VANCOUVER ISLAND (Historic Information)
Vancouver Island, rich with the splendid coals of Nanaimo, covered with a forest of good timber, surrounded with seas of fish, containing many valuable mines, several important towns, and dotted with farms in the valleys, is one of the most precious gems of British ownership.
It must now have a population of about 75,000, including 10,000 Indians of the usual Siwash kind, living the usual Siwash life.
Among the residents of this island are many "remittance men," who draw their periodical allowance and live to spend it. Of all the islands on earth, if I were banished from home, give me this banishment land for remittance men. Land, sea, mountains, forests, mines, commerce, parliament, society, ideal climate, hunting and every facility for amusement and comfort is there. Ella Higgenson, in her recent book on Alaska, very pathetically writes of a "remittance woman" as follows: "It is said that the woman who should have one day been the Queen of England lived near the City of Vancouver a few years ago."
Before the death of his elder brother, the Prince of Wales passionately loved the young and beautiful daughter of Admiral Seymour. His infatuation Avas returned, and so desperately did the young couple plead with the present king and the admiral that at last the prince was permitted to contract a morganatic marriage. The understanding and agreement was that should the prince ever become the heir to the throne of England neither he nor his wife would oppose the annulment of the marriage. There was only one brief year of happiness, when the elder brother of the prince died, and the latter's marriage to the Princess May was demanded. No murmur of complaint was ever heard from the unhappy morganatic wife nor from the royal husband, and when the latter's marriage was solemnized, it was boldly announced that no bar to the union existed.
Here, in the western solitude, lived for several years the veriest remittance woman the girl who should now. by the right of love and honor, be the Princess of Wales, and whose infant daughter should have been the heir to the throne.
To Vancouver, a few years ago, came with his Princess the Prince of Wales. The city was gay with flags and flowers, throbbing with music and filled with joyous and welcoming people. Somewhere, hidden among those swaying throngs, did a pale young woman, holding a child by the hand, gaze for the last time upon the man she loved and upon the woman who had taken her place. And did her long tortured heart in that hour finally break? It is said she died within a twelvemonth."
This island is to Canadian Pacific what Baronov Island is to Alaska, and Nootka, on its western shore, is of as much historical renown as Sitka.
Perez landed at Nootka August 9, 1774, and named it San Lorenzo. Captain Cook, in 1778, named it King George Sound. Many other explorers stopped at this point, and rival trading companies sought the business. In 1788-89 a Spaniard, Martinez, took exclusive possession for his country, and when a few months later James Colnet arrived and asserted British right he was arrested by Martinez and sent a prisoner to Mexico. This act came very near making serious trouble. One author says: "A. few sheds erected on the coast, a miserable baston defended by swivel guns, and a few cabbages planted within an inclosure, came very near causing war between Spain and England." Other Spanish boats were hurried north, but the strong navy of England at home and the refusal of George Washington, President of the United States, to assist Spain were the primary causes of inducement inducing Spain to yield. An agreement to this effect was signed at Madrid in 1790, known as the "Nootka Convention." George Vancouver was directed to proceed to Nootka and accept the surrender of these sheds and cabbages and to survey these coasts, which he did. and Spanish names and claims gave way to those of England through Vancouver.
The Island of Quadra became the Island of Quadra and Vancouver, and later Quadra was omitted. Our own Captain Robert Gray was cruising around in these waters during this conflict. The Spanish-English dispute ended on the Pacific with a conference between Quadra and Vancouver at Nootka. The Washington University State Historical Society, through its secretary. Prof. Edmond S. Meany, erected a monument August 23. 1903, on a small rocky island in the bay, on which they inscribed the following: "Vancouver and Quadra met here in August, 1792, under the treaty between Spain and Great Britain of October. 1790."
Now Nootka, like Alert Bay and other Indian villages near by, is a brush-covered, decaying reminiscent of a century and a half ago.
Georgia Gulf, sometimes named Georgia Bay or Strait, is almost a sea and is more like a strait than a gulf. The island is about 300 miles long, and between it and the land pass the coast vessels on the inside passage. In fact it is so long that many tourists think it is the entire inside passage.
The mineral and geological statements hereafter made concerning the Coast range will apply to all the range south of Dixon's Entrance. However, there is a wonderfully productive mineral belt here. The coal of Nanaimo and the mines at that place are such factors in this country that we can hardly believe what we see there.
These mines are hundreds of feet under the sea, producing yearly 300,000 tons, and have produced 7,000,000 tons, nearly all of a superior grade of bituminous coal. Cable, electric, horse and mule cars on more than a hundred miles of track, run systematically to all prats of the mine. The most modern devices for protection of the mines and miners against explosion, fire and caving walls are carried into rigid effect. The coal is divided by a wall of rock, on one side is the best of bituminous, on the other a lighter coal.
In the early times coal was discovered at Fort Rupert, on the northernmost point of Vancouver Island, and worked by the Hudson Bay Company, but it is soft and not of much value. The discovery is said to have been made by an Indian while trying to roast some venison. He gathered some of the black rock and placed it around his stick fire to keep the heat near the venison, when to his surprise the rock burned. This made him curious and he presented some of the black rock to the Hudson Bay Company men, who soon took charge of the coal found for their company.
The history of the placer gold of the Fraser River and the stampede to that country years ago, and then on to the Cassiar and Atlin districts, furnish material for a large volume, and constitute the connecting link, intervening time and detailed prospecting between the days of the California '49ers and the Klondike rush of 97-8.
These shifting, homeless wanderers, like flocks of sheep, invade one district after another, leaving no home, improvement, town, government or hardly an account as they pass on. Whatever they find of value they take with them.
Many of these districts are yet rich in placer, and little or no attempt has ever been made to locale or work the quartz.