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

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Seymour to Cardwell, No. 91

7 July 1865

I have the honor to forward a Petition addressed to you by Mr. Alfred Waddington of Victoria, complaining of the refusal of the Government of this Colony to defray the expenses he has incurred in endeavouring to open a trail from Bute Inlet to Cariboo, and praying that you will cause justice to be done him. He does not specify in what manner. A consideration for Mr. Waddington's losses will induce me to deal indulgently with the statements made by him. I shall first give, as near as I can, a correct narration of the particulars referred to by Mr. Waddington, and then refute such assertions only as may, when unexplained, convey the opinion that the Government of this Colony acted unjustly towards him.

2. Immediately on the foundation of New Westminster as the Capital of British Columbia, a feeling of jealousy and opposition towards it showed itself in Victoria. The gold found in the bed of the Fraser led the first immigrants to follow up that stream. By this guide the Mines of Cariboo, for some years past acknowledged to be the richest in the Colony, were discovered. Step by step the miners advanced towards the upper waters of the great river, and the Government step by step, improved the communications. Settlers took up land near the line of traffic and finally the colonization of British Columbia was commenced in the valley of the Fraser. Cariboo once discovered and its position ascertained, it was seen that there was water carriage nearer at hand than that furnished by the river at Yale. If a road could be made from the head of North Bentinck Arm, or Bute Inlet, it appeared on the map that the Cariboo traffic would take that direction and the cost of living at the mines be possibly reduced, but the main incentive to exertion was the fact that the communication with Cariboo would be diverted from New Westminster, and Victoria would then become the only market for the two Colonies. It is certainly far from my wish to cast blame upon Mr. Waddington for endeavouring to further his own interests and those of his adopted town by a perfectly legitimate, if feasible transaction. Mr. Waddington having determined to enter on the speculation, unfortunately for himself, selected Bute Inlet for the commencement of his enterprise instead of Bentinck Arm.

3. Sir James Douglas, a perfectly competent judge of the difficulty of the work Mr. Waddington was about to undertake, did what he could to dissuade him from proceeding. This is abundantly shown by the papers I enclose. Seeing Mr. Waddington however intent on his purpose, my predecessor consented to the work being undertaken, with the promise of certain privileges being granted in the event of its reaching completion.

4. Mr. Waddington, supported I believe by a Victoria Company, commenced operations. At first his road party was well armed & efforts were made to conciliate the Indians, but with each succeeding spring the gang returned with greater confidence to their work among the natives. They bartered away their arms to the Chilicotens and at the same time kept them short of food.

5. We have an account published in a Victoria newspaper, the "British Colonist" of the 10th May 1864, of the condition of the Chilicoten Indians at Mr. Waddington's Camp two days before they massacred the white men. It is from Mr. Whymper, an artist who accompanied the expedition. He says "they (The Chilicoten Indians) disputed with their wretched cayote dogs anything we threw out of the house in the shape of bones, bacon rind, tea leaves and other such like luxuries. Many of them are however able and willing to pack." The Indians had fire arms and ammunition. The white men possessed but one musket, and this was borrowed by a Homathco on the evening preceding the massacre and not restored. The road party slept while the armed and starving Indians watched. Abundance of food lay within reach of the latter. Its protectors were helpless. A range of mountains almost inaccessible to Europeans would preclude pursuit, should a force desire to avenge the fate of those who lay at their mercy. It is no matter for astonishment that an attack was made on the road party and nearly all of them murdered in their sleep.

6. Mr. Waddington alleges, that the Government was bound to give him protection. He never asked for protection. Had he made any claim of the kind the permission to engage in the enterprise would have been refused him. Supposing we had sent a few Constables, what could they have done? I know not under what law they could have prevented the white men disarming themselves. Had they interfered to urge the feeding of the Indians I have no doubt that an immediate clamour for their withdrawal would have been made. But this is scarcely to the point. The Constables were not asked for and would not have been given had they been asked for.

7. In this vast territory white men have carried their ventures over the whole coast and sometimes penetrated into the interior. There is not a coasting trader who could not count on his fingers, and require all of them in doing so, the number of such adventurers who have been killed by the natives in my predecessor's time without retribution following.

