecting uncommonly good buildings to serve as winter quarters, and also as a fort in case of the much talked-of Indian rising; these were all in a very advanced state. It took us about four hours to obtain a horse and pack-saddle to carry the small amount of luggage necessary for our visit. The rest was taken into the store, and the canoes, which we were assured might be safely left because of the awe 205 inspired by the Police in the bosoms of evil-doers, were laid in the bushes on the river bank.

About 5 P.M. we, in company with a fellow named Richmond, who had come down from Cranbrook, left the Ferry. Five minutes later a goose which was fastened to the pack came untied, and dangling under the horse’s belly, scared him so that he stampeded. We never expected to see a bit of our possessions again; but Richmond being mounted, managed in a short distance to head him, and with nothing worse than the gun getting filled with mud, we resumed our march.

This bolting of a pack-horse is often a very serious affair, as it may end in leaving you in a wilderness without food or raiment; but it is to a disinter­ested outsider a very ludicrous sight. We saw it done up at Canal Flat by a horse packed with the entire property of a man who had come to work there. Something startled the beast and it began to kick, then the pack came loose, and some part of it got among his feet, and in a moment, the terrified creature was off at top speed through the tangled forest, kicking furiously all the time, and at every bound a coat or a tin can or a blanket went spinning through the air, or got wrapped round his legs and was in little pieces before you could say Jack Robinson. In such wise did he depart from our view, leaving his sorrowing owner to follow forlornly in his track, and collect as much of the debris as had any appearance of utility about it; and very little that was.

The trail to Cranbrook lies at first through low flats covered with birch, dog-willow, and other small scrub. Leaving these it mounts a steep hill and 206 comes into a land of alternate prairie and forest, in which the tamarack, a gigantic larch, forms a striking feature. And what a walk it was; the light of the setting sun glowing on those wonderful red-barked trees, making more glorious by the contrast with their long dark shadows the brilliantly lighted glades of yellow grass, and tinting with the same ruddy hue the foliage which half concealed their stately pillars, its delicate needles already turning into gold under the Midas-touch of King Frost. On the distant ridge the dark pines shone resplendent, transfigured into trees of flame; and behind them the greatest marvel of all—the sky. That no words of ours could attempt to describe; a Turner’s brush would fail to give a faint idea of it, so exquisite were the changes from flaming yellow to scarlet, through every shade of orange and crimson, dying away at last with a dull brick-red fading into purple and growing darker and darker, till the pale light of a young moon came to help us on our way, gleaming over the white-edged ponds of alkali water which lay along our path, and peopling the forest with mysterious forms as it shone on the weird blackened stumps of trees which still stood here and there to remind us of some devastating fire.

At last came a light in the distance, an Indian camp-fire; two miles of a huge grass plain, known as Joseph’s Prairie; and the barking of dogs, the neighing of horses, and the dim outline of a confused huddlement of buildings; a door thrown open and a huge cheery English fire-place and welcome instead of an evil-smelling, talc-windowed American stove and a register-book, and we were safe at Cranbrook.

And that night we ate a dinner fit for the gods: a 207 square meal we had nearly said, but it was more—it was octagonal—drank real whisky and water, and went to sleep in real beds.

Cardie arrived next day, having fallen in with a party of what they call hereabouts Tyees (great chiefs), which in this instance consisted of very great swells indeed, no less than certain of the Ministry who were here on the Indian Question, and with whom he camped last night.

Time will not permit us to tell of all the kindness we received at Cranbrook, nor of the Camberwell Beauties which are the common garden butterfly there, nor of how Richmond hooked a great fish in the St. Mary’s river, and will in future use waxed twine for lashing his gaff on to its handle, nor of the night we spent when the Tyees themselves arrived, a night which we imagined to have been devoted to a kettle-competition, but were never sure whether that was the object of all the narrators of wonders by sea and land. We present a couple of sample stories, and the reader may judge for himself of the nature of all.

Of the Sagacity of the Dog.

“Yes, he was a wonderfully well-trained dog; he knew as much as a Christian, and would do any mortal thing I told him. I remember one night some one left the door open, and I said, ‘Shot, shut the door.’ So he went and banged it to; but the latch wouldn’t catch, and it flew open again. I told him again to shut it, and the same thing happened, so I said very angrily, ‘Now, shut that Door!’ And he bounced up from the rug where he had laid himself down and just stood up against the door to keep it closed, turned the key with his teeth, 208 and then threw it down close to me, with a look that said as plainly as words, ‘There, d—— you, I hope that’ll satisfy you.’ By heavens it’s just the solid truth and divil a word of a lie I’m telling you.”

Concerning the Tenacity of Life in the Grouse-Bird.

“Oh, they are wonderfully tenacious of life. I was out once, and began by missing several. So I determined I would kill the next one anyhow; and presently I saw one up in a tree, and I thought I wouldn’t give the beggar a chance by aiming at his head, but just hit him right in the middle. So I made a careful shot at his breast (I had that old Enfield carbine with a bullet about as big as a walnut), and I’m blessed if he didn’t fly right away as happy as could be. I couldn’t make it out; but just as I was walking off I caught sight of a fresh wing lying under the tree, so I knew the old carbine had been straight on after all. But it seemed extraordinary a bird could fly like that with only one wing. However, I had seen him do it, so I set off again, and in a couple of yards came on a grouse’s breast lying on the ground all bloody. I thought this even more wonderful; but of course he didn’t need his breast to fly with, and as he had left it I might as well take it along for my breakfast. Just then I glanced up and saw a couple of legs hanging on a branch: this seemed to explain the matter to some extent, for naturally if his legs were shot off he couldn’t perch any longer and would have to fly; but dash it all, when on the other side of the tree I picked up a newly severed head, the thing did look almost impossible. It just shows how hard 209 they are to kill, unless you account for it by saying there was another bird close to the one I shot at, and it was that that I had seen fly away.”

Ah, well, it was a merry night, and if all our recollections of it were not strictly accurate there was no harm intended or done, and may we have many more of the same sort with equally good fellows.


Cranbrook is a large farm, the apple of Colonel Baker’s eye, and certainly the most go-ahead place we have seen in the country, but we have doubts whether the climate is as suitable for agriculture as for stock-raising, as we understand it is subject to late frosts. This, however, can only be determined by actual experience over a certain number of years, so we offer no opinion on it; we can only say that this region at the time of our visit was absolutely delightful as a dwelling-place.*

* We hear from Col. Baker that as a rule this part of the country is as free from summer frosts as England; roots and grain crops both doing admirably. As a proof of the stock-raising capabilities it is sufficient to say that in 1888 ten two-year-old steers were killed which gave an average of 700 lbs. each of beef.

About the most striking object here was an old Chinaman who kept what he called an Hotel for his fellow heathen on the outskirts of the farm buildings. This individual had the most whimsical wizened old caricature of a face imaginable; he rejoiced in the name of “the Captain,” having attained that rank, and it was whispered even the higher one of Admiral of the Fleet, on a pirate junk in his giddy youth. From this honourable post he was advanced to the still higher one of Lord High Executioner to the Cousin of the Sun and Moon (fact), but having at length tired of the ceremonial dignity of his exalted station, he had—discreetly, as some evil speakers hinted—emigrated to B. C. He was at present engaged in the somewhat less exciting career of hotelkeeper, washerwoman, and dairymaid, though the first two of these professions when the customers won’t pay, and the last when the butter won’t come, are not without their thrilling moments.

Chinese man holding long pole

The “Captain”—Cranbrook.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XIX

the great city of Galbraith’s Ferry
[Galbraith’s Ferry was renamed Fort Steele about five minutes after this visit. There were several mining booms, but today it is mainly a historic site.]

a fellow named Richmond
[It would be fun if he had turned out to be the namesake of Richmond, B.C., but no such luck; the city’s name dates back to the early 1860s.]

its delicate needles already turning into gold
[Fun fact: larches, including the tamarack, are the biggest family of deciduous conifers.]

the still higher one of Lord High Executioner
[All that’s missing is to be told his name was Ko-Ko, or possibly Pooh-Bah.]



From the Captain we replenished our almost empty butter tins, this being the first chance we have had since leaving Golden, for the few settlers who keep cows seem as a rule not to extract any milk from them. On the 27th of September we set out with Richmond and three horses on a little hunting trip we proposed to make near the Mooyie Lakes, which lie about fourteen miles nearly south of Cranbrook.

The order of our procession was somewhat straggling, Richmond riding on ahead, while the brothers, who happened to be on speaking terms, brought up the rear together. When they had covered a couple of miles, they came up with the Skipper, whose horse had stampeded through the wood and pulled the pack to pieces before he was caught. Both were furious at the Skipper for allowing it, and the latter, conscious of guilt, was, for a wonder, contrite: so when Cardie announced that he had put the medicine-chest (sponge-bag containing pills, diachylon-plaster, and a patent double magnum flask of the best brandy) and his own mackintosh on that pack, and that they were lost, we all with one accord commenced to track that horse in his capricious wanderings among trees and swamps. Finding nothing, we finished by marching 212 and counter-marching over about 2000 acres in a solemn row, exactly as if we were beating for cock; for there was no more of that brandy nearer than Justerini’s. After two hours of this, during which the vials of wrath for future outpouring on the Skipper’s head were filled to the brim, we were obliged to desist; the unfortunate cause vainly hoping to appease Cardie by presenting him with his own mackintosh, a much better one than the lost treasure. True, he perhaps a little spoilt the gift by being heard to mutter that “after this it would be ridiculous to talk of the rain falling alike on the just and the unjust, for the unjust would have the mackintosh belonging to the just.” To add to our annoyance, a little fox-terrier which had been carefully locked up to prevent him coming with us had by some means got out and now appeared upon the scene.

Quite in accordance with what we are accustomed to expect, while we were despondently wandering about and our rifles were all reposing by the side of the trail, this evil-minded dog produced a deer from somewhere, which he proceeded to hunt up and down the forest in the midst of us. But we will not dwell on our woes, which are what every traveller knows to be his portion in these unhappy hunting-grounds.

It goes without saying that when after all this delay we arrived at a little prairie where some tepee-poles advised us to camp, and the waterproof covering was taken off the pack on Cardie’s horse, there, snugly reposing, were the medicine-chest and mackintosh! And then there was a hum in the hive.

The next day we stopped at the head of the upper Mooyie lake, only a very short journey, as we were 213 out for pleasure not business, and moreover Richmond had to spend all the morning in riding home with that execrable terrier dog.

Here we were annoyed at breakfast by a gang of Indians with horses, dogs, and squaws all complete, dashing through our camp in the most tumultuous and untamed manner, every horse going in a different track from all the rest, each creature selecting a new teacup or loaf or piece of bacon to tread on, and raising as much dust and confusion as if they were coming back from the Derby.

quiet lake surrounded by trees and mountains

Lake Mooyie.

The Indians of this part are a different tribe from those near Windermere, who are mostly Shuswaps; these being Kootenays (now often called Upper Kootenays to distinguish them from those who live on the Lower Kootenay, the latter, however, being more correctly Flatbows). They are a rather fine 214 race; and their clothes beautiful in the extreme. They generally commence with a soft grey felt hat, from which the crown has been removed to allow their black hair adorned with three feathers to flourish in the breeze; this is surrounded by a brilliant red or blue ribbon; then comes a nondescript flannel shirt, and lastly a kind of trousers (though that is not quite an accurate description of the garment according to British ideas). These “bags” are made very wide, of the most flaming parti-coloured blanket that money will buy, and with a broad scalloped fringe all down the place where the seam ought to be. Lastly, a pair of beautifully ornamented mocassins. In this guise, and with a belt full of cartridges, the Last of the Kootenays mounts a horse, wraps himself up in another gorgeous blanket, and with a Winchester rifle and a war-whoop careers around the country in a state of complete self-complacency, followed by a retinue such as the one which made hay of our camp.

The anger of the Skipper at this behaviour was assuaged by the appearance at the end of the rabble of a really good-looking girl, who, he declared, smiled sweetly upon him, and brought rest to his perturbed spirit. It is quite certain she scowled darkly upon the rest of us, and we don’t believe for a minute she did anything different to the Skipper, but it pleased him to think she did, poor fellow, so we let it pass.

Signed Jim.

P.S.—We also think she was a boy.

man and woman on horseback, facing the camera

A Shuswap Indian and Squaw—Windermere.

Page 214.

This lake contained many trout and some charr, 215 though not of incredible size (1½ lbs. was about the limit of those that found a welcome at our hospitable board), and in the woods the ruffed grouse were abundant, while their sharp-tailed cousins were sufficiently numerous in the various open bits along which the trail passed. There is no camping-ground from the top end of the higher lake to the bottom of the lower, except a poor place at the junction of the two, so we went straight on to the end of the second, where the trail crosses the river by a bridge, and here we decided to stop. Cardie, who was on ahead, selected the site, which was not quite in the most open spot, with the object of having the water handy. When Jim arrived, he, according to his custom towards anything he has not had the bossing of, began to criticise. “What on earth made you put the tent in such a cramped hole as this?” Cardie’s only reply was, “You don’t call this cramped surely? Why, you must have slept in rooms in London not nearly as big as this,” gazing vaguely round at the whole of British Columbia. And here ended the lovely fine weather which had lately favoured us, a contin­gency for which we had become prepared by the sight of the most beautiful auroras for the last few nights lighting up the northern heavens; generally in our experience followed by uncertain weather.

Our first day was cold and wet, with great wreaths of mist hanging low about the surrounding mountains, and everything looking gloomy in the extreme. It rained so persistently that Richmond and Jim thought they might as well get wet on the mountain as down in the valley, and climbing up the steep slopes on the western side were soon lost to sight 216 among the dripping trees. Jim’s story at evening was this:—

“We found the going very bad, burnt and fallen timber and thick buck-brush, willows and birches, but far above us we could see through the shifting mists some slopes covered with patches of grass and trees that looked likely, and made for them. I never saw signs of game much fewer in any place, and began to disbelieve in the existence of the cariboo that they said the forests were stiff with hereabouts, but we did at last come to some tracks only a day old, and presently arrived at our promised land. Here we found Douglas firs, with a dense undergrowth of service-berries and flowering willow, and occasional large patches of raspberries and thimble-berries, through which ran so many trails made by bears 217 when feeding on them, that Richmond said we must have got into somebody’s preserves (Bear preserves, not Raspberry). These plots were not of great extent, but alternated with similar ones of dead birch trees, the latter being very thick and difficult to traverse. Presently in following a very fresh-looking trail I saw a hoof sticking out from behind a log, and there we found the remains of a cariboo which ‘Brer Bar’ had been feasting upon some time before. This made us still more hopeful, and we went on with extra care; and I can tell you it wanted care to avoid falling on those slippery barkless trees, all wet and slimy with this infernal rain.” (Jim being now a respectable married man, seldom says anything much worse than this with his lips, but in his heart he still occasionally uses expressions that the rest of us would never even have thought of.)

two men looking through tense trees at barely visible caribou


“And so in spite of all our endeavours we did sometimes slip and make a little noise, and I expect startled the deer, for while we were in one of the birch plots I suddenly caught sight of the tail and hindquarter of a cariboo—all the rest of him was hidden by the trees—and almost at the same time was nearly certain I glimpsed another coming out of the thick firwood just behind him. I showed the tail to Richmond, and there we stood waiting for something to happen. It was pretty evident they had heard us and come out into the birches with the intention of bolting, but hadn’t seen or winded us, as of course we were working up wind. They were about 150 yards away across a slight hollow, and any attempt at stalking was out of the question. So we 218 waited and waited, and at last the deer made up his mind and ran forward and rather away from us; and I got just the worst kind of a snap-shot at him, but most likely the bullet went into one of these blasted* birches. Anyhow it didn’t go into him. Richmond said he had buck-fever, though he didn’t look as if he had, and there was never another chance. The front deer was out of sight in an instant, and the other we only just saw as we turned into the firs.”

* It was a burnt forest. (J.)

Richmond mournfully shook his head. “We ought to have run at them,” he lamented.

“Run at them?”

“Yes; and grunted;” and for the rest of the evening at intervals he was heard murmuring “Run at them,” and then practising hideous groans which he imagined to resemble the grunting of the cariboo, but which we at first took for earthquakes and afterwards for tummy-aches.

“Then,” proceeded Jim, “in following them we got separated, and I was scared at the mist, which kept getting worse, and began to look for Richmond instead of for cariboo. By George! I thought he was lost. I knew he had no compass, and pictured myself hunting for him all over these dissolute hills until I dropped from fatigue, and I never was more pleased than to hear him shooting at a blue grouse half way down the next valley. Where are my dry things; call this pleasure indeed?” and so miserably ended that day.

It seems that the Indians do actually, if they can get near a band of cariboo, “run at them and grunt;” and that this behaviour so surprises and bewilders the deluded creatures (as well it might) that they run foolishly 219 hither and thither until they are all killed. None of our party have ever practised this mode of hunting, so we can say nothing for or against it. We should hardly recommend it to any white man unless he can grunt less appallingly than Richmond.

We fancy it is pretty generally admitted now that the cariboo cannot be distinguished from the European reindeer except by the superior size to which they attain. Their antlers have the same characteristic “plough” coming from one side only in front of the face, the same long bare growth between the “brow” and the top points, and the same peculiarity of being common to both male and female. Considered as a sport, this American method of poking about in woods or lying in wait as the Indians do is not to be compared with the pursuit of the Scandinavian reindeer, which is in our judgment the very finest stalking that can be had.

The weather of next day was quite as bad, except that it “let up” just long enough in the morning to tempt the Skipper and Jim out, both on the west of the lake, but on different ground from that tried yesterday. The latter was home first with nothing to relate, but the Skipper did not come in till late, and then bore as much of a yearling mule-deer as he could carry. His account was very short.

“It took me all the morning to get to the top of the range, and I was very tired and cross because I had seen nothing living nor any signs of life. So I rested there, and then turned to come home another way, when in a little burnt hollow two young black-tailed deer”——

“Mule deer, my dear donkey,” interrupted Cardie.


“Well, they’re what they call black-tailed deer in these parts anyhow, so they are black-tails from my point of view.”

“I tell you there ain’t any real black-tails here, but go on.”

“They just jumped up and scooted; and then I suppose they had never seen a white man before, for they stopped to look at me.”

That proves they were mule-deer,” put in the scoffer; “they thought you were a relation.”

“So I fired at this one: he ran about twenty yards and dropped down dead; and then I didn’t see the use of shooting the other, so let him go.”

“After you had fired all your magazine empty at him,” commented the unbeliever.

The Skipper scorned to reply, and proceeded. “Well, then, it began to snow, and the wind got up, and the trees began to snap like carrots.”

“Yes, by George! they did that round me, and scared me to death,” said Jim. “I just crudled in a hole under a rock till they had stopped. Didn’t they scare you?”

“Not a bit,” said the valiant Skipper; “there weren’t any where I was—I said I saw them snapping off, but they were about five hundred feet below me. I didn’t care a tinker’s cuss for them.”

“One gust sent a dozen of them over close to me, and broke a great big one in two about half way up. I can tell you I don’t want any more of it in mine.”

And, to say truth, it is one of the most terrifying things possible to be caught out in such a time. It seemed as if the weight of the snow which 221 was driven against the trees, and stuck to them in great masses, had something to do with the manner in which many of them were broken short off, instead of being uprooted as in Canyon Creek.

Again at this camp we were astounded one night by a thunderous roar, the origin of which we never really knew, but believed that it must have been simply a huge flight of ducks getting off the water, for there were no mountains here capable of producing avalanches; and only these two solutions occurred to us.

Horse feed ran short, and we could find no more—our own provisions were likewise getting low—so on the third day we again set off for Cranbrook, the Skipper taking the western side of the lake on the way, and Jim the eastern. We stopped for the night on an open grassy flat called Peavine, about a mile and a half beyond the higher lake, and long after dark the Skipper had not come in. When at last, guided by our fire, he did arrive, he was a truly sorry spectacle—wet through, pockets and rifle full of mud and sand, face scratched, clothes torn—in a word, the most dilapidated and dishevelled wreck conceivable; and for this the nature of the country (coupled with his own obstinacy for going there) was responsible, for he firmly protested that he had seen no public-houses, neither had he been engaged in a political discussion with a Separatist. He crossed in the dark several “navigable harms of the sea” at the upper end of the lake, and in one of them found himself up to the armpits before he could reach the bank.

With great forethought he had taken Jim’s rifle 222 instead of his own, and the latter seemed to be quite put out when next morning he took it to shoot a couple of grouse that were blinking in a tree overhead and found that it would neither open nor shut, and was “a mass of shingle and cement” (Jimesque euphemism for sand and mud). To complete the tale of his misfortunes, he had seen no living thing during his walk, except a skunk and a snake.

At Peavine we discovered—as usual after the event—how unlucky it was that we should have come down the Mooyie trail (which is really a good hunting country) just at this time. All the Indians living round the Roman Catholic Mission on St. Mary’s River had gone through only a week before on their way to Sandpoint, a place about 120 miles away, to buy winter provisions, and they had hunted the place to death. Jim composed what he called an epitaph upon it:—

“In vain for sport we wander on,

Of game we are bereft;

There’s nothing right till Injun’s gone,

And then there’s nothing left.”

About twenty of these Indians were now on their way back home again. They had apparently taken all their horses with them, and each mare being followed by her foal, there was an enormous herd feeding on the coarse grass of the flat this evening. The breaking up of the camp next morning was one of the most picturesque sights that have occurred during our rambles. As a matter of colouring only the effect was wonderful: the dull washed-out brown of the grass and the brighter hue of the willow scrub both set off by the white tepees, their tops again toned down by 223 smoke into the yellow and brown which were the keynote of the whole harmony. Behind was the brilliant yellow of the quaking asps and the duller gold of the tamaracks, backed in their turn by the dark green of the furthest spruce grove, and the brownish greys and neutral tints of the distant hills.

many people, horses and tepees

Kootenay Indians Breaking up Camp. Peavine.

Page 222.

We must mention, as it happened here, our solitary instance of gratitude in an Indian. Cardie helped a small boy to carry in a log of wood which was too heavy for him; and that evening his father, who chanced to be the chief, came to supper with us, and brought a great load of fire-wood for our use. He also warned us against the dogs which pervaded the camp; and not without cause, for the one thing we did leave out, a small tin of dripping, was promptly carried off, and brought back to us in a very battered state in the morning by another redskin.

We were greeted at Cranbrook by the cheering intelligence that in the immortal words of Ballyhooley “the Polis were behaving most onruly,” and that they, our own familiar friends, under whose fostering care we had with such confidence left our beautiful Hope and Lulie, had basely betrayed their trust, and three of them had deserted in our canoes. We were also informed that the authorities were going to arrest us for “a haiding and abetting” by supplying the means of desertion, which seemed to be the ne plus ultra of insult and injury.

We were expecting certain letters of some importance, and the mail-carrier, a parti­cularly good specimen of a sturdy Canadian, arrived to-day on horseback, two other horses loaded with mails being 224 driven or led by him over the 180 miles which stretch between here and Golden. Cranbrook, though itself a real Queen Victoria’s post-office, only sends and receives letters once a fortnight during the summer, and once a month in winter. No wonder that letters for this country are addressed B. C. However, if they go on as energetically as they have begun, it seems likely that in the near future they will be entitled to date A. D., or perhaps even a little ahead of that.

When next day we arrived at the Ferry, we found that the first part at any rate of the ominous rumour was strictly true; but of the last the only sign was that we were invited to a bounteous repast at the mess, which, as we had eaten an enormous dinner just half an hour before, was somewhat of a trial, but we did it all right, such is the invigorating influence of the climate. The officer in command sent off a couple of men to follow the canoes down to the Line (the U.S. boundary, for which, of course, the deserters had made), and find out where they were and what chance there was of recovering them, and that was all that could be done. The Line was sixty-five miles distant, and we could only sit down and wait for the return of the messengers.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XX

the cariboo cannot be distinguished from the European reindeer
[In the same way that dogs and wolves are the same species, reindeer and caribou are both Rangifer tarandus.]

I just crudled in a hole under a rock
[This is not crudle = cruddle = curdle, but crudle = croodle = “cower, crouch”. Don’t thank me; thank the OED.]

In vain for sport we wander on
[The rhythm makes me think of “Oh no we never mention him (her)”, the Thomas Haynes Bayly (1797–1839) poem later set to music:

From sport to sport they hurry me

To banish my regret

And when they win a smile from me

They think that I forget.

But I may be on the wrong track entirely.]



The next few days were not very jolly, for we were obliged to remain near home so as to be ready for all events. Our camp was on a bare bleak flat, high above the river, so that fetching water was a labour; and there was an abundant supply of cold wind, with intervals of snow and rain. We may say here that the amount of these commodities that fell during our expedition was much greater than we had been led to expect, the weather being about as wet on the whole as in our own favoured island, and so capricious as to completely justify the well-known distinction that “climate lasts all the time, and weather only a few days.” Every one we met assured us that this was an entirely abnormal and exceptional year, and from the dry nature of the soil and general charac­teristics of the country we should imagine this to be the fact. About this time people began to tell us that after a week more of cold and wet the Indian summer would arrive, and then we should have “quite a time.” Cardie used every morning to gaze at the snow creeping lower and lower down the Rockies, and say, “Boys! we shall have to den up here if we don’t look out” (Cardie treats us as if we also were bears); and then 226 consolingly, “but I guess we’ll get out in the thaws next spring anyhow. We can weather it all right here with plenty of mits and mocassins.” Mits and mocassins are Cardie’s delight; he buys a pair of each on every possible occasion, and has got a huge bag which he will carry round with him, and which we believe to contain nothing in the world except “Darwin’s Origin of Species” and a lot of mocassins and mits.

We could not spare the time to go hunting, but fished with fair results in the St. Mary’s River. The Roman Catholic Mission on that stream is a disappointing place. It is of considerable antiquity (by Canadian standard), and might easily by this time have acquired a venerable moss-grown air of monastic repose. But nothing of the sort has happened. It is merely a squalid, untidy collection of mudded wooden hovels, with nothing venerable or restful about them; or if there is, it is hidden by the dirt.

