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

Jim Taylor

Jim Taylor and Angus McLeod, packers living in Bella Coola, were accused of deliberately spreading smallpox among interior aboriginal peoples in a letter published by the British Colonist on June 13, 1864. The letter’s author, Alfred Waddington, suggested that, following the smallpox epidemic of 1862, the two men had recovered blankets buried with victims of smallpox and sold them back to aboriginal groups, thereby unleashing a second wave of the disease in the winter of 1863-64. This deliberate spread of smallpox, according to Waddington, was the primary cause of the Chilcotin War, not abuse on the part of his road crew. Shortly after the Waddington article appeared, a correspondent named G. Taylor submitted a reply, but the newspaper said it was “unfit” for publication.

While traveling through Bella Coola, the explorer Francis Poole wrote about his experiences with a man named Taylor, but there is no mention of smallpox-infested blankets. A British Columbian correspondent using the alias Verax (meaning “truth teller” in Latin) stated that it was McLeod and a man named Alexander Wallace who were responsible for deliberately spreading smallpox in the area and that the rest of the White community had punished the men for their actions.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History