« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
on the east by Rosario Strait, on the south and west by Macedonian Crescent, a bay lying between it and Lopez Island. The area of this island is about four square miles ; its extreme length from north to south being three and a half miles; its width about two miles. In its general shape it is quadrangular, resembling Blakely Island. About one fourth or more of its area is low land, well adapted to cultivation. On its eastern side there is a harbour, well protected by its natural configuration from the prevailing south winds, and a small island, known as James's, immediately adjacent to it in Rosario Strait, leaves it only exposed to storms from the north-east, from which quarter violent winds very rarely blow in this region.
“ The shores are generally abrupt and precipitous; those on the north being rocky, while those on the south are composed of alternate layers of sand and clay; and their bold bluffs show the continuous action of the waves which for ages have been dashing against them. Evidences of land slides of limited extent, which have occurred, apparently very recently, gave further proof that the billows are changing them to such an extent that, in a few years more, their contour will be so much altered, that their present topographical features will be no longer recognisable.
“ Several small streams empty into the bay mentioned as existing on the eastern side of the island; and in this vicinity there is much good cedar timber, which, growing in the low moist lands, has escaped the repeated fires which have swept through the forest.
• The abundance of deer always found upon this island is evidence of its valuable grazing properties.
LOPEZ ISLAND. “Named after Lopez de Haro (Chauncey Island of Capt. Wilkes).
“ Lopez Island is bounded on the north by Frolic Strait and Ironsides Bay, on the east by the Macedonian Crescent and Rosario Strait, south by Rosario Strait, and west by Little Belt Passage and Ontario Road, which separate it from San Juan Island. It is very irregular in shape, being characterised, especially on its eastern shore, by deep indentations, which in their formation seem to follow no regular law. Its greatest length from north to south is about ten miles ; its greatest width from east to west about four miles; and it has an area of about twenty-eight square miles. At its southern end the land rises into a mound, which is nearly 500 feet in height, known as Watmaugh Head, and is a very prominent landmark for vessels in the Straits of Fuca. The southern coast is abrupt and broken, while to the north there are land-locked bays and beautiful harbours. A body of water lying to the west of Blakely and Decatur Islands, and bounded on the south and west by Lopez Island, called the Macedonian Crescent, is an extensive and well-protected harbour. This bay is studded with small islands covered with verdure.
“In many places on the eastern side of Lopez Island the shore is rocky, but on its western side the soil is alluvial; by washing away it has become in many places high perpendicular bluffs. The interior of the island contains much level land, well adapted to cultivation, and near its centre is a prairie of nearly a square mile in extent; there is also a smaller one near its northern extremity. As on the other islands mentioned, the timber has been much injured by fire. There are scarcely any trees of large size upon the island, except in a few low and swampy places. It is not very difficult to traverse much of its extent, especially about its centre; but near the northern end, tangled bushes and fallen timber render it a difficult matter, with great toil and trouble, to accomplish more than a mile an hour.
“There are permanent streams of water in several localities; and in many places, where the land might be too rocky for profitable cultivation, there is always good grass. Upon this island alone, of the entire group, was found any positive evidence of the existence of beasts of prey. Wolves are numerous, and of the largest species known to exist on our continent; why they should be found here and not on Orcas and other islands of the Archipelago, is somewhat remarkable. Formerly there were a few of these animals on San Juan Island, but in a very short time after its occupation by white men they almost entirely disappeared, and are now no longer any annoyance to flocks. So it will be on Lopez after a few persons have taken up their abode there.
“ One-third of the area of this island, perhaps, might be subjected to cultivation, but the greater part of this is still covered with trees, which it would require much labour to clear away. Much of the remaining two-thirds, although rocky, is covered with grass enough to support many hundreds of sheep and cattle. On its eastern and southern side there are a good many fishing grounds, where the Indians yearly take great numbers of salmon and halibut. At one of these localities, on the eastern side, there exists a small but very shallow bay, into which empties perhaps the largest stream of the island. At this place the Hudson's Bay Company formerly had a small trading station.”
Great as are the natural advantages of these islands, they sink into insignificance when compared with the importance of the Archipelago, looked at from a naval or military point of view. In proof of this I cannot adduce stronger evidence than the report of the late United States General, Persifer A. Smith, who visited these islands while in command of the military department of the Pacific.
This report was addressed to the President of the United States, dated December, 1857, and stated as follows (1):
6 When I had the pleasure of meeting you in Washington, I intended to speak to you on a subject of great importance connected with the boundary between the United States and
(") American State Papers, p. 52.
the British possessions north of them on the Pacific coast. The line, after having followed the forty-ninth parallel to the Sound dividing the island of Vancouver from the continent, is to run south, taking the main channel to its intersection with the straits of Juan di Fuca, and then west through those straits to the ocean.
6 At this intersection lies a group of islands just north of the end of the straits, commanding the entrance into the Sound and opposite to the entrance of Admiralty Inlet and Puget's Sound in our own territory. These islands form a naval harbour that may be defended against any force if they are fortified as they may be, and the nation that disposes of them thus will absolutely command, not only Queen Charlotte's Sound, but all those splendid harbours in our territory on the waters of Admiralty Inlet and Puget's Sound, as well as those on the straits of Juan di Fuca and the navigation of that inlet. These harbours are the best on the Pacific coast, for, with the timber that covers the hills bordering on them, and the coal in the adjacent territory as far south as Gray's Harbour, they possess the great advantage of a rise and fall of tide of twentyone feet, rendering the construction and use of docks easy and cheap.
“ I visited these waters in 1849-50, and on my return represented to the President the immense importance of the islands referred to; and afterwards, at his request, gave Governor Stevens, then about to start for Washington Territory, a written memorandum in relation to the subject."
General Tatten, again, the Chief Engineer of the United States army, after a tour of inspection through the region of which we are speaking, made an official report to his Government in the following terms(1) :
“The fitness of this island (San Juan) for a permanent fortification, or for a military station of any kind, depends upon its relation to so much of our water frontier as lies along
(") American State Papers, p. 133.
the Straits of Fuca, and its water communication with the Gulf of Georgia.
“This particular subject was, therefore, kept in mind while I was pursuing my general examination of the north-west coast. It directed the particular course of my inspections of those waters, and led me to extend my explorations as high up as Fraser River.
“I find nothing in the magnitude, form, or position of San Juan Island that will admit of the treatment for such a purpose, separate from general military considerations—those only with which I have anything to do—and I now proceed to give, as briefly as I can, the convictions that have arisen in my mind after mature reflection.
“Great Britain, by owning the whole of Vancouver's Island, of which the southern shore bounds the Straits of Fuca on the north, possesses, just within its southern extremity, the admirable man-of-war harbour of Esquimault, and she now occupies it as a naval station, having present there, at the time of my visit, one line-of-battle ship and four war steamers. This harbour has, in a high degree, every internal convenience, facility of ingress and egress at all times, and perfect defensibleness, at a moderate cost, by fortifications, should such defence be considered necessary at future times.
“My first remark on these circumstances is, that, possessing Esquimault harbour, the ownership of the San Juan Archipelago, or of that island alone, is not necessary to Great Britain for her own occupation, either for defensive or offensive purposes; because, while occupying Esquimault harbour, and enjoying naval superiority, she will command completely, so far as local position will enable her, the Straits of Fuca, and all other waters within Cape Flattery, including Puget Sound, Admiralty Inlet, and all the channels and passages of the San Juan Archipelago. All our commerce and communications therein will be interrupted, or exposed to the greatest hazards.
“ With superiority afloat she will need no fortifications in the Archipelago in order to command the passages. Its quiet