On our (the eastern) side of the Kootenay, situated on the Wild Horse Creek, is the town of the same name, about five miles back in the mountains. Once, in the early days of the gold-rush, this place contained as many as 20,000 inhabitants. That was the time when at the Ferry flour sold at four shillings a pound, and the toll for crossing the river was £1—the dearest bit of transport in the world we imagine, amounting to about threepence a yard. And on the bank, we are told, men camped night after night waiting for their turn to cross, and fighting for it even to the death. Now, Wild Horse is sadly shorn of its former glory, but there are still several hundred miners there, including a large number of the inevitable 227 Chinamen, who always step into the white man’s deserted diggings, and manage to make small fortunes where their predecessors could not earn a living.

Between us and this town stood the Police Hospital, in which at this time several of the army were down with some kind of fever which they seemed to have brought with them from the north-west (for B. C. is at present as nearly free from all disease as it is possible for any place to be), and later we learnt that three if not more of them died there.

We made a very elaborate larder and pantry out of some spruces and bits of drift-wood, and in various other ways beautified the camp; but the time passed very slowly, though Richmond came down to cheer us up and lived with us two or three 228 days. On the fourth the Police scouts came back, and announced that they had just reached the canoes in time. Those villainous deserters had turned them adrift after reaching the Line, and a band of stone-broke gambling Indians had captured them, and were just about to depart when our men arrived on the scene and rescued them. They were now safely deposited with “a lady” who had a ranch about seventy miles away. It was some little consolation to hear that these miscreants had all been upset, one canoe twice; and that one of the men was all but drowned, and was in a very decrepit state in consequence.

shelf-and-tripod arrangement as described in text

Our Pantry. Galbraith’s Ferry.

And now our ill luck came to an end for a time. Mr. Phillipps, the Indian agent, arrived, and hearing of our plight, most kindly lent us a couple of horses and pack-gear to enable us to get down to where the Lulie and Hope were lying, at a place known as Tobacco Plains. There we should find a store to replenish our exhausted stock of provisions, and thence should have the choice of two trails leading southwards, which would in another hundred miles or so bring us to a railway.

On the 10th of October, the weather having at last settled its differences with some other weather, leaving the Rockies a marvel of glistening peaks and pinnacles, we once more resumed our journey. Our course lay through the Police Camp, where quite a levee was held to wish us good luck, down a steep bluff into the bed of the Wild Horse Creek. Leaving this tumbled untidy flat of enormous beds of shingle, among which in many channels the stream rambled about, the colour of macadamised road mud 229 from the gold-washing up above, we breasted the further bank, and were glad to see the last of the Ferry, where, though we had received nothing but kindness, we could hardly be said to have enjoyed ourselves.

As from this time our operations were chiefly conducted by the aid of pack horses, we will try to describe something of the methods adopted. Most people have heard of the Diamond Hitch; and some few know how to make it. Those who do not shall first read what Mr. Lord in his “Naturalist in British Columbia” has to say on the matter, after which they shall please themselves about reading what we say.

“To describe the manner of ‘putting on’ a load and properly lashing it when on is impossible” (that appears to settle the matter, doesn’t it?) “A month’s daily practice is insufficient to make an apt scholar a moderately good packer. One may watch the mode of fastening the load with a riata for a year twice a day, and be no more able to do it at the twelvemonth’s end than the flute could be learned by looking at another blow and finger it; hence written description would be useless.” This seems to discount the value of our information considerably, but we are going to try all the same.

Take two men, one horse or mule, one pack-saddle, one lash-rope (which Mr. Lord calls riata), two or three packages, one mantle or covering for the whole. The lash-rope is from thirty to forty feet long, terminating at one end in a synch* (girth) of 230 ordinary size, the end of which remote from the lash-rope is furnished with a large smooth wooden hook, in which a rope can run easily. The lash-rope and synch are shown at the bottom of the sketch. Place the saddled horse between the two men, one of whom has the lash-rope. Simultaneously the men lift and hang or bind on to the saddle at each side the packs, which ought (and this is very important) to be of equal weight. If there is a third it is put on the top in the most convenient form according to circumstances. (N.B.—It is in the difficulty of adjusting packs to the best advantage under continually varying conditions that the true art of packing lies, and this can be met by nothing but incessant practice and experience.) Cover all with the mantle (generally a strong waterproof sheet) to protect it from the elements.

* We have seen this word spelt also “cinch;” but it is not to be found in either shape in the dictionary.

view of pack horse from above, showing position of rope

The Diamond Hitch.

Now let the near-side man throw the loose end of the lash-rope diagonally across the pack from the front of the near-side to the back of the off-side, 231 leaving a yard or two of the end hanging over at the back. Then pass the synch under the horse’s belly, the off-man receiving it and holding it with the hook just coming below the bottom of the pack point outwards. Now pass that portion of the lash-rope attached to the synch over the pack in a bight (crossing the piece first mentioned); this the off-man receives, places in the hook at B, and draws taut, the near-man also hauling the slack to D from the hook upwards. Now keeping the length B D taut in the left hand, with the right hand turn back at D the rope first placed on the pack, so that it encircles the near half of the pack in a loop D C, pulling down in front at D and up at C. The off-man standing behind the horse then hauls at the end of the rope first placed on the pack until this loop is tight, and the rope is pulled into a sharp angle at D. Now the off-man turns his rope sharply back at E towards the head of the horse, but before hauling tucks the end under the rope A F E B at F. He then hauls tight from E to the front and so encircles the off-side of the pack in a loop like the other, pulling down at the front and up at the back until the near-man can give a final haul to the tucked end, making the angle F. Fasten off at the most convenient place, generally by taking it down to the synch along F C.

Thunder! it certainly does look a little complicated, but that’s how it’s done, and the reader may be consoled by knowing that understanding it is simply nothing to doing it. And if he will reflect that we had to hitch and unhitch three awkwardly shaped packs of miscellaneous materials in this manner every day, generally twice a day, sometimes three times, he 232 will cease to wonder that sweetness of temper was not our prevailing characteristic.

Other hitches there are of less fame than this, notably the “Squaw Hitch,” a comparatively simple affair, which we found very useful with our smaller packs in the Sinclair Pass. Then there is the “Hudson Bay Wind,” which we never tried, but which we are informed consists of winding a few score of yards of rope round pack and horse, as if you were putting splints on a broken arm. This sounds effective, as one fails to see how the horse and pack could part company, but it also gives one the idea of possible discomfort to the animal. The great beauty of the “Diamond Hitch” consists in the fact that as you tauten up each new angle where the ropes cross it also puts a further strain on the other angles, so that the final haul, which is generally accomplished by placing the foot against the horse and pulling with might and main, makes the ropes tight enough to play music on. The effective pattern of the mesh-like binding can be seen in the sketch, and the last merit is that to take it off it is only necessary to pull out the end at F, when by simply unhooking the bight at B the whole of the lashing is free and lifts off at once.

So much did this daily worry prey upon our minds that we had thoughts at one time of bringing out this great work as a shilling dreadful, under the name of “The Diamond Itch: a Bond Street Mystery.” “The Squaw Hitch; or Annals of the Divorce Court,” is another title which we feel sure would attract the reading public; and “The Hudson Bay Wind; or the Frozen Cyclone,” contains in itself all 233 the elements of a successful story of Arctic adventure. We beg to state that all these titles are registered or patented, or whatever the legal process may be: To infringe which will be forgery. V.R.

Stories of the difficulties of packing and the ludicrous mishaps caused by incompetency meet one at every turn in a country where practically all the traffic is carried on by this means, for between Galbraith’s Ferry and the South, West, and East, for 150 miles in every direction, there is nothing in the shape of a road, but only the narrow track on which one horse at a time can thread his way through the interminable forest.

One of the Tyees told us that in his younger days he and another man were reduced to absolute despair by their bad luck in this respect; do what they would they could not get the trick of keeping the pack together and on the horse’s back, and the many accidents which occurred in consequence were gradually depriving them of everything they possessed in the wide world, including their peace of mind. And at last one morning, when things had gone more than usually wrong, and they were meditating suicide, they chanced on a traveller who knew all about it, and him they induced to pack their one remaining horse properly. This he did, and with restored happiness they marched forward that day, and at night they reasoned thus: “We have only two more days to travel, and it is better that one horse should be miserable than that two men should cut their throats; let us then leave the pack on him and go without food or change of clothing rather than once more have our things scattered to the winds of 234 heaven.” So they tethered the horse to a tree, all tightly lashed and diamond hitched as he was, and the first gleams of morning light shone upon a woeful scene. For behold that perfidious animal had slept upon the kettle until the same was flat even as a plate, and had burst open the flour sack and rolled himself in the contents thereof, so that whereas he had gone to bed bay, so now he was white like unto a miller; moreover he had tied the lash-rope in divers knots around his legs, and the rest of the pack he had scattered quadriviously and utterly dispersed, save such things as the skunks and other evil beasts had chawed up. And what happened next deponent sayeth not.

It is most distressing to see the backs of almost all the pack animals in the country; hardly any of them are free from huge raws, and the poor things must suffer terribly. A sore once started has scarcely any chance of recovering, for men cannot or will not give the necessary time and trouble to attend to it and so arrange the packs as not to bear on it. None of the horses that we used during our travels were sound in this respect, but by great care we cured all that we had for any length of time, with the exception of the old roan, who seemed to be unalterable in every way.

The two horses Phillipps lent us were both white, one being slightly flea-bitten: and to him was allotted the name of Spot; the other one being called Plain, because—well, we don’t wish to say anything unkind, but he was plain. Spot was slightly addicted to kicking, and to demonstrate this peculiarity to the world at large his tail had been cut in the form 235 of a tooth-brush, which led to that name also being bestowed upon him. The third horse was our (R)own, whom when we were all good-tempered, was affectionately addressed as “Roany;” in more adverse circumstances he was known as “the roan;” and when still greater misery supervened as “that roan.” Ordinarily he was called “that fill-in-according-to-fancy roan.”

Spot was a conceited horse, probably because he alone of the party never lost his tooth-brush; he always thought he knew better than any one; you couldn’t teach him anything, and the worst of it was that Plain backed him up, and thought there was no one in the world like him. We argued it out with the thickest sticks we could cut, we reasoned with him and tried to persuade him with rope ends and axe-handles, but no, he persisted in thinking that Tooth-brush was always entirely right, and we entirely wrong. Nevertheless on the whole we loved old Plain, and even this defect of his showed the staunchness and single-mindedness of his character.

Spot always led the way, and was most amusing if our Own tried to pass him. He would crowd his competitor off the path into a tree or over a precipice in the most light-hearted way sooner than lose his place.

Once fairly off, we got along well, and presently passed a ranch, to the owner of which we had been asked to deliver a message. But when the Skipper arrived within a quarter of a mile or so of the house, he became aware that a skunk must be sharing the habitation, and getting considerably more than his fair share too. So we departed hurriedly, and a few miles further on met the co-tenant out hunting. He 236 told us that they had quarrelled last night, and he had succeeded in shooting his unwelcome partner, which comforted us greatly, as until then we had imagined that it was the skunk who had done the killing. We suppose if any one enters that ranch this winter, his friends will know it until quite late in the spring.

Not Acid Carbolic, or Chloride of Lime,

Or the worst disinfectant that’s known at this time,

Not even a stink-pot from Chinaman’s junk

Has got the least chance of outsmelling that skunk.

You may break, you may shatter the ranch if you will,

But the scent that arose there will cling to it still.

The survivor advised us to try the next bit of prairie for chicken, saying it was an uncommonly good place. Finally, on our asking what sport he had had, replied that he had seen nothing but a big black wolf, which, however, had eluded him, and with that we parted.

No one made any comment, and we walked on, pondering over these things in our minds, and presently some one said “About that wolf,” and we all laughed in our nasty unpleasant way. If by this laugh we did him an injustice, we are very sorry; but somehow it seemed to have struck us all that this parti­cular Big Black Wolf was an animal that only appeared to tenderfeet,* and must be classed with the Big Black Bull of our childhood, which used to meet us in the lane when it was going home to be milked, and frightened our young lives out.

* A tenderfoot = Griffin, Johnny Raw, Greenhorn, Freshman, &c.

And when we came to the prairie and looked at it, 237 and even tried a little of it, and came to the conclusion that there neither was, nor since the summer had been, one single chicken on it, we became confirmed in our incredulity. So meeting a man soon afterwards who was going to the ranch, we sent word by him that it just swarmed with birds (which was true; they were blue-birds), in the hope that the owner of Skunk Hall would spend the rest of the autumn tramping up and down it with dog and gun.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXI

snow and rain. We may say here that the amount of these commodities that fell during our expedition
[You might think that rain in British Columbia should not surprise anyone. But the writers are in the southeast corner of the province, just over the border from the section of the US that describes itself as “the everbrown part of the evergreen state”.]

Wild Horse Creek
[. . . has now been promoted to Wild Horse River. The town itself—such as it is—has also been called Fisherville.]

at the bottom of the sketch
[I rotated the picture to make the labels vertical, so “bottom of sketch” = right side.]

“Not acid carbolic” etc:
[“Farewell!—but whenever”, Thomas Moore (1779–1852), ending:

Long, long be my heart with such memories filled!

Like the vase in which roses have once been distilled—

You may break, you may shatter the vase, if you will,

But the scent of the roses will hang round it still.]



We stopped for the night on a level prairie near the Kootenay, which has here settled down to respectable behaviour, though it has a relapse further on. We had made about twelve miles without any trouble, for the weather was delightful, the packs behaved well, and altogether things went happily. At our camp was a big fallen tree which was so conveniently placed for baking that we made an extra quantity of bread.

We now bake in a manner somewhat different from our old method, which consisted in placing the dough in a frying-pan with a lid over it, then putting the pan on red-hot embers and heaping some more on to the lid.

This used to make excellent bread if care was taken, but especially in rough weather or in sunlight the difficulty of regulating evenly the top and bottom heat almost always caused one side to be more or less burnt, and we have now adopted the more usual Canadian plan.

The fire is made if possible against the side of a big log, other smaller pieces being often placed at right angles, the object being to get as much heat thrown downwards from a glowing surface as possible. 239 The dough is mixed with baking powder in the ordinary way (for in a constantly moving camp making yeast is too much trouble). Then we flour or grease the two frying-pans, place a flattish round loaf in each, and with a short stick prop up the handles of the frying-pans at such an angle as to expose the loaf to the fire, without being so steep as to let it slide out.

We also usually place a few embers behind the pan. In a very few minutes the loaves should be turned, both round sideways and upside down, and this turning has to be frequently repeated till they have risen and are sufficiently hard to keep their shape. Then we take them out of the pans (which are thus free for another couple of loaves), and continue the baking by propping them round the fire with sticks, and turning when required. In this way we have a constant succession of loaves following each other every ten minutes, and in three-quarters of an hour can finish enough for two days.

The description of it would hardly lead one to expect good bread, but it is a fact that the very best bread that it is possible to make with baking powder can be baked in this way, which is fortunate, as we are all decidedly dainty in the matter of bread. One great advantage of this country from our point of view is the wonderfully good flour; the Winnipeg flour which we bought at the Ferry is as perfect a production as can be hoped for in this vale of tears. We consider ourselves competent judges, and have compared it with the best American brands to the disadvantage of the latter.

One of our favourite luxuries is the tortilla (pronounced 240 torteea). This is the recipe. Make ordinary dough as for bread. Plant a stick in the ground near the fire at an angle of about 25° or 30°. Have another small clean stick ready, and a frying-pan of lard or butter heated as hot as possible short of burning it. Take a piece of dough the size of a small hen’s egg, flatten it between the hands, and making a hole in the centre, quickly work it out into a flat ring of about two inches inside diameter. Drop it flat in the grease (the pan, of course, is kept on the fire), which should easily cover it, turn it almost immediately, and in a few seconds it will be cooked. When of a light brown colour, fish it out with your little stick, and hang it on the slanting one. If the grease is the right heat, the cooking of one tortilla will occupy just the same time as the forming of the next, and so the process goes merrily on until the slanting stick is full of lovely crisp crumpety rings, which are hailed with joy by your companions when they come in tired and hungry.

Another excellent dish which made a frequent appearance at our meals was Pigjeree, a mixture of bacon boiled until quite tender and chopped small with boiled rice, seasoned with pepper, &c., and warmed up together in a frying-pan until the rice began to brown, the bacon grease being sufficient to prevent it sticking and burning.

The frying-pan is often scoffed at as the resource of a bad and ignorant cook, but it is wonderful how much can be done with it, and in fact how few other cooking utensils are really necessary. We finished by the mercy of Providence—for we fully expected it would finish us—all the so-called coffee 241 which we bought at Golden. Since then we have had green coffee of the very best kind which we “struck” at the Ferry. This we roast every day or every other day in our two frying-pans, merely stirring or continuously shaking the pan for the ten minutes or so required, and we flatter ourselves that our coffee is very good indeed, which places it high above that of any London hotel with which we are acquainted.

Our tea is exceptional, being some that we had brought from Ceylon on purpose for this expedition, Cingalese tea being either the best there is or else better than that. Altogether it is a delusion to suppose that camping necessarily means roughing it. Of course there are times when things go wrong and make life unpleasant for a season, but with fellows who understand their work and are willing to “rustle” these periods ought never to be of long duration, not more than enough to make the “smoothing” doubly pleasant as soon as the “roughing” is past.

The second day we went leisurely along the trail southward, still favoured by the weather, and traversing a magnificent country. It is hard to say how much of this is still unoccupied, for the fertile patches are often hidden far away from the trail in the forest, but all along this portion of the Kootenay valley down to the boundary there are still many unsettled plots of prairie land to be found.

For English gentlemen with small capital who do not wish or expect to make fortunes, we fancy there is still plenty of room here. They could with moderate industry live comfortably (though not luxuriously) in a healthy climate, with the Union Jack over their heads, 242 and the Queen’s writs and taxes so to speak on their doorstep; a fish in the river, a joint on the mountain, and game in the forest all ready for every man’s dinner; and three acres and a cow in the back-garden; in fact with all the surroundings which we are taught to believe necessary for a happy existence.

The great drawback (if it is a drawback) is, of course, inaccessi­bility; but every year removes some portion of that objection, and some fine day the locomotive will find its way here, and then those who preceded it will have their reward. Who knows how soon that day will come?

Among other attractions of this pleasant land is the curious fact that though the mosquito is decidedly plentiful, yet there are no fleas, bugs, or poisonous snakes. The harmless necessary earthworm is also conspicuous by his absence, though how the dicky-birds and farmers, fishermen and Darwinians get on without him is more than we can tell. We met once upon a time an aged Indian who related to us the native tradition accounting for this state of things. As we could not understand a word he said, and most of our readers would probably fare no better if we printed his story in his own tongue, we have had it translated at immense expense, and here it is:—


You shall hear how Hiawatha

Came into the Rocky Mountains,

Came to place upon the mountains

All the kinds of birds and insects,

All the bats, the beasts and fishes,

All the reptiles and red herrings,


When as yet the rocks and forests,

And the air, the lakes, and rivers

Were devoid of living creatures,

Simply were “To let, Unfurnished.”

In a wicker-cage he carried

Birds of many sorts and sizes,

And whenever he thought proper

He would open wide the doorway,

And let out a wingèd creature.

First Keneu, the great war-eagle,

And the grouse, the Mushkodasa,

And the other well-known dickies,

Which are printed in due order

In the long Vocabulary,

Excellent Vocabulary,

To the Song of Hiawatha.

Leading strings had Hiawatha,

Leading strings to all the creatures

Which on four feet walked behind him,

Quadrupeds the learned call them,

So the great professors call them.

When he reached a piece of country

Suitable for any creature,

He would loose the proper beast there,

Let him loose into the country.

He had brought a bowl of fishes,

In a crystal bowl the fishes.

As he came to any streamlet,

Any kind of running water,

Any pool or lake or river,

He would throw into the water

One or two of all his fishes.

First the pike, the Maskenozha,

And the sturgeon, Mishe Nahma,

And the Ugudwash, etcetera;

They whose names appear in order

In that same Vocabulary

Which already has been mentioned,

Once already has been mentioned.

In a wooden box he carried

All the miscellaneous creatures,


Bats and reptiles and red herrings,

Any that he wasn’t quite sure

Which division ought to have them,

What their scientific class was.

All the insects he had sorted,

Placed in paper bags the insects,

In one bag the Norfolk Howards,

In one bag the fleas, the Jumpers,

And Suggema, the mosquitoes,

In another bag he carried.

Just when starting Hiawatha

Found he hadn’t got the earthworms,

Had no room for any earthworms:

Filled were all his great-coat pockets,

Filled his fishing-bag and fly-book,

Filled his mocassins and matchbox,

No place left for any earthworms

But the mouth of Hiawatha.

Thus he wandered in the mountains,

Silently throughout the mountains,

Making no remarks whatever

As he journeyed through the country,

Peopling all the streams and forests,

With the birds and beasts and fishes,

And the other creatures mentioned

In the same Vocabulary

To which in some former verses

We already have alluded.

As he journeyed Hiawatha

Came into the Western Province

Which is called Columbia (British);

Quite impossible the name is

To insert in any metre

In its proper form and order.

B. C. all its natives call it,

B. C. is the way we write it.

To the mountains then of B. C.

Hiawatha brought his creatures,

Creatures peopling all the mountains.

First he loosed the Mushkodasa,

Mahng the loon, the wild-goose Wawa,


Mama, Kah-gah-gee, Shuh-shuh-gah,

And the other cockyollies

Named in the Vocabulary

To the Song of Hiawatha.

Then he loosed Ahdeek the reindeer,

And the squirrel, Ajidaumo,

And the great bear, Mishe Mokwa,

And Ahmeek, the king of beavers,

And the mountain ram, the Bighorn,

And a lot of other beasties

For whose names we must refer you,

Most reluctantly refer you,

To the same Vocabulary,

For there isn’t much more paper,

And the Printer’s so bad-tempered,

Yes, his temper’s simply awful.

All the creatures as he freed them

Skipped and frisked about the mountain,

Gambolled all about the mountain,

But the mountain ram, the Bighorn,

Took a very mean advantage

When he saw that Hiawatha

Was employed with other matters,

Not attending to the Bighorn:

Swift he came at Hiawatha,

Butted him with both his big horns,

Just below his manly bosom

In the middle of his waistcoat,

Of his best embroidered waistcoat.

Not a word said Hiawatha,

But he sat down very quickly,

With one little gasp and guggle:

Sat down with a sickly spasm

On a paper bag of insects,

On a busted bag of skeeters.

And Suggema, the mosquitoes,

Left the paper bag in fragments,

Scooted off into the forests,

Went rejoicing to the forests,

To the forests dark and gloomy

Of the Western Province B. C.


Every blooming last mosquito

Went into the B. C. forests,

None were left for Hiawatha

To set free in other countries.

But the bugs, the Norfolk Howards,

And the fleas, the Merry Jumpers,

And the rattlesnakes, the reptiles,

Still were kept by Hiawatha:

None of them he loosed in B. C.,

Took them all away from B. C.,

Saying, “There’s enough already,

Misery enough and cussing,

Both of scratching and of cussing,

With Suggema the mosquito,

With that darned ding-blamed mosquito.”

What became of all the earthworms?

No one knows where all the earthworms

Went in that distracting moment,

When so quickly Hiawatha

Sat down with a gasp and guggle,

With a choking gasp and guggle.

That’s the reason why the earthworms

Are the only pleasant creatures

That are never found in B. C.;

That is why their names are missing

From that same Vocabulary,

Most complete Vocabulary

To the Song of Hiawatha.

Soon after starting we came to Bull River, a swift stream about four feet deep, and at present in a shrunken channel of about thirty yards wide. This mountain torrent has—like all the other tributaries of the Kootenay except the gold-washing Wild Horse—the most beautifully transparent cold water imaginable; every stone at the bottom as clearly defined as if through a sheet of plate-glass, deceiving one into the belief that it is not more than eighteen inches in depth.


The Skipper did not think the horses could manage to carry us in addition to their heavy packs, so took off the two pairs of trousers, which he now habitually wore, and tying his clothes round his neck, waded through. He came out perfectly numb on the other side, and with his legs looking thinner, if possible, than when they went in. The other two “got on the ’oss, and said, my eyes, ’e’s a ’oss and ’e must go,” and kneeling behind the pack with rifles and sticks, urged the unfortunate animals across. An agonised howl went up from the Skipper as he saw old Plain’s pack, containing the camera, lurch into the water at one corner. What a relief it was when we immediately overhauled the pack to find that the least treasured of all our possessions, the soap, was the only thing that had suffered. Little should we have recked in these cold days if it had swum bodily down the river and fed the fishes which abound therein.

These big trout would be certain to try it, for some of them eat things which one would hardly suppose to be naturally intended for their food. For instance, we have found their insides just as full of mice as an old barn—common domestic mice, not watershrews or young voles, or any deception of that kind. Now, how on earth—or in water—did these two creatures, the trout and the mouse, manage to meet? Does the trout climb out on to the bank and scour the fields and sit patiently outside holes for the mouse; or does the mouse come and scull about the river and go fishing for tittlebats, and thus fall a prey to the trout? We have never seen either of these manœuvres going on, but something of the sort must 248 happen to account for the numbers of great fish that seem to subsist chiefly on mice.

A few miles further on we came to a solitary miner camping near a little forest creek of very good water. This ran at the end of a beautiful open glade along the side of a dense willow patch, in which the ruffed grouse were very plentiful. He was much pleased to see us, because, for some reason, he was afraid of the Indians; and as he seemed a very quiet, decent sort of fellow, we stopped there, and saw him safe off on his lonely wanderings next morning.

