EVENTS IN THE MAKING
Although all was quiet in our valley in those far-off days when fur was king, important events were in the making. The setting of the boundary in 1846 at the 49th parallel was not only an event in point of time, but the beginning of developments which were to continue with important results. First, was the impetus it gave to discovery north of the Line, so that an all-red route might be assured. The Hudson’s Bay post established in Keremeos in 1860 lasted only twelve years, but during this time were the beginnings of ranching, farming and fruit growing which are today the mainstay of the lower valley with Keremeos, Cawston and Ollala as its centres. Another result of the award was the appointing of a commission to survey and mark the dividing line between British and American territory.
The joint British and American commission consisted of statesmen, scientists, surveyors, axemen and cooks. The work of determining the boundary line, and marking it, lasted from 1858-1861. In 1859 the Line was marked from the Skagit to the Columbia and this included Similkameen. Markers are officially described as monuments, and are spaced at regular distances. Camps were established at the Ashnola and Pasayton rivers, with Captains Haig and Darrah in charge. They left these camps on 4 June, and reached Osoyoos two weeks later.
Lieutenant Charles W. Wilson, secretary to the Commission, notes in his diary for August, 1860, fording the Similkameen River above Keremeos: “We travelled up the much talked of valley of the Similkameen & crossing it about 3 miles below the mouth of the Ashtnolon camped on the bank having made about 16 miles. The valley is very pretty but from having heard so much about it I was disappointed; the finest part of the valley was occupied this spring by the Hudson’s Bay Company & we found a (French) Canadian half breed in charge, he had some cows & a large number of oxen so that we had a good drink of milk a thing not be despised in this part of the world. The Canadian had just gathered in his harvest; the wheat, the first grown in the valley, looked very well as also did the potatoes & other vegetables; from the farm an Indian hunter joined us & accompanied us into the mountains on his way to hunt; just where we forded the river we passed the wooden cross erected over the graves of our three men who were drowned when (Captain) Haig (Astronomer to the Commission) crossed over.”
The Boundary treaty was signed on 15 June, 1846. A century later this event was celebrated at many points along the Line by people from both sides renewing vows of peace and friendship at the border. The Okanagan-Similkameen celebration was held at the border point between Osoyoos and Oroville. Addressing the thousands who gathered on that occasion, Dr. R.R. Laird, M.L.A. (Liberal) for Similkameen, said “We are children of a common mother.” There was a feast of oratory, and other items that usually accompany such celebrations.
The “monuments” along the international boundary that are of special interest to Similkameen are numbered (west to east) 78 to 83. Princeton District Forester, J.H. Dearing, informs us that the Look-out at Monument 83 is staffed by the American Forestry Department.
In 1941, finding it easier to arrive at the scene of serious forest fires along the boundary, more than fifty American fire fighters travelled over the Hope Road on Sunday, 20 July. They had left Montana the previous evening with full equipment. In addition, were several truck-loads of mules. Of course, the Hope-Princeton highway was still in the making then (it was not opened till 2 November, 1949), and the big busses in which the men travelled experienced some difficulty negotiating Copper Creek hill. Some distance beyond this point the Hope Road is within a few miles of the international boundary. At the point nearest the border the fire fighters left their busses, and hiked south to the border.
SHADES OF SHERMAN
We believe that this was the first time an American force had travelled the Hope Road since General Sherman passed through British Columbia to the coast with an escort of cavalry in the fall of 1883. At that time, General William Tecumseh Sherman was a world-famous commander of men. His name was connected with the famous 300-mile march through Georgia, “from Atlanta to the sea” in 1864 during the American civil war. He was a familiar figure on both sides of the border. Both Mrs. Kruger, and Mrs. S.L. Allison had many stories to tell of him and his men. He visited the Allisons here, and left some prized souvenirs.
There had been trouble in 1883 across the Line between the American Government and the Nez Perces Indians, and General Sherman had been sent west with a troop of cavalry to restore order. The U.S. Government at one time planned to build a fort at Oroville, Washington.
Mrs. Kruger described the General as a modest, unassuming man, who permitted a degree of familiarity on the part of this officers which a lesser man would have found inconvenient.
When he crossed the Hope Trail in 1883 he had come from Coeur d’Alene, and Osoyoos, and had with him an escort of 25 mounted men. At Hope he was met by Andrew Onderdonk who was at that time in charge of a section of C.P.R. construction. The escort returned over the trail to Osoyoos, but General Sherman travelled from Hope to Victoria on the steamer “Western Slope.” At the capital city he stayed in the old Driard Hotel, and called on Lieutenant-Governor Cornwall. From Esquimalt he sailed on the U.S.N. “Walcott,” to Port Townsend. He retired the following year, and died in 1891 in his 71st year. The famous general left a kindly memory wherever he travelled on this side of the border.
A NOTE ON GEOLOGY
H. Bauerman, geologist to the Boundary Commission, did geological work in the southern portion of Similkameen in 1859-61 but his report was not printed till 1884. He explored along the Hope and Pasayton trails. Dr. G.M. Dawson covered much the same ground in 1877 and again in 1878. This was the last work done in this district by the Dominion Geological Survey till Charles Camsell made his survey in 1906. In 1901, W.F. Robertson, provincial mineralogist, examined and reported on Princeton and Copper Mountain districts. The same year the International Boundary Survey commenced a topographical map of the boundary belt. Dr. R.A. Daly was Canadian geologist to this Commission. Subsequent work is recorded by Camsell in his reports on Hedley and Tulameen, issued in 1910 and 1913 respectively.
In his report Bauerman notes the presence of Chinamen panning for gold along the Similkameen, and this must serve as introduction to our next chapter which deals with the search for gold.