8. But the Colony put forth its whole strength for once to avenge the fate of the road makers at Bute Inlet and the victims of the succeeding massacres, my despatches will have told you with what signal success.

9. I showed Mr. Waddington's petition to Mr. Brew, the Police Magistrate of New Westminster, and I beg leave to enclose his report. Mr. Brew commanded the Volunteer Expedition from this town and is as well acquainted with Indian affairs as any one in the Colony. I leave Mr. Brew to deal with the earlier allegations of the petition, but I support his assertion that Mr. Waddington's undertaking was not viewed favorably by my predecessor, by the statements of Mr. Crease and Mr. Trutch, and by an official letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works.

10. In regard to the general allegations respecting the comparative merit of the Bute Inlet and Bentinck Arm lines, I have simply to say, that the Volunteers turned back unable to cross the mountains on the former line, who subsequently penetrated by way of Bentinck Arm.

11. Mr. Waddington states that the Indian outbreak or insurrection of last year originated in the Upper Chilicoten Country. He knows this to be incorrect. The Massacre at Bute Inlet took place on the 30th of April. The Murder of Manning at Benshee about the middle of May. The slaughter of Macdonald and some of his party at Sutless on the 31st of May. He says that I acknowledged the successive massacres as an "insurrection." I quote the words I used in the speech to which he alludes. "Favored by impunity the assassins soon became promoted to the dignity of insurgents by the adhesion of the whole Chilicoten tribe from the summit of the Cascade Mountains to the Benches of the Fraser." I enclose such parts of my address as referred to the outbreak.

12. The 7th paragraph complains of delay in receiving answers to Mr. Waddington's letters. He is however aware that I could not answer them, inasmuch as at the time they were written I was in the Chilicoten Country having our communications with the settled portions of the Colony closed.

13. In the 10th paragraph however Mr. Waddington reports that he had to wait four months for a reply to a memorial addressed to myself in Council. This is not candid. I entered very fully into the whole question in the interview to which he refers. I told him I was of opinion he had no claim, but that I would go once more over the matter, if he petitioned me in Council. I meant the Executive Council. I told Mr. Waddington that the decision of the Executive Council was unanimously against him, but that I would give him a final chance with the Legislative Council. When the Session commenced it occurred to me that I had somewhat rashly pledged myself to bring a matter of purely Executive Administration before a Legislative Body. I endeavoured to get rid of the difficulty by asking the opinions in writing of every member of the Legislature. They urged me, however to give them an opportunity of expressing publicly their views on the subject. Hence my message. Mr. Waddington knew all that was passing in regard to the petition, and cannot justly complain of not having his hopes crushed at once by a reply which must have entailed a direct refusal. Every Member of the Legislature publicly expressed his opinion that Mr. Waddington had no claim on the Government of this Colony. I did not use my influence with any of them. I expressed an opinion, and that I conceive the present Constitution requires of me in a matter of importance where I leave my public officers free to vote as they please. Mr. Waddington complains that his petition was not read in the Council. I do not know what occurred but he is well aware that it had been in the hands of every Member of Council before I sent it down officially.

14. The 13th paragraph requires every indulgence. It states that the Indian hostilities "continued unabated." There has not been a crime of violence of any kind committed by a native on a white man for upwards of a year. And how have the murderers or insurgents fared? Eight were driven to surrender to Mr. Cox. Two committed suicide. One was shot by Macdonald. Two were recently captured near Bella Coola. Six have died on the scaffold, and we fear that many of the tribe have perished of starvation, the active pursuit of the Volunteers having prevented the native[s] from laying in their usual supply of fish and berries for the winter. So far from our efforts having failed, I have recently granted a free pardon to one of the Chilicoten Murderers, being weary of taking life and thinking that the consequences of the imprudence of Mr. Waddington's party have already caused but too much bloodshed and suffering. The interpretation put upon my remarks respecting an Indian policy so disingenuous that I explain matters merely by enclosing a statement of what I said. Could Mr. Waddington, in his most excited moments imagine that I proposed to feed the Chilicotens if they were still in Arms against the Government?

