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A Letter from Major Robert Carmichael-Smyth to His

The Straits of Fuca and Puget's Inlet


"It

can hardly be said that England has hitherto drawn any positive advantages from the possession of these provinces, if we place out of view the conveniences afforded during periods of war by the harbour of Halifax. But the negative advantage from them are evident, if we consider that the United Slates of America are greatly deficient in good harbours on the Atlantic coast, while Nova Scotia possesses, in addition to the magnificent harbour of Halifax, eleven ports, between it and Cape Canso, with sufficient depth of water for the largest ships of war."--_Clockmaker, 1841._

(7) "The necessity which is gradually developing itself for steam fleets in the Pacific, will open a mine of wealth to the inhabitants of the West Coast of America."--_Rev. C. G. Nicolay, 1846._

The same author, in speaking of the principal features of the Iron Bound Coast and Western Archipelago, in the centre of Vancouver's Island, the Straits of Fuca and Puget's Inlet, says, "Its maritime importance is entirely confined to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and southern extremity of Vancouver's Island. Here are presented a series of harbours unrivalled in quality and capacity, at least within the same limits; and here, as has been remarked, it is evident the future emporium of the Pacific, in West America will be found." And now that it has been settled that this magnificent strait and its series of harbours (this great emporium of West America)

is open to that great and enterprising nation, the people of the United States, as well as to ourselves, it becomes most important to us that we should, and quickly, open the best possible and shortest road to communicate with it.

"Alexander Mackenzie, who had risen to the station of a partner in that Company, and was even among them remarkable for his energy and activity both of body and mind, having, with others of the leading partners, imbibed very extensive views of the commercial importance and capabilities of Canada, and considering that the discovery of a passage by sea from the Atlantic to the Pacific would contribute greatly to open, and enlarge it, undertook the task of exploring the country to the north of the extreme point occupied by the fur traders."--_Rev. C. G. Nicolay._

In 1794 this enterprising man ascended to the principal water of the Mackenzie River, which he found to be a small lake situate in a deep Snowy Valley embosomed in woody mountains; he crossed a beaten path leading over a low ridge of land, of 817 paces in length, to another lake, situated in a valley about a quarter of a mile wide, with precipitous rocks on either side,--the head waters of the Frazers' River. On the 19th of July, he arrived where the river discharges itself into a narrow arm of the sea thus showing that a communication between the west and east of North America was open to mankind.

(8) I regret I cannot say when exactly, nor where, his Grace gave his opinion on this subject, and I regret this the more, because I cannot give his Grace's exact words; but of the fact I have no doubt, and I must only trust to your forbearance and memory when I cannot point to the day and place.

(9) "Not long since a very general ignorance prevailed respecting the Western Coast of North America, and no less general apathy."--_Rev. C. G. Nicolay, 1846._

(10) "Oh, Squire! if John Bull only knew the value of these colonies, he would be a great man, I tell you,--but he don't."--_Clockmaker, 1838._


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