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

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Remarks on Mr Waddington’s Petition

At the time Mr. Waddington was agitating the formation of a Company in Victoria to construct a Road to Cariboo from the head of Bute Inlet he told me that the first idea of that route occurred to him while he was confined to his bed by gout, that he procured a map, and laying a ruler from Victoria to I think Alexandria he found that Bute Inlet was in the straight line between the two places; that he then felt assured that by Bute Inlet must be the shortest and most natural route to Cariboo. Trusting to the representations of unreliable persons who had been over the Indian trails about the Homathco he got maps of the Country prepared by which it would appear that there was a wide valley cutting across the coast range of the Cascade Mountains offering a level district for the formation of a Road to Cariboo. We now know that this did not represent the true features of the Country. Mr. Waddington was, I have no doubt, deceived by persons who described the Country to be such to him as he wished to find it, but I believe he deceived himself still more for he is one of the most sanguine imaginative men I have ever met; prompt to delude himself on any matter of which he makes a hobby.

Mr. Waddington says that his aim in developing the Bute Inlet route was to advance the general prosperity of both Colonies. I believe his chief aim was to make a profitable speculation and the aim of those who trusted in his representation and supported him with their money was to divert the trade to the upper country, which passed through New Westminster, into another channel and crush New Westminster, which aspired to rival Victoria as a port of direct import.

I do not agree with Mr. Waddington’s assertion that the opening of the Bute Inlet route would have kept more miners in the country. Anybody who knows miners must be well aware that miners will travel to and stay wherever Gold is to be abundantly found no matter what kind of roads have to be travelled over or what kind of difficulties have to be overcome in approaching the mines. As many men as could be employed have always been found to work at Cariboo.

The Attorney General informs me that he believes the local Government did not encourage Mr. Waddington’s enterprise. He states that on one occasion, when Mr. Waddington was applying for an extension of the time allowed him in which to complete his road Sir J. Douglas reminded him in the presence of several that he had apprized him of the almost insurmountable difficulties of the work he was about to undertake and tried to dissuade him from it. The Government had not committed itself to the Fraser River line; this route forced its own way as prospectors ascended the river and its tributaries, and bar after bar, containing Gold, was discovered on its banks. The route by Bute Inlet does not pass through a mining Country; it is simply a short cut from Victoria to Cariboo.

A charter was promised to Mr. Waddington at his own solicitation. The agreement should have stated that it would be granted in consideration of Mr. Waddington’s imagining the route - not discovering it. If the route had been explored properly, before he commenced his works how was it that the difficulties in the Canyon were so unexpected.

At Mr. Waddington’s request a Corporal of the Royal Engineers was sent to lay out the Town Site - Waddington, which is an alluvial flat a few miles up the Homathco river, densely and heavily timbered. The Homathco is a rapid river, not deep. I went in H. M. Gunboat “Forward” up to Waddington at high water; part of the way the sounding gave only 9 and 10 feet. Before I saw the Homathco Mr. Waddington told me that it was scarcely second in size to the Fraser; he said that no doubt Vancouver had committed a blunder in overlooking it.

I do not understand how Mr. Waddington estimates that his enterprise would have brought £100,000 of foreign Capital into the colony. He would sell his Charter to the route for $50,000 if he could.

Mr. Waddington never attempted to commence a waggon road. He made merely a trail for pack animals which could be done without much difficulty for about 30 miles on the left bank of the Homathco; the trail required little more than tramping out; there was scarcely a tree felled the whole way. The bridges and benches as Mr. Waddington admitted were too low and were so flimsily constructed that several of them were giving way when I passed over them. At the Ferry, about 30 miles up, the mountains on the left bank close in upon the river so that Mr. Waddington was obliged to cross and continue his trail on the right bank. The Ferry is a most dangerous crossing, the river is there a raving mountain torrent; it is crossed in a Scow travelling along a strong rope secured at each side of the river. Some of my men expressed apprehension at the risk of crossing; we all however got over safely but with difficulty. Mr. Waddington would not venture to let his horses, which were carrying our supplies, cross. Upon a subsequent occasion Lieut. Verney R. N. tried to cross this ferry with some of his men but I believe he failed, and in the attempt a Sailor was drowned.