He told us, among other things, that he was once gold-hunting in Bull River, by a method called, we believe, “bed-rock” mining. This consists in damming or diverting a river, or portion of one—which in a big stream like Bull can only be done by erecting wing-dams in various places—thus laying dry some of the channel. The gold lies in quite large pieces, as big as a sovereign or more, in the cracks and crannies at the bottom, and a successful damming operation often pays well. There was, he said, a large colony of miners there, and all were busy at their work, when suddenly, without any warning, the river ceased to run, and the whole watercourse was laid bare. They all plunged into it, and for a few minutes worked with feverish excitement, picking up more gold in that time than ordinarily they would have secured by many weeks of labour. And then the uncanniness of the thing struck them, and seized with panic, they all rushed out of the river-bed, and began hastily to move their tents and belongings, which were close to the bank, on to higher ground. Only one man dared to return into the bottom, and 249 he simply walked up the course of the stream, picking up gold as he went, till he reached a ravine in the mountains. There he found that a huge snow-slide had come down and blocked the river; and so enormous was the quantity of snow that it actually held up that tremendous volume of water for eight hours, in which time, as our miner said, if they had only had pluck enough, every man of them could have made his fortune.

The next stream we crossed was Sand Creek, about eighteen miles from Bull River, and though not quite so large, equally beautiful. The latter was noticeable for its pines, but at Sand Creek the striking feature was a large patch of the most splendid tamaracks we had yet seen. We fear it is impossible to give any real idea of the beauty of these magnificent red-barked larches, their symmetrically tapered trunks bare for half their growth, and above that branching with graceful tracery of dull gold: their shape reminding one of some lovely cathedral spire, as in their stately height they mount towards heaven. We saw some of these giants lying on the ground, and estimated them all to be more than 200 feet high, the highest probably 220.

Here occurred a slight fracas with Plain, and the man who had not been exasperated beyond endurance interposed with, “What on earth’s the use of licking that horse; you don’t think you’ll teach him any sense, do you?”

“Teach him sense, indeed? No, a steam thrashing-machine couldn’t.”

“Then why do you go on doing it?”

“Well, if you must know, I’m hammering him 250 just for my own satisfaction.” And he looked as if he was.

We had a wonderful camp a mile beyond Sand Creek, on a little grassy knoll perched above an expanse of flat brown meadows, through which a duck abounding creek slowly meandered. The outlook was west, and here B. C. fairly outdid herself in the sunset. In the centre the most vivid yellow ochrey tint, which gradually merged through marvellous shades of green into the blue black of the upper sky. As the night crept on, the yellow faded, to be replaced by duller orange, till it once more brightened out into a rosy pink, which spread and spread with ever-growing waves of colour until the whole sky glowed, and across it floated clouds that looked as black as ink, edged with the most vivid blood-red crimson.

Close to this halting-place we began to look for a trail which turns to the east and leads to a bridge over the next big river, Elk. The main trail goes straight on and crosses by a ford near its mouth. We were lucky enough to find this junction without difficulty, and for many miles walked through a glorious country of open forests with patches of underwood here and there, but for the most part as clear and well-grassed as an English park. The eye never wearied of these aisles and cloisters of nature’s building, varied every now and then by the placid surface of a rushy lake, on whose bosom numbers of coots, pochards, and grebes were amusing themselves, while the soft shores bore witness to the nightly visits of deer in plenty.

One more stream, Rock Creek, was passed, in which all the horses had narrow escapes from foundering, 251 and after leaving it the trail kept rising pretty evenly, crossed a high bare bluff which could never have had any water on it except rain, and yet for some unexplained reason bore the greenest grass and wild flax we had seen in the country, and at last we stood on a bleak plateau. The roar of Elk River came faintly up from the canyon below us, and not a trace was left of the path we had followed so long.

We separated and hunted for it, and at last a shout from the Skipper brought us all to a precipitous corner of the hill, where just in the last place we should have expected to find it our perfidious track was again seen. It astonished us, after being actually in sight of Elk, to have to go so far as that trail led us, but we noticed that it kept bearing to the left until we had almost described a circle, and after three miles we pulled up within two hundred yards of where we had been a good hour before. The extraordinary thing about this is that there is no obstacle or indication that there ever has been one, and the present state of things is much as though one walked all round a Q in order to get to the end of the tail. “Thus,” as the Skipper mused, “are the wisest (i.e., we) sometimes fooled.”

What the circular trail was ever made for is a mystery, and will remain so as far as we are concerned. We were satisfied to be here at last, a quarter of a mile above the bridge, on the north bank of Elk River, while below us the torrent thundered its impetuous way between the huge boulders and walls of rock which checked and kept within bounds its wild dark waters.

Elk is by far the largest and in every way the 252 most interesting of the many streams we have passed. Just where we were camped and for several miles below it plunges down a succession of ledges and falls that look as if they had been quarried and blasted out of the solid rock, so straight and sheer and clean cut are the sides of its channel. Up above it widens out into a comparatively peaceful stream, quite navigable for canoes, and holding out attractions of all kinds to the hunter and traveller.

The great glory of B. C., more even than in its forests, is in the number and beauty of its rivers and springs. We have suffered many miseries of one kind or another, but never the crowning one of want of water. We wonder if it ever occurs to any of those overbearing fanatics, the self-styled “temperance” (!) advocates at home, that the chief reason why whisky and beer are so much more popular as beverages than water is because they are so much nicer to drink. If Elk River could be turned loose in Hyde Park, we would guarantee it should reduce the drink bill more in a week than all their pet nostrums of plunder and tyranny will if ever they are given a trial. It is simply a matter of human likes and dislikes. The public drink beer because it tastes better than water; and this not because the beer is very good, for it usually isn’t, but because the water is very bad.

Take one of us as an instance (modesty conceals his name); he drinks out here nothing except water, and very little else at home in the country. But for about seven years of Oxford and London life he never touched it, simply because in those places the flat, cloudy, tepid mixture facetiously called water is about 253 as much like the real thing as a bottle of corked gooseberry is like champagne.

We have not the smallest hope that anything said by such unregenerate persons as we are will have the slightest effect on a man who imagines total abstinence to be a virtue, but it relieves our minds to say it. And if after this we ever see a teetotaller spending money to give his fellow-creatures pure cold water instead of subscribing to societies for depriving them by force of their beer, we shall feel we have not lived in vain.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXII

skip to next chapter

the more usual Canadian plan.
final . missing or invisible

the tortilla
[I think the function of the hole is to keep the tortilla from puffing up like a poori.]

our coffee is very good indeed, which places it high above that of any London hotel with which we are acquainted
[Three in Norway says:
Breakfast is very much like a good English one, except the coffee, which is not at all like English coffee, being perfectly delicious.]

we had brought from Ceylon on purpose
[One of Walter Clutterbuck’s solo works was About Ceylon and Borneo, published in 1891 but with many references to his first visit, 14 years earlier. Just how old was this Ceylon tea?]

You shall hear how Hiawatha
[If you don’t happen to know “Hiawatha” by heart, read along here. I consider this a tour de force.]

Quite impossible the name is / To insert in any metre / In its proper form and order.
[They’re exaggerating about “any metre”. “BRItish CoLUMbia” works fine in dactyls.]

got on the ’oss, and said, my eyes, ’e’s a ’oss and ’e must go
[Caption of a John Leech sketch:

horse in stable


But wait, there’s more. According to The History of Punch (M. H. Spielmann, 1895), the drawing is not really by Leech; he only cleaned it up for publication:

In this same year [1863] a young lady named Miss Mansel (now Mrs. Bull) sent in a drawing of an incident which occurred at her uncle’s place at Anglesey in Hampshire . . . . Leech slightly re-touched the drawing, adding pigeons in the foreground, and so forth, but, of course, did not add his initials. . . . “I remember I was very proud,” writes the lady, “a few days after the drawing appeared, at hearing some officers . . . quoting my sketch as a lady galloped up the road. I was only about seventeen then.”]



We stopped at this Elk River Camp several days, hunting, fishing, and generally enjoying ourselves. One morning we came on the tracks of an exceeding great and savage grizzly, so great that Jim announced “as the father of a family he didn’t feel justified in going after such a bear as that.” Cardie said “he didn’t want any of it in his, he hadn’t any use for grizzlies, and what’s the matter with going in the opposite direction.” So the Skipper alone went in pursuit; and when the sun went down, and dark night came on, and still he had not returned, we became confident that he must have been unlucky enough to overtake that bear. But we kept a good fire going, and about nine o’clock he struggled back to camp, very tired of course, but having managed to keep out of the way of his quarry all day.

There were many of these creatures near here; the woods down by the river being full of the tracks made by the black ones, and the mountains, especially on the high ridges just below the actual peaks, showing quite as many indications of the presence of grizzlies in the holes and upturned stones which seem to occupy most of their time. Without 255 dogs it is almost hopeless to go after the black bears, as they are very shy and keen of scent, and being of course much better able to get about through the brush than a man, they will not tree for him. Dogs, however, make them climb directly, and thus give the hunter every chance. Once Jim was quite close to one which he could hear very busily breaking the bushes, but he could not get a sight of it, not being liquid enough to get through the sieve-like forest with sufficient speed.

We had to contend with the same difficulty as regards the deer; and speaking broadly, the early autumn is not the best time for white men to hunt unassisted by dogs or Indians who know the “licks” and other likely places.

At Elk River we first saw a new and supremely effective instrument for the torture of the hunter, which may be called a “phœnix forest.” This consists of the first growth of young larches coming up after an ancient grove has been destroyed by fire, and it is probably the very worst of all the varied iniquities we have met with. The young trees, about the size and thickness of a coach whip, grow as close together as the stalks in a field of corn. All among their legs are scattered the bodies of their defunct and prostrate parents. The latter you cannot see, so dense is the youthful crowd, but you feel them very acutely across your shins. The loose yellow needles drop into your mouth, eyes, and pockets, and down your back, and into your boots, and oh dear! what a misery it all is. You are fain at the twentieth tumble in five yards to lie down and cry in helpless despair. It took over 256 an hour to get through a tract of this sort which we guessed to be only a quarter of a mile in length.

One morning an Indian came galloping up on a good-looking horse, and producing a letter, gave us to understand by signs that he did not know the way to where it was addressed.

We have not mentioned hitherto that none of the Indians we have met speak any English, though we have suspected several of understanding it; but they are wonderful at making their ideas intelligible by signs, an art which is little known or appreciated by Europeans, but very interesting when reduced to a science, as it seems to be among the redskins.

We knew the man for whom the letter was intended, and that he was at a place about forty miles away, but of course as regards the road thither our minds were as blank as the messenger’s own. But did that deter us? not for a moment. We have not been three months in this country without learning that an exhaustive ignorance on any subject is no reason for not imparting the widest information on it to any inquirer. So with the utmost confidence we instructed that Indian in the way he should go, and ever after lived in daily dread that he would return with a wild tribe of painted warriors, and with war-whoops and tomahawks scalp us for having made a fool of him. However, we sent him through such an awful country that we thought there was really little chance of his arriving anywhere, and almost none of getting back again, and this reflection mitigated our fears considerably. It sounds rather 257 absurd that three white men, absolute strangers to the whole country, should be applied to for local information by one of its natives, but it may serve to show how extremely small and incomplete is any knowledge of these wild untrodden tracts, and how great are still the opportunities for any enterprising young fellow to find for himself a desirable spot for settlement.

The result of all our hard work and the healthy open-air existence we have so long enjoyed is that we are all in the height of health and spirits, and the robustness of our appetite is amazing, though as we are all in the same boat we do not comment on it in the manner which would be natural to us in England. The promptitude with which at any hour of the day we respond to the cook’s cry of “Now all you primeolifers, food’s ready!” would, we are sure, gratify those of our relatives who at home are always finding fault with us for being late for dinner. Jim was by way of being an invalid when he came out, and stated that he was dieting himself with great strictness under a set of rules laid down by his medical adviser. For a long time we vainly endeavoured to detect from his behaviour what those rules might be, but we have at last discovered them—“Eat whatever you fancy, it is the only safe guide; drink whatever you like, so long as it is the best. Do both every time you get the chance.” This seems to be the long sought for Guide to Health, and its very simplicity ought, we think, to commend it to a simple public.

The old tables of weights and measures have become to some extent obsolete under our present 258 conditions of life, and we append below the altered scale that we find more in accordance with facts.

A sip = one breakfast cup and a half.

A morsel more = two platesful.

Well, just the tiniest taste = ½ lb.

A mouthful = six cubic inches.

Twenty yards (after dinner) = one mile.

A ton = what I have to carry.

A trifle = what those other fellows bring along.

The fish that got away = 1 stone.

The one that was landed = ½ lb.

We were a little late here for the best fishing, the big fish having begun to go up into the high ground for spawning, but we had no difficulty in catching all we wanted.

This, however, was no light matter in the absence of much other food. We kept a careful account of the consumption of trout and charr during the five days we stayed here, and found that in that time we disposed of just 51 lbs. (weighed before cleaning). We made it a rule not to waste any, and, of course, tried to catch the small trout in preference to the larger.

Considered as sport the fishing here was a failure, for angling even for three-pounders ceases to be exciting when you have only to throw a fly into the water anyhow in order to secure a fish. It was so demoralising that at last we would not land a trout hooked on the dropper until one had taken the tail fly, and very interesting it was to see them in this clear water swimming about after the fly as it dragged behind the already captured victim, and often taking 259 it and rejecting it several times before getting actually hooked. One rod in an hour and five minutes caught in about 100 yards of river 20½ lbs., which weight might probably have been doubled by using larger flies and casting in the places suitable for larger fish.

How circumstances alter cases (this observation copyrighted). In the old country one would dream of such an impossible catch for the rest of one’s life. Here the only comment was, “Now, then, where are those fish? What a time you’ve been. What! do you mean to say these are the smallest you could get? Well, you’ll have to have them fidded; it’s your own fault.”

On Elk River the American Dipper was very numerous, in plumage more sombre than his European brother, whose white shirt-front is decidedly prettier, but his note and behaviour carrying one’s recollections back to many an English stream.

Just above the place where the trail makes a sudden plunge down to the bridge is a little contrivance used as a sort of Turkish bath by the Indians in case of sickness. This consists of a circular dome-shaped cage of bent willow wands, tied together wherever they come in contact with each other. When in use a small pool of water is made in the centre, and the whole cage having been covered in with mats or skins, the patient creeps in, and a friend keeps him supplied with hot stones from a fire outside. These being dropped into the water no doubt make a very effective vapour bath. We have passed many of these sweat-houses at various places, no large camping-ground being without one or more of them.


Elk Bridge itself is a very fine piece of work, when we consider the enormous diffi­culties of carrying out any kind of engineering in a remote wilderness like this, and the fact that all the operations had to be conducted from one side only. The span is about sixty-five feet, and we guess it to be a little more than that above the seething abyss of dark whirlpools and headlong cataracts squeezed into the narrow gorge below. There is not a particle of iron used in its construction, but the strength of the fabric is undeniable, and has recently been proved in a rather sensational manner.

A white man and Indian were driving a herd of cattle along the trail, and at the bridge the animals not unnaturally became “balky” and refused to cross. At last the drover lost patience and determined to take one over by force, hoping the rest would then follow. So he roped a young bull, and riding his horse on to the bridge, attempted to drag it after him. The bull, seized with panic, rushed at the protecting rail and leaped over, and the rope did not break. Before the rider had time to dismount or even to think, the horse was dragged by the weight of the hanging beast up against the railing, and for a moment held there. In that moment the Indian leaped forward and with a blow of his knife severed the lariat, and man and horse were safe, while the battered corpse of the unfortunate bull was whirled away down the dark river never to be seen again.

narrow wooden bridge high over river

Elk Bridge.

Page 260.

From the southern end of the bridge the trail rises up the steep mountain side by a series of zigzags scratched into the face of the crumbling shingly 261 soil, so narrow and slippery for this length that one false step would send the unwary traveller in broken pieces on to the smooth flat terrace of rock at the foot. But as Phillipps, who engineered this bridge and path, pointed out to us, in that case the “truck” would be recovered, whereas if he went into the river there would be nothing left to pay legacy duties on, though to be sure the funeral expenses would be nil. We could not but admire the forethought which had thus provided for every contingency.

Our menus at this camp were, as usual in settled quarters, rather elaborate. We give that for 16th October.

Fried charr.

Fried trout.

Jugged snowshoe and squirrel; curried grouse, pheasant, or partridge, &c. (No room for full title.)

Crusoe’s island bread; potatoes; onions; strawberry jam; coffee.

The Snowshoe is an animal perhaps unknown to some of our readers. He is the largest kind of alpine hare, with the most lovely bluish white fluffy fur, and lives on the snowy slopes at the tops of the mountains.

We measured the hind foot of quite a young one, 262 and found it to be five inches from side to side—that is, from the point of toe No. 1 to that of No. 4 when spread out, or in other words it would exactly cover the back of this book, each toe being about two inches long. He seems to be of an amiable and confiding disposition, and sits at a short distance to be shot at with all the complacency in life.

The bread à la Crusoe was not materially different from the ordinary staff of life, but received this name because Cardie, baking one evening in the dark, managed to tread on most of the loaves, and consequently they were impressed with the footprint of a savage—not of course the whole of the foot, because the frying-pan being only eighteen inches in diameter, our loaves are limited to that size, but still enough for purposes of recognition.

The onions had been a most welcome present from Mrs. Clark, and being our only vegetables available for soup, we were very niggardly with them. They were seldom used except for that purpose, or for that merest scrap which placed inside a grouse so much improves his flavour. (This remark, by the way, applies equally to the red grouse, a thing not universally known.) Moreover the Skipper objected to their use as a vegetable, because, as he said, “there’s such a lot of arrière pensée about an onion.”

Cardie, having more leisure in this settled abode than usual, has been making a grand inspection of his clothes, and is now rehabilitated in garments which compared with his former ones may be called lovely. He has the blue trousers of the country, which cost six shillings a pair, and make the unfortunate 263 wearer colder than being without, as they keep off nothing except sunshine. It is obvious to the most careless observer at a distance of many fret that his number is 34.32, for these mysterious figures are conspicuously placarded on the waistband; but whether they refer to the different lengths of the two legs, or the probable age of the wearer, or the number of days he may expect them to last, we are unable to say. The great advantage of these blue pantaloons, in addition to their surpassing beauty, is that they fall to pieces as soon as you get tired of them—or a little before. That, however, does not prevent either Cardie or the Skipper from wearing them long afterwards, for they are quite as warm when in rags as in their perfect state, and appearance goes for nothing. Cardie’s attire is continued by an old blue flannel shirt, not tucked into the trousers in the manner which we understand to be usual in England, but hanging outside like the garb of an ancient Greek, and secured round the waist by a piece of rope. When the Skipper expressed doubts as to the utility of this rope, he explained it by saying, “Well, you see, it’s so draughty in this tent that I must wear something to protect my liver.” He seldom wears any hat, though he generally carries one tucked into his waist-rope for the purpose of fanning the fire when required. And his costume is completed by a huge pair of boots which not only really were made by himself, but look every inch of it.

We had received an enormous mail at Cranbrook, including a lot of newspapers about a month old, and we keep steadily working through these whenever 264 we have any time. This seldom happens, as the man who stays in camp has his hands pretty full of baking, washing, and cooking all day, and the others do not get back till night. After dark reading is a delusion and a snare, even the best camp fire giving a miserable, unsteady light; and though we have candles, it is too cold to sit in the little tent, and too draughty under the waggon-sheet, which is pitched in front of the fire.

Cardie enlarges on the interesting topics gleaned from these papers in a somewhat bewildering and inconsequent manner. For instance, one day the burning of the City of Montreal led to a discussion on the horrors of a fire at sea, which lasted till we went to sleep. In the morning he as usual got up first to light the fire, which having done, he returned to the waggon-sheet and said, “Yes, undoubtedly a theatre is the worst place.” We had thrown every throwable article at him before we realised that he was continuing last night’s debate, and a feud had been established.

This day Cardie took Spot as a saddle horse, and went out exploring with a view to future operations. He got a snap-shot at a mule-deer a few miles from camp, but missed it owing to the thick timber.

The Skipper climbed up a mountain lying to the east of the camp, whence, among other things, he looked down on the most lovely blue lake lying in a cleft on the opposite mountain, without visible inlet or outlet, like a lost turquoise, a lake which he afterwards climbed to and fished, but fruitlessly. He found in the new snow many tracks of sheep, and also those of a good grizzly. After pursuing all day 265 he was obliged to stop at last in a terribly precipitous country, where for a long time he was shut in at the bottom of a rocky gorge, out of which he only succeeded in finding a way just at sunset. Strictly speaking, a man ought not to go out in this wild country by himself, for in spite of all precautions an accident may happen, and a broken leg or even a badly sprained ankle is practically as fatal and a good deal more painful than a broken neck; at least we imagine so: we have never tried the latter. However, we have so little time for hunting that we do not like to waste any of it by going in couples, so our plan is to take separate beats, giving the man in camp as good an idea of the proposed direction as possible.

Note.—Our Elk River Paradise will soon be a thing of the past. The C.P.R. have determined to build a line through the North Kootenay, or Crow’s Nest Pass, which will go along the Elk valley and past Cranbrook and the great Kootenay lake, joining the present main line about Hope at its western and Medicine Hat at its eastern end. This route was not originally taken, partly for State reasons and partly because of the supposed terrific diffi­culties of this then unexplored region. It is now known that the passes are much more free from snow and practicable than the Kicking Horse and Rogers. Moreover, the Crow’s Nest contains enormous deposits of coal, and there will be a saving of over 200 miles in the new route, which will also tap the lately discovered rich mineral district near the Kootenay lake, and traverse the most fertile and prosperous portions of the inland territory of British Columbia.—Aug. 1889.

This line has now been commenced, the survey is, we believe, completed, and a line is in work from Calgary to Fort M‘Leod. A railway leaves Dunmore (one station E. of Medicine Hat), and has also nearly reached Fort M‘Leod on the E. of the Rockies, and a short line has been made from Sproat at the foot of the Arrow Lakes to Nelson at the outlet of the Kootenay Lake. This will eventually form a portion of the new route, and is at present extensively used for the mining rush to the Kootenay Lake, in connection with the C.P.R. at Revelstoke, and steamers on the Arrow. Lake Okanagan, further W., is also connected by rail with the main line. Altogether it is evident that any one who wishes to see this lovely district in a moderately unimproved condition had better hurry up.—Nov. 1891.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXIII

you’ll have to have them fidded
[According to the OED, fid is a dialectal term for “a small but thick piece of anything”. One citation—there aren’t many—refers specifically to fish. The word shows up again on page 272.]

the burning of the City of Montreal
[That is: not the city of Montreal but the City of Montreal; almost all ships of the Inman line were named for cities. Passengers and crew were rescued by another ship. This would have been hot off the presses, as it happened in August 1887.]



From Cardie’s report of the land lying to the south of the river, we were all anxious to spend a few days in that direction. We packed the horses and were just on the point of departure, when the weather began to look so extra threatening that we simply dare not go. So the tents were again pitched and we waited for the morrow, very thankful that we had done so when the cold dark clouds which had shrouded everything in gloom burst upon us in a furious sleet storm. When next morning we really did start, the sun was shining, and everything looked gay and cheerful.

Jim had with great difficulty been dissuaded from shooting at a lot of widgeon which he found in a pool up the river; it would have been useless in that place to have slaughtered the whole flock, as the slain must almost certainly have been carried away down the stream. This morning he spotted a large flight of green-winged teal just below the camp, and by careful stalking got into such a position that he managed to secure two, though three others, alas, were hurried over the falls and lost to us for ever.

Picture the despair of the hapless hunter who has shot three of the most lovely fat teal ever seen as he 267 watches them swinging slowly round and round in a torpid whirlpool for about a quarter of an hour, while he vainly throws several cart-loads of stones intended to make waves beyond them. It is curious, by the way, to note the tendency of such stones to fall on the wrong side of the object of solicitude. Then just when victory and teal soup are within his grasp, those beloved birds, on which his best cartridges and trouser-knees have been expended, drift within the seductive influence of the omnivorous torrent, and in a moment that teal soup, diluted by the whole volume of Elk River, has disappeared down a roaring cataract and is swallowed up. It was a sight to make strong men shudder and women teal—quail, we mean; but we bore it nobly, though who shall say what silent agonies our manly mien concealed in this the trying moment of our lives. (N.B.—We should like some good pious relations to see—and hear—the Skipper’s notion of silent agony.)

Let it pass, ’tis but a memory, and we will resume the journey to the South Fork of Elk River. This is a river running into Elk from the south at right angles to it, about six miles below the bridge: we were proposing to follow it up to some handsome mountains visible a few miles nearer its source.

We crossed the bridge and made the ascent of the zigzag path without mishap, finding at the top a trail to the left which leads eastward into the Crow’s-nest Pass of the Rockies, and one to the right which goes west and south down the Kootenay, crossing the South Fork close to its junction with Elk.

This is a very fine bit of country. We were up high on the hillside for a long way, and then had a 268 swift descent to a flattish terrace above the turbulent waters of Elk, fighting their impatient way along the bottom of the ravine far below. At last we came to a “jumping off” place, and here the trail turned sharply down to the right towards the ford. This, however, was not our proposed route at present. We unpacked and carefully “cached” the greater part of our goods in a dense thicket. Jim began to say that a bank was the right place to “cache” anything in, but we checked him. Then, with stuff sufficient for a few days, we turned to the left along a faint old-time trail, climbed up a steep hill, and were soon on a high table-land with our faces set towards the valley of the South Fork.

That night we found ourselves down in a beautiful camp close to the swift-flowing merry little river, so much more inviting in appearance than its savage self-willed big brother. A huge pile of terraces sheltered us from the cold wind, and above them towered a stupendous giant of a mountain. Across the river was a glorious range, not quite so lofty or precipitous, but very beautiful, with the dark green of its fir-clad slopes set off by golden tamaracks dotted here and there among the evergreens, and half way up a broad yellow band of the same trees looking as if they had been placed there by design, as a royal belt for their monarch.

