NATIVES (Historic Alaska Information)

Canneries apear at intervals of about twenty-five miles and near them a few Indian huts; now and then a small native village. Alert Bay being one of the largest. A semi-circle of totem poles face the water at about high tide line, and back of them a row of shacks also facing the water.

Each shack has a door in the middle and a small window on each side of it, the whole appearing like a row of animal faces. Its population must be about five hundred Indians and half as many whites. It has a church or two, mill and cannery.

A little farther north is the cleanest and most prosperous Indian village on the Canadian coast, the town of New Bella Bella. It consists almost wholly of Indians. Instead of the one-story, dilapidated, animal-faced, twenty-five dollar shack of the Alert Bay Indian, the Bella Bella has a two or more story modern looking residence, newly painted white, with dull red trimmings, large enough to accommodate from ten to forty persons.

The canery at this place is a large one and must furnish employment for about all the population perhaps 600. The old village of Bella Bella was deserted a few years ago, and like the rotting totems and grave marks near it is tumbling down, as many other villages have done and are doing on this coast, some for fanciful reasons, others because of infection and contagion.

Alexander Mackenzie, the first white man to cross Canada from Hudson Bay to the Pacific, came out on the coast here, and with red vermilion wrote on a rock in the sea: "Alexander Mackenzie, from Canada by land, the 22nd of July, 1793."

During the third day out we entered Dixon Entrance. Here the ocean swells rolled in between the north end of Queen Charlotte and south end of Prince of Wales Islands in other words, between Canada and Alaska.

The Indians named this body of water Kaiganee. The waters were not rough, as they frequently are. Whale and porpoise were plentiful.

We examined under the glass every foot of shore, as well as every mountain pass and gorge, for this is the terminus of the Canadian Grand Trunk Railroad to be completed in 1911. Here is Port Simpson, started in 1821, and Prince Rupert, just a year old. This is the end of the British and beginning of our territory the imaginary line of "54-40 or fight," the old 1825 Russian-English and new 1903 English-American treaty line.

Back to Table of Contents