« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
is to be found capable of accommodating vessels of even ordinary size, although there are many places where anchorage may be found, and where vessels could lie in safety under the lee of some island during storms from certain quarters. But within the nest, as it were, there are some of the most beautiful harbours in the world. There is among them a perfect network of channels, all sufficiently deep to be navigated by the largest vessels, and unobstructed by rocks, except in a few localities, which are marked on the chart.
“Of the entire area of the islands, it is estimated that about sixty square miles is arable land, and about eighty square miles is pastoral land, covered with nutritious grass, which retains its verdure nearly throughout the year. The remainder is principally covered with forests of the coniferous trees of that region, consisting of fir, pine, and cedar, which, on some portions of the islands, attain great size and beauty. Part of that which is described as arable and pastoral land is also timbered to some extent, and would necessarily have to be cleared before the soil could be cultivated. The islands are well watered by lakes and running streams. Although the portion of open country is small, yet, distributed over the whole group, are patches of prairie land ; smooth swelling slopes and mountain sides, covered with luxuriant grass to their summits, giving to the wild and solitary tracts a pleasingly rural aspect.
“ A noticeable feature in the topography of these islands is the peculiarity that the mountains at the northern end are almost universally the most elevated, and gradually diminish in height toward the south.
“Another striking feature is that the southern slopes are almost invariably destitute of timber, but are covered with a luxuriant grass. This peculiarity is so striking as to attract the attention of all who traverse these waters; and in the spring time and early summer, when the grass is green, and the flowers are in bloom, the prospect is enchanting.
“ The absence of trees in these localities may be attributed to the fact that the soil is very shallow, overlying masses of
rock, but sufficiently deep to sustain grass assisted by the direct rays of the sun. These islands are particularly adapted to raising of sheep, as has been fully deinonstrated by the Iuelson's Bay Company on San Juan Island. The mutton of Vancouver's and San Juan Islands is remarkable for its delicacy of flavour, which may be accounted for by the peculiar properties of the grazing.
“The same favourable circumstances exist in the other islands : a mild climate, absence of beasts of prey (except on Lopez Island), and the abundance of sweet nutritious grass, even to the summits of the mountains, during the entire year. The deer on the islands are found in mid-winter in most excellent condition. On San Juan Island the sheep increased so rapidly, it was difficult to find fresh pasturage for them near the Hudson's Bay Company's establishment. The average net weight of the sheep, when full grown and fat, is fifty pounds; of the fleece, three and a half pounds.
“ Coal and limestone are found on several of the islands.
“ Fisheries were formerly carried on at the several localities, and they could easily be made very productive and profitable.
“Trees, of great value for their timber and resinous properties, grow on all the larger islands.
“Although much of the land is mountainous, and only adapted to grazing purposes, these islands are as valuable, agriculturally, as the settled portions of Vancouver's Island, which they resemble in general character. (1)
“It might be mentioned, incidentally, that these islands, for the most part, belong to the Indians of the Washington Territory; the Lummies claiming Orcas, Blakely, Decatur, and part of Lopez; and the Clallams a part of San Juan. The whole inside of the north-eastern part of San Juan formerly belonged to a tribe kindred to the Luminies, and now extinct.
“ It is in a military and naval point of view, however,
(1) It is clear that these islands are “natural appendages” of Vancouver's Island, which they so narrowly resemble.
that this Archipelago possesses the greatest value, embracing, as it does, some of the finest harbours in the territory; commanding Bellingham Bay and Admiralty Inlet; and, in fact, forming the key to the whole of the Puget Sound district. The interior passages and bays are capable of being entirely closed by fortifications, which is not the case with our other possessions on the Sound; and the islands themselves command all the adjacent waters. They are, in fact, the only check upon the preponderance which the ownership of Vancouver's Island gives to Great Britain in this quarter.”