What fish that river held! very different from the lazy monsters of Elk; these were bright as silver, game to the last, and in perfect condition. There was only one drawback, which was that after one had fished three or four pools there was nothing for it but to go home, for even our powers of assimilating fish-food 269 have their limits, in spite of its brain-producing qualities.

another small river, backed with forests and high mountains

The South Fork of Elk River.

And what noble fires we had! this being the first place where we struck red cedar, the best wood of all for burning, unless we except piñon, which is as good, and in some respects better. On the whole we should say a combination of the two is the acme of perfection in fire-building; the piñon (pronounced pinyon) giving the perpetual cheery blaze, and the cedar the crisp crackling glow and warmth and delicious scent.

Round such a fire under the mighty pines we sat at night, with the pleasant ripple of the water sounding in our ears, and the breeze gently rustling in the dark branches above us, as happy as men ever can be, hardly caring even for what weather the morrow might bring forth.


Our poor horses we fear did not think so highly of the South Fork as their masters; and in the morning Cardie, who had appointed himself Equerry-in-Chief, came down from the cold, scantily grassed plateau on which they were left with the news that the roan had “skipped out” and must be followed. He therefore went in pursuit, while the Skipper and Jim toiled up that very large and steep mountain which overhung the camp. When at nightfall they wearily trudged back into camp, having had adventures enough of the precipice and neck-breaking class to satisfy any one, but without seeing any signs of life, things did not look so rose-tinted as the previous evening’s cedar fire had made them. Snow was by that time falling heavily on the tops of the mountains, making the effect of the moonlit summits wonderfully lovely from the artistic point of view, but not encouraging to the scantily provisioned hunter.

The Skipper’s most thrilling anecdote only amounted to this: that eight blue grouse had suddenly darted out of one small bush with such stir and confusion that for a brief space he imagined the top of the mountain to have split asunder and a geyser to have burst forth. Jim romanced greatly upon a fearful watercourse which he had followed down the mountain, coming in one place to a drop of twenty feet or so, down which he prepared to descend by the aid of a dead fir-tree which leaned from below into the face of the cliff. Just before committing himself to it he thought it his duty—noble disinter­ested fellow—to his wife to test its strength, so dropped a lump of rock on to its middle. The deceitful fir at once collapsed, which he took as an omen, and gave up any attempt to get 271 down. Making a slow and difficult detour, he found that all further progress down the watercourse was barred a little lower by an absolutely impassable precipice, so that even if he had survived the fall from the tree he could neither have got back again nor out of the ravine by any other means.

The moral of which is that careful attention should be paid to omens; and that if a ladder breaks by its own weight it is an omen that it will not bear yours. We learn also that all good husbands should take the greatest care of themselves, and live on the best of everything, and enjoy themselves as much as possible, for the sake of their wives.

The next day was one that to the merest child would have portended a bad change in the weather; the snow continued to fall, and though not in sufficient weight to spoil the fishing, made all ascent of the mountains impossible. Added to this, the non-success of our hunting had hastened the disappearance of the stores in a very unpleasant degree, and a Cabinet Council decided the following important points:—

1st. That we had food (without counting what we might kill) for three days only.

2nd. That as we did not know anything about the trail to Tobacco Plains (except that it was the most difficult and dangerous one in the country), we should be in a tight place if it snowed.

3rd. That it was going to snow like the very everything.

4th. That we had better skip out first thing in the morning—if we could.

When at sunset the mountain side was illuminated with a most uncanny theatrical-looking green glare, 272 we were prepared for something very dire in the shape of weather. The horses also seemed unhappy and were not eating, so we brought them down into the timber, and made everything ready for an early start.

It was still snowing fitfully when long before daylight we packed and climbed up on to the terraces, and the night had been so bitterly cold that we were fortunately able to fill one of our largest cans with solidly frozen fids of cleaned trout. As we gained the higher ground a most bitter south-east wind was blowing, driving the hard dusty snow in sharp particles against our faces and into every part of our clothing, but luckily not allowing it to lie sufficiently to obscure the trail. Up above the air was one haze 273 of whirling dimness, and the mountains and forest were already thickly powdered with white.

This plateau boasts one of the most extraordinary bits of road (?) we have fallen in with—or down on. The forest, which there may be described as light telegraph pole size, has been burnt and then blown down across the trail, and as all the trees are raised a foot or two from the ground, it makes progress very irksome, especially for the horses. Twice we counted the number of poles across the path in a distance of twenty yards, and in each case there were just thirty-three.

the remains of a burned forest, with a tangle of standing and fallen trees

The Road (!) from the South Fork.

The horses are wonderfully clever in stepping over these obstructions: they do not hesitate at anything not high enough to touch the girths, dragging their hind legs over quite placidly; at a higher obstacle they stop and throw themselves over by a double-action jump, in which the hind-feet only leave the ground when the fore-feet touch it on the other side.

We found our “cache” untouched, and with as little delay as possible hurried down the steep and sharply twisting path to the ford. The place for entering the water was obvious enough, but the exit on the other side was by no means so apparent: all we could do was to trust in Spot and commit ourselves to the deep. The Skipper had no scruples about breaking the horse’s back on this occasion. Perched behind the pack he led the way across, and with many lurches and flounderings we happily came out safe on the other side. Down in the valley there was hardly any snow; if there had been more this history might have ended here, for we had great 274 difficulty in finding the continuation of the trail, and none of the horses assisted us in the least.

three men on horseback fording a wide river

Fording the South Fork of Elk River.

Page 273.

We should of course have corked up the story of our adventures up to this point in an Eno’s Salt bottle, and posted it in Elk River in the manner authorised by all desert island literature; but we feel sure no reader could have taken pleasure in it, had he known that the writers having successively eaten Spot, Plain, that Roan, and each other, were now lying under a full-grown avalanche at the mouth of the South Fork.

When at last the path was found, we went forward at speed, stopping only for a few minutes to finish the last tin of jam. Soon the track once more began to ascend, and brought us to a flat ledge several hundred feet above Elk River, along which we went westward for a mile, grumbling according to our habit at the prodigious lies we had heard as to the dangers of this guileless pathway.

Suddenly, however, it turned straight at the mountain-side, and began to climb it by a series of the very steepest and most slippery zigzags. All the horses refused to face the difficulty, and for a few minutes we and they had what the newspapers would call an

Animated Debate.

Extraordinary Scenes.

Suspension of Mr. Plain (by a lariat).

Arrest of the O’Roan (on the edge of a precipice).


The final result being the tearing of some huge holes in the mantles, and the application of the closure by an enormous majority of thick sticks.

During the next three hours we enjoyed sufficient thrills to satisfy the most fastidious sensation-monger. At every bend there was trouble in turning the horses, who, poor things, were so nervous that they really dare not alter their course. Sometimes to look downwards at the places we had come across was even more trying than the actual transit. The old roan was peculiarly aggravating, for instead of walking round a bend, he would always try to change the direction of his progress by twisting his hind-legs off the track, a device which on a dozen occasions nearly sent him headlong into Elk, tearing along so far below as to be unheard and almost unseen.

Many times we had to stop while Cardie and Jim with the axes chopped a way through some tree which lay too high to be stepped over, or cut down one of those which, standing above the trail, projected far enough to catch the pack and endanger the horses’ foothold on the narrow ledge. Once we were delayed for a long time while all hands worked to dislodge a huge rock, which, slipping, had blocked the path; and at last sent it leaping madly down the precipitous incline. And ever as we worked our way slowly upwards the snow fell faster and faster, and the path grew more slippery and difficult to see.

At last the steep ascent accomplished, we stood on the shoulder of the mountain, once more on comparatively flat ground, but at such a height that we were quite in the mists of driving snow, and 276 exposed to a wind which seemed to go through and through us, now that we were for the first time facing it. The trail along the top was quite hidden, but we were enabled to keep on it by the blazes which along this length were cut on the trees. We saw that at some recent date the path, which used to creep round the shoulder at a lower level, had been carried away by a land-slide, and the present one being newly made over the top had necessitated this clear marking, which, as there was none elsewhere, seemed specially to favour us.

We hurried on, men, horses, and packs alike thickly covered with the same white powder, which penetrated and clung to everything around us, making the arched branches a sight that, even in that remarkably unpleasant time, we could not fail to wonder at and admire. But it was with a feeling of relief that we once more came to a downward grade in the path, and the bleak wind-swept ridge as we descended began to keep off to some extent the bitter cold of the storm. Down we went by a track which at other times would have seemed one to be treated cautiously, but in our present frame of mind, and by comparison with the ascent on the other side, was hastily tumbled down with the scantest of ceremony. Soon we were out of the snow again, only enough falling on the low ground to give a kind of frosted appearance to everything without obscuring the path; and about three o’clock we reached an old Indian camp under the shelter of some great tamaracks, whose yellow spines under the fury of the tempest strewed the ground with cloth of gold.

Experience warned us never to pass an Indian 277 camp in the afternoon, for it is certain to be in the best situation within a few miles; so as quickly as possible we pitched the tent, lighted a big fire, and prepared supper. The cold by this time was intense. What it really was we cannot say: a tiny thermometer on the back of the aneroid only marked seventeen degrees of frost, but the wind seemed to chill the very marrow in our bones. The mop which we use for rinsing the crockery (or to speak more correctly, the enamellery), and which always hangs on the X,* was frozen stiff at about two feet from a roaring fire; while the fish, butter, and worst of all the bread, were most untractable from the same cause.

* i.e., the two sticks which placed in that form support the pole on which the kettle hangs.

The very coffee in our cups froze before we had drunk more than half of it. [This is a fact; but possibly some caviller may be found to dispute it, and to ask why if we drank the first half before it froze, we did not drink the other half as well. To such we reply that it was too hot when first poured out.]

The wind, instead of dropping, seemed to get stronger and more piercing as the night came on. We put the tent over the waggon-sheet, and then cutting down several fir-trees, with their branches made a “brush corral” all round the windward side of the camp, blocking up our doorway with a dense mass of the same cover. Protected in this way from the worst cold, and with every stitch of clothing on, we passed the night much more happily than in the morning had seemed likely. We were dreadfully 278 sorry for the poor horses, for whom we had had no time to make any shelter; but they seemed to have found something of the sort for themselves, and were all right, but very hungry, in the morning.



The brook from which we drew our water here is one of those delusive streams in which if a man trusts for guidance he will “get left.” It runs about 100 yards from the camp in a little hollow in which flourishes a dense growth of willows. Jim went with the gun along this belt to try for a grouse; and making a half circle in the wood, turned, as he thought, to strike the watercourse at right angles, and follow it back to camp. After a time he began to feel sure from the distance walked and the slope of the ground that something was wrong, and knowing the true direction of the camp turned towards it, and after a short time came to the brook—which he had never crossed—on the side opposite to his starting-place. This seemed so extraordinary that he followed it downwards and saw that in a couple of hundred yards it gradually diminished from a big rapid stream to a tiny trickle, and at last softly and suddenly vanished away into probably some loose stratum of gravel. There was no visible gulf for it to plunge into, and not the slightest trace of damp ground or moisture-loving plants further along the hollow.

This capricious climate, which, while we crossed 280 Elk Mountain, was behaving like the “Bounding Bandit of the Bosphorus,” was so gentle the next morning that a child might have played with it. The thermometer was still down among the teens, but the wind had ceased, the snow only lay in a few shady nooks, and a brilliant sun and cloudless sky accompanied us on our way to Tobacco Plains.

The trail, though it is one very little used, was in the absence of snow easily enough distinguished, and without any misgivings we pushed along through a country more beautiful and inviting on the whole than any we had seen, and in which the open prairie patches succeeded each other at shorter intervals.

We passed also this day a grove of tamaracks which we thought to be considerably larger even than the giants of Sand Creek. In fact, as some miscreant remarked, “these larches are the larchest we have seen.” One of them, a veritable King of the Mountains, had been struck by lightning, and now stood a ruined monument of former greatness amidst the shivered fragments of his own branches: the top of the trunk had been broken off at what we guessed to be 200 feet from the ground, and its diameter there seemed to be equal to the base of a good English larch. None of his brethren approached to this one in size, but all were higher than the broken stem of the monarch.

In the afternoon we came to the junction of our trail with the main one along the Kootenay valley, to which we had once more returned, and soon afterwards came out of the forest region into big rolling grass-covered plains, with a few trees scattered 281 irregularly about them, and occasionally a hollow in which lay almost concealed from view the rush-grown waters of a prairie lake. Still no house was visible—the last inhabited place we had seen being Skunk Ranch thirteen days ago—and we finally stopped for the night at one of these lakes, in a charming sheltered little hollow under a clump of pines.

It was pretty to see a large flock of snow-birds which we passed in this part of the trail. They were playing in the drifts which lay here and there, much as sparrows play in the dusty road, burrowing in it and throwing it over themselves with the greatest enjoyment.

two birds, probably from Audubon

Snow Birds.

A curious feature of the earlier frosts in this country seems to be their powerlessness over water. The last three days would in England have given us 282 ice four inches thick, but here only shallow brooks and ponds seem to freeze at all. This lake, though not a large one, had a margin a few yards wide all round it of ice that would bear, but the middle remained open, though the water in our largest can was turned out in a solid block a foot thick.

While at supper a solitary chortling was heard overhead, and down came a goose into our lake, which made itself comfortable at the other end. At night when the moon was up, the Skipper and Jim having nothing better to do, announced that they were going to shoot that goose; so after the usual freely expressed contempt for each other’s notions as to how it should be done, they agreed on a Plan of Campaign and set out.

It is needless to say that they did not shoot that goose brave boys, as the wary fowl fled away discreetly at a place which neither of these pundits had mentioned as a possible means of escape; but the Skipper, who was driving, made such a fiendish row that the horses stampeded, and the rest of the night was spent in scampering in pursuit under the moonlight until the errant beasts were once more safely tethered.

We had arrived so near to the home of Spot and Plain that we dare not let them go free on this occasion. On the whole, however, we have had exceptionally little trouble on this score. Many people go out hunting on the mountains and hunt hardly anything but horses and trails all the time; but we have been lucky in the roan, who is too ancient to care for frivolous wanderings, and has only gone off twice; Spot we have tethered, except in specially good feed; and Plain would not think of leaving his guide and friend.


Three miles on the following morning brought us to the brow of a steepish hill, below which we could see a large collection of wooden houses surrounded by fields with cattle and horses, while a quarter of a mile beyond them ran the International Line. In a few minutes more we were down at Phillipps’ ranch, and receiving a hearty welcome from him and Norbury, a young Englishman whom we had met up at the Ferry. The first thing any white man does in this country is to set before you a meal of the very best his house contains, and our present host was no exception to the rule.*

* Our last bit of news respecting these friends is that they have put that much-needed steamer on the Kootenay river. Verily the trans­formation of the country is proceeding apace.

That finished, Jim on a horse, and (oh joy!) an English saddle lent by Phillipps, and with another horse in tow, went, as he proudly said, “into the United States” to a store about six miles away. There we hoped to replace the substance we had wasted in the more or less riotous living of the last month.

The others made a day of washing, mending, and general renovation of themselves and their possessions—a sort of day reminding one of the Persian feast mentioned by Herodotus under the name of “Tycta, or, in the Greek, ‘perfect,’ for then only the king washes his head with soap.”

We have among other treasures two articles which hang on the X of our kettle-pole. Strictly speaking they are dish-clouts, and pretty poor clouts at that. That, however, is not the name we give them, neither are they known as dusters, or even towels. We call them “napkins,” as though they were white and 284 shining things. One of them never was anything better than a piece of a cotton bag; but the other really was a proper glass cloth, and had a beautiful pattern woven on it in red checks; this, however, has long been merged in a neutral tint of brownish hue which neither the feast of Tycta nor anything else seems able to remove. Moreover, both these napkins, from arduous use and their proximity to the fire, had become full of holes, for whenever a spark alighted on them, from extreme dryness and greasiness they immediately caught fire and burnt like an oil-well. In this emergency Cardie was appealed to, the Skipper saying as he showed his fingers, between which hung the unclean rags of the serviettes, “These are no longer any use,” and out of his enormous bag Cardie with much hesitation produced two beautiful new napkins. So when he was fast asleep we turned out that sack, which until then we had supposed to contain nothing but mits and mocassins, and found all sorts of things, but especially quantities of shirts, all spotlessly clean, but all in rags. Why Cardie never thinks of wearing them we do not know, but imagine it is from the difficulty of deciding which are shirts, which paper collars, and which canvas trousers, for all his garments are so much alike in their raggedness that nothing but a memoria technica would do it. Whenever he did change his shirt he always took it off in decimal fractions, a bit at a time, and these we used to collect and put on the camp-fire just before we came away.

The general blackness and griminess of all our clothes has of course sensibly increased since the coldness of the weather prevented any extended 285 washing operations. The burnt forests in which we have so frequently sojourned are very bad for pretty coloured attire, so much so in fact that one of the Skipper’s chief causes of gratification in his blue trousers has departed. He used always to be saying, “How nice it is to wear bags you can wipe your pen on,” but he has had to stop that practice because the ink makes a mark that looks like chalk on the all-pervading darkness of his nether garments, and he is afraid of being taken for a billiard sharper.

Talking of ink, how curious is the property this liquid possesses of being able to run up hills. That ink rises above its own level may be ascertained by a simple experiment. Take a perfectly clean pen and penholder, and after writing with it for a quarter of an hour or less you will find that the height to which the ink has already raised itself out of the nib is accurately marked on your thumb and second finger. If you are a very careful writer, and stop between the sentences to think, it will probably reach the level of your mouth and trouser-pockets, and spread over your collar and tie, and any one who smokes while writing will find that his pipe is covered with it. The ink-pot also contributes several facts interesting to scientific observers. An ink-pot is always empty because it always upsets itself over your best waistcoat and your latest sketch directly it has been filled; and yet there is always a penful of ink in one of the corners—ink that would be good useful stuff were it not for the bits of blotting paper and small sticks and portions of steel pens from which 286 few ink-pots are free. It is supposed that most species of ink-pot absorb these articles or else have the power of propagating them, for no human being is such an idiot as to put them in, and yet they are always there. There is no fluid so utterly subversive of Christianity and destructive of all good resolutions. Who can refrain from profanity expressed or implied when this devil’s cauldron known as the inkstand tips itself over a letter which has taken an hour to write? And again when you are filling it up, what more exasperating than to find that a couple of drops cause it to overflow and send a saucerful all over your hand and best tablecloth? Without doubt those are happiest who use pencils altogether and never tamper with ink, and our advice to the young is to eschew the unholy compound and not play with it. As surely as they touch the glittering blackness which lurks beneath the lid, so surely will they get themselves or some one else into trouble.

Jim came back from the store with 100 lbs. of flour, three tins of honey, and the cheering intelligence that there was no other food to be had for love or money: all the bacon in the country, all the tea, coffee, and jam was eaten up, and the storekeeper had gone off to the railway a hundred miles away to buy more.

Then Phillipps informed us that though the canoes were all right and on the river a few miles away, that he strongly advised us not to go in them, for the river, which here on account of its speed remained unfrozen, would probably be ice-bound eighty miles lower down, where it became a torpid 287 stream. If we should chance to find it in that state when we arrived there we could neither go down, nor return up, nor get across by land, as there was no trail within reach of the river, and no one living there from whom we could buy horses. So that there seemed a good prospect of a miserable end to us and our travels. He urged us to get back to Galbraith’s Ferry, where there certainly was food, and thence by Cranbrook down the Mooyie Pass to Bonner’s Ferry (now more generally known as Dick Fry’s), and so out to a station on the Northern Pacific Railway.

We were very much averse to this scheme because of the large amount of old ground it involved, but there seemed no help for it, for we had not food enough to go south from here by land, so we finally agreed to adopt his plan, the more readily because he himself with Norbury and a pack-train would be starting for the Ferry in the morning.

This important point settled, a pack-train became a necessity, and here again our host came to the rescue, and in a few minutes we became the owners of three horses at a price which we only refrain from mentioning lest he should be pestered to death by importunate buyers at the same figure. This was friendliness indeed, for the man who won’t do his dearest chum over a horse-deal in the old country is, we fear, very rare and curious, and is quite certain to have his will disputed.

Only the canoes remained to be dealt with, and that difficulty was easily arranged. Phillipps would be able to obtain them from “the lady” who now had charge of them, and would take care of them for 288 us, so that now we had nothing to do but to go to bed in the house provided for us, and start on the return journey in the morning.

With regard to the above-mentioned lady a romance might be written, had we the space of a three-volume novel, the impudence of a society journal, and a light-hearted fearlessness of actions for libel which unfortunately we do not possess. As, however, we did not have the pleasure of meeting her, we will only say that we heard she was a little—just the merest trifle—inclined to be strong-minded; and if she does not like that, we unreservedly withdraw it, and substitute anything she does like. And now we hope we are safe through that.

Our new pack-train was composed of old Plain (now called, in honour of his late master, “Tobacco Plain”), a new Spot (so named because he has a kind of blister upon his otherwise comely bay hide), and a Sorrel Nag which we bought chiefly for riding purposes. Our Own of course we still have; but old Spot, whose real name we find to be Pappa (Grandfather), was so dear to his owner on account of his toothbrush tail, extreme wisdom, and a capacity for remaining fat on starvation diet, that he would not part with him.

The journey to the Ferry was not parti­cularly exciting. We camped each night wherever the pack-train halted, making twenty-two miles on the longest day, and sixty in three days, leaving about five miles for the fourth. Plain tried to drown himself in Elk River, no doubt in despair at his approaching separation from Spot senior. He calmly walked out of his way into one of the deepest pools in the river; 289 but being fortunately loaded with the least important of our packs, no harm was done.

The necessity we are under of walking in long Indian file leads to some curious results when any conversation is carried on. We are all too idle and too much occupied to turn round, so any man who has anything to say simply shouts it straight into the air, leaving his followers to catch as much as they can. Thus when Jim began in a voice like a fog-horn, “If we had gone down the river we should have skinned our whole face on it,” the Skipper interrupted, “You speak in such a whisper I can’t hear you.” Then came, in an earth-shaking yell, “If we had gone down the river, we should have pinned our whole faith on it,” &c.

bird, probably from Audubon

Northern Raven.

The night we slept about three miles north of Elk, we were for the first time really badly off for 290 food, for our iced fish were finished at Tobacco Plains; the bacon gave out two days before; the dissipated soup had been dissipated indeed; we had no grouse left, and were disagreeably surprised to see none along the trail, for this spell of frost seemed to have sent them all into the interior of the forest, and the only evidence of bird-life was the hoarse cry of the ravens, which were very numerous hereabouts. A couple of squirrels was all that we shot in that sixty-five miles; and other meat, except about 2 lbs. of salt pork, we had none. Our food for the three days consisted of bread and honey; and though we seemed to thrive on it, we never felt as if we had had anything to eat all the time.

squirrel perched on a branch

Our Supper.

The intense cold continued until we arrived at the Ferry, but every night we had a great treat, which we used to take in turns when the labours of our own camp were ended. This was to go across to our friends, who had an Indian lodge for a tent, and 291 there exchange the cold, draughty, lightless waggon-sheet which was our own protection for the warm, bright, comfortable house in which they lived. Very jolly it was to lie on the rugs, deftly placed all round the cheerful fire, and watch the smoke ascending, not only from that, but from our own pipes, through the dark opening above, while story after story was told of hunting, trapping, and the various wild adventures of life among the Indians. “How I wish that life was all after dinner,” as the Skipper said; “what a nice mellow world this would be.”

coyote howling at the moon

On this journey we rose and breakfasted long before daybreak, so as to be packed and ready for starting with the morning light. Our frugal lunch of bread and honey was the only meal eaten in the 292 daytime, for before our camp was put in order and supper cooked night had again overtaken us. Those evenings in the lodge will always be remembered by us with pleasure, no less keen from the contrast with the return to the waggon-sheet, where we could only hurry into bed and get to sleep as soon as the despairing yells of the coyotes and wolves howling at—or for—the moon would allow us to do so.

The warmth of our habitation is by the way not increased by the fact that the Skipper refuses to block up either end of the canvas, because, forsooth! his doctor tells him “it is healthy to sleep with the window open.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXV

mentioned by Herodotus under the name of “Tycta, or, in the Greek, ‘perfect,’ for then only the king washes his head with soap.”
[Or “Tukta”, depending on your preferred system of transliteration. Herodotus 9.110.2:
Περσιστὶ μὲν τυκτά, κατὰ δὲ τὴν Ἑλλήνων γλῶσσαν τέλειον: τότε καὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν σμᾶται μοῦνον βασιλεὺς
The verb σμάω means “wipe or cleanse with soap or unguent”, which leaves room for editorial discretion. The Loeb edition, trans. Godley, renders the passage more boringly as “On that day (and none other) the king anoints his head.”]

Talking of ink
[Trivia: The fountain pen in rudimentary form had been around for centuries, but it did not come into general use until Waterman’s 1884 patent. Various kinds of self-filling pen came along a few decades later; the whole thing was perfected just in time to be dislodged by the ballpoint pen.]

inclined to be strong-minded
[“Strong-minded” was the standard euphemism for “feminist”, as might be expected of a woman who ran her own ranch. The “lady” (in quotes) was first mentioned—but never named—back on page 228, chapter XXI.]



A curious story was told of a dromedary, which with several of its brethren was once introduced into this country by an enterprising packer in the early rush for gold. This genius having noticed that the ship of the desert was of a registered tonnage equal to about four mules, with hardly as much original sin as one, commenced a very profitable career with his novel pack-train. Unfortunately his fellow-packers conceived a prejudice against his invention, for the evident reason that if persisted in mules and horses would become a drug in the market. This prejudice they demonstrated by shooting at him and his dromedaries whenever they saw them, a course of action which speedily resulted in the survival of one, doubtless the fittest, which happened to be a dromedary. This wise beast thereupon took to its heels, and disappeared in the forest, and the packers had rest for many years.

