We do not know his name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War

Waddington to the Colonial Secretary of Vancouver Island

Victoria, October 5th 1864

To the Colonial Secretary of Vancouver Island


I answer to the letter of the 7th Inst.. You will find the following to be a correct Statement of what I did in respect to the Bute Inlet Murders.

The principal Massacre (for there were four district ones) took place April 30th, just before daylight. I was apprised of it in Victoria early in the Morning of May 11th on the arrival of the steamer Emily Harris which brought down the only three men who had survived, two of them severely wounded, and one a cripple for life.

I attended these two men to the Hospital, and then immediately waited on Governor Kennedy to give him what information I could; and at his request decided to go to New Westminster and see Governor Seymour who alone had power to act. The Hudson Bay Co's steamer was to leave next Morning and in the afternoon the sick men and myself made our depositions before the Magistrate at the Hospital. In my deposition I particularly stated my fears for McDonalds party. Owing to some unfortunate circumstance the steamer did not leave the next Morning and a day was thus lost; we left however on Friday May 13th at 12 of and reached New Westminster at 9 p.m. I accompanied the despatches, which were delivered the same Evening to Governor Seymour and I received a note requesting me to be with him at 8 of next Morning. The Executive Council was to meet at 11.

The next Morning I took the plans and Surveys of the Bute Inlet route and surrounding country with me. Lord Gilford, Commander of the "Tribune" (which had just come up to New Westminster) was present and His Excellency asked me what were my views as to the best means of capturing the murderers, after some discussion I suggested:

1st An Expedition from Alexandria of not less than 150 men, so as to be able to form detachments capable of scouring the Country and hindering the Indians from frequenting their fishing grounds, until they gave up the Murderers.

2nd An observation Corps at Bute Inlet to keep the Indians in awe, proceed to the scene of the massacre, ascertain if there were any Survivors and inter the Dead. But I observed that as the Trail was worked opened, it would be next to impossible to proceed further, or establish a line of operations on this route.

3rd An observation Corps to be Sent forthwith to Bentinck Arm to save McDonalds party, if it were still time, Capture the unpunished Indians who committed the murders there two [Years?] before, and protect the settlers at the Head of the Inlet; for I stated my conviction contrary to the Governors opinion, that the rising of the Indians was a General one and that they would murder all the whitemen they could meet with; which the Sequel has proved to be true.

Governor Seymour listened quietly to these propositions, but when I came to speak of the Expedition to Bentinck Arm, he turned to Lord Gilford and said "unfortunately there is no vessel disposable; to which Lord Gilford nodded a silent assent and after a short pause I added "Well that is most unfortunate." It would have been out of place for me to say more, and shortly after I retired.

In the course of the day a Company of 25 Volunteers was enrolled for Bute Inlet, to leave in the Evening by the Gunboat "Forward." I had placed my pack horses and all my stores at Bute Inlet at the Governors disposal, and at his request I agreed to send the Expedition which I did to Bute Inlet and 40 miles up the Trail to the scene of the Massacre and back. I returned to New Westminster on the "Forward" and again saw His Excellency June 9th but since then I have never been consulted, and have only learned what has taken place by the Public Prints. The "Sutlej" was sent up to Bella Coola, Bentinck Arm, soon afterwards and arrived there June 20th just in time to save the lives of the Settlers, and no more.

To resume: the Principal massacre was known in Victoria May 11th and my interview with Governor Seymour was on 13th. McDonald left Bella Coola on 20th Inst. and he and his party were assailed and massacred 75 miles up the Trail May 31st. Now Bella Coola is little more than two days distance per steamer from New Westminster and as things happened, if the Governor [illegible] had immediately chartered a Steamer in Victoria, there can be no doubt that the poor men would have been saved, and a fresh insult prevented. Unfortunately the Government appeared to be unwilling to have any assistance from Vancouver Island, or to be under any obligation to myself. As far as I was concerned I did everything in my power to save McDonald; I made the Government aware of the danger, I made Every suggestion I decently could, and I could do no more.

I have the honor to be, Sir
Your obedient humble servant.
(signed) Alfred Waddington

[Have?] copy
Henry Wakeford
Acting Colonial Secretary

Source: BCA, Colonial Correspondence, GR-1372, F1809, Mflm B-1372, Alfred Waddington, Letter to the Colonial Secretary of Vancouver Island, October 5, 1864.

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