We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

Petition to Secretary of State for the Colonies

To the Right Honorable
Her Majesty’s Secretary of State
for the Colonies.

The humble Petition of Alfred Waddington of Victoria Vancouver Island and Bute Inlet British Columbia, sheweth:

That in the year 1861 he discovered the valley and river of the Homathco at the Head of Bute Inlet, British Columbia; and that this discovery was conceived and carried out at his own expense, in view of a shorter route to the Cariboo mines which had just been discovered.

1. That his aim in so doing was to advance the general prosperity of both Colonies, by bringing these mines which are their main support, within reach of the working man. For though the gold mines of Cariboo may be classed amongst the richest in the world, they are so distant, the journey there and back from the coast every season is so long and expensive; and the cost of every thing there so great, that only the very richest claims, forming but a small proportion to the whole, can be worked; and the mining population has in consequence gradually dwindled down to one half of what it was three years ago, although wages vary from 9 to 12 dollars a day.

2. That this falling off, as well as the general distress which has accompanied it, would have been averted by the opening of the Bute Inlet Route; the advantages of which and its marked superiority over every other route to the Northern mines are incontestable, as will be seen by referring to the annexed Notes, Mark A.

3. That the then local government showed itself favorable to the opening of a route which presented such signal advantages, but having committed itself to the line by the Fraser it could make no pecuniary advances. A [promise?] of Charter was however immediately granted, and followed by other concessions, (for the details of which see the annexed Notes Mark B,) and an Agreement drawn up and executed, “in consideration of the discovery of the said route and its practicability and the great expense incurred thereon.” The harbor was surveyed by the Admiralty and found satisfactory, the works were prosecuted under the control of the Government and the superintendence of its Officers, (all whose expenses were paid by your petitioner), and the townsite at the Head of the Inlet, which was named “Waddington” at the special request of the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, was reserved and laid out, in view of its future importance by the Engineers of the Government.

4. That this useful public enterprise, which would moreover have brought 100,000 of foreign capital into the Colony, was hailed with satisfaction by the 4 or 5000 miners and traders [of?] Cariboo, and the whole population of Vancouver Island; at the same time that it became a subject of great apprehension and anxiety to the inhabitants of New Westminster, and a few of [those?] on the lower Fraser, who could not dissemble its advantages, and whose interests were naturally opposed to it.

5. That the undertaking presented very [great?] and unexpected difficulties in a Canyon or defile, some 32 miles above the Head of the Inlet, which were at length overcome, and the advanced state of the works explained in a letter to the Colonial Secretary of British Columbia, Nov. 28th, 1863, (see the annexed Notes, Mark C). That the work was accordingly resumed towards the middle of March following, and had advanced some miles beyond the above mentioned Canyon, (see the Victoria Prices Current of May 12th, 1864, Mark C), when a series of bloody massacres, the most frightful that have occurred in the annals of British North America for many years, was perpetrated, and followed by the general pillage of everything belonging to your petitioner: one Indian Chief named Anaghim, getting seven horse loads of plunder and eleven horses for his share.

6. That this Indian Insurrection, so characterized by the Governor of British Columbia himself, in his opening speech to the Legislative Council, Dec. 12th, 1864, far from having arisen from any provocation on the part of your petitioner or of his men, as was at first pretended, originated in the Upper Chilcoaten Country, and was brought on by causes entirely beyond his control. (For which see the annexed Notes, Mark D.).

7. That soon after this annihilation of his enterprise, your petitioner wrote, May 28th, to the Colonial Secretary of British Columbia, enumerating his losses, and offering to surrender his dearly earned Charter on certain conditions. To which he received for answer, that His Excellency declined the offer, “but trusted that ere long there would be found to be no impediments to the resumption of the work now unfortunately interrupted.” That he again wrote June 9th, stating, that he had a large stock, and heavy expenses going on at Bute Inlet, and asking 1st “Whether the Government would be willing to afford him any protection, say with men, arms or ammunition, in order to continue the works immediately”. 2d “Whether the Governor was of opinion, that he could safely do so without such protection”. 3d “And if not, whether any definite period could be named for the probable resumption of the work this season.” 4th He also asked, whether any indemnity would be allowed him for his losses. — To all which your petitioner received no answer, excepting an ungracious refusal on the 4th question. The same silence attended another letter dated Aug. 29th, asking again if he could safely resume operations; and in an audience granted him Dec. 3d, the only assurance his Excellency could give him was: “that he hoped he would be able to resume operations in the spring.”

8. That your petitioner thus driven to despair addressed a petition for relief to the Governor in Council, to which he earnestly begs to refer, (see the annexed Copy marked E); waiving all claims or compensation for his losses and simply asking for the reimbursement of his outlay, which he had previously limited to $50,000, and offered verbally to spread the payment over five years. — Upwards of $63,000 have been spent, (exclusive of interest at 1 1/2 per cent per month); of which $2830 paid to the Government. Besides which his Charter would certainly have been a valuable one.