About 6 miles above the ferry, the mountains enclose the river between their precipices; this is what is called the Cañon. Here Mr. Waddington was forced to take his trail over an abrupt bluff - a shoulder of the mountain, (Mr. Waddington says 1,100 feet high) projecting into the river. Over this I counted 79 zig-zags ascending and 65 descending. Some of the angles were so steep that men who were with me, accustomed to packing, said no laden animals could turn them. After passing over this bluff the trail runs along a flat on the river bank till another precipice forces it into the stream when it is carried along the base of the precipice on a timber bench, the inside of which rested on a narrow ledge blushed in the rock and the outside on the heads of posts planted in the river. The vibration of this bench caused by the torrent rushing against the posts is so great that I feared it would be carried away while we were on it; passing over the flat where the first murders took place of Mr. Waddington’s labourers the trail rose till it terminated on the edge of a precipice over 200 feet deep. On the flat, at the foot of this precipice, Brewster, Mr. Waddington’s foreman was murdered. I do not know how it was intended to take the trail past this obstacle; the only way of descending the precipice when I was there was by a rope and across a sloping log over a ravine of great depth. Mr. Waddington said his foreman had made a mistake, that the trail should be carried some other way; I did not see where.

When I approached from the interior the Gap in the mountain through which the proposed trail was to emerge from the mountains and enter upon the great elevated plateau which extends to Alexandria, I ascertained that in the gap was a Lake enclosed between precipitous mountains. The Indians pass along the foot of the precipice on long poles resting on stakes fixed in the bottom of the Lake. I asked Mr. Waddington how he intended to run his trail past this difficulty; he did not explain, but he assured me that that Lake and precipice were the only impediments in the whole distance of about five days march along the Homathco from where Brewster was murdered to the plateau. I must say I doubted his statement.

Mr. Waddington lets it be inferred that of the property plundered from him the Nacoontloon Chief Anaheim got seven horse loads and eleven horses. Mr. Waddington lost no horses; and at the time his men were murdered and his camp robbed by the Tackla Tribe, Anaheim and his Tribe were 200 miles distant. The Tackla Tribe afterwards in Anaheims Country, while Anaheim and his immediate followers were away at Bella Coola 120 miles off, attacked and plundered Alick McDonalds pack train shooting McDonald and two of his companions. On Anaheim’s return he recovered eleven of the horses taken from Mcdonalds party and surrendered them to the Governor together with over Fifty Pounds in money belonging to one of the murdered men. I know it was alleged that Anaheim got a large share of the property of which Alick McDonald and his party were robbed. I cannot say that such is not the case, but I can state this fact that while I was at Nacoontloon and while Anaheim was absent from my camp hunting for Ahan whom he had since given up some of my men found in an Island in the lake and at another place on the bank of the lake about 7 miles from our camp about 30 caches belonging to Anaheim and his men. I had them all searched, and not one article was found that could be identified as having belonged to McDonald or his party.

The Indian outbreak, Mr. Waddington well knows, did not originate in the "Upper Country"; the outrages were first planned and executed by the Tackla Chief – Klattassin, whose men were employed packing provisions and merchandise between Waddington and the camp where the men were murdered. I think it quite possible that the outbreak might have been averted if Mr. Waddington had visited the Homathco and arranged the intercourse between his men and the Indians.

It seems impossible, unless the money was squandered, that Mr. Waddington could have expended $63.000. on the Homathco trail; there is not work done for it to be seen, besides the cost of what work was done did not all come out of Mr. Waddington’s pocket. I know persons who subscribed towards the outlay, and a company was formed in Victoria to support Mr. Waddingtons scheme. When the trail did not progress as rapidly and easily as Mr. Waddington promised faith in his representations was very much shaken and the shareholders were [satisfied?] to let Mr. Waddington buy them out [for a trifle?]. I am informed that a good deal of the labour on the trail was done by men who were fed and who, for wages took scrip, giving them a lien on Mr. Waddington’s charter.

When Mr. Waddington’s petition to have his charter taken off his hands was discussed in the Legislative Council some members, who perhaps had not attentively read the petition, spoke of the matter as if Mr. Waddington were petitioning for compensation for his losses. I noticed the mistake and remarked that Mr. Waddington was not applying for compensation; his application was a far more absurd one, to have his charter purchased from him. At his urgent solicitation he was granted an exclusive charter for a waggon road, he never made a [perch?] of it; and after several years he expected The Government to buy the charter back from him for $50,000.

The burdensome and irredeemable toll for ten years cannot be levied till the waggon road be made; and the Colony need have very little apprehension that it will ever be levied under Mr. Waddington’s charter.

The members of the Legislative Council were free to express their opinions upon the petition of Mr. Waddington and all official and un-official unanimously supported the resolution rejecting his appeal.