15. I have already stated that I sanctioned the pardon granted to Anaheim, who was two hundred miles from the nearest scene of massacre. The powerful Chief Ahan, who according to Mr. Waddington would make the Country impracticable to White men died yesterday at New Westminster upon the scaffold.

16. To the remaining portion of Mr. Waddington's petition I will only say, that I see no reason why the Government should compensate him for the consequences of his own reckless imprudence. The work he has performed is utterly valueless to the Colony. If the Government were to make a road from the sea board to Cariboo, to the Northward of the Fraser, it would be by Bentinck Arm, where our Volunteers penetrated by an Indian trail, certainly not by Bute Inlet where Mr. Waddington's large expenditure left the Country impracticable to the hardy Volunteers of New Westminster.

17. The failure of Mr. Brew's party to cross the Cascade Mountains, and the light which his expedition has thrown upon the whole question, have ruined the Bute Inlet speculation, not the Indian massacres. A Road gang, using ordinary precautions, may with perfect safety from Indian aggression resume work on the abandoned trail, but capital will not again be deluded into so hopeless an undertaking. When I speak in my message of the loss to Mr. Waddington by the massacre being problematical, it is because I and every man of Mr. Brew's party, are convinced that the natural difficulties of the Country would never have been surmounted with the means at Mr. Waddington's disposal. The failure must have come soon and the sooner the better for his pocket.

18. An undertaking started in opposition to the wishes of the Government, grossly mismanaged, and utterly impracticable, as far as we know, even in more skilful hands, has ended in pecuniary embarrassment to one and in a violent death to thirty. It would be more discrete, in my opinion, for Mr. Waddington to keep silence respecting the whole unfortunate affair.

I have etc.

Mr. Elliot

There is but one answer to return to Mr. Waddington's application--viz to say that it is impossible for Mr. Cardwell, without the full & unqualified concurrence of the Colonial Authorities, to sanction his resumption of an undertaking which has been the cause of so much bloodshed & expense.

See 7324 V.C. Island.

ABd 7 September

Mr. Cardwell

TFE 7/9


Petition, Alfred Waddington to Secretary of State, 29 May 1865. asking that his losses on the road project be defrayed by the government, with extended explanation.

Notes accompanying the petition as noted above, 29 May 1865, further explaining various aspects of the project and subsequent petition, signed by Waddington.

Newspaper extract, Government Gazette, 4 March 1865, containing report from J.D.B. Ogilvy, newly appointed Police and Customs Officer at Bentinck Arm, describing the determination of the Indians to assist in the capture of the remaining murderers of the road party.

Petition, Waddington to Seymour, 6 December 1864, asking for compensation of his losses, with explanation.

C. Brew to Seymour, refuting the compensation claims forwarded by Waddington.

H.P.P. Crease, Attorney General, to Seymour, 2 June 1865, refuting the compensation claims forwarded by Waddington.

Memorandum of J.W. Trutch, 1 June 1865, advising both Douglas and Moody had tried to dissuade Waddington from commencing the project.

W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, to Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works, 25 February 1863, advising that Waddington's charter had been extended ten years in view of his difficulty in obtaining capital, and commenting that Douglas felt the practical difficulties would be equally difficult to surmount.

Newspaper clipping, unnamed, no date, containing extract of address by Seymour noting that there may be a need to provide relief to the starving members of the Chilcotin tribe who had had no time to gather winter food in their flight from authority.


Draft reply, Cardwell to Seymour, No. 71, 23 September 1865.

Mr. Waddington obtained a reluctant permission in 1862 to make this road. It seems to have been an agreement. If he gets no protection from the Government--which will certainly be the case--he won't be able to go on with the road. But surely in such case he ought to be released from his agreement--which he seems to say that he is not permitted to get out of.

At this distance, & in such great ignorance of local details I think we cannot do otherwise than leave the decision of the matter exclusively to the local Authorities--to whom it property belongs.

See 9137 from a Lawyer--Mr. Churchill.


Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 60/22, p. 192, 8623, Frederick Seymour, Letter to Cardwell, No. 91, sent July 7, 1865, received September 7, 1865.

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