9. That your petitioner reckoned the [more so?] his request being taken into favorable consideration, because it would have freed the Colony of a burdensome and irredeemable toll for ten years; at the same time that the colony would have benefited by the great difficulties which have been overcome, and the plans, surveys, and other geographical information obtained at so much cost and pains.

10. That your petitioner had to wait four months, (he had already waited seven), till his petition was sent down to the Legislative Council, accompanied by a message, which with all due respect, can hardly be said to give the sense of the petition; but which clearly gave the views and wishes of His Excellency as to the result. That laying aside the arguments, in which your petitioners losses are treated almost as imaginary, and a preconcerted plan of wholesale massacres is assimilated to a common street murder, there are certain facts in the message, which your petitioner is obliged to contradict. For which, together with a copy of the message, he begs to refer to the annexed Notes, Marked F & G.

11. That to return to the petition, the Legislative Council in New Westminster is so [composed?], that in presence of the Governor’s Message, all hopes of a favorable result were at an end. The petition was not even read or discussed, but summarily rejected, (see the annexed Note on the proceedings, Mark H), by the following Resolution: “That this House, while it deeply regrets the great loss sustained by Mr. Waddington owing to the failure of his speculation, is not of opinion, that his case calls for alleviation or compensation at public expense.”

12. With a copy of this resolution which did not even meet the petition, since there was nothing in the latter about compensation, (as Mr. Brew, one of the members justly observed,) you petitioner received a letter from the Colonial Secretary, dated April 7th, informing him that previously the Executive Council had not advised His Excellency to accede to his request to take back the road.

13. That nevertheless the Indian hostilities remained unabated. So much so that His Excellency in his opening speech to the Legislative Council, Dec. 12th, 1864, said “that he should propose no bill embodying an Indian policy.” Thus leaving that half of the Colony West of the Fraser to its fate, your petitioner and his property included. Since then, a letter from the Colonial Secretary to your petitioner, dated April 18th, contains no [illegible] assurance; nor does the Government “after having made every effort,” (see the Governor’s message) “to bring the murderers to justice,” and having so signally failed in its attempts last season, appear to be inclined to take any further measures against the insurgents. Excepting that the above named crafty Anaghim, who was positively accused in the examinations, of assisting in one of the murders, (that of Manning), who certainly did nothing as Chief of his tribe to [illegible] them, and who at all events had the greatest share in the spoils belonging to your petitioner, has been pardoned, rewarded, and received into favor and now promises, (see Mr. Ogilvy’s report in the annexed Official Gazette, Feb. 27th Mark I), to try and do his best, to capture some of the remaining thirteen murderers, who are still roaming abroad; and who with their friends, abettors, and leader, Ahan, are quite as powerful as he is, and ready to pick off any white man they may meet with.

That with such prospects, your petitioner, after uselessly keeping up his establishment at Bute Inlet for a year, has been obliged to abandon all his property there, and is condemned to utter ruin: since he would risk the lives of his men, if he ventured to resume operations: the Government being evidently unable, or unwilling to afford him protection, at the same time that it refuses to take the Agreement off his hands.

Your petitioner therefore considers himself most justly entitled, (apart from all moral claims), to the “[illegible]” of an Agreement, the accomplishment of which, after a year of patient expectation and every sacrifice on his part, has become an impossibility without the assistance of Government; and he appeals with confidence to the justice and equity of Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for the Colonies, to grant him the fair and reasonable request, which has been refused him in New Westminster; or else such other relief as may meet the great hardship of the case.

The Home Government is surely not prepared to repudiate its obligations, or dishonor a man, who in the face of so many obstacles and with no resources but his own, has discovered and opened a route, under the sanction of Government, which will eventually double the wealth of the Colony. There is not a man in either Colony, where your petitioner is so well, and he trusts honorably known, (New Westminster perhaps excepted), who could be insensible to such an ungenerous requital. Nor will it be allowed, that your petitioner, after being encouraged by the former Government, and then left to run the risks of a public enterprise alone, should on the eve of success, see his men butchered, his foremans heart torn out of his body, cut to pieces and devoured, their naked bodies dragged and thrown into the river, or cast away to the wolves, his camp destroyed, his stores plundered, his books and [papers?] torn to pieces and scattered to the wind, himself put off and ruined by endless delays; and that the Colony should alone reap the future, but not less certain benefit of such an iniquitous proceeding.

And your petitioner as in duty bound will ever pray
Alfred Waddington
Victoria, Vancouver Island, May 29th, 1865

Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 60/22, p. 192, 8623, Alfred Waddington, Petition to Secretary of State for the Colonies, May 29, 1865.

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