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

The Causes of the Bute Massacre

Daily British Colonist, June 28, 1864.

Mr. Waddington has requested us to published the following letter which he has just received, together with his accompanying remarks.

New Westminster, B.C., June 21st, 1864.

In your letter to the Colonist dated June 13th, relating to the causes of the massacre of the unfortunate people at Bute Inlet, I observe a paragraph mentioning a certain Mr. N.

It is difficult to correct an assertion not put “in propria persona” as however there can be little doubt as to whom you thus accuse, I write privately in the belief that you might have given credit for what had been told you, and which you under a sore feeling repeated; I can thus forgive you for a perhaps unintentional jury.

Should no foundation lie in my surmise that the names “N.” and my own are identical a simple note to this effect will be grateful to me, and I shall feel sorry this letter has been sent. But if otherwise, and after your perusal of facts I hereafter mention I can scarcely doubt but you will devise a way to contradict what may lead to misapprehension; should I in both instances be mistaken in you, I can in no way consider you an honest man.

I left Alexandria in September ’61 with 3 pack horses; so much of provisions as would enable Mr. Cain (my companion) to return were only taken back; I remained at Bella Coola alone till the day after Christmas; the same year my provisions being exhausted I hired Indians to take me to Fort Rupert. The only articles I had to purchase from the Indians were wild fowl and game; an equivalent was always given. I returned from Victoria in May ’62 with over 2 tons of goods chiefly intended for Carriboo; a part of this was forwarded in August. I thus never had occasion “to live at the expense of the Indians” (fortunately) as such an arrangement is quite contrary to their habits. The Indians engaged to build a store for me and Mr. Hood, hardly commenced their work, and I was obliged to hire white men in their place. The split boards were obtained from a ranch deserted by them since the small pox broke out, and for the few delivered the Chief was paid, the rest were brought in by myself. At the first agreement I gave the Indians a written promise of payment (invariably the custom) — and they received many things in advance. But I certainly would not pay them eventually for work they were too lazy to perform and for which through their neglect I was put to great inconvenience and expense by being obliged to employ other labor.

The scrip so called is probably in their hands; I returned to Alexandria after purchasing the house in November.

I have the honor to be sir,
Your faithfully,

Cavendish Venables

A. Waddington, Esq., Victoria, V. I.


The gentleman who gave me the information which is here complained of, has been living for a considerable time at Bella Coola, and the facts were scrupulously taken down from his own mouth; the name alone was suppressed from a feeling which the public will appreciate. I regret to find that this person is absent from the colony, which hinders any further explanation for the present, but Mr. Venables shall not the less have the benefit of all the publicity he desires; I must remark, however, that the whole story has been in circulation from other sources long since. The system alluded to of giving Indians a written promise of payment for work not yet begun, is something perfectly new to me and very unbusiness like. It may be the invariable custom at Bella Coola, but the contrary has been my invariable custom at Bute Inlet, and I suspect is pretty nearly so everywhere else.

Alfred Waddington.

Source: "The Causes of the Bute Massacre," Daily British Colonist, June 28, 1864.

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