At the end of that time a hunter one day met an animal the like whereof he had never set eyes on, so grisly, grim and shaggy was its appearance, so humped its back and long its legs; but as it used these latter away from and not towards him, he pursued 294 after it. And then the story of the derelict ship occurred to him, and he shouted after it, “Couchez! cochon! Sacré nom d’un pipe! Morbleu!” and the other endearing epithets wherewith its defunct master, a French Canadian, was wont to caress it. And the strange creature lay down, waited for him to mount between its humps, and carried him triumphant to Tobacco Plains, where for many years it laboured as a beast of burden, and was finally eaten one day when people were hungry. It had provided itself in this cold climate with a coat of marvellous warmth, and was altogether so changed from its original appearance as to be practically a new development of species.

Another interesting topic was the wolverene and its idiosyncrasies. This animal, it appears, is so suspicious of the schemes of its enemies that the only way to catch it is to put a trap without any bait or concealment in the unlikeliest place for it to come. Then lay any amount of snares, and lures, and cunningly concealed ambushes everywhere else. The wolverene will be so awfully pleased with his own smartness in detecting and avoiding these devices that he will march straight into the one prepared for him.

One we were told of which came down a chimney and played the common or garden fool in a man’s hut. He was going away for a few days, so set a heavy trap in the fireplace, which, however, he omitted to secure. A neighbour next day hearing diabolical noises in the hut, went and peeped through a chink in the door, and there saw what he supposed to be the Devil, a fearsome being all glaring eyes and 295 shaggy hair. The house appeared to have had a company of fiends playing Rugby football in it, if one could imagine demons so devoid of common sense as to engage in that pastime. Everything movable was smashed and torn into flinders, and the whole place, including his Satanic majesty, covered thickly with flour. The discoverer, being a courageous man, commenced shooting at the infernal visitant through the chinks, and at last succeeded in killing him; and then the door being opened a wolverene with a steel trap on his leg was disclosed to view, the general jamboree in which everything was embraced being the result of the owner’s carelessness in leaving the trap unfastened. There was not one single thing, it was said, left in that cabin that had not been smashed, upset, or rent in pieces by the infuriated animal in its efforts to escape, the trap being too heavy for it to return up the chimney.

Among other things we learnt one night a new method of cooking a ruffed grouse, the only one that fell a prey to the hunter on the journey. This seemed to present so many points of novelty that we hasten to explain the process to the public.

We sat round the fire, six in number, and one commenced operations by plucking the grouse and sticking it on a long skewer which was fixed in the ground so that it leant a little over the fire. Thus it was roasted for about half an hour, when somebody woke up and said, “I think I should put a scrap of onion in it.” So another took four or five onions and crammed them with difficulty into the interior of the bird. Then the roasting proceeded for a space, and another said, “I should turn it like this,” whereupon 296 he turned it upside down, and the onions rolled out upon the carpet—grass that is—and were placed upon the fire, and their perfume was grateful. Then another searcher after truth said solemnly, “I think—and I have not scamped the thinking—that it ought to be split.” And it was split, and again the roasting went on. Finally an impatient one said, “Let’s finish that d—d rooster in the morning,” and it was placed outside the lodge to cool. While there a wanderer trod upon it and rolled it in the sand, which abounded in that place; and in the morning being frozen harder than a rock, it was divided with difficulty and a hatchet, and fried; and with one voice the people cried out “Deelicious.”

We arrived once more at the Ferry about midday on the 28th of October; and there the Skipper and Jim stayed to buy provisions, while Cardie with three horses crossed the river to make a camp a few miles further on. The other two commenced by a lunch—ironically so-called—which lasted about two hours, and at which they ate all the food they didn’t have during the last four days. Then flour, dried apples, and jam having been obtained from the store, and a huge piece of beef from the Camp, all of which foraging took up much time, a start was made by moonlight along the Cranbrook trail.

We have forgotten to mention that one day while coming up from Tobacco Plains two men in a hurry passed us on horseback; and an hour or two afterwards came three others in a greater hurry, and said that the first two were deserters, who in the absence of canoes are now obliged to ride all the way to the line. At the Police Camp we learnt the rank and 297 occupation of these various fugitives. There is quite a Snark-hunting ring about it.

The crew was complete: it included a Boots,

A maker of Bonnets and Hoods,

A Barrister brought to arrange their disputes,

And a Broker to value their goods—

were the lines which occurred to us when we heard that—

The Builder went first, and the Butcher in boots

A canoe with the Baker did share,

And now there have followed the Bugler (who toots),

And the Barber (who cuts off their hair).

The result is that the completion of the winter quarters has been much delayed, the bread is by no means satisfactory, the present bugle-call gives forth an uncertain sound, and the men do not look quite so smart as formerly, but no doubt a very short time will set right these little deficiencies.

Poor Cardie, starving in a camp close to the first Alkali lake, was rejoined about seven o’clock. He welcomed with warmth the beef and other luxuries, including even his companions. Jim was nearly dead with cold, for we had not been able to buy any ropes at the Ferry—those that Phillipps had lent us had of course returned with him; and so the only way of carrying the things on the Sorrel Nag was to tie two bags together, hang them over his back, and sit on them to keep them there. “The curious thing,” as the rider said, “is that while it has frozen me, it seems to have made the nag quite hot.”

We have tried various experiments with tea, for instance mixing it with curry powder, which happened 298 once when an accident to the pack burst the tin containing that delicacy, and for a time we had curried everything, including hairbrushes, butter, shirts, and jam. But at this camp we had a surpassing nastiness in the shape of Alkali tea, for the lake as it chanced was the most thoroughly impregnated of all those which lie along the trail. However, it seemed to be harmless in the homœopathic doses which we took of it.

Every one at the Ferry had told us that the weather was going to change, and congratulated us on our great luck because now the Indian Summer was coming. Accordingly that night the beautiful clear weather, cold though it was, came to an end, and in the morning we awoke to the accompaniment of a dank November drizzle. Sundry kinds of temper, none of them worthy to be classed higher than “indifferent,” were at once produced, and aided by these we arrived at Cranbrook, set up our tent a short distance from the house, and were once more most hospitably received.

This being the easiest day we have had it was natural that Cardie should remark—

“I shall feel awfully tired to-morrow.”

“Why on earth to-morrow?”

“Well, because I always feel tired the day after.”

“Mercy on us, the day after what?”

“Well, don’t you know, I mean I always feel tired when I get up.”

And this is a fair specimen of the brilliancy of our conversation after our hard week’s work.

We had suffered so much inconvenience from the want of proper packing appliances that we were 299 determined to make good all deficiencies now, if the expenditure of a little time and trouble would enable us to do so. We spent therefore two days of hard work in completing an outfit for all our horses. One old pack-saddle we were lucky enough to obtain at Tobacco Plains, and another was given to us at Cranbrook, both of which a little tinkering converted into thoroughly serviceable articles. We bought one lash-rope here, made another one by splicing together several odd lengths, and a third by twisting up the tow-lines of our deserted canoes. Rings for the synches Cardie soon made at the Cranbrook forge, while Jim was busy with the construction, out of some strong sacks bought for the purpose, of the synches themselves, and also of the wooden hooks for their ends.

The “Captain” provided some raw hide, invaluable for lacing together the various trappings of the saddles, lashing the hooks to the synches, and for stirrup leathers and laddigoes (the spelling of the latter word may be wrong, but the pronunciation is correct: a laddigoe is the long leather thong about an inch and a half wide which takes the place of the strap and buckle of an English girth). Of great assistance in all these works were the copper rivets and washers, of which we had brought a plentiful supply, and which all travellers ought to carry in every wild country.

Two “parflêches” also had to be devised for the more troublesome miscellaneous camp-kit that would not make up into convenient packs, and these were at last contrived out of some strong sackcloth and rawhide loops. A real parflêche is merely a hide, 300 with holes punched all round its edges, into which all your small oddments are bundled, and laced up by a thong through the holes, making a square kind of leather bag, which is then hung by loops on to the horns of the pack-saddle. Two of these had been lent to us by Phillipps for our journey to Tobacco Plains, but he could not spare them altogether, and something of the kind was necessary for such things as cooking utensils, tools, bacon, and a tin of golden syrup which the Skipper had acquired as a poor substitute for our departed honey.

We should strongly advise any one who comes to this country with the idea of looking about in it to bring with him an English saddle (or if he prefer it a Mexican one), and whatever pack-saddles, ropes, and other gear he may intend to use. Horses can easily be obtained in any quantity and at moderate prices, but equipments, according to our experience, could not be had for money, to say nothing about love. Whatever trouble and delay we suffered came from this cause, which a very little outlay in civilised regions would have prevented had we known as much—or as little—as we are now imparting to the reader.

Mexican saddles are a very expensive luxury, though in buying one you certainly get a good deal for your money. They cost from £12 to £14, and are enormous masses of leather, with the high pummel in front and the raised croup behind which compel you to ride in a standing rather than sitting position. They are undoubtedly very good and convenient for their own purposes out here, but we fail to see that on the whole they are superior to an 301 English saddle in any way, and for comfort they cannot be compared to it—at least not from the point of view of a man accustomed to our pattern. We have seen English saddles slightly modified to suit colonial requirements—i.e., with a pummel for the lariat, and dees to carry the various accoutrements customary to the Mexican; but not having tried these inventions, cannot say anything either for or against them, beyond the general axiom that all combination dodges are “pizen.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXVI

an animal the like whereof he had never set eyes on
[Like most other far-fetched stories in the book—always excluding certain details of the authors’ hunting and fishing exploits—this one is almost entirely true. 23 camels—not dromedaries (one hump) but Bactrian camels (two humps)—were brought into British Columbia in 1862. The climate didn’t suit them, but several were still alive at the time our book was written.]

a Snark-hunting ring
[The first stanza is a verbatim quote.]

laddigoes . . . spelling of the latter word may be wrong
[It is ordinarily spelled “latigo”.]



The Skipper was very busy with the camera during our short stay, and was continually bursting into camp in a towering passion because “the Captain,” whose remarkable lineaments we parti­cularly wished to preserve, would time after time in the middle of the fatal four seconds suddenly change his position, wreath his countenance in engaging smiles, and remark, “You makee wantee melluk butter all samee, five dollahs,” or some equally sapient observation, so that after all the trouble only a poor presentment was obtained. There was also an Indian lodge hard by inhabited by a Kootenay and a really good-looking squaw, whose portrait was ardently coveted.

It was pretty to see the photographic party, consisting of H. Baker, the Skipper, and Norbury—who having put on a clean collar fancied himself irresistible—dancing round the tepee into which the coy beauty had retired, peeping through the doorway opening, and adjuring her in the most persuasive terms in their vocabulary to come forth and be taken. Jim, as a married man, expressed strong disapproval of the whole proceeding, and chuckled immensely when the husband arrived unexpectedly on the scene, and the photographers began to look for flowers and 303 butterflies, and talk to the dog. He however proved much more amenable to their blandishments than his spouse, and not suspecting, as her unerring feminine instinct no doubt had warned her, what a fearful guy these plausible ruffians would make of him, suffered himself and his tepee to be victimised,* and was, we regret to say, rather uncompli­mentary to his better half for her want of pluck.

* See Illustration, p. 136.

It will give a good idea of the impractica­bility of the country when we say that although Cranbrook is about eighty miles distant from the U. S. line, the Custom-House for the Mooyie trail is situated here. Probably there is not enough demand for “free trade” to make smuggling a sufficiently profitable business: still as far as we can learn it is not attempted owing to the great difficulty, amounting almost to impossibility, of getting across the country by any way except the recognised trail, in spite of the distance 304 to be traversed before reaching H.M. Custom-House.

small log house surrounded by rail fence

H.M. Custom House. Cranbrook, B.C.

The one drawback to our enjoyment was caused by the pigs, which, being loose about the place, were continually foraging round our camp if ever we left it unguarded for five minutes. At night they would want to see the time by the Waterbury watch which the Skipper kept under his “pillow”—as he calls the assortment of boots and fishing tackle on which he rests his weary head—its position being loudly proclaimed by its all-pervading tick. But by strict attention we avoided any harm from their curiosity.

The last evening was a singularly beautiful one. Prominent in the foreground was the Indian, with his clothes brilliant enough to make an Englishwoman shudder, but somehow harmonising well with the creamy tepee, shading off as it does into smoky brown at the top. Then the very blue smoke against the dark green firs beyond, and in the far distance the Rockies, pink-tinged on their snowy summits from the last rays of the sun, and below the darker range looking like a deep blue cloud; below that again a real cloud of pure white hanging over the valley of the Kootenay; nearer the pines and tamaracks; and lastly the cultivated fields on the prairie—making a picture in which even the ugly old wooden buildings had a beauty of their own, not altogether unassociated in our minds with the good dinners we had enjoyed in them.

We left Cranbrook, with its blazing fires* and jolly evenings in the best of company, on the 1st of November; the Scotch mist having at last come 305 to an end, and the Indian Summer, as every one assured us, “just agoing to begin.” Our new pack-train worked admirably, but we made a very short day, stopping at the little prairie where our former camp had been made, on account of its good horse feed.

* Alas and alas for the blazing fires! Cranbrook was, we hear, burnt to the ground in the autumn of 1888. Resurgat.

That evening there was made the sensible observation of the whole trip, an occur­rence equally remarkable and important to our happiness during the following days. We were lamenting the evenings no more to be ours in that lodge on the way up from Tobacco Plains. Said Cardie, “Why not make a lodge instead of talking so much of its advantages?” And so greatly were we struck by the excellence of the idea that no one so much as observed “Donkey.”

There was the framework of an old Indian tepee still standing at this place, so that correct dimensions were easily procured, and accordingly next morning the work was begun. Two of the horses, yearning for the flesh-pots of Cranbrook, had “skipped out,” and it seemed appropriate that the Skipper should skip after them.

Jim constructed a yard measure, and after a few minutes’ measuring of the old lodge, and what he called “getting out specifications” on the back of an envelope, he announced his opinion as to the size and shape of the canvas required.

Cardie in the meantime by an ingenious adaptation of the Differential Calculus and some abstruse logarithms had succeeded in arriving at exactly the same figure; and an examination of the tent and waggon-sheet proved that we had just enough material for the required purpose.

All that day, which luckily was beautifully fine 306 though cold, we worked hard, measuring, cutting out, and sewing, no less than twenty-two yards of strong stitching being required; but at evening a lodge of the very best construction, with ears, sockets on them for the chimney poles, and doorway provided with double-breasted flaps and tapes for closing it, silk-lined throughout, and finished with all modern improvements, price six guineas, was reared on the little prairie; and at night we sat round a fire rejoicing in the warmth and light, while the keen frost outside only made our present lot the more delightful.

It was rather startling to see in letters of blood the word J. L. appear on the side of the tent, illuminated for the first time by the blazing fire within. It was in vain for Cardie to protest that he remembered thus marking the waggon-sheet with red paint. But after a time we reflected that even if the tent did belong to Jael, none of us were Sisera, and we need not pay any attention to the ominous characters.

One of our greatest grievances since the short days and long nights set in has been the difficulty of doing anything, however simple, after dark. We have carried candles, but their use has been very unsatisfactory, for in our open waggon-sheet there was always more or less of a draught, and the tent was too small and stuffy for more than one person to use it at once, besides being very cold. But a tepee removes all these objections at once. In the first place, from its conical shape, there is so much reflected light from the fire, that with that alone reading and writing are perfectly easy; but to make 307 the interior luxurious we generally have a candle as well; and thus all household duties become easy of performance. The pitching and taking down are not any more trouble than an ordinary tent, unless of course you have to cut fresh poles, which in this Indian-frequented country is a rare occur­rence, and would be still rarer were it not for the habit those confounded white men have of using the poor redskin’s property for firewood. (It was curious to see how quickly our sympathies as tepee-owners were transferred to the Indian side of the question; hitherto we had on several occasions, we regret to say, burnt a few poles ourselves.) The only other extra trouble connected with it is the necessity for cutting the firewood up into rather smaller pieces—about two feet in length—than those used for an outdoor fire; but this is a slight matter, and amply repaid by the greater convenience of such fuel both for cooking and lighting purposes. We used to make a heap at the side of each bed, so that any one could add a stick to the fire whenever required, without moving.

the authors’ tepee, as described in the text

Our Lodge
(With sides thrown back to show the interior).

Page 306.

Another immense advantage was having all our “truck” under cover, safe against the weather, skunks, and coyotes, and also ready at hand for anything we might want out of it. The various packages, no longer in the way as they used to be in the waggon-sheet, now helped to make our beds more comfortable. The latter were of course used not only for sleeping in, but, slightly altered in shape, for sitting on during the day for meals or work, their circular position round the fire being parti­cularly convenient for the former occupation.


We do not know how the Indians manage their cooking, but fancy they erect a small tripod over the fire. Our plan, which we flatter ourselves to be perfection, was as follows:—When tying the three original poles together near their tops, we used a cord long enough for one end to hang down nearly to the fire: on this we put knots three inches apart, and sliding on this cord was a green willow stick about eighteen inches long, the lower end of which being hooked held the kettle or can, while the upper was perforated with a hole and slit in the shape of a button hole, so that the knots would run through the round part but not through the narrow slit. By this device we could in a moment support the kettle at any height necessary above the fire. Any man who wanted it had only to push it with his foot or a piece of firewood, when the return swing would deliver it straight into his hands; and in this way everything was passed from one to another at food time.

Last but by no means least of the advantages of this dwelling, especially on these bitterly cold mornings, is the ease with which the fire can be lighted before you get out of bed, all that is needful being to keep a supply of “pitch-pine” chips ready. This is wood covered with rosin from having been deprived of its bark, or saturated with turpentine from some uncertain cause, which we think to be cutting down in the spring of the year. Five minutes after the fire is lighted the tepee is filled with a genial warmth in which it is a pleasure to dress, and all excuse for bad temper has disappeared.

And now as camping out is such a favourite occupation 309 at Henley time, and Buffalo Bill has popularised Westernism, any one who wishes to try for himself the virtues of a tp (we don’t see why we shouldn’t spell it like that if we choose: who are the Indians, anyway, that they should dictate to us?) can do so by observing the following rules. We do not claim that they are the absolute best, but they made a capital lodge for us, and are good enough.

Describe a circle with a 13-foot radius. Draw a straight line 20½ feet long between two points of the circumference. The segment of the circle between those two points is half the tp; the other half is another similar segment. Sew these two halves together by a pair of their 13-foot edges, and provide the other 13-foot edges with double-breasted tapes for about 9 feet of their height from the ground, the remaining 4 feet being left open to serve as a chimney. If this canvas be now placed in position it would form a complete cone, so it requires the top to be cut off about 15 inches from the apex, not quite squarely, but in such a curve as to leave the two unsewn edges rather longer than the rest of the erection. These two edges then form the ears or cowl of which mention has already been made. In our tp we added a little more stuff to these ears, making them project laterally from the truncated cone as well as above it. Sockets of stout canvas, ready to receive the ends of the chimney-poles, were then sewn on to the corners of the ears, and the thing was complete.

A really first-rate lodge has after erection a kind of dado of hides or rush mats placed all round it inside to keep off the draught, which is otherwise troublesome; and the door, to obviate the necessity 310 for tape-tying, is made of a skin stretched on a couple of sticks which hangs over the opening. We think probably a most effective dado could be contrived by attaching to the wall of the tp a piece of stuff about thirty inches wide and rather larger than the true circumference, which would only be connected at points a foot or two apart, thus hanging rather loosely all round. This dado would be furnished with a sod cloth on which soil could be thrown, thus compelling the air to rise up between the two walls and enter only over the top of the dado at the loose hanging folds. If between these two walls muslin were sewn, the tp would be mosquito-proof. Even in its primitive form it is by far the best tent for evading these creatures, for owing to the conical shape it is easy to smoke them out, and once out the door can be slammed in their faces.

Candlesticks can be made in a variety of ways, but none of them superior to this:—Take a straight-grained stick (willow or quaking asp is the best for the purpose, but almost any wood will do) about a yard long. Cut the thin end sharp and the thick one square. Cut down the grain at the thick end a right-angled +, dividing it into four equal segments, and splitting it down for about five or six inches with each cut. Put two little pegs through the cuts to hold the quarters at such a distance apart that a candle nicely fits between them; and your candlestick is made.

We used a sheet of our last Times for a pattern in cutting out the canvas, and when at night we were snugly ensconced in our new home we all agreed that next to the publishing of “Parnellism and Crime,” this 311 was the best thing the Times ever did. Not that we are unmindful of that celebrated occasion when the missionary and his wife went out to convert the Bedaweens, and about ten minutes after their first interview with those untamed heathen, were stripped of all they possessed, and returned to the place whence they set out, he dressed in the Times and she in the “Supplement,” which the children of the desert had feared to touch on account of the cabalistic characters engraved thereon. By the way, why is the “Thunderer” the best newspaper for clothing purposes? Because there is always a Buckle, or rather a pair of Buckles, attached to it.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXVII

Parnellism and Crime . . . the best thing the Times ever did
[I am inclined to think that the authors aren’t joking. We are in November of 1887, so this is after the articles were published (March-April 1887) but before the findings of the Parnell Commission (1888-89). And, therefore, before Parnell’s libel suit against the Times, ending with an award of £5000 along with massive legal fees.]



Just as we were finishing our house a very unpleasant-looking person arrived on the scene. He was on foot, and had no visible weapons, but carried a small pack. His countenance was distinctly what novelists call “sinister,” and he had a nasty familiar style of address that we did not like. We discouraged his advances so much that he “guessed he would go on to Peavine,” whereat we rejoiced.

Early next morning came a still more truculent villain on a strong horse. This one bristled with rifles and revolvers, and had a more jaunty and self-satisfied air than the other. He seemed to expect an invitation to breakfast, but as we did not rise to the occasion, he inquired if any one had passed. We mentioned the other ruffian, whereupon he exclaimed, “That’s the man I want!” and asking what time he went by, said, “I guess I shall catch him,” put spurs to his horse, and vanished down the trail.

We were left in a state of uncertainty whether or not these men were enemies. If they were, the first one seemed likely to have a pretty tough time of it; but the general impression left on all our minds was that they were friends, and that we had better look out, for two “harder citizens” we never saw. This 313 impression was by no means weakened when Jim going quietly down the trail with a rifle ahead of our train, caught sight of the man who had left us in such a hurry a couple of hours before just disappearing round a bend in the path where he had apparently been waiting for us.

We soon found by the tracks that the two men had joined each other, and did not like the look of it at all. What we expected was that they would wait until we had camped, and then jump upon us and requisition our horses, rifles, and food. But of course they were not unlikely to pounce anywhere along the track; so we advanced all day in skirmishing order, with two rifles and the shot-gun ready, the latter being considered the handiest weapon for close quarters. We sent Cardie and Jim as an advance guard to creep softly into the camp at the lower end of the Mooyie lakes, and if necessary do the pouncing ourselves.

To our great relief our white friends were not there, and a large Indian family was—father, mother, children, and papoose all complete; and never were we more pleased to see one of our red-skinned brethren, who, whatever their faults, are not burglars and highwaymen.

We could even forgive this one for annexing our old camp, and using up all the lodge-poles, thus compelling us to cut a fresh lot. We have very little doubt that our estimate of the “mean whites” was correct, and that but for the Indian family there would have been trouble at Mooyie bridge. Those men looked capable of breaking all the Ten Commandments at once, except the one about doing no manner of work.


The Indian patriarch was very civil, offering us fish, of which he had caught a good store. It was curious to see his cavalcade next morning as they rode off on the up trail. The last baby was perched in some way inside the blanket on its mother’s back; while the last but one, a youth of about eighteen months, was mounted on a horse of its own, on which we imagined it to be strapped. All the elder ones managed their own steeds, but this one had no reins, and depended on the horse following the same track as the rest, the father going first and the mother acting as rear-guard, so that they had a fair chance of preventing accidents.

We passed a most picturesque pair yesterday in the forest, a young and handsome Kootenay and a really pretty wife, who strange to say were walking, having probably gambled away their horses. They stopped to look at us as we went by, their brilliant blankets and handsome faces making themselves, we fancy, a much more pleasing spectacle than our rags and nags could afford. They gave us to understand by signs that the Indian Summer might now be expected, and with that we parted.

The fishing had not improved since we were here before, the season being really past, and the weather too cold for any enjoyment to be got out of it. Here was laid the foundation of that celebrated fish story of the Skipper: How he had caught the grandfather of all trouts, duly knocked him on the head and put him in his pocket—for that is what he is now reduced to in the way of fishing bags. Presently, while he was putting another fish into the same receptacle, the monster had unkilled himself, made a rush for liberty, 315 leaped out of the pocket into the stream, and swam happily away. We hasten to print this version before it has arrived at incredible dimensions; thereby we hope saving the Skipper’s character for veracity.

The next night’s camp was a few miles further down the trail, and at last on ground we had not visited before. If our bushranging pair were meditating a descent on us, they were here foiled by the arrival of three men driving a few cattle up to the Ferry for the Police Camp. Amusing fellows they were too, thorough Yankees, and in the highest spirits in spite of their miserable occupation, for getting wild cattle through a country like this is anything but a pleasant piece of work. They told us they got little sleep, which we could well believe, for the first thing that happened the morning after they had gone was the return of some of their beasts to our camp, and the next the arrival of two hot and infuriated drovers in pursuit. For a few minutes the air was filled with a confused noise of bellowing, blasphemy, and revolver shots, amidst which men and oxen disappeared.

Just before departing they condoled with us on the weather, but “guessed that in another day the Indian Summer would be around, and then we should be all right.”

The trail forward was very bad, wringing wet everywhere, and in places a mass of sharp rocks. The horses did not like it a bit, and Our Own, as usual the ringleader in any mutiny, began to evade his duty by wandering off the path. He had a lively day of it, for latterly if he so much as looked sideways Cardie was ready for him, and brought a stick down on him with a noise like a pistol-crack. It 316 may sound hard-hearted, but it really was the only way of dealing with him, for the roan was, we regret to say, a thoroughly unprincipled brute, and if allowed once to have his own way, we should never have had ours again; but the manner in which Cardie flew about over trees and brooks like an avenging angel, bounding from rock to rock with gigantic strides, must have made even that Roan see the hopelessness of his rebellion. Anyhow he gave in to-day, and for the rest of the journey behaved as a most exemplary steed.

