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

Kennedy to Cardwell, No. 84, Miscellaneous

8 October 1864

1. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch No. 29 of the 1st August 1864 in reference to former Despatches on the subject of the Bute Inlet and Bentinck Arm massacres, and requesting to know what steps if any were taken by the Government of this Colony or by Mr. Waddington or his Agents to provide either directly or through Governor Seymour for the safety of the second party who were murdered on the Bentinck Arm route.

2. I will shortly state the facts as far as I know them.

3. On Wednesday 11th May a coasting steamer arrived from Nanaimo bringing intelligence of the massacre at Bute Inlet, together with the three survivors two of whom were wounded.

4. The wounded men were immediately removed to the Hospital and the particulars of the murders elicited by the Police.

5. On reviewing their Report I immediately directed Mr. Wood, a barrister then acting for the Stipendiary Magistrate (who was confined to his bed) to proceed to the Hospital and take the depositions of the wounded men which occupied the remainder of that day (the 11th) and a great part of the night in completing.

6. I enclosed the Depositions so taken without delay to Governor Seymour, and sent them for transmission to New Westminster by a steamer which was advertised to sail on the following morning, Thursday 12th May.

7. My letter was returned to me on the same afternoon with an intimation that the sailing of the steamer was unavoidably postponed till Friday morning the 13th May when it was sent.

8. On that day Mr. Waddington at my request proceeded in the same steamer to afford Governor Seymour any additional information in his power.

9. I at the same time cordially tendered my services to Governor Seymour and suggested that parties of volunteers (the only force at my disposal) should be sent simultaneously from New Westminster to Alexandria, and from Vancouver Island to Bute Inlet and Bentinck Arm, and offering to find volunteers for the two latter expeditions.

10. I received a private note from Governor Seymour in reply which I enclose dated the 17th and 18th May which explains itself. You will observe from this letter, that Governor Seymour was in communication with Sir James Douglas who was residing here but did not* communicate with me, and also that Mr. Waddington at Governor Seymour's request proceeded to Bute Inlet where his presence was useless to save life instead of proceeding to Bentinck Arm where there were lives still (as far as we then knew) which might by possibility have been saved.

11. You will thus observe that I sent forward the information I received to Governor Seymour at the earliest moment in my power and sent Mr. Waddington also by the same opportunity.

12. The accompanying letter from Mr. Waddington in reply to my inquiries explains his own conduct, and is I believe strictly in accordance with truth.

13. I will not conceal from you (what your Despatch confirms) that some unworthy attempts were at the time made to attach blame to me in this matter, and some vituperative articles (attributed to an officer lately connected with this Government in a double sense) were published in a violent partizan newspaper having that tendency. It will be for you to judge from the foregoing statement how far they were well founded.

14. The statements adverted to being wholly devoid of truth I did not see it expedient to contradict them and thereby raise a discussion which could only result in an increase of the ill-feeling which unhappily existed between the two Colonies.

15. It was my duty as well as desire to render Governor Seymour and Mr. Waddington all the aid in my power and this I did cordially and earnestly as far as my authority and the means at my disposal would permit.

16. With the information now before me I do not believe it would have been possible to avert the unhappy fate of the Bentinck Arm party after the receipt of the intelligence of the Bute Inlet murders. The distance, time, and insufficient means at the disposal of either Government I think prove this. But if such possibility did exist the case of these unhappy men is only one of the miscarriages which have arisen, and will arise from a divided authority in dealing with Indians who migrate between both Colonies.

17. I enclose herewith two local newspapers of the 12th and 29th May which contain particulars and comments upon these melancholy occurrences. I also enclose a copy of Mr. Waddington's depositions which I sent to Governor Seymour together with those of the survivors of the Bute Inlet party, which you will observe discouraged the hope of saving the Bentinck Arm party at the time those depositions were taken namely, the 11th May.

>I have etc.

* This appears startling at first sight But I suppose that if any [choice?] would be accounted the [best?] acceptable advisor about managing Indians it must have been Sir J. Douglas with his long experience--the tone of the private note to Mr. Kennedy is thoroughly friendly.

Mr. Cardwell

This will be for Your Consideration.

TFE 29/11


Seymour to Kennedy, 17 and 18 May 1864, expressing thanks for the offer of assistance and reporting in detail on his own plans with regard to investigation of the tragedy.

Alfred Waddington to Henry Wakeford, Acting Colonial Secretary, 8 October 1864, providing "a correct statement of what I did in respect to the Bute Inlet murders."

Newspaper clippings (two), [[underline]] The Daily Chronicle[[/]], 12 May 1864, reporting the Indian massacre at Bute Inlet.

Newspaper clipping, [[underline]] The Daily Chronicle[[/]], 29 May 1864, extensive report on the double tragedy at Bute Inlet and Bentinck's Arm.

Deposition of Alfred Waddington, 11 May 1864, describing his past expeditions into Bute Inlet and his relationship with the natives, and including a postscript detailing his concerns for a second party recently sent up Bentinck Arm.


Draft reply, Cardwell to Kennedy, No. 68, 20 December 1864.

Source: Great Britain Public Record Office, Colonial Office Records, CO 305/23, p. 325, 10964, Arthur E. Kennedy, Letter to Cardwell, No. 84, Miscellaneous, sent October 8, 1864, received November 29, 1864.

Return to parent page

Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History