Vancouver Island; Its Physical Geography, Climate, and Mineral Resources

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  • Vancouver Island; Its Physical Geography, Climate, and Mineral ResourcesAuthor(s): C. ForbesSource: Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 8, No. 3 (1863 - 1864),pp. 83-87Published by: Wiley on behalf of The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of BritishGeographers)Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1798830 .Accessed: 14/05/2014 14:01

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  • 8ws 8ws BI\RCH 14. 1SG4.] DR. FORBES ON VANCOUVER

    IStANTD. BI\RCH 14. 1SG4.] DR. FORBES

    ON VANCOUVER IStANTD.

    in lS14, on rollers; presented by Sir l-'. I. Murchison. Adas

    l)y

    H. 3Ioll, on 62 sheets; presented by S, }I. Drach, Esq. World,

    on

    AIercator's projection (printed ill colours by Berghaus and

    Stul1)-

    nagel); by purchase. Atlas-Fortified Towns of Europe, on 25

    sheets, lS65; by purchase. Africa F;ve Views, coloured,

    of Free

    Town, Sierra LeoIle (Ackerman); by purchase. Atlas Zur In-

    dustrie uncl Halldelsgeographie, 3 sheets; by Drs. Elein alld Lange.

    NetTlerlallds l0 sheets of tl1e Topographical Atlas; presented

    by

    Chev. T. Swart, H.C.X.R.G.S. Continuation of the Ordnance Survey

    Maps.

    EXHIBITIONS. Three larger-sized Photographs to illustrie L;eut.

    Palmer's Paper, riz.:-'lown of Victoria, Vancouser Island;

    Trea-

    sury and Assay Offices, New AVestminster, British Columbia;

    Holy

    Tlinity Church, Nent West1ninster, British Columbia.

    The first Papez read was

    " Trcsncouver lslcl11d; its Physical Geograp7lyf Climate, and Altnexal

    Resomrces.' By Or. C. EORBES, R.N.

    AFrEnX noticing the contradictortr statements ctlrrent as to ourPacific

    colonies in North Alnelica, the Paper deseribed the ablmpt character

    of the seaboard scenely of Vancounter, alternating with numerolls

    fiord-like hart)oltrs that had beell worn in the metamorphic and trap

    rocks which fo1m the basis of the island. The inland or rlorth-eastem

    shore, on tlle othel halld, is 2ll0re undulating, attesting the

    exis-

    tence of sedimentary locks, chiefly carboniferous sandstone

    witll

    occasional belts of limestone. The face of the country is almost

    11nifOrm1Y COzezed Wit11 denSe fOreSt; bUt t1saCtS Of giaSS-1and

    are

    OCCaSiOna11Y met Wit11^ and 10Ve1Y 1akeS and ta1mS abOUnd. T?e

    TerY irregU1ar COnfigUratiOn O? the COaSt PreC1UdeS the POS;Sibi1itY

    Of

    a nN-;gabie 1iVe1 beiDg FOUnd anYWheie thrOUghOUt {.he ;S1And;

    What St1 eaXnS there are bCiNg USUa11Y \inter-tOIrentEX drY in

    SUE

    mer, bUt With a 1ittie manageinent CAPab1e Of SUPP1Sing W&ter-POWer

    t1110U^>110Ut the Sear TOSSib1Y tObe UtiiiSed in t11e fUtU1e fOr

    EUC11

    needed iirigatiOn Of many PO1tiOnS. OW;ng tO the C1aS-SUbSOi1

    t11eTe Are nUInE10TlS SPriNgS CV Of eXCe1Tent W&ter."

    After gianCing at the geO10giCa1 StrUCtUre Qf t1Re iS1and the SAin

    FeatUre Of WhiCh ;S t}1at it iS CCCUPied {hrOUghOUt aimOSt ;tS

    WhO10

    ]ength bY a baCkbONe Of traP, the aTlthOr POinted1Y Ca11S attentiOn

    tO Certain StrOnglY-nRarked featl1reS Of g1aC1a1 ?CtiOB, \\rhere iCe-

    drift haS SCOOPed OUt the hara traP-rOOk and dePOSited enORmOTIS

    areaS Of hEaP aBd g1Anit1C bOU1de1S C11;efIS At t11O SOUth-eaSter11

    in lS14, on rollers; presented by Sir l-'. I. Murchison. Adas

    l)y

    H. 3Ioll, on 62 sheets; presented by S, }I. Drach, Esq. World,

    on

    AIercator's projection (printed ill colours by Berghaus and

    Stul1)-

    nagel); by purchase. Atlas-Fortified Towns of Europe, on 25

    sheets, lS65; by purchase. Africa F;ve Views, coloured,

    of Free

    Town, Sierra LeoIle (Ackerman); by purchase. Atlas Zur In-

    dustrie uncl Halldelsgeographie, 3 sheets; by Drs. Elein alld Lange.