Roany’s pack always suffers more than any other by deviation from the track, for its owner always covers it with so many extraneous articles, such as hat, boots, coats, rifle, axes, grouse, and treacle tins, that, as his brother scornfully observes, “It looks like a darned rush-cart.” Occasionally he tries sarcasm, and politely suggests, “I could find a little room on my pack if you have anything to spare for it;” but Cardie is impervious, and adheres to his own method.

horses and men, with tepee still standing

The Pack-Train—nearly ready to start.

Page 316.

A very beautiful sight in the Mooyie forests are the splendid ferns which cover the ground under the big trees. No doubt the perpetual wet for which this pass is renowned is the secret of their size, for they are by far the largest male ferns we have ever seen. But their colour is the most wonderful thing about them—a kind of pale grey, which is not, of course, silver, but which nevertheless is better described by the word silver than by any other. All trees seem to rejoice in the damp soil of the valley; we have not passed through any forests of such general luxuriance, and in which so many different species seem to 317 flourish. Conspicuous among these are the Giant Cedars, magnificent straight trees with seamy bark and the most lovely foliage. The most striking feature of these trees is their perfectly shaped base, which is invariably formed in a wide-spreading pedestal of marvellous symmetry. This cedar is however only beautiful to look at and no good to burn, so in spite of his aristocratic appearance we prefer his cousin the humble unassuming Pencil Cedar, who makes our life endurable in this water-logged Mooyie valley.

The trees of the country are an unending source of conversation and argument to us. None of us know anything in the world about them,—at least not more than an ordinary National School child knows—the Skipper can’t spell deciduous, Jim can’t pronounce dicotyledonous, and Cardie doesn’t know the meaning of exogenous. Therefore we all behave as if qualified to lay down the law on the subject of botany, for naturally each man feels that the ignorance of two who listen is twice as great as the ignorance of one who speaks. As no doubt it would be if any of us ever did listen.

The Skipper’s theory is on the whole the most contemptible: he says he is too old to learn any new names for trees, which he considers to be stuck-up things at best; if these are not the same as those which flourish in the old country, that is their look-out, not his. Consequently to him the forest consists of Larches, Christmas trees, Cedars, and Scotch firs (the last name embracing every variety of green thing that cannot easily be included in one of the other three. Irish frieze or Welsh rarebits would 318 be quite as accurate a description of some of the vegetables which come under this comprehensive heading). If any attempt is made to demonstrate to him the excessive breadth of this classification, he says, “Well, that’s what they are from my point of view;” and what reply can be made to that?

“From our point of view,” i.e., United Wisdom’s, this Mooyie valley contains two or three kinds of spruce, including, as we believe, Engelmann’s, and the Balsam Fir, Douglas Fir, and Silver Fir, Black, White, and Yellow Pine, Tamarack, and the Giant and Pencil Cedars. The birches are very beautiful, but not large, and the quaking asp seems to be growing in size as we get further west.

Our next camp was on a flat swampy meadow, where for the sake of the horses we were compelled to stop. Feed had now become very scarce indeed, for the open prairie land which used to be such a pleasant feature in the Columbia and Kootenay valleys had long ago disappeared, and we now only occasionally struck these marshes of coarse brown grass, and were thankful even for them. Another misfortune was the absence of lodge-poles, and it was a very troublesome job to get them, for the forest was all too big, and produced nothing of the proper size.

The ground was so wet that we had to put all our things, including the fire, on rafts of logs to hold them out of the water, and at evening Cardie went out as he said to “make some rafts for the horses to graze off.” Though it was so wet, we had to go a very long way for drinking water, our annoyance at all this being completed when just as we left the place 319 next morning some one discovered a lovely spring filling a little basin within five yards of the tent.

Another day of the same kind, with the most awful going under foot and rain and snow overhead, brought us to the end of a huge desolate flat on which stood and lay the remains of a burnt forest, while through the decaying logs the young spruces were coming up in countless millions. The further progress of the trail looked so very unpromising that we decided to stop a day or two and hope for better weather, and were lucky in finding a nice sheltered spot in a little hollow close to the Mooyie River, which had now become a large and rapid torrent.

This trail is the important road of the country, and all communication between the Kootenay valley and the U. S. is carried on along it; the fallen timber being annually chopped out at the expense of the Province. And yet it is so insignificant in appearance that it was not until the lodge was erected that some one said, “Hello, you’ve put the house in the middle of the road;” and so it was. But the traffic was not so enormous that we thought it worth while to move it.

The horse-feed here was very scanty, so that tethering the poor beasts was out of the question, and yet we dare not let them all go free, lest they should leave us to our fate, with the weather threatening all sorts of horrible things. Cardie was equal to the occasion, and with the remains of the leather he turned out two sets of hobbles, with which for the future our steeds were adorned when grazing. Plain has now transferred his broken heart to that Roan, who being distinguished by a bell and hobbles 320 is considered by him an efficient substitute for Spot senior. Spot junior has the other pair of hobbles, and the Sorrel Nag being a diffident creature will not go away by himself.

At almost every camp in the Mooyie we were attended by those delightful birds known as the Camp Robbers or Whisky Jacks. They are the nicest bipeds we have met, very tame and pretty, and keeping up such a melodious little undercurrent of dulcet talk to each other all the time they are hopping about within a foot or two of the lords of creation, and walking off with unconsidered trifles of food. Their appearance is much the same as that 321 of the bird called by Audubon the Canada Jay, though we are not sure that they are absolutely identical with it. Their general colour is a grey, varying from pure white about the head to brownish on the breast and sides.

two birds, probably from Audubon

The Canada Jay (Perisoreus Canadensis).



The situation of our house on the high-road was not without its inconveniences. In the night the Skipper awoke and said, “Hush, I hear a bear; I hear him thinking—I mean, I think I hear him” (the walls of this lodge are so thin you could hear a man’s conscience through them, if any of us had brought such a thing). There was a glutinous silence, and then some one brushed past along the trail, and the Skipper, still a little nervous about those two “hard citizens,” rushed to the door rifle in hand, and shouted to the passing stranger. He received no reply; but so convinced was he that some one had been there that we looked for tracks first thing in the morning, and saw that our nocturnal visitor was really a bear, which possibly accounted for his inattention to our remarks, behaviour which at the time we thought “barely civil.”

The Skipper had come out here with the intention of taking a photograph of a live bear in his native wilds, a thing which he understood had never been done before, and which he was fully convinced he was the man to accomplish. The idea was that he and Jim were to prowl about until they found the animal at lunch, fix the camera, and get all ready; then put 323 a bullet through his ear just to attract his attention, and take him in the very act of charging, shooting him dead of course just before he reached the apparatus. Somehow, whenever we had the camera ready we did not come upon bears, and when we found bears it never seemed to be the right time for fetching cameræ, and so this great idea fell through. Not to disappoint our readers, however, we give a sketch of how the programme should have been carried out, if things had not gone so contrary.

before-and-after silhouettes of bear attacking photographer while gunman takes aim

Photography extraordinary.

Page 323.

At this camp we stayed two days, both of which were spent in fruitless hunting on the surrounding mountains; for by this time the beef was finished, and we wanted flesh. The weather was so bad that it was dangerous and in fact impossible to go very far from camp, for snow fell incessantly, and the high mountains were veiled in perpetual cloud. We saw enough to convince us that mule-deer and cariboo were numerous here, but the white-tail, which was so plentiful all down the Kootenay, was conspicuous by its absence. Tracks of the former lay in every direction in the snow, not half an hour old, but we were not in luck, and saw none of the owners of these footprints, and hunting in the snow and mist was a very cold and miserable performance.

Cold alone can be endured, but cold and wet cannot, even when they induced the Skipper to give us the story of another cold hunt he had from Fort Steel some years ago.

“Next morning was Christmas Day, and we thought it warm enough to go out, so rode up into the deep snow in the mountains, and kept at it all day through the drifts and forests; and in spite of its snowing hard 324 all the time we were quite cheery, just because it was Christmas, you know. About two o’clock we reached the summit, and should have been able to look down the Pacific slopes if we could have seen two hundred yards in any direction, but that was impossible. Well, we made a fire there, and had our Christmas dinner of bread and butter and currant jelly, and while we were at that it stopped snowing, and down about two miles away I saw a large herd of Elk (Wapiti) feeding. Of course we set off at once, but on our way came on six other Elk feeding in a valley by themselves, so we decided to leave the main herd for another day, and went after these six. We followed them for nearly two hours as they fed through the forest, but we never got within shot, and at last lost them, and turned back for the others. After another tremendous ride we found ourselves on one side of a steep valley, and the herd standing still half way up the wooded hill opposite to us, about 250 yards away. Then we blazed at them; I got two and the other fellow one, and of course we proceeded to gralloch them. As soon as the excitement was over we realised our position—five o’clock on Christmas Day; quite dark; snowing like old boots; 20° of frost, and a slight wind getting up, just enough to drive the snow in our faces and nearly poke our eyes out; fourteen miles from home; and both ourselves and our horses tired to death. We did just know where we were, and without more delay left the Elk as they lay, and set off for the camp. No doubt we were lucky to get there, which we did late at night, more dead than alive. And what a Christmas supper we had of antelope steak, hot bread, and whisky-punch, the 325 last being a special addition to the bill of fare in honour of the day.”

Late on the second night we were roused by the trampling of horse-hoofs and the sound of a man’s voice, and at once turned out to see what the unusual event might mean, for in this country it is the rarest thing for any one to travel by night. There we found our friends the Yankee drovers, who, having completed their work with the cattle, were hurrying back into the States by a series of forced marches. To-day they had made forty miles over this awful trail, and their horses were not unnaturally quite played out. Poor fellows, they were glad to make their camp here, and though they were off again at daybreak they managed to be very amusing before they went. One of them was the cheeriest blackguard we ever met: unfortunately his stories, which were genuinely funny, were nearly all totally unfit for publication, and those that might have been told relied for their effect on some of the most appalling specimens of western language that ever were invented. He seemed to have a greater general dislike for the Indians than any one we had seen; saying amongst other things that they were “great fellers to stand around and pick their teeth while you were eating,” which certainly does hit them off with a master’s hand. “Etarnal fellers to feed; it’s like putting stuff into a ship’s hold to try and fill them up,” he continued, and then proceeded to tell us of what he called a “Dictionary man who allowed he was going to make a conversation book of the Kootenay tongue.” So he got an Indian who understood English, gave 326 him a simple sentence, and asked for the translation. He said “the Indian gave two sneezes and a hiccough, then whistled for a while, choked, and said, ‘Have you got that down?’ and the Dictionary man thought he didn’t want any of it in his, and left.”

Shorn of their picturesque and incongruous blasphemy, the stories of this genial ruffian were mere outlines, but he had an extraordinary store of them. His last words as he departed were, “Look out for the Line about five miles from here, by —— when you get out of this —— —— old monarchical —— of a country of yours you’ll —— well see what a —— —— —— —— of —— of a trail ought to be. And say, boys! that Indian Summer will be along pretty soon and then”—— And so they disappeared in the driving sleet, jovial to the last.

We have certainly found it difficult to pick up much of the Indian tongue: for one thing, they all talk in a kind of inaudible whisper, so that a white man cannot hear what they say, much less understand. This is very trying to us, for being fully convinced that the most important use of any foreign language is to call for drinks, and the next to abuse the natives for not bringing them, we did hope that we should before this have become to that extent proficient in the Kootenay dialect. The Skipper, who has at his fingers’ ends terms alike injurious to the persons addressed and disrespectful to the memory of their departed relatives, in Hindustani, Norwegian, Egyptian, and Somersetshire, is parti­cularly grieved about it, for, as he mournfully says, “What can you do with a language that positively has no equivalent for ‘son of a sea-cook’?”


One stroke of genius Cardie has achieved, viz., hissing out between his clenched teeth in a malignant manner the word “Katlahalshin,” which strictly speaking means merely “horse,” but when properly used in the way indicated has all the blood-curdling properties of a horrid oath. (Recommended.)

The snow continued steadily, and each day the clouds crept lower down the mountains and made hunting more and more out of the question, so on the 9th of November, in a blinding sleet-shower, we again struck camp, picked our way along the deeply buried trail, and about midday crossed the International Boundary Line.

Then and not till then did we appreciate the Parthian shot of that untruthful drover when he vaunted the superiority of the Republican trail over that of the effete Dominion. The Line was marked indeed by a huge monument of piled stones in the forest, but it was marked much more clearly by the complete absence of any attempt to keep the road open or chop out fallen timber on the U.S. side. The soil was a tangled mass of roots and mud, over which were spread innumerable little runnels of water, making walking as miserable an exercise as could be imagined. In all this discomfort the path wandered up and down and lost itself, and came up again in unexpected places in the most bewildering and exasperating manner; and so this day passed.

At night we had arrived at an open space of poor feed known as “Round Prairie,” and here all wet and muddy as we were, we were thankful to see something like a change in the soil and general appearance of the country, and began to hope we were getting 328 through this sloppy valley, where we honestly believe what every one said to be true, that it rains 350 days out of every year. The name Mooyie or Mooyea is, by the way, only a voyageur’s corruption of “mouillé,” a word which we are credibly informed by a French dictionary signifies “soaking wet.”

The Skipper until now has never been tired of preaching to us the superiority of the go-ahead States over sleepy Canada and England, and the phrase, “Ah, wait till you get across the Line,” has been frequently on his lips; but the Mooyie trail has converted him, and he is now a confirmed Yankeephobist. We can only say that if they want a deserving object for the remains of that Alabama Surplus, they cannot do better than devote it to chopping out this pathway and filling up the holes and ditches which pervade it to the great loss and detriment of the unfortunate traveller.

A fortnight afterwards we met that light-hearted purveyor of fiction the Drover, and taxed him with his heartless deceit. It seemed that he had been chuckling to himself ever since over the idea of what those —— —— —— Britishers would say when they crossed the Line, his only excuse being that as we “had got to come along that trail anyhow, he didn’t see the use of filling us up with a —— lot of —— —— —— —— Scripture stuff.”

As it is just possible that the Americans may like to know our opinion of their mighty nation, this seems to be a favourable opportunity for expressing it, and we hope it may do them good.

An enlightened American citizen who has travelled “some” is, speaking broadly, one of the best fellows in the world, being more easily detected as such than 329 a good Englishman, though not actually superior to him. This kind of travelled American is not at all a rarity, but may be met in all places where people congregate, and in some where they do not.

Another capital fellow as a rule is the true pioneer, hunter, or miner of the Far West, who has learnt the lessons of nature in her grandest moods, and knows how weak and dependent the best of us are. But take the too common native product of the country, who has lived all his life among his own sort, and in the same kind of place—well, we have not a Britisher to equal him, and that is saying a good deal. He is more prejudiced than the finest old Tory Squire, and without the good qualities which so often make the latter one of the most lovable of men. Let him get away with his own ideas of America as compared with the rest of the world, and you will long for death (his) to put an end to your sufferings. He will lay down the law and ignore your suggestions (if you are unwise enough to make any), and give you “Amurrica” till you wish it was Happy Japan, where, as Shirley Brooks sings—

“We’re informed that in Happy Japan

Folks are free to believe what they can;

But if they come teaching and preaching and screeching

They go off to jail in a van.”

And the saddening aspect of it is that he really believes all that he says, and is convinced that the Stars and Stripes float over the most intelligent, civilised, and liberty-loving community, and the most magnificent and fertile country in the world, and that there is absolutely nothing in which America does 330 not whip creation: for nearly all of which, in our humble opinion, the very inferior Press is to blame. Even in New York, where the leading journal is equal or even superior to the best of ours as a newspaper, the same disfiguring pettiness and personality are prominent which in the local prints form their only claims to notice.

And now let their critics waltz in and say what they think of our way of writing. Absence of international copyright is a wonderful thing for giving a writer the courage of his opinions.

The physical condition of the race is disappointing. One knows the beauty of the American girls who come over to us, but in the first place these are a picked lot; and secondly, they cannot stay—thirty years make an oldish woman of any of them. This is no doubt satisfactory enough to the debutantes by increasing the speed of promotion, but not to those whose reign has hardly begun before it is over, nor to a man who likes his wife to retain her good looks a little beyond the honeymoon.

The men are not only on the whole a plain race, but, by an old country standard, a badly made one, with narrow chests and sloping shoulders, though we must admit that their apparently inferior physique seems often capable of doing a wonderful amount of work, and doing it well. Our observation is chiefly confined to the Western States—of the East and South we know very little—and our impression is that the European stock deteriorates and needs constant renewal. An Englishman going out improves in health and strength; but his children are not equal to English children, the boys have not the same jolly 331 careless faces and light hearts as our boys, they are men in mind at fourteen, and the girls also grow up much too soon.

As to the cause. The climate is probably responsible for much of it, but surely the sort of food they take and the way they take it for more. They eat any amount of hot rolls and other fancy breads (usually made with baking powder), and also pastry and sweets. The meat is distinctly badly cooked; they drink neat spirits on an empty stomach, and follow it with iced water, of which they also consume an inordinate amount at all times; and they begin these practices very young. They bolt their food without mastication and do the chewing afterwards, either on a toothpick for a couple of hours after a dinner of twenty minutes, or on tobacco during the rest of their waking moments; the children and girls practising on “gum,” whatever that may be. Tobacco chewing, besides being one of the nastiest habits in its execution, cannot we think be a healthy one.

Lastly, the girls absolutely, and the men to a great extent, never take any exercise that can possibly be avoided—the Canadians are not included in this sweeping assertion. For instance, no one ever thinks of walking upstairs, but lifts are going perpetually in any building of more than two stories. And every house worthy of the name has double windows, and heating apparatus, and stoves, and patent ventilators, and warm carpets, and every other ingenious device yet invented for keeping the interior perfectly free from draughts and of a deliciously warm, pleasing temperature—and giving you your death of cold directly you put your nose outside it.


For the rest, let it suffice to say concerning the Americans and their customs that we esteem them highly, inasmuch as their faults are about the same as our own, only with the accents differently placed.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXIX

Alabama Surplus
[That is, the surplus of the Alabama Award. In September 1873, Britain was ordered to pay the United States $15,500,000 as reparation for damage done during the Civil War by Confederate ships—notably the Alabama—built in England. Courts moved faster back then.
The original request was for $2 billion or, in the alternative, Canada. (Do not take my unsupported word for it. Look it up.) Historians can argue about whether “surplus” means that Britain overpaid or that the U.S. government didn’t know what to do with fifteen and a half million dollars. For comparison purposes, the recently purchased Alaska only cost a bit over seven million.]

till you wish it was Happy Japan
[Charles William Shirley Brooks, 1816-1874, editor of Punch from 1870. The poem, written 1873, is as quoted, though Punch spelled it “gaol”. Our book omits the last line:

Don’t you wish this was happy Japan?”]

Absence of international copyright is a wonderful thing
[If we do say so ourselves. It certainly made it easy for the book to copy Audubon’s illustrations with only a passing acknowledgement.]



We left Round Prairie in the rain which at the lower elevation was beginning to take the place of the continuous snow, passing among other unpleasant sights a burnt lodge, to remind us that even our comfortable home was liable to the fate which has befallen so many statelier mansions; and alas! we were not insured.

On this part of the trail we began to meet several birds hitherto strangers to us; notably the Western Robin, which, as most people know, is really a thrush, and a very poor imitation of our English Redbreast. From the corner of a marsh a Great Grey Owl flew up into the nearest tree, and sat there blinking; and in the forest we came quite close to a Western Goshawk, which was surprised in the act of dining on a grouse: this she refused to abandon, and carried off in triumph as she flew. Along the side of the trail were many nests of Golden-crested Wrens, very beautiful, made chiefly of moss and feathers, and hung from the fork of a twig.

About mid-day we came to a place where there was the choice of two trails, one going south direct to Bonner’s Ferry, the other reaching the same place 334 by a more circuitous westerly route, but one on which report said there was plenty of horse feed, whereas the southerly trail had none. This junction was on the brow of a steep descent into a flat valley, the nearer part of which was thickly forested, while beyond we could see broad yellow plains of luxuriant grass. Dotted about over these were clumps of cottonwood trees, like islands in a sea, and in places the bush-lined course of a little creek, or what the cyclopædia calls “a lacustrine expanse encintured with sylvan ornature.” Far away in these yellow meadows could be seen the broad surface of the now smoothly-flowing Kootenay, and beyond low dark hills all wrapped in dense bands of white cloud, and here and there snowy peaks not of very striking grandeur.

We chose the western path and commenced the descent, Jim and the Sorrel Nag immediately pitching head foremost into a prickly bush, from which however they emerged only slightly damaged. Then Spot’s pack came over his head, the extra synch which was put on to prevent such catastrophes having for some reason failed to do its work. But no harm was done, and in due course we reached a small brook where the trail disappeared from view. A little search found one going on in a due northerly direction, which, as we wanted to reach a place lying due south, seemed discouraging, but we could find no other, so with misgivings went forward. Mile after mile was passed over slippery ground, productive of many small disasters, and at last we came out of the wood at a ranch on the edge of the plain, the first human habitation we had seen 335 since leaving Cranbrook. The owner told us that we had come right after all; that this northerly trail was the only way of compassing a huge slough, but from this point it took a sharp bend in the desired direction, and lay along the meadows all the way to the Ferry.

He added that the weather was bad, but now was the time that the Indian Summer usually began, and that would make everything hum.

The muddy path wound about among the cottonwood trees, over coarse rank grass, which however the horses seemed to like. We imagined that this unfortunate ranchman had in the early summer thanked heaven that his hay was not left to the mercy of Providence this year, for he had made a goodly array of stacks. But he had omitted the important detail of first drying his grass, and when we passed there was nothing to be seen but rotting masses of sodden evil-smelling herbage. We fear he would have a hard struggle to bring his cattle through the coming winter.

Two hours on the flat brought us to a creek running between very high and steep clayey banks, and with about two feet of tenacious mud at its bottom; and by the time we had got over this with all our horses and goods we were pretty well tired, and stopped for the night. How the wretched animals accomplished the passage of that creek we never knew, but it was a matter of the utmost surprise that they did so at all; probably despair lent them wings. They all went down the bank in a sitting posture, which is right enough for a descent; but it is impossible to sit up a bank, and very little use 336 to do so in the middle of a muddy river. Yet that is what that Roan tried to do.

We have certainly been lucky with our packs and horses on the whole; small accidents have, of course, occurred, e.g. branches of trees tearing holes in the mantles or disturbing a pack to such an extent as to compel readjustment, but only once has the whole thing come to grief. This happened near Bull River on our way up from Tobacco Plains, when old Plain’s pack for want of a proper lash-rope came off on a steep hill-side, terrifying him so much that before anything could be done he had badly torn several packages in struggling to avoid a fall. That was how the curry powder and tooth powder came to be mixed up with the tea and flour, and all of them together with a tin of vaseline to be trampled solidly into the Skipper’s spare shirt and our only tie. Jim, who was on ahead with Spot junior, hastily hitched the leading rope round a tree, and was just in time to complete the rescue of Plain and his pack; but in the few minutes that he was away, Spot had also become scared, twisted the rope round all his legs, and was beginning to kick on a ledge about two feet wide below which ran the Kootenay. It was a very narrow escape for two horses and their loads, but we have had nothing else sensational, and this muddy “Boundary Creek” as it is called, was the really worst place we have struck this side of Tobacco Plains, in spite of its commonplace appearance.

Since we possessed a fourth horse the caravan has been preceded by the Sorrel Nag, bestridden in the morning by the Skipper, in the afternoon by Jim, the rider being armed with a gun or rifle for the 337 collection of food, an axe to prepare poles for the lodge, and a very large and heavy bludgeon, which is humorously alluded to as “a whip.”

photograph of James Lees on horseback in front of the tepee

Jim and the Sorrel Nag.

Cardie made the thing we ride on, and having tried it once, merely says he prefers to walk, and there is an end of the matter. The Skipper does not say anything, but from certain footprints and the very small distance he forges ahead, there is a shrewd suspicion abroad that, as soon as he gets out of sight, 338 he dismounts and leads the Nag rather than endure the agonies of that old pack gear, denuded of its horns and invested with a rug, which Cardie fondly calls “the saddle,” but which we with our superior French education denominate a “sell.” Jim alone, careless of mortal injury to himself or the Sorrel, wallops that lack-lustre animal along the trail at a pace which often rises to the dignity of a gallop. It is curious to notice the startling suddenness with which the speed subsides to a dead stop if the rider from weariness or any other cause ceases for a moment to ply “the whip.”

We have had some miserable camping grounds since we left Cranbrook, but never aught like Boundary Creek. The lodge was there erected on a bed of decaying rushes, bits of sticks, mud, and dead leaves deposited by the stream, which we thought preferable to the only alternative site offered by the deep wet swathes of grass.

A wonderful place this was for geese, we sadly reflected, as we longed for all the charac­teristics of those unjustly despised birds. For nearly an hour at dusk the air above us was alive with one never-ending flight, all gaggling their hardest, and unmindful of the rifle-shots which Cardie, standing in the lodge-door, would keep pumping at them. How many thousands passed over it is impossible to conjecture, but very many, to say nothing of the ducks, which being mute did not attract so much attention: and the performance was repeated in the morning, only the direction of the flight being reversed.

All night it rained dismally, and in the morning we were inspirited by the spectacle of the most woebegone, 339 mutilated caricature of a dog that the wide world contains. His tail had been cut short off, and so had one foot, and the wistful down-trodden expression of his appealing eyes was not to be borne. He would not come near us, but we threw him some breakfast, feeling all the time that a rifle-shot would be a more merciful gift: and the wretched creature, all starving as it was, could not believe in its own good fortune; but sat afar off until we dissembled sufficiently to allow it to steal the scraps we meant for it. Two days of that dog would have been too much for any of us, and when a short time afterwards, having made a good meal on the grouse bones we left for him, he again appeared slinking along near the trail, we felt that murder would have to be done. Happily the poor brute gave up following us after a few miles.