Mr. Waddington again refers to Anaheim the Nacoontloon Chief. I am satisfied that Anaheim knew nothing of the plunder and murder of Mr. Waddington’s men till several days afterwards; and all the Indians I have examined agree in saying that if Anaheim had been at home Alick McDonald would not have been attacked. The principals in all the outrages were the Tackla Indians whom Mr. Waddington induced to come down and settle at Waddington because he could get them to work harder and more cheaply than the Homathco or Clohoose Indians.

I do not believe that fear of the Indians was the cause of Mr. Waddington abandoning his trail; but he had not money to carry on the work; he tried to raise it in Victoria and failed. From the time he explored the route himself he must have given up all idea of commencing the waggon road, for he could not but know that the whole Colony could not supply the funds that would be required to complete it. If Mr. Waddington had any apprehension of Indian outrages he gave a very extraordinary opinion to two young men who were about to settle at Newcultz on the Bella Coola river to trade for furs. They asked Mr. Waddington if he thought they would be in any danger from the Indians. "In none whatever" he said “I have had two men on the Homathco all the winter watching my property and they have not been once molested.” The young men are now at Newcultz.

In his winding up appeal Mr. Waddington puts his case as it really does not exist. The Home Government have undertaken no obligations; neither have, I conceive, the Colonial Government. It may be a loss but no dishonour to Mr. Waddington if the Government will not buy his useless charter and trail from him. He was supplied with resources not his own; he has not opened the route, and he was very far from the eve of success. The enterprise was not a publick one; it was a private speculation. While everyone laments the murders which were perpetrated and pities Mr. Waddington for his losses, I believe there is scarcely a person in the Colony thinks him entitled to compensation; and few will deny that he brought his misfortunes on himself....

Note C

Not one of the causes stated except perhaps in some measure the introduction of the small pox had anything to do with the Indian outbreak.

The Bella Coola Indians have for many years been the most friendly Indians towards the whites on the coast and they are most anxious to tempt white men to settle amongst them and trade. They complained of no outrages that demanded redress. I do not think the projected opening up of the Country had anything to do with the outbreak. If Mr. Waddington suspected that they wre discontented at not being compensated for the invasion by him of their lands he never made any representation on the subject to the Government. If the Indians were entitled to compensation the compensation should have come from Mr. Waddington and his company who had an exclusive Charter, and not from the Government. A Railway Company might as well expect the Government to pay compensation for the damage done on the lands through which their Railway passed.

Some white men were killed on the coast and for some time the offenders could not be brought to justice, but I believe the interior Indians were not in consequence tempted to outrage.

The removal of Sir James Douglas was not a cause. Sir James was best known by the Coast Indians; and since the year 1858 I have never known so many friendly Chiefs assemble as met The Governor here on the 24th of May this year and the year before. The Tackla Indians I believe knew little or nothing of Sir James Douglas' removal.

The interior Indians knew nothing of the withdrawal of the Royal Engineers or rather the disbanding of them, for most of them were discharged in the Colony.

The Government felt no apprehension because nothing was known of the injudicious treatment of the Indians by Mr. Waddingtons foreman and men. Mr. Waddington I believe did not know of it but he ought to have known it and prevented it; and I am persuaded that if he had visited his men, compelled them to deal properly with the Indians and make them take proper precautions against surprise, he would have saved many lives and saved the colony great expense.

It is very difficult to surmise the motives that prompt Indians to commit crime. They will be honest and faithful under the strongest temptations, and in a moment of caprice they will plunder and murder seemingly without provocation. Those dealing with them should never be off their guard. In my opinion the cause of the outbreak was that the Takla Indians were in want of food. When they worked for Brewster they were badly paid and not fed. They stole provisions, for doing which Brewster threatened to send the small pox amongst them: the most exasperating threat that could be used to them. Their women were interfered with. At length Klattassin resolved to return to his own country, and before so doing he determined to have plunder and revenge at the same time.

Klattassin was irritated too because Mr. Waddington had not returned to Homathco; he expected Mr. Waddington would get his child, who was taken and made a slave by Euclataw Indians back for him. He frequently asked when Mr. Waddington would be up with the large body of whitemen to work at the road as was promised. In the end despairing of Mr. Waddington's arrival he bought his child from the Euclataws for a canoe, six blankets and two muskets. This was only a few days before the murder.

Mr. Waddington in his petition says that Alick McDonald's party notwithstanding that they were not surprised, were plundered and murdered. He is mistaken. They were completely taken by surprise; they thought they had deceived the Indians, but they had not. Though badly armed, if they had been properly on their guard and had stood together by Alick McDonald, I believe they would have beaten off the Indians.

Signed, C. Brew C.J.P.

Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 60/22, p. 192, C. Brew, "Remarks on Mr. Waddington's Petition," 1865.

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