    NetTlerlallds l0 sheets of tl1e Topographical Atlas; presented

    by

    Chev. T. Swart, H.C.X.R.G.S. Continuation of the Ordnance Survey

    Maps.

    EXHIBITIONS. Three larger-sized Photographs to illustrie L;eut.

    Palmer's Paper, riz.:-'lown of Victoria, Vancouser Island;

    Trea-

    sury and Assay Offices, New AVestminster, British Columbia;

    Holy

    Tlinity Church, Nent West1ninster, British Columbia.

    The first Papez read was

    " Trcsncouver lslcl11d; its Physical Geograp7lyf Climate, and Altnexal

    Resomrces.' By Or. C. EORBES, R.N.

    AFrEnX noticing the contradictortr statements ctlrrent as to ourPacific

    colonies in North Alnelica, the Paper deseribed the ablmpt character

    of the seaboard scenely of Vancounter, alternating with numerolls

    fiord-like hart)oltrs that had beell worn in the metamorphic and trap

    rocks which fo1m the basis of the island. The inland or rlorth-eastem

    shore, on tlle othel halld, is 2ll0re undulating, attesting the

    exis-

    tence of sedimentary locks, chiefly carboniferous sandstone

    witll

    occasional belts of limestone. The face of the country is almost

    11nifOrm1Y COzezed Wit11 denSe fOreSt; bUt t1saCtS Of giaSS-1and

    are

    OCCaSiOna11Y met Wit11^ and 10Ve1Y 1akeS and ta1mS abOUnd. T?e

    TerY irregU1ar COnfigUratiOn O? the COaSt PreC1UdeS the POS;Sibi1itY

    Of

    a nN-;gabie 1iVe1 beiDg FOUnd anYWheie thrOUghOUt {.he ;S1And;

    What St1 eaXnS there are bCiNg USUa11Y \inter-tOIrentEX drY in

    SUE

    mer, bUt With a 1ittie manageinent CAPab1e Of SUPP1Sing W&ter-POWer

    t1110U^>110Ut the Sear TOSSib1Y tObe UtiiiSed in t11e fUtU1e fOr

    EUC11

    needed iirigatiOn Of many PO1tiOnS. OW;ng tO the C1aS-SUbSOi1

    t11eTe Are nUInE10TlS SPriNgS CV Of eXCe1Tent W&ter."

    After gianCing at the geO10giCa1 StrUCtUre Qf t1Re iS1and the SAin

    FeatUre Of WhiCh ;S t}1at it iS CCCUPied {hrOUghOUt aimOSt ;tS

    WhO10

    ]ength bY a baCkbONe Of traP, the aTlthOr POinted1Y Ca11S attentiOn

    tO Certain StrOnglY-nRarked featl1reS Of g1aC1a1 ?CtiOB, \\rhere iCe-

    drift haS SCOOPed OUt the hara traP-rOOk and dePOSited enORmOTIS

    areaS Of hEaP aBd g1Anit1C bOU1de1S C11;efIS At t11O SOUth-eaSter11

    This content downloaded from 91.229.248.139 on Wed, 14 May 2014 14:01:57 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

    http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

  • DR. FORBES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND. [AIARCH 14,1864. 84

    extreluity of the island. These and their localized cognates furnish ts:cellent building material in unlimited quantities.

    The soils are:-1. Coarse gravel, bearing fine timber. 2. A calcareous leam of good quality, producing excellent crops of vege- tables, and suitable for clover. 3. A tich dark-brown humus, which only requires subsoil drainage to produce the very heaviest crops of wheat and celeals.

    As to hydrography, Dr. Forbes cited as exhallstive the adlairable ' Sailing Directions ' of Captain Richards, the present Hydrographe to the Admiralty, who has dwelt at great length upon the tidal irre gularities of the sound separating Vancotlver from the mainland. The author then inited attention to the very low temperature throughout the year of this portion of the Pacific, owing to the pre- valence of Arctic-cllrrerlts, and the numerous rivers fed by mo]ten snows that debouch into it; its boreal character being indicated by the presence of numerous marine-shells, hitherto supposed to be confined to the Arctic zone. Along the western shore extends a thain of ballks, stoclXed with abundance of excellent fish.

    The climate of Vancouver Island in its general thermal collditions soluewhat resembles that of England; but is lnodified by the low temperatllre of the ocean and the snowy mountain-chains, while even to the south-east the Olympus Range of Washington (U.S.) Territory, which run east and west, presents to the colony a northern aspect usually covered with snow. The restllt is that, {ill as late as Midsuinmer day, there is a bright clear atmosphere witl1 cold winds. The winter-frosts are occasionally very severe, but, as a rllle, what is called an open winter is the characteristic of ATancourer some- what resembling that of the West of England. In summer the winds are usually south-west and north-west;, a1ld moze rarely north; the latter hot and dry, owing to thei1 having traversed the parched and heated soil. Tl1e autun1n is of greater duration than that of Europe, in consequence of the Indian stlmmer prolonging it. In brief there are two seasons? passably learked, a dry and xvet, the lleaviest rainAll invariabl- occurring at night. The whole surface may be roughly estimated at 12,000,000 acres (abollt four times the area of Yorkshire), of which only 1,000,000 are available for the stock- breeder and agriculturist. The most important position commer- cially and strategically is in Tooke district, ablltting Oll San Juan de Fuca Straits, where the employment of a iw steam-tugs would greaily facilitate the approach to one of the most commodious land- locked harbours on the entire coast,

    Anot.her available harbou1 which can be entered at all times, and possesses excellent holding ground, i.s Esquimalt :[3ay, Tvhich is

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  • MARCII 14,1864.] DR. FORBES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND. 85

    admirably situated to form the head-quarters of the Royal Naval force in the Pacific.

