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

William Brewster

William Brewster was the foreman of Waddington’s road crew. He had become familiar to the Tsilhqot’in people as an employer for the construction of the Bute Inlet trail. Some evidence exists that he had a disagreement with his Tsilhqot’in employees who believed that being fed was part of their employment. Brewster, however, disagreed, preferring to provide his workers with munitions and blankets.

On April 30, 1864, the day the road crew was attacked, Brewster was with the advance camp blazing a trail for the main party. He was accompanied by four men: Baptiste Demarest, James Gaudet, John Clarke, and a Homathco Indian boy known as George. He was about 200 yards ahead of the main party when they were fired on. With the exception of George, every member of the advance party was killed by Tsilhqot’in warriors. The men mustered little resistance partly because Brewster refused to arm his workers as Waddington had advised.

The bodies of the road crew were discovered during the inquest held by Chartres Brew and Thomas Elwyn. Brewster was found naked with a bullet through his head which had also been smashed and axed. His body, unlike the others, had been mutilated – his heart and intestines had been torn out – suggesting that the Tsilhqot’in resented him more than the others who were killed.

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Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History