The path wandered aimlessly over the sloppy sodden muddows (we presume this is the right word for a meadow whose chief product is mud), and presently entered a forest and brought us once more to the banks of the Kootenay, here a majestic river of slow current, about 150 yards wide and with a uniform depth we are told of about forty feet. The big flats on which we have been travelling extend from Bonner’s Ferry to the Kootenay Lake, the finest sheet of water in B. C. They are somewhere about forty miles in length and two or three in width, only the northern portion, however, being in British territory. These flats were undoubtedly at one time included in the area of the big lake which still has a length of about ninety miles, and have been formed by the alluvial deposit from the river. The narrowness 340 of the outlet from the lake every year at the time of the thaws backs up the water, causing the whole of the plain to be flooded.

Steps are we believe being taken to widen the narrow place, and thus prevent the recurrence of these floods. If those efforts are successful there will probably be no place west of the Rockies more valuable than these bottom lands, the soil of which seems to be a light mixture of clay and loam, sandwiched throughout by the annual layers of what is practically leaf mould. The grass on them even under the present circumstances grows with a luxuriance unknown elsewhere; and, so “we are informed and believe” does the mosquito, but the same draining operations which will improve the former will also undoubtedly harass the latter, and in time perhaps improve him also—away. Altogether we should fancy there is a great future for this valley, unless the engineering diffi­culties in the way of the drainage scheme prove to be too great. As to this we express no opinion, not having seen the outlet.*

* We are informed that this scheme has now been undertaken in earnest by an English company.—Nov. 1891.

The lake itself must be one of the most wonderful pieces of fishing water in the universe, if we are to believe half we hear of it. From charr and trout to the landlocked salmon and gigantic sturgeon, it has an unequalled reputation for the size, number and quality of its scaly inhabitants. Would we had had opportunity to make trial of it, but time would not allow, and we were obliged to press on.

How the rain drizzled and dripped from the steaming trees that miserable day; but it was not till we 341 were at length under shelter of our friendly lodge near a little duck-haunted lake, that we found what B. C. really could do in the way of bad weather when she tried.

For two days and nights it pelted and poured, while the wind shrieked through the branches and flapped the ears of our lodge thunderously overhead, keeping us in terror lest we should suddenly see our beloved home whisked away and deposited in the middle of the lake. It is hard to say what more it could have done, unless it had rained blizzards and frozen them into thunderbolts as they fell, so varied and so finished was the performance; but on the third day it really was finished, and once more we urged upon our wild career.

As Cardie remarked:—“This B. C. weather goes by fits and starts: it gave us fits yesterday and lets us start to-day.” In spite of this flippancy, he was not on the whole very genial, owing to a slight misfortune. His boots being very wet had been hung up from one of the poles, to dry in the heat of the fire. Unluckily the high wind drove the rain all night in that direction, through the slightly open chimney, and in the morning when Cardie pulled on his first boot with a jerk, there was a splash and a fountain of water in all directions, and both of them were found to be about half full of rain.

He was a little touchy all that day, especially when anyone “hoped his feet were not damp, because that would be dangerous in this climate,” or made any similar kind inquiry; and some of his replies were conceived in the worst possible taste, and with an absence of gratitude that was positively sickening.



A Flatbow (or Lower Kootenay) Indian arrived to breakfast this morning and stayed with us a long time. He was a pleasant kind of fellow, rather starved in appearance (this, however, was only appearance, as we found he was the Crœsus of his tribe), and not dressed with that gorgeous splendour which marked his cousins the Horse Kootenays.

Breakfast over, this treacherous savage gave us quite a turn by making a long speech ending unmistakably with the ominous words, “Income tax.” To gain time in these distressing circumstances we got him to repeat it, and there could be no doubt of it; he was the tax collector, and wanted us to pay. In vain we assured him that we could not and would not do any such thing; that we had left England chiefly because there we had more tax than income; we explained to him that the great medicine man of the palefaces had promised to abolish it a matter of fourteen years ago, and therefore in all true believers’ minds it had already ceased to exist; we tried a compromise, if, for instance, he had such a thing as a poor-rate or a gas-meter about him; but no, that persistent redskin went on with his ceaseless refrain, “Income tax, come tax, come tax.” At last in despair 343 we told him that the Grand Old Tyee was coming along the trail just behind us with a pack horse loaded with post-cards, and would infallibly make a long speech explaining that he was himself indirectly of Flatbow descent (through the Longbows), and then and not till then that wild man arose and fled with a howl of dismay.

An individual has since tried to persuade us that kum tax is Chinook jargon, and merely means “Do you understand?” but we know better, and are convinced that nothing but our presence of mind and fertility of resource saved us from having our lodge assessed under Schedule A, ourselves as occupiers under B, and our rifles and other goods under D, in a Flatbow Budget.

man paddling an unusually shaped canoe

A Flatbow Indian—Lower Kootenay River.

We discovered a place where several of these 344 Indians and their families were living, and inspected their lodges and canoes. The latter are unique among the boats of the world. They are formed of one sheet of pine bark (the white pine, we believe, but are not sure); this is stripped off the tree to the necessary length, turned inside out, and sewn into the shape shown in the sketch, the knot holes, if any, being caulked with gum, and the sharp bow and stern faced with a cutwater of firwood. The gunwale is made of a strip of birch bark, about four inches broad, sewn to the edge of the pine, and strengthened at the top with a piece of fir. The interior is stiffened with numerous ribs running the whole width of the pine bark, while a few of them are carried right across the birch bark as well, and joined to the gunwale piece.

The paddle is not unlike the ordinary Canadian one, but sharp at the handle end. The canoes vary in length, a common size being about eleven feet along the keel, seven between perpendiculars, reversing the ordinary shape of most craft. They are very light, one this size weighing about fifty pounds, but stronger, neater, and swifter than a birch bark.

The Flatbows are, though professedly converted to Christianity, a very primitive race. All summer they wear nothing but a rag round their middle, supplemented in winter by a blanket. They spend nearly all their time on the water in these canoes, which they manage with great skill. Curiously enough they do not appear to guide them by that turn of the paddle used in the other model: when paddling, even if both sides of the boat are manned, 345 they regularly change the paddles from right to left at every three or four strokes, accompanying the action with a song which, with the gleam of the flashing wood as it is waved through the air, has a pretty effect, appealing at once to eye and ear. Out of the water the canoes are treated with great care, being laid bottom upward in a sheltered place upon horizontal pieces of wood secured at one end by being thrust into the steep bank, and supported at the other by forked upright sticks.

This group of Indians seemed to be very poor; they were living in lodges which had no roofs to them, but only dados made of plaited rushes. Now a dado is a thing we consider necessary at home, but a house all dado and nothing but dado would, we fear, be likely to make even Oscar wild, though to be sure in this inclement weather they would be pretty certain to have a freeze as well.

“Infelix Dado, nunc te facta impia tangunt,”

quoted our poet (he said it came out of the Æneid), when he heard that the truly æsthetic state of their homes arose from the gambling propensities of this unhappy tribe. They had spent about a month (when they ought to have been fishing and shooting) in games of chance with a band of marauders known as Calispel Indians, who live about fifty miles away, and dropped in for a friendly rivalry in the athletic sports of draw-poker, the three card trick, and another game which appears to be identical with Coddam.

This last is the most popular form of commercial 346 enterprise, and is played by about six or eight men standing opposite to each other in two equal parties, one of which holds a small object, which is rapidly passed from hand to hand, the other party guessing at a given moment where it lies concealed. One night which we passed within hearing of a large camp this intellectual game was going on till the early morning, accompanied by the sounds of a curious chorus, which rose and fell with monotonous regularity, swelling into excited yells at intervals, and which no doubt corresponded to the “Jack’s up! Jack’s down! Fat Jack’s in the boneyard!” of its English counterpart.

The Calispels, having the advantage of living near the civilising influences of railway stations and whiskey saloons, had come over here with their superior education, and spoiled the Egyptians with a vengeance. The miserable wretches had literally not a rag to their backs, or a covering to their tepees, and were living in what we should call abject misery. Quite a short time before they had been pretty well off, and now only one of them seemed to have any canoes left, and these he was willing to sell for £2 each, about half what they usually obtain for the few that are sold.

This man had either been luckier or more cautious in his gambling than his fellows, for he possessed some curious boxes, made of birch wood and bark, and adorned with paint. He had also a board about 2½ feet long, covered and ornamented with leather cut in tags and scallops. On such a board as this the baby of the family is strapped and laced, the whole contrivance being then hung on the mother’s back.


For food they had some kind of a hairy vegetable which the children appeared to eat raw with avidity: it tasted to us like a pretty poor potato, but with all the indigesti­bility of that tuber in its uncooked state. The only other eatable we saw was a cake of some kind of berries, dried and compressed into a black looking mass, like very inferior currants mixed with dirt in equal proportions.

Altogether the wretched Flatbows were much to be pitied, and “corraled our sympathy” the more readily because several of them could and did express something that was evidently thanks. One of them begged for some bread for a sick child which he said would “sick papoose mamook something or other,” but whether that meant it would “make it well” or “make it a poultice” we were uncertain.

We presented these poor people with a pack of marked cards, the rules of Baccarat, and a bag full of Hanover Jacks, and trust that with these aids they will speedily regain that material prosperity which has been wrested from them by the ingenious Calispels.

Our road for another day lay along the same sort of broad meadow-flats as before, but every mile brought us into worse ground for travelling over; swamps and bottomless creeks being very frequent. In one place Jim, who was riding in front, got into a deep bog, from which he only extricated himself and the sorrel nag with great difficulty. He then built a small fence across the track, and placed a note on it for the others, so that they might avoid the same fate. Late at night they arrived in camp, with two of the packs and horses covered with slimy mud and their 348 own tempers no better, and called him “anything but a gentleman” for not warning them of the bog. He said, “Didn’t you see the note I left?” “Yes,” sneered Cardie; “and if the horses could read I daresay they’d have kept out of it.” “I suppose they can read a post and rails?” And after a little more unamiability it was discovered that Cardie had devoted himself with such energy to pulling down the fence, and abusing the imaginary obstructionist who had put it up, that he had had no time to look at the note until Spot and that Roan had got up to their necks in the morass, and they and their packs had had the narrowest escape from a muddy grave.

A large flock of waxwings, with their soft yet brilliant plumage and handsome crests, was well worth seeing, in fact the pleasantest incident of this portion of the journey. Here too, at a place where the trail 349 approached the very brink of the river, were the finest Giant Cedars we have passed, their huge roots radiating from the base of each tree with almost mathematical regularity and symmetry. Another extraordinary sight was a tremendous yellow pine which grew just at the edge of a sandy terrace. The soil had by some means been washed out for a depth of about three feet underneath it, leaving exposed the roots, which all struck straight down into the ground, thus affording the spectacle of a tree supported on a number of vertical columns about four inches in diameter.

mounted man looking at base of the tree described in the text above

Yellow Pine—Lower Kootenay Valley.

We camped at the close of this unhappy day on the top of a grass-covered rock, the only available place above the slop and slush of the flat. This site sloped so steeply that we were obliged to make ledges for the different beds and for the fire, the upper berth being two feet above the level of the lower. All that stormy night we lay in mortal dread that the lodge would be blown off the rock, and we and all our possessions hurled into the watery bog, there to grovel with the remains of the fire. There can be no doubt that the conical form of a tepee is well adapted to resist wind, and we never suffered from the most boisterous gusts.

In the morning several Flatbows arrived from a large camp hard by; one of them was understood to remark that the Indian Summer had now arrived, and was proceeding to ask us how we liked it, when a look in our eyes warned him to desist, and with a yell of terror he and his gang precipitated themselves off the rock into the Serbonian abyss below, and, we believe, escaped. During the last three days we have 350 registered a vow to kill the next man who mentions the Indian Summer to us; and we shall not kill him pleasantly either. We shall just make him walk about in the Indian Summer with Indian Summer clothes on; it will not be as lingering a death as we should like, but it will be very very painful for the short time it lasts. We have no use for Indian Summers any more, and begin to have a faint glimmering of what that Wyoming cowboy meant, whom we heard saying: “I shall bring my cattle and winter here next spring.”

Spot and Plain took it into their heads to go for an independent ramble while we, like cormorants, were perched on this desolate rock; and though the whole of the vast plain was spread out before us, nothing could be seen of them with the naked eye. Cardie hunted about among the fragmentary shirts and pieces of boot and other ruins in his bag, and at last produced what we thought to be an old trombone, and proudly said, “I can find them with this telescope.” Then having straightened the thing over his knee and got the rest of the party to hold its rattling joints together while he aimed it at the distant horizon, he announced that he detected the errant steeds afar off, and finally persuaded his brother to go forth on the sorry nag and pursue them. Accordingly that most uncomfortable saddle was adjusted, and Jim, with some whacks of “the whip,” which made the nag sorrier than ever, went out at a hand-gallop to pick his way to that spot on the plain where the two horses were. How or why in their hobbled condition they had made an excursion four miles from camp we never knew, unless as some one suggested they had 351 mistaken this great flat wilderness for a billiard table and were trying to leave a double baulk.

We half suspected that the Indians had driven them off, and Cardie scoffed at the idea in such an aggressive manner as to almost convince us he had seen them doing it, but had been too cantankerous, (or as he calls it “jaded”) to mention the fact.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXI

Infelix Dado
[Aeneid 4.596:

Infelix Dido, nunc te facta impia tangunt.

Only one letter has been changed.]



The Rock was our last camp in the broad bottom lands, and from there we turned once more into drier forest country, a short walk bringing us to the much talked-of Bonner’s Ferry, or in the vulgar tongue, Dick Fry’s. Here was a store, and several wooden buildings, with the usual gang of loafers red and white, and a rope ferry similar to the one near Cranbrook.

These Indians had adorned their crownless headgear with the tails and in some instances whole skins of ermines, which created the impression that they kept ferrets in their hats, an illusion which a nearer approach to them tended to increase in strength. [Yes, that seems to be exactly the right expression.]

The whites were not much different from others we have met: they all seemed to be here on the same errand, prospecting or in some other way making a business of the newly found mines near the Kootenay Lake, which at present are the sensation of the country. We saw some large pieces of the ore brought from there, and the reports were that it was being found in enormous quantities, chiefly galena of a quality parti­cularly rich in silver; but the mines themselves we had not time to visit. There was 353 evidently to be a big boom in the district as soon as the winter broke up.*

* This boom has produced the railway from Sproat to Nelson, mentioned on p. 265. Fresh discoveries of rich ore continue to be reported at frequent intervals, and there seems every prospect of this part of the country becoming a most important mining centre.—Nov. 1891.

We camped on the western bank of the river, at the commencement of the waggon road which leads from this place to Sandpoint on the Northern Pacific Railway. Geese and swans were very numerous, flocks of various kinds passing from north to south in constant succession, among them being some swans with a most peculiar loud note, which we took to be the Trumpeter Swan.

many men crossing a river in a flat-bottomed boat using a towrope

Dick Fry’s Ferry.

Fine weather at last set in, accompanied by intense cold. Could this be the real Indian summer? was the question that now agitated our minds. If so, an ordinary Arctic winter is good enough for us.

On the 16th of November we started about midday 354 along the road, which was well chopped out and quite practicable for waggons, with bridges over the worst hollows or streams, corduroy work in wet places, and very fair engineering along its whole course.

Having bought a little bacon at Dick Fry’s we were not parti­cularly anxious to get any birds, and consequently a couple of fool hens, or rather what Jim calls a fool hen and a full cock, immediately flew up from the side of the road into a tree. First there was an animated dispute as to whether they should be shot. After one of the jury had been threatened with death, a verdict of “Guilty” was brought in, and the horses were with considerable “woa”-ing and general confusion, brought to a standstill. Then it was discovered that the gun was strapped on one pack, and the cartridges on another. These having been produced, and the rust and dirt sufficiently cleaned from the weapon to allow it to be opened, one barrel was loaded. A steady aim was taken, and after the trigger had been nearly pulled off, some one noticed that the hammers were at half-cock. This being rectified, and the aiming ceremony again performed, the sportsman who had loaded the right barrel fired the left one, with results hardly worth mentioning. Again the solemn pointing of the gun, and this time a missfire, and another. Not until the third try with that cartridge did it go off, though the effect was destructive to the fool hen when it did. And throughout this entangled performance, the full cock sat on his branch in an attitude of wistful but patient attention, until his own turn came.

He would be a good bird to introduce into England to “teach the young idea to shoot,” for which purpose 355 he would certainly surpass the sitting rabbit. The latter, according to all reports from our greatest shots, can sometimes be killed, but never gathered except by the employment of two men and a ferret, with a couple of wheelbarrows and some spades and pickaxes, which makes his pursuit very expensive.

Answers from correspondents, verified by a clergyman and supported by statutory declarations, are invited to the question of whether an eatable rabbit sitting at the mouth of a hole has ever really been shot dead; old does and babies not accepted as evidence.

photograph of wagons drawn by teams of horses

Waggon Road to Sandpoint.

There seems to be no reason why all the North American timber-grouse should not easily live in the more mountainous parts of the British Isles, where 356 the country is not unlike that of their native home. With their present habits it is true they are not valuable sporting birds, but in all probability a closer acquaintance with mankind and dog-kind than they now possess, would soon alter their ideas, and they would in time become as shy as blackgame, to which as food the fool birds at any rate are superior. All of them would make handsome additions to a bag, and even if they choose to preserve their old device of flying into a tree and there waiting to be shot at, the “chasse” could be conducted with a couple of spaniels and a rook rifle, and would be good fun by way of a change from the ordinary routine of a Scotch shooting.

The waggon road, which is about thirty-five miles long, wanders all the time through splendid forests, varied by patches of burnt timber and occasional rivers, lakes, and bits of prairie, the latter very scarce. The “cold snap” which had come on continued all the time, and we had the thermometer inside the lodge down to 14° before the fire was lit, the blankets being covered with ice where our breath froze upon them. One night we camped near a creek running into the so-called Pack River, and here the burnt forest, like that in the Sinclair Pass, had the property of being fire-proof. We had the greatest difficulty in getting anything that would make a decent blaze, which in the middle of a few billion trees seemed unreasonable—

Timber, timber, everywhere

Whichever way we turn;

Firewood, firewood, lots of it,

But divil a bit will burn.


It was rather melancholy work trudging along this comparatively civilised path, and feeling that each step brought us nearer to all the restraining rules and regulations of dress and behaviour from which we have so long been free, and being free, have been happy. But it had to be faced, and one morning the lodge was pitched by a little brook, in a pretty grassy valley libelled under the name of Mud Slough. Opposite to our door rose the tall gaunt framework of a huge trestle viaduct, across which twice a day rushed a brutal train.

The first of these to our unaccustomed gaze seemed to dash into view and vanish with amazing speed and flurry of noise and vapour; and the Skipper with his mouth wide open as long as it was in sight murmured, “Why, it goes past just like the teeth of a comb, so to speak.”

There was a little station here called Kootenay, guiltless of booking office, waiting-room, or in fact anything but a platform and a name: and the great city of Sandpoint was understood to be five miles away. We made an expedition to this metropolis the morning of our arrival at Mud Slough. Cardie and Jim went to the Deepo about ten minutes before the train was due. [If the Americans choose to pronounce a French word in their way, they cannot grumble at us for spelling it as they pronounce it]. Presently up came a man with a mail bag, which he hung on the projecting arm of a post close to the track. He promised to stop the train for us; and then sat down and chewed and chattered for a couple of hours. At the end of that time he grew tired (as were we), yawned, and “guessed he’d quit,” which he 358 did, turning round to shout to us:—“If that thing come along, just wave your arms at it so” (demonstrating the approved method), “and I reckon it’ll stop.” And there we were left alone in the wilderness in sole charge of the U. S. mails, which however did not look worth robbing.

We sat an hour longer and watched that most amusing of all birds, the black-headed jay, with his wicked eye and wiry jerking hop, as he patrolled the platform, inspecting the various objects of interest thereon with the most knowing air of worldly wisdom.

By-and-by came another man sauntering along the railway track, with his eyes on the ground, as though inspecting the sleepers, or “ties” as they are called. He strolled up to us, and remarked with a discontented air, as of one whose mind is filled with resentment for an undeserved injury, “This is the somethinger somethingest railway I ever struck.”

The despondent passengers, who had now been waiting nearly three hours for the train, cordially echoed his sentiments, but before they could express their concurrence he went on, “I only want a dozen spikes to finish my stable, and darn me if I hain’t walked half a mile and only found four loose ones. Wal, I guess I’ve got to go till I do get them anyway. Yes, Sir.” And with that he departed up the track still searching for his missing stable fittings.

Spikes, be it understood, are the American equivalent for our chairs and wedges; the lines out here being all made with a flat flanged base, and held down by hooked spikes, which are driven into the ties until the hooks grip the edges of the flange. 359 America in many respects is by no means so free a country as England, but in the matter of stable-building it does appear to be untrammelled. When we hear of a really good idea we are not too proud to acknowledge it, and in these days of agricultural depression at home, we recommend the use of railway chairs for all purposes to which they may be adapted; and as the rails without the chairs would no longer be much good for railway travelling, we should suggest that they be utilised for fences.

Possibly, in deference to our old fashioned prejudices, it may be wise to collect them at hours when other work is not going on, say between two and three o’clock in the morning.

It is perhaps unnecessary to say anything about American railway time keeping, but it is the fact that we tried four times to catch a train to or from Sandpoint and never succeeded. Each time our patience gave out before the end of the four hours, which was the nearest approach to punctuality that happened during our stay. When for the last time we were walking the distance along the track, we could not help feeling that if it were not for the name of the thing, we might as well have done so without going through the form of starting from the station.

There were several trestle bridges between Sandpoint and Kootenay, and these even in daylight are not pleasant to walk over; as the top is composed simply of one pair of rails and their ties, with no filling in between the latter, no parapet, and no space at the side. The only possible means of escape if you should happen to meet a train on one, is to climb over the side down on to the “capping” of the main 360 timbers, (i.e. the end of a beam about one foot by eighteen inches in area), which occur every ten yards or so along each side, a couple of feet below the top of the bridge. The ties are laid at an inconveniently short step apart, but nevertheless so far separated that it is difficult at any time to walk on every alternate one; and on a pitch dark night, with the wind blowing great guns, and the murmur of the stream below and the occasional glint of its waters between the timbers adding to one’s nervousness, these bridges are not unalloyed bliss.

We recommend old ladies always to go by the road, even if there should not happen to be one, in preference to walking along a railway-track which abounds in trestle bridges.

The last time we returned from Sandpoint it was late at night, and when about half way home a train overtook us, its glaring head-light and deep-toned whistle warning us of its approach, while for some time after it had rattled noisily past we could see its red light growing smaller and more faint in the distance, till it disappeared round a bend.

We had safely reached the middle of the longest bridge, when looking up for a moment, Jim caught sight of that same red light which we had thought to be well on its way to the Atlantic. One glance was enough to show that for some reason or other it was coming back again; and it is believed that we made the champion record for crossing trestle bridges. It is curious what a difference night seems to make in such matters. Ordinarily in the daytime we had thought that bridge to be about 200 yards long, a distance which on level ground we could cover in 361 about one minute (when in training), even without the encouragement of an angry bull. Probably the night air causes the timber to expand, for on this occasion it had grown to an apparent length of about a mile and a half. We crossed the last half, however, in less than five seconds by stop watch.

It was too near a shave to be pleasant, for we were not fifteen yards clear of it when the villainous train thundered past, going backwards, and of course showing no head-light, which was the reason we had failed to notice it until so close to us.

Poor wild wanderers like us were evidently unfitted to cope with the perils and delays of railway travelling, so we thought it best to move our camp down to Sandpoint. There we stayed a couple of days, to sell the horses, buy a few necessaries, and make general arrangements for the close of the expedition.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXII

this time a missfire
spelling unchanged

Timber, timber, everywhere
[Coleridge, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”:

“Water, water, everywhere,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, everywhere,

Nor any drop to drink.”

But you knew that.]

a little station here called Kootenay
[Now spelled Kootenai]

great city of Sandpoint
[Sandpoint, Idaho, current population 7000. Although well over The Line into the U.S., this is still Kootenay (Ktunaxa) territory.]



Sandpoint is a quaint little churchless city on the shores of the beautiful lake Pend d’Oreille, across which the railway runs on a very long trestle viaduct. Its only street is entirely occupied by the railway track, and it consists of about a score of buildings of various kinds, including a good sprinkling of general stores and eating-houses; at the latter of which they provide the weary traveller with excellent food at one shilling a meal, about the best and cheapest entertainment we ever found. They had meat here, for the place is just big enough to support that luxury, like some of the small villages at home, where a cow is paraded about until all its joints have been marked off with chalk in the names of intending customers, and then and not till then the animal is killed.

Among the inhabitants was a group of ardent Home Rulers, the first we have seen; their one argument, which they insisted on firing at the “blawsted Englishmen,” being, “Why not give Ireland a show?” We are not much on politics, but we did know the answer to this one. “Did you give the South a show over here?” Only one man attempted a reply, but as he began, “Begorra! an’ we ought——” he was promptly pounced upon and worried by his own compatriots 363 till he looked like “the man who struck O’Hara,” and we were not further troubled.

Here we fell in with the Calispel tribe of Indians: the wily gamblers who had so despoiled the poor Flatbows. The contrast between the winners and the losers was very marked. The latter we had left shivering, half-clad in their dados; and now here were the victors, each dressed in several suits of the most gorgeous and voluminous of trappings, swaggering about as if the whole universe were theirs, and enjoying themselves amazingly. The Calispels are a small tribe, only about 100 in number, but they have powerful relatives and backers in some of the big clans, who will not allow them to be eaten up by their enemies. They bear an evil reputation as horse-thieves, and certainly appear to do no work. Their hands and feet are the smallest and most beautiful 364 we ever saw, and their hair is plaited and painted in an exceedingly lavish and intricate manner, with a thick fore-lock in front, neat bands of crossed and interlaced plaits on the crown and sides, and a heavy wavy mane reaching far below the shoulders. They are not good-looking, their mouths being so very bad as to spoil every other good feature.

group of Indians around a tepee

Camp at Sand Point. Calispel Indians rifle-shooting.

