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

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The Northern Route
The British Columbian, April 18, 1861

April 18, 1861

Our Victoria neighbours appear to be growing really alarmed judging from the Colonist of the 8th instant, lest they might, amidst all their competition lose the British Columbia trade, which they very properly regard as the chief cause of their past and present success, as well as their great hope for the future.

They made strenuous efforts some time ago to convince Hope, Yale, Douglas, and other towns above, that their true policy was to advocate a union of the colonies, or as they would express it, “annexation of British Columbia to Vancouver Island,” and form direct communication with Victoria, giving New Westminster the go by. Failing in this attempt to induce the wide awake people above to swallow the bait, they now resort to their old sham cry of a “Northern Route!” so as to keep the uninitiated in a fog until something turns up.

We have no doubt they would be greatly relieved if they could devise some scheme to get the precious dust of Cariboo, without running the risk of having to come down the Fraser river.

British Columbians of Hope, Yale, Douglas, Cayoosh, Lytton, etc., read the article in the Colonist again. You see how quickly the selfish property holders of Victoria would cast off almost the entire inhabited part of this Colony, if they could thereby prevent us from supplying our own miners by direct importations, and the products of our rich agricultural lands, and “feather their own nest” at our expense.

Fraser river is nature's great highway to our gold mines. Until our Government adopt a more wise and liberal policy, Columbia river will attract a small portion of our traffic, but we have nothing to fear from a “northern route.” The Governor, Captain Richards, Major Downey, and all those who should be the best judges of the matter, have no faith in this north coast route.

We have heard strange stories about Indians passing over this hidden pathway in six days! But it seems very strange that when Major Downey went in search of this mysterious pass, it was not to be found, although he thoroughly explored all the region where it was supposed to exist, and had many of the Indians there in his service. His report was quite sufficient to convince every unprejudiced mind that the Northern route is a sell, that it can never be of much importance, either to Victoria or any other place south of the 52d degree of North Latitude on this continent.

We are now pointed to the old McKenzie trail from Bentinck Arms to a point on the Fraser near Fort George as the best site for the northern road. Now, supposing a road could be made connecting these points, what would be the result? Would it benefit Victoria? Not likely. Let any person of common sense whose mind is not warped by self interest take a careful look at a good map this coast (the first in Mr. Pemberton's book for instance), and while the map is before him, ask himself the following questions: Does not nature say that the goods for this Colony should come direct to New Westminster, and thence by way of the Fraser be distributed through our mining and agricultural districts? As this route is open during the entire year, and flourishing towns have sprung up along its course, its agricultural lands being partially settled and cultivated, is it likely that a trail from Queen Charlotte's Sound, 250 miles long running over the Coast Range of Mountains, and which at best would not be open more than four months in the year, will ever compete with it?

But even if this Northern route should prove to be all that its most sanguine advocates claim for it, would it be politic or just to spend all our energies and resources in making a road which would only benefit the adventurer, when we can “kill two birds with one stone” by improving nature's highway to our mines, and opening out our agricultural resources at the same time?

But for the sake of viewing the matter in all its bearings, let us suppose that this route will be opened, and that the traffic in that direction will be extensive enough to warrant the expense of making it into a good road. Will it benefit Victoria? Steamers and vessels from San Francisco, Australia, or the Sandwich Islands, would save some 300 miles, and vessels from China and Japan twice that distance, by going direct to Bentick Arms, instead of coming round by Victoria. Verily the Victorians must imagine they possess wonderful attractions to suppose they can draw trade hundreds of miles out of its natural channel from all points of the compass.

We do expect that there will, at some future day, be a road of some sort from Bentinck Arms to the Upper Fraser, which will be used a short season in midsummer, and will be a benefit to the northern portion of this Colony and the northwestern end of Vancouver. We believe also that there will be a great highway opened between this and Halifax, via Red River and Canada, and that there will be a road or canal connecting Nanaimo and Barclay Sound. But what does Victoria see in all this to prove that her position is central and superior as the great commercial and naval depot of the British Pacific?

All we ask of our friends across the Gulf is “fair play and no favour” and not to take advantage of us because they have got the start, force trade out of its natural channel, and compel us to have all our goods transhipped at Victoria “whether we will or no.”

We will submit to this state of things just as long as we cannot get our goods direct, and that will not be very long.

Source: "The Northern Route," The British Columbian, April 18, 1861.

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