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thirty miles long by six wide without a tree, and environed by mountains. The natives of these regions were generally in a wretched condition.
The coast abounds with harbours, inlets, and islands, of which latter, that called Vancouver, or Quadra (to which I shall presently advert), is the largest and the most important to Great Britain, from its position at the termination of the United States' boundary, in the 49th parallel of latitude, and from its fine harbours, there being no haven between the Straits of Juan de Fuca and San Francisco, in California. The north-western Archipelago, which lies north of Vancouver's Island, belongs partly to England and partly to Russia. The islands within the British dominions are of various sizes; the largest, named Queen Charlotte's Island,' is somewhat of a triangular form, lying nearly north and south, the south point in the parallel of 52o. The superficial area is less than that of Vancouver's Island : it has several good harbours, viz., on the north coast, Port Estrada, near Sandy Point, and Croft's Sound, a little farther west. On the east side, Skitekis, in 53° 20' north latitude; Cummashawa, near 53° north; and Port Sturges, farther south. On the west, or Pacific coast, Magee's Sound, in 52° 1' north latitude; and Port Ingram, near the north-west extremity of the island. The country around some of these harbours, especially Port Estrada, (Hancock's River), and Magee's Sound, is said by the Americans to be fertile, and the climate comparatively mild.
The Princess Royal Islands lie nearer to the main land, between the parallels of 51° and 54° north latitude. Of the interior of the whole of these islands, little or nothing is known; the largest are traversed by mountain ridges in the direction of their greatest length from south-east to north-west. Greenhow says, that, probably, as regards their interior, they are rocky and barren. The adjacent coast is of very irregular outline, with numerous bays, inlets, tortuous channels, forming a labyrinth of
passages. Simpson's River, on our north-west boundary, has a E deep inlet, and communicates with Babine Lake, where the
Hudson's Bay Company have a fort. The Company have also
an establishment on the north coast of Pitt's Islands, in the north-western Archipelago.
The north-west coast and interior north of the parallel of 55°, is described as extremely rugged ; lofty mountains, covered with snow, rise abruptly from the ocean; more inland, the whole region consists of Alpine masses, thrown together in the wildest confusion, so that a level site for a fort can hardly be found within any reasonable distance of a stream or lake. It is a land of rocks, as difficult of access as it is impracticable in itself, except at the very margin of the sea. Most of the streams to the north of the Frazer's River, are mere torrents fed by melting snow in summer, and in winter by the unceasing deluges of this dismal climate; these streams form deep valleys in the precipitous heights of every form and magnitude in their progress to the
Hence the term 'Cascade Mountains,' given to the coast line north of Vancouver's Island. The Company hold under lease from Russia, a fort on the Stikine or Pelly's River, where the climate and country are alike miserable in the extreme, and their effects are increased by the putridity and filth of the adjacent Indian village. At this fort, in April 1842, the gentleman in charge was shot in a scuffle, and 2000 savages encamped around were preparing to rifle the fort, when, fortunately, Sir G. Simpson arrived in a Russian steamer. Taco Fort, under Dr. Kennedy, an assistant, and 22 men, is still farther northward on the coast, surrounded by 4000 savages, warlike and ferocious, who at first captured Dr. Kennedy and his assistant, and required for their ransom four blankets. The fort is now strong. Good deer skins are obtained here.
Fort M‘Loughlin, in latitude 25° 5' N., on the north-west coast, near Millbank Sound, was formed in 1837, on one of the most rugged spots imaginable. By great and unwearied exertions for several years in blasting, levelling, and gravelling, the Company's officers have made a strong fort on a rock capable of holding out with 20 men, against all the Indians of the coast. An enclosed surface of three acres has been covered with sea-weed and made into a garden, producing potatoes, carrots, turnips, cabbages, &c.
A village of 500 of the Ballobola Indians, is close to the fort; and at first these savages were dangerous and troublesome, but they are now more subdued.