Several of them came to visit our camp, and stayed a long time shooting and otherwise amusing themselves. These had many trousers of Gordon and Macgregor tartan, and blankets innumerable; and were further adorned with rings, necklaces, and other trinkets—in a word, they were very great swells indeed. Dignity they had none; all shouted and laughed like a lot of schoolboys, jeering a bad shot with great delight. Of course our rifles were strange to them, but we expected better practice than they managed to make.

The sale of the pack-train was a very difficult affair to carry out. The Sandpointers of course guessed that we wanted to get away, and horses became a drug in the market. The nearest approach we made to a deal was to barter Spot for a silver turnip watch, a buckskin chain, and a very handsome gold nugget; but this came to nothing because its owner would not guarantee the nugget to be genuine all through.

Finally we let it be understood that Cardie had made up his mind to settle here for the winter; and on the 22nd of November the Skipper and Jim went to the Deepo, intending to leave by the west-bound train. This train had been consistently not less than four hours late every day hitherto; it was therefore 365 quite natural that this day it should actually have been three hours before its time, and have departed for the coast long before we arrived on the scene. We understood from the stationmaster, or “agent,” as he is called, that certain alterations were being made in the time tables, and the new system of additional and accelerated trains had not got quite into working order.

Presently he sent to tell us that another “sudden” train had been found somewhere, and was “coming along right now,” and that we were in great luck, as it would take us straight to the coast by a quicker route than the one we had missed.

Accordingly about 23 o’clock in came the lightning express, which seemed to be an upstart and interloper that no one knew anything about. It was really, we supposed, the last remnant of the old troop of trains, and had been belated and forgotten somewhere, and not accounted for in the new time tables. And so we steamed out of the station, leaving Cardie on the platform surrounded by Calispels, and looking like a very handsome one himself, with his tanned face and the blanket clothing which, since we began to live à l’Indien, he has thought fit to adopt.

Our little ruse in the horse-dealing line we heard afterwards was most successful, and Cardie sold our steeds with the greatest ease the next day, and departed for his mountain home in Colorado.

The behaviour of the express we soon found to be calculated with the utmost disregard for any one’s convenience, and we were told that it did not go to Tacoma (our destination) at all, and that we must change at three in the morning at a wretched junction 366 where we should have to wait half a day. Moreover the sleeping-car smelt like the inside of a parafine oil cask; and the porter, who seemed to be only slightly sober, was so distrait when we roused him from his slumbers that we left him and his car, and retired miserable to the ordinary one, where for two hours we were most unhappy.

At one o’clock we came to Spokane Falls, which seemed to be “no slouch of a city.” A happy thought seized us, and we left that ill-omened lightning train, which we believe to be still wandering up and down the mountain grades of the N.P.R., never reaching a terminus, but always stopping at junctions, in a Vanderdeckeny sort of way.

At the Windsor House, Spokane Falls, we were very comfortable; though of course, as customary in American hotels, we could get no food till breakfast next day. When that hour arrived, it is only fair to say they gave us as good a meal as any man may hope for, and for each meal or bed they charged two shillings, or eight shillings a day: for which we had beautifully clean, neat rooms, all brilliantly lighted by incandescent lamps. The whole of the town is plentifully supplied with electricity from the falls of the Spokane River, which are within five minutes’ walk of the hotel. It is a very thriving place to all appearance, with many good buildings, and any amount of ambitious work in road-making, bridge constructing, and general “improvements” going on.*

* Spokane Falls was—in the newspapers, and perhaps even in reality—entirely destroyed by fire about two years ago. No doubt it is now considerably more flourishing than when we saw it. It is a place that is certain to go ahead.—Nov. 1891.

The falls are very fine—in fact, as the man who 367 kindly directed us to them said: “Yes, Sir, they are considered to be the finest on the Continent, except some quite in the east on the borders of Canada, at a place called Niagara.” Comparisons are odious, so we merely say that the falls called Niagara seem to us to be larger—say a hundred times or so—and more beautiful than Spokane; but that is only our opinion, and does not detract from the merits of the latter, which are real enough.

The intense cold had coated everything near the river with a white icing from the spray, and singularly lovely the trees and rocks looked, glistening under the brilliant sun; but like every other natural beauty in this utilitarian home of liberty, the fall was bebridged, and saw-milled, and generally bedevilled, until there were very few places whence a view could be obtained unspoilt by some hideous erection of planks, and piles, and advertisement boards. One of the latter related to reaping machines, and ended thus:—

“Recollect, we GUARANTEE every machine!


It is a simple word

But it has a devil of a meaning.”

Spokane has already a great name for its flour, and is altogether a most go-ahead and prosperous place: to which its numerous large horses and good carriages testify. These looked very strange to us, so long accustomed to the little Cayuss horses and ramshackle pack-gear of the country we had left.

Another attempt to catch the train at 14 o’clock resulted in a much more easy capture than that of yesterday, for the brilliant three-hours-early spurt 368 had died away, and the old plan of four-hours-late been resumed. We wandered about, and read the official notices posted up by the Railway Company until we were in a thoroughly uncomfortable frame of mind and body, and at 15 o’clock the agent informed us that “She” would not be in until 17, so we might go beck to the hotel.

The following are two specimens of the inspiriting literature provided:—

“Sink Hole, one mile west of Cabinet, is in bad condition. Trains must not exceed six miles an hour over this place under any circumstances.

“I understand trains are exceeding six miles an hour around Hangman’s Bluff. This must not be done, as it is not safe.”

There are people who hold that the inhuman barbarities of Indian warfare are things of the past. What have those optimists to say to this?



“Any person attempting to ride on an Ironclad ticket purchased from a Scalper or other irresponsible party will be compelled to pay full first-class local fare, or will be put off the train by the conductor.

“Passengers must purchase tickets of the regular authorised agents of the Company if they desire to avoid trouble.”

Good Heavens! what is riding on a rail compared with riding on an Ironclad ticket. Imagine the sharpness of the edges and corners. And the indulgent tenderness which classifies that fiendish savage 369 the Scalper as “an irresponsible party” is, we think, carried too far. Yet the nation which acknowledges so openly the existence of these horrors expects to be admitted into the first rank of civilisation. It is all very well for them to say that these are technical expressions, mere conventional signs as it were; we are not to be taken in by such subterfuges, and know that only our courageous demeanour brought us safe away from this barbarous and benighted region. Mark, too, the barefaced cynicism which can associate in one sentence these diabolical cruelties and the “payment of a local fare.” We suspect that this part of the notice is simply a blind; and who can say what nameless and revolting treatment is concealed under the apparently innocent phrase “put off the train by the conductor,” and the further dark allusion to all the terrors of the Middle Ages in the last pregnant words, “if they wish to avoid trouble.” “If they wish to avoid trouble” forsooth! If they wish to avoid being ridden on an Ironclad ticket, scalped, chopped into little bits, and those little bits put off the train by the conductor. That is how we read this blood-curdling announcement; and if by this timely warning we enable any one to “avoid trouble,” then Box —— and Cox —— are satisfied.

At 17 the agent informed us that “She” had unaccountably lost five hours, but would now come to an anchor without fail at 22, and we might go back to supper at the “Windsor,” instead of stopping to suffer here.

We arrived there just in time to hear this snatch of conversation.


“Yes, she lost her good name.”

“How was that?”

“Had it cut on the handle of her umbrella.”

And then another man chimed in with a story of a Britisher who settled out here; and would appear on Sundays in a stove-pipe hat. The light-hearted citizens testified their appreciation of this habit by pouncing out from behind corners and other places of vantage and bonneting the unfortunate wearer. The first topper was soon reduced to pulp, but the undaunted proprietor appeared next Sunday in a lovely new one, and one of “the boys” marked his prey, and went for it as the Britisher came out of church. This was a tall man, who swung aloft his hand and brought it flat down on the tile with wonderful emphasis, while the populace yelled with delight. The bonneter yelled also, but from a very different cause: for the worthy stickler for stove-pipes had artfully inserted tin-tacks beneath and through the crown of his head-gear, in such wise that they stood point upwards three-quarters of an inch or so through the fluff, and if he now chooses to keep his hat on through the service no one remonstrates.

A soldier was descanting to an admiring crowd on the horrors of war: the most terrible moment of his life seemed to have been when the news was brought to him of the burning (by accident) of a new drill-shed. “When I heard,” he said, with deep-toned emotion, “of that lovely drill-shed being burnt, I just wiltered.” There was hardly a dry eye round him, as we all pictured to ourselves the heroic bearing of the bronzed and bearded warrior in that 371 dreadful crisis. “He just wiltered.” Ajax defying the lightning—Casabianca on the burning deck—are insignificant figures beside this brave man “wiltering” as he received the tidings of destruction across the prairie. What is wiltering? How did he do it? We cannot say, but that it is something noble and grand we are satisfied, for how else could this gallant fellow have “just wiltered.”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXIII

Gordon and Macgregor tartan
[Probably blue-and-green and red-and-green respectively. That’s assuming the authors are referring to the standardized commercial designs created earlier in the 19th century, and not to any tartan historically worn by members of the named clans.]

Vanderdeckeny sort of way
[Vander Decken, first captain of the Flying Dutchman.]

Spokane Falls
[The name was truncated to Spokane—pronounced Spoke-ANN, please—in 1891; the fire was in 1889.]

Scalper or other irresponsible party
[Scalping of railway tickets seems to have arisen in tandem with scalping of theater tickets. But unlike theater-ticket scalping, the objective was for everyone to pay less money.]



Once more at the Deepo, we were told that “She” had contrived to lose another hour. “But,” our informant consolingly added, “I guess she’ll make that up all right;” and as we turned sadly away, we heard, sotto voce, “or lose another half day in trying.”

But now came a good genius, who told us that a sleeping-car was being prepared here for attachment to the train when she should arrive, and we might turn in if we liked. Ten minutes after that news our miseries were forgotten till next morning; and at daybreak we awoke to find we had left the forest land, and were running through rolling prairies, with occasional glimpses of fine mountains far away on the horizon.

The most important result of the failure of “suddenness” in our train was that we had nothing to eat from dinner one night till 11.15 next morning, when we pulled up at a little station in the foothills of the Cascade Range for twenty minutes. How we longed for the luxurious breakfast cars and reasonable hours of the C.P.R., or our own comfortable and well-cooked meals, as we hastily endeavoured to wolf down enough in twenty minutes to provide for the last seventeen and the next seven hours. We made 373 for amateurs a fair attempt to perform the feat, one which our American fellow-passengers seemed to have no difficulty in executing within half the allotted time.

Soon we began the ascent of the range, which, pending the completion of a long tunnel, is accomplished by what is called a “switchback” railway. This contrivance is a series of zigzags, and has no similarity to the intellectual and health-giving sport lately introduced into England under the same name.

An engine is coupled to each end of the train, and No. 1 pulls up the first grade, running at last into a level bit of line with a stop at the end. Then No. 2 leads, a set of points guiding him into the next section, and the train is hauled up to another stop at a higher level. Again the direction is reversed, and No. 1 resumes his old position, and so on alternately up to the top. There are four or five of these Z-like inclines, and two wonderful loops, like a couple of SS joined together. From the highest of these you can look down on to three other sections of your future course, all in view at once at different levels below you. The engineering is undoubtedly very clever—more striking in its execution, as it seems to us, than even the C.P.R.; but of course it must not be forgotten that this sensational bit is a temporary expedient only, and is not expected to be worked with permanent success, as we believe its Canadian rival will be.

There were eight inches of snow on the Cascade summits, but we soon left it behind, and ever as we neared the coast the signs of approaching winter became less conspicuous.

The Cascades themselves at the crossing were not 374 remarkable for grandeur, but a beautiful object in the landscape for many miles on the western side was Mount Rainier, or Tacoma as it is now often called, a very lofty snow-covered peak, all the more striking from its isolation. We are told that this mountain, Mount Baker, Mount Adams, and two others, are of volcanic origin, and have no connection with or similarity to the other ranges of this part of the world. They stand up in lonely majesty, their tops 14,000 feet above the sea, visible far beyond the rest of the range which surrounds them. And some say that even now the fires generally supposed to be extinct are slumbering but a very short distance from the daylight world, and that adventurous searchers have penetrated into fissures in them from which heat and sulphurous fumes have speedily driven them.

detailed drawing of Mt. Rainier

Mount Rainier (or Tacoma), from the N.P.R.

One equal instance of solitary grandeur came within 375 our ken. On the wooden walls of a shanty outside a small village was inscribed in the largest letters just this soul-stirring announcement—


That was all; and the most unfeeling could not but sorrow to think of that eminent professor of the healing art, and brilliant exemplar of truthful modesty, alone and uncared for within the four walls of his log hut, while the giddy world went sweeping by with mocking laughter at the rate of nearly twenty miles an hour in this Lightning Express.

About 18 o’clock we reached the Pacific Ocean and pulled up on the wharf of Tacoma, which was the last stopping-place before Japan. It is a good-sized town of growing propensities and beautifully situated, and here we succeeded in snatching another twenty minutes for food: that gulped, we embarked in a steamer which was starting for Victoria.

There was a little unpacific motion in the waters of the harbour, sufficient to give a long roll now and then to a boat. A passenger who stepped ashore from a steamer there just as we were going on board ours turned to look at the vessel he had quitted, and seeing its bulwarks about twenty feet above his head, remarked, “Gee-whiz! I must have blooming long legs,” or words to that effect.

Some enterprising builder has been introducing the “flat” system of dwellings into Tacoma, and the Skipper heard a native in the steamer explaining the novelty to a fellow-traveller.

“You see,” he said, “they’re good six-storied 376 houses, and it’s a very fair way of doing the job; for the first floor you pay about six dollars, for the second four, the third two, and so on right up.”

The other pondered a moment, and said—

“Then, I reckon for the fifth and sixth they pay you to live in ’em. Wal, it’s a ’tarnal cheap way of doing things.”

That gorgeously appointed and very comfortable and well-managed boat the Olympian landed us at Victoria early in the morning. Such a sight there was when a herd of pigs resplendent in colours which would make a rainbow feel dull were unshipped from somewhere below, and a clear road was made for them to rush past the custom-house officers, who wanted to count them. There was a brief pause, during which the verb Damn was conjugated with great rapidity in several keys. Then a bar was withdrawn, and a squealing, grunting, parti-coloured streak of swinery went scuttering past the bewildered officials, and was lost to sight in the street. One turned to the other and said—

“Seventy-two. What did you make them?”

“Make them?” was the wrathful retort; “who the blazes could make anything of such things as those? Enough to give one d.t.

Victoria is too well known by description to need any remark from us. Our only observation on it is that the cook of the Driard will have one of the new Art peerages as soon as we are Prime Ministers.

We stayed only two or three days, and had what they call “a good time” with various friends, including some whose acquaintance we had made in the wilderness, 377 and who were most hospitable here. One evening we packed up all—a poor all—our belongings, which have now dwindled down to some ragged clothing, blankets, and an enormous wooden spoon. This last treasure Jim purchased as an Indian curio, with the idea of taking it home to his wife and asserting that it was the only spoon he had had while away from her.

It is dismal enough work waiting anywhere for a steamer which is timed to start at 1.30 A.M., but when as in this case she did not come in until 5.30, and we had to sit in the Driard foodless and drinkless all that time, we did feel very much injured. The Princess Louise is hardly to be called a good boat; but we were thankful for anything, and turned in at 6 A.M. with feelings akin to tranquillity. By 9 o’clock we were up and clamouring for breakfast, only to be told that we ought to have been ready at 8.30, and now we could have nothing. Even our meek and submissive spirit revolted at this, and for a brief period we scared the authorities of that vessel, and finally did succeed in getting some biscuits and coffee. And here our experience of the N.P.R. served us well, for it had caused us to come provided with a big luncheon basket containing all sorts of food, and on this we and a couple of unfortunate Englishmen who had been less prudent subsisted until supper-time. These minor miseries are mentioned here, because to some people they are very real and distressing. We are aware that the true hero scorns eating and drinking, and if he should happen to want anything, it is sure to be there. But in American travel it is not so, and the wise who are 378 not heroes will do well to make themselves to some extent independent of fortune in the matter of victuals.

What little time our bad tempers allowed us to spend in looking at the view from the steamer was amply repaid. The Sound itself was lovely, with its rocky shores and beautifully timbered islands; and the splendid ranges of the mainland, far as the eye can reach, from the north down to the Olympians and Mount Baker in the south, formed a scene unsurpassed in the whole of our journeyings.

detailed drawing of snow-clad mountain overlooking the water

Mount Baker, from the Sound.

The train was waiting at Vancouver City, and without any delay we were once more hurried off in the luxurious cars of the C.P.R.

We were unlucky in passing through the much talked of Fraser River Canyon at night, but perhaps not so unlucky after all: for there was a full moon, the ground was covered with snow, and the aspect of 379 this wild ravine, with the furious river below us, and the weird effects of the brightly gleaming snow, black shadows, and red glow of the engine fire, will never be forgotten.

By daylight we were entering the Eagle Pass of the Gold Range, the name commemorating the means by which the often baffled explorers succeeded in their search for a practicable route. They at last followed the flight of an eagle into the mountains, and found that it led them through a low defile, along which, without any extraordinary difficulty, the line has been conducted.

Then by a long curved trestle bridge we crossed the Columbia on its southward course, now for want of water looking a very poor starved thing, with huge floes of ice dotting its surface. From that point commenced the ascent along the foaming torrent of the Illecillewaet to the Rogers Pass through the Selkirks, where already the snow was lying two feet deep, and the huge snow ploughs (driven sometimes by six or eight locomotives) had been at work. For descriptions of the marvellous energy and skill which 380 mark this part of the line out pre-eminently as the railway triumph of the age, we refer the reader to abler pens than ours; but the beauty of the surroundings we are fain to mention, for it is possible that it never was seen to greater advantage than on the day we passed.

wooden snowplow on railroad tracks

A Snow Plough, C.P.R.

Anything more lovely cannot be imagined, the frosted trees glistening in their crystal panoply, the torrent in most places covered with fantastic bergs of whitened ice, and the huge black expanse of mountain side coming so sheer down into the valley that the snow could not lie save on ledges invisible from below—all were magnificent. The blazing sun seemed absolutely powerless to affect one particle of the spotless white; no dripping from the trees, no sliding from wet rocks, but there it all remained without movement and without flaw. The perfection of the picture is preserved by that extraordinary stillness of the atmosphere which has already been noticed. Even when the mercury was up towards 90° there was no wind, and as the temperature falls so does the wind, so that at 60° there was literally no wind at all, and at freezing there was less, and at zero it began to blow a vacuum, if the reader can understand what that is. The writers cannot.

Our greatest pleasures have of course some wretched drawback (which generally, by the way, is of larger dimensions than the joy), and here this was duly provided in the shape of the snow-sheds, which for scores and even hundreds of yards often box up the train, right in the heart of what we feel confident is the gem of the scenery. These snow-sheds are huge wooden constructions, with a slanting lean-to roof, designed to 381 shoot the avalanches over the track down into the valley below. Besides the sheds there are solidly built guiding fences (called, we believe, snow-shoots) erected on the mountain sides above the line; these are intended to divert the course of the sliding mass, and send it where there is a shed ready to receive it. Both of these contrivances are stupendous works, and seem to have been carried out with the greatest care and skill.

From the Rogers Pass we descended, crossing the tallest bridge in the world, 296 feet high (said to be, we did not stop to measure it, as we were in rather a hurry to get off it—not that we were afraid, oh no!). At the Beaver River Canyon the train rushed once more into our old Columbia valley; crossed the river; passed Donald, looking very busy with an army of workmen about; and at nightfall halted at Golden, where we stopped a night to collect our scattered goods.

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXIV

tallest bridge in the world, 296 feet high
[And the bad news is . . . whether you measure “tallest” (full structural height) or “highest” (distance from ground to deck), the bridge over Rogers Pass is no longer in the top 100. Possibly not even the top 1000.]



Golden in its winter aspect looked much colder and not nearly so mosquitoey as when we last saw it, but the Queen’s Hotel remained the same, though a totally new one had sprung up since we were here.

It appeared that quite recently a cargo of dynamite had mysteriously disappeared, and after diligent but fruitless search it had been decided that “those blamed pigs had eaten it,” and consequently the following notice was posted up on the walls of the more important buildings in the city (i.e. the Queen’s Hotel and another shack):—

“Notice is hereby given that the Pigs of Golden City have consumed 40 lbs. or more of dynamite. Parties are therefore requested to refrain from pricking or otherwise abusing them on pain of an explosion.

“By Order of the Mayor.”

We have not read that anything has happened at Golden since our departure, so conclude that the pig of that country is a bomb-proof species.

Sunday is a very sober day in Eastern America, and is observed in the most sanctimonious and dismal 383 fashion. The youths wash their faces, oil their hair, and put on boiled shirt-fronts and shiny black coats: many of them affecting prayer-books and going to church. In the Western cities this cannot be done, because there are no churches, so the nearest thing they can do is to put on their Sundayest clothes and spend the day in the saloon. In one of the Eastern towns we once saw our landlord walk to service with his whole family. He wore a beautiful frock coat like that of the Rev. Stiggins, and paraded through the streets with a huge cotton umbrella, and a look of holy importance in his eye (only the look, not the umbrella; that was in somebody else’s eye, as is the manner of such things). The Sabbath was indeed a marked day of rest there: there was no post, no train, no shop open; but it was whispered that this outward repose led many of the inhabitants to retire humbly to their own apartments, where they became quietly and hopelessly intoxicated in the most respectable manner.

Having collected all the purple and fine linen which had been left to await our return at Golden, we once more took to the train, and enjoyed the splendour of the Kicking Horse Pass in its winter dress.

Then for five days we fought our way eastward against constantly increasing cold, the engine thickly curtained with heavy sackcloth to guard its occupants from the biting blast—itself and all its cars a mass of ice and encrusted snow.

Near Lake Superior we were detained several hours while the line was cleared of a block. This was not caused by the snow, though it lay very deep hereabouts, but arose from a belief in the oft refuted 384 fallacy that it is practicable for two trains to pass each other on one pair of rails. Result in this case, two engines reduced to elementary molecules, but no injury to human beings.

Considering all our difficulties we made wonderfully good time, and ran into Toronto only one hour late, sorry enough to lose all the comfort and freedom from worry of “Honolulu” (the name of our car), and the pleasant companions who had travelled with us.

People who only mark one for his nob at cribbage are likely to get terribly taken in in this wicked world. This is the only moral reflection we were induced to make on the return journey; and though it is of general application, we commend it especially to the most charming of all our fellow-travellers.

Settlers in this untamed country have to undergo at present very serious discomforts on occasion. For instance, the Colonel of the N.W.M. Police, who journeyed by our train for a few hours, told us of two young English ladies who were to arrive at a prairie station that day. They were coming to join their brothers, who were farming about 200 miles from the railway. This distance they would have to traverse in a coach; and the brothers not being able to meet them, they would be alone with eight or ten strange men. They would have to travel for five days over this dreadful flat, treeless, wind-swept prairie, with the thermometer at 35° below zero, and not a scrap of anything in the world to be seen, except the coach and the illimitable snow on all sides. The stopping-places each night, he said, were merely one-roomed log huts; and though of course the roughest men in 385 this country are kindness and politeness itself to a woman, one could not help pitying those two poor English girls, so suddenly plunged into what must to them seem an intolerable state of things.

We caught the Etruria in time to keep Christmas at home. At the Liverpool custom-house we must ask the reader to excuse us, as we have our own baggage to look after.

This simple account of our commonplace doings in the West has been written in the belief that by it a better idea can be formed of what life in the country is really like, and what the facilities for travel, sport, and farming are, than from any work which simply aims at telling the reader like a dictionary all that can be said on those subjects.

The general impression left on our minds is that the climate of our part of B. C. has pretty much the same advantages and disadvantages as England; but to judge from ourselves, its healthiness must be extraordinary. The country is almost everywhere beautiful, and in many ways most desirable as a home. The drawbacks from a lady’s point of view are however considerable, and we should not advise any woman to go out there who is not thoroughly able as well as willing to rough it, and to trust to her own resources. For young unmarried men with capital say of £2000 to £5000 we believe there are great chances. In the Kootenay valley there are already not a few Englishmen, and the available good land there is diminishing in area very rapidly. Both there and in the Columbia valley there are still plenty of spots worth taking up; but a railway would change that condition of affairs in a moment, and any one 386 wishing to acquire land there has we should say no time to lose.

On the other hand, it should be remembered that our investigations have been necessarily hasty and limited to one season of the year; and our final advice is to take no steps towards deciding on making a home there without first seeing the country. The completion of the C.P.R. has made this such an easy task, that even if the would-be settler find nothing to suit his ambitious taste, he will at least have a delightful experience in seeing the only Pacific province of the Dominion, and is to be envied if he enjoy even half as much as we did a ramble in British Columbia, amid all the charms which nature has lavished upon her.

The fragrant shade of the forest,

The whispering sigh of the breeze,

The song of birds in the branches,

The song of the trees.

The billows of purple mountain,

And, bluer than sea nymphs’ eyes,

The lake that lies in the valley,

And mirrors the skies.

The fall with its rainbows glancing

As it thunders down the steep.

The dart of the speckled troutie,

And the salmon’s leap.

The deer trooping down to the spring-head,

The wild swan whistling past,

And the eagle proudly soaring

Upborne on the blast.


The morning mist, and the evening sun

Gold red o’er the snowy height;

The silvery gleam of the moonlit waves,

And the calm clear night.

musical staff with opening notes of “God Save The Queen”

Notes and Corrections: Chapter XXXV

The fragrant shade of the forest
[Search me. I think they’re serious. And no, it can not be sung to the tune of God Save the Queen.]




Larger map

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.