The island of San Juan (named by Capt. Wilkes during his survey Rodgers’ Island; and sometimes also called Bellevue Island), the largest, and, from its geographical position, the most important, of the group, has been described by the same United States official as follows )
“San Juan Island is the most western (?) of the Haro group, and has an area of about fifty-four square miles. Its greatest length is about fourteen and a half miles, its general shape being very irregular; the width varies at different localities, its widest part is about six and a half miles. Low ranges of hills trend along its eastern and western shores, those on the western side being the highest, Mount San Juan, in this range, having an elevation of about 1,000 feet. These ranges slope out towards the north, and there are no elevations of any consequence on the northern shore of the island. Between these hill ranges near the centre of the island, lies a basin-like country, gently undulating in its character. There are extensive prairies in several localities, and from the south end of the island to within a short distance of its northern extremity, focks can feed on green grass almost throughout the year. The greatest amount of arable land is found within the southern third of the island.
(") American State Papers, p. 136.
(3) This is not strictly true; Henry Island and Stuart Island lie to the west or north-west of San Juan.
“ Bellevue Prairie, situated on the lower end of the island, is about two miles long, by half a mile wide. Oak Prairie, which takes its name from the groves of oak scattered over it, containing about 1,000 acres, is bounded on the north and west by the hills along the west shore that extend across the island at its greatest width. Some of these hills are grassy to their summits, while others are more or less timbered.
“ Immediately north and west of these hills lies a beautiful valley, stretching towards the north end of the island. The southern end of this valley contains several hundred acres of meadow land, but on the north it is heavily timbered. The land contained in it is all apparently fertile, and around it the hills are covered with a luxuriant growth of grass. This valley lies imme liately opposite to Henry Island, and adjacent to good harbours.
“The north end of the island contains much good land, now covered by a heavy forest, but when divested of this, can be brought into profitable cultivation. In this region, there is a grove of large cedars, very valuable for timber.
“One third of the entire area of this island, or about 12,000 acres, is well adapted to cultivation, and nearly all the remainder to pastoral purposes.
The soil of the arable portions is excellent, with the exception of Bellevue Prairie, which is so:newhat gravelly.
“ Upon this island are at least four beautiful lakes. From some of these flow rivulets of sufficient size and force to produce good water power, but as yet there are no induce. ments for the erection of mills, as the timber of the adjacent stores of Puget Sound, is superior to that of the island, the latter having all more or less suffered from frequent conflagrations ; but in a few years more, when the husbandman shall begin to receive returns for his labours in rich crops of grain, some of these sites may be selected for erecting mills to prepare the produce for distant markets. A circumstance of great importance in connection with this island is the existence upon it of extensive deposits of limestone. It is found near the southern end, in the vicinity of the Hudson's Bay
Company's Station. On the western shore, near the base of Mount San Juan, immense masses raised up into perpendicular walls, are seen at several localities, covering an area of many acres.
The north-eastern corner of the island is coniposed of an extensive ledge of the same material. A very small island (O'Neal's), lying close to the north-east end of San Juan Island, containing only a few acres, is composed almost entirely of limestone. Tested by acid and burning, it proved to be of superior quality ; it exists in sufficient quantities not only for lime, but might be profitably quarried for building stone. The value of these deposits can better be appreciated from the fact, that up to the time of the discovery of limestone on this island, it was not known to exist at any point on Puget Sound, within United States territory,(') and for building purposes it was necessary to procure all the lime used from California or Vancouver's Island. In the vicinity of the southern end of the island, are, perhaps, the best fishing grounds on Puget Sound. Great quantities of halibut, cod-fish, and salmon, are taken by the numerous tribes of Indians, who, at proper seasons, resort to this vicinity for the purpose of fishing. The Hudson's Bay Company were formerly in the habit of putting up at this place from 2,000 to 3,000 barrels of salmon alone, which were bought from the natives. Persons supplied with the proper appliances for carrying on a fishery would find it a very profitable vocation.
“ At the southern end of the island there is a large bay, known as Ontario Roads, where vessels are well protected from the prevailing storms of this region, the water near the shore is not deep, and should it ever be desirable to build a wharf at this point, it would require one several thousand feet in length to reach three fathoms in low water. The entrance to this roadstead, from the Straits of Fuca, is through a very deep channel, known as Little Belt Passage, (2) separating this island from Lopez Island. It is a very convenient and
(*) This may be noticed as evidence that these islands are “natural appendages” of Vancouver's Island, rather than of the mainland, their geological formation being identical with that of the former.
(3) Through this passage the compromise boundary line would run.