Previous to an investigation of other branches of the subject, it will be advisable to examine the proceedings of the Russian American Fur Company, whose territory includes all the Pacific coast and islands, north of 54° 40', and the whole of the continent west of 141°, the Asiatic coast of the Pacific north of 51°, the islands of the Kurile group to the south point, in 45° 50'. This extensive territory has been granted to a Russian American Fur Company, which was established under charter from the Emperor Paul, 8th July, 1799, with power to occupy and bring, under the dominion of Russia, all territories north or south of 55°, not previously occupied and placed under subjection by another nation. The Russian Company and Hudson's Bay Company were brought into collision, and the latter experienced considerable loss in their endeavours to prevent British territory and the adjacent regions being occupied by the Muscovites. In 1834, the Hudson's Bay Company expended several thousand pounds in an expedition to establish trading stations on the large river Stikine, in 56° 20'. The Russians resented by force this procedure of the Company, although England claimed the privilege of navigating the rivers flowing from the interior of the Continent to the Pacific, across the line of boundary established under the treaty of 1825. The British Government required redress for this infraction of the treaty; and after negotiation between the two Governments, and the two chartered Companies, it was agreed in 1839, that from 1st June, 1840, the Hudson's Bay Company should enjoy for ten years the exclusive use of the continent assigned to Russia, by Mr. Canning in 1825, and extending from 54° 40' north, to Cape Spenser, near 58, north, in consideration of the annual payment of 2,000 otter skins to the Russian American Company, whose head quarters are
at Sitka. The charter of the Russian Company was renewed in 1839, when they had 36 hunting and fishing establishments. Their stock bears a high premium.
Sitka, or New Archangel, founded in 1805, is a military station and the chief post of the Russian Fur Company. The fort mounts 16 short eighteen, and 42 long nine pounders, and there are about 300 officers and men. Most of the men and all the officers, although in the employ of the Company, receive pay and promotion from the Russian Government, while attached to the Company, in which the Emperor is a shareholder. The Company have 12 vessels, varying from 100 to 400 tons each, mounting 10 guns of different calibre.
About 12 of the Company's officers dine daily at the table of the Governor which is sumptuously served. There is a Greek Bishop with several Priests and Deacons, and also a Lutheran minister. There are schools for the children of Europeans and half-breeds.
Subordinate to Sitka, there is a smaller establishment of the same kind at Aliaska, which supplies one post in Bristol Bay, and three posts in Cook's Inlet, all connected with minor stations, in the interior. Another station in Norton Sound has its own inland dependencies. The Russian Company has also permanent forts or flying posts in the Aleutian and Kurile Islands, and a chain of agencies from Ochotsk, in Kamschatka, to St. Petersburgh, for the transmission of goods, &c. The distances are nearly thus in geographical miles: Petersburgh-to Moscow, 460; to Tobolsk, 1500; to Irkutsk, 1800; to Yakusk, 1500; to Ochotsk, 600; thence to Petropawlowsk, on the bay of Avatscha, 1300 miles.
The whole of the territories is divided into six Agencies, each controlled by the Governor-General, who resides at Sitka.
The inhabitants of the Kurile and Aleutian islands, and those of the large Island of Kodiak, are regarded as the immediate subjects of the Russian Company, in whose service, every man between 18 and 50 may be required to pass at least three years. The natives of the country, adjacent to the two great bays called Cook's Inlet and Prince William's Sound, are also under the control of the Company, and obliged to pay an annual tax in furs and skins. The other aborigines in the Russian territories are not allowed to trade with any people but those of the Russian
Company. In 1836, the number of Russians in the territories of the Company was 730; of native subjects, 1442 creoles ; and about 11,000 aborigines of the Kurile, Aleutian and Kodiak Islands,
When Sir G. Simpson visited Sitka, in 1842, the operations of the Company were becoming more extensive than they had hitherto been; the exclusive licence of trade had been extended for a further term of twenty years—the Direction was about to be remodelled, and generally an improved order of things was in progress. The Russian trade in furs is considerable, not only for the supply of Russia itself, but also for barter with the Chinese at Kiachta, on the frontiers of Tartary.
The trade of Sitka, in 1842, was estimated at 10,000 fur seals, 1000 sea otters, 12,000 beavers, 2500 land otters, foxes, and martens, and 20,000 sea-horse teeth.
Formerly the Russians killed the seal young or old, and at all times, to the number of 200,000 a-year, now they follow the example of the Hudson's Bay Company, and kill only such a limited number of males as have attained full growth.
The progress of Sitka in commerce is considerable. In April 1843, Sir G. Simpson found eleven vessels and two steamers in the harbour ; one, a steam tug, had its machinery cast and manufactured at Sitka. Steam pleasure boats, of two-horse power, have also been made there. The Alexander, of 300 tons, in which Sir G. Simpson made a voyage from Sitka to Ochotsk was fitted more like a man-of-war than a merchant vessel.
The proceedings of the Russian American Company appear to be guided by political as well as by commercial motives. In 1809 the Russian Minister informed the United States Government that the 'Russian Fur Company claimed the whole coast of America on the Pacific and the adjacent islands, from Behring's strait southward to and beyond the mouth of the Columbia river.' (Greenhow, p. 275.) An endeavour was also made by the Russians to occupy the Sandwich Islands. The Hudson's Bay Company materially aided Mr. Canning, in 1825, in the restriction of the Russians to their present northern territories.