The Attraction of the South.


1858, Fort Victoria and a shifting of values.


From A Pour of Rain, by Helen Meilleur, 1980. "Stories from a West Coast Fort." based on the log book of the fur trading fort at Port Simpson.
In the 1850's Fort Victoria's fur prices were higher than those allowed in the north and the rambunctious, muddy little settlement offered new attractions to the natives - almost all demoralizing. In addition, liquor was lavishly available to the Indians in the adjacent American territory. The six-hundred-mile canoe trips satisfied the Indian's nomadic urge and loosed waves of coastal plundering. Here are a few of many journal references to the lure ofVictoria:

May 14, 1855 - "Six Kygarnie Canoes started for Victoria and Nisqually (near Tacoma, WA). About 60 women went in them."

May 23, 1855 - "25 canoes of Tsimsheans started for Milbank and Victoria, half of them come back here and half to on to Victoria with the Fur they obtain at Milbank. Six canoes of Nass people also started for Victoria. Never so many canoes went to the South as this year."

May 27, 1855 - "Most of the principal people in camp drunk and noisy. Rum form Victoria."

February 3, 1856 - "Our Indians will now soon make a start for Victoria, report says that at least one half of the Tsimsheans will leave this for Victoria between this date and 1st April [just at the time of the oolichan fishery.]"

May 6, 1856 - "Four canoes of Chatsinas and Kygarnies arrived from Victoria full of property plundered from the Americans and others."

June 9, 1856 - "Six canoes of Tsimsheans arrived from Victoria report that some Tsimsheans have been killed at Victoria and that "Estemele" had also been killed or taken prisoner with all his party by the Nicaltoes.... The canoes are thirteen days from Victoria."

June 22, 1856 - "Our men most all drunk, They get Rum from the Indians outside. It is now brought here in Canoes from Victoria by Casks... Yates himself would stare at the cargoes that come here from Victoria."

February 9, 1859 - "About 19 Canoes started for Victoria one half of the Crews composed of women, lots of them not more than nine years of age going to prostitute themselves at Victoria and in the American Territory."


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