    After describing Victoria, the present capital, and its harbour, which being onlr accessible for large Tessels at or near high-water, vhile the anchorage outside is unsafe-makes the site of the capital anything but well-chosen, the author records his opinion in favour of a shorE canal being constructed to connect it with Esquimalt Harbour already described.

    The Paper then glanced at the attelupts that have been made to open lIp a new zoute by the Sound, and up some of the numerous lateral Sords, to the Gold District, instead of the present difficult routo up the Fraser. One of these is by :Bentinck Arm, the othet by Bute Inlet; but the officer detached reported unfavourably against both, though adrnitting that, being pressed for time, he had scant opportunity for examining whether a mole available route might ilOt exist. Should either of these be opened, Nanaimo, situate on a land-locked bay of the Gulf of Georgia, would become the great centre of busixless. The carboniferous deposit llere has beeIl proved by boring to extend to the depth of at least 84 feet, in which two thin sealns of coal xvere passe(l throug;h; and a good vein of copper has been struck, and is being worked. As, moreover, this point commands both these loutes, it will become a great commercial station, whence stealn-lines would radiate to the Russian settlements, and all the principal settlements of the Colony, as they could coal here at the pit-mouth. One single seam irregu- larly worked by the Hudson's Bay Company, with t.heir scanty staff, has yielded 63,154 tons, valued at 8 dollars per ton, or 101,0461. The price is now 6 dollars at the pit-mouth, but a far larger quantity is being raised of late; 22,000 tons the filst year, chiefly for San Flan- cisco; and vessels of large size (one of 1500 tons) noav frequent a harbour, where, except Her Majesty's ships, a few slnall trading- schooners were once the largest craft. The coal is hard and lustrous. This seam, which has been lUOSt favourably reported on by analytical geologists and practical men, is 3 ft. 10 in. thick, and has been found over an area which, supposing it preserves the same average, implies a supply of at least 1,000,000 tons. Beneath there are a 5 ft. seam and a 2 ft. 6 in. seam, the uppernlost being found at a depth of 60 fathoms. Another carboniferous seanl, possibly the same as that of Wantimo, occurs at the extreme north-west point of the island, where Johnson' Straits, full of excellent anchorage for steamers, lose thetn- selves in the Pacific; the country immediately to the south being a kind of prairie-land, little explored, and very imperfectly surveyed. The strata of coal lie here horizontally.

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  • DR. FORBES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND. [MARCH 14, 1864. 8G

    Somewhat similar featllres occur at int.ervals along even the precipitous west coast, w:here a Company is working another seam of coal.

    Clayoquot Sound d;Sers fionl all otllels in being beset at its entrance by banks and shoals, and has a sandJr bottom instead of the usual mud. Barclay Sound is studded with islands aSording good anchorage. At the upper end is a remalkable cleft} kllown as Alberni Ganal, giving passage to the olltlet of a chain of lakes, on a level plateau; on the opposite descent from which lies at a short distance, Wanaimo, already lnentio:ned. At Alberni about 1 S,000,000 superficial feet of Douglas pine and other excellent planking} besides tast rlumbels of ships' spars, are turned Ollt here by one firtn alone (a London one), which has the honour of opening up to commerce the splendid timber of the region. To give an idea of the amount of the timber-trade here, it Inay suffice to state that in the first nine lYlonths of 1863, no fewer than 13,500 tons of shipping cleared hence with tImber; the Americans claiming 7280. The markets were widely scattered; Europe, (:hina, Alanilla, and Chili being among those e:aumerated, besides the ordinaly local demand. Ship-building, fish-curing, furs, oil, &c., constittlte the staple branches of commerce from Barclay Sound.

    Agriculture usually follows the same four-cours0 rotation as in England and the green crops are alulost identical. The wheat averages 25 to 30 bushels to the acre.

    There is ample eluployment for the rod and gun, and the hunter (as distinguished froIn the sportsman) will find ill the forest plent.y of opportunity for proving his prowess upon the puma, the bear, and the wolf, besides elk and variorls kinds of deel. The sall:non here vill not, according to Dr. :E5orbes, r;se to the fly.

    The Paper concluded by emphatically disclaiming tllat mere falm- intw could for tnany years to come be regarded as a money-making speculation; but ttll...

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