Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  7 (1883–84), 706–21.

From the Fraser to the Columbia  [1/2]

Ernest Ingersoll


Essay, Travelogue, Serial

Relevant illustrations:

eng [9]; map


Physical Geography, Natural History, Exploration, Railways, Mining, Vaccination, Medical Practitioners, Race, Comparative Philology, Taxonomy, Ethnography, Hunting, Natural Imperialism

    Notes that the coast of the Pacific Northwest region forms a 'natural aquaria as each tides goes out—a rich and almost untouched field for the marine naturalist' containing 'extraordinary star-fishes, anemones, crustacea, and hydroids' (708). Although it is 'only three hundred and seventy years since [the Spanish explorer] Balboa first gazed at the Pacific' and the region has been rarely explored or developed in the intervening period (709), insists that the Pacific Northwest will soon 'derive great benefit from the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and from the development of the mineral resources of the coast north of it' (712). Indeed, immigrants are already beginning to flock to the area, and the recent 'importation of several hundred raw Chinese' to Port Townsend has meant that 'their enforced vaccination has become one of the most prominent industries of the town, where physicians find the healthfulness of the climate a serious bar to their financial success' (715). Relates how the 'populous [...] Indians' of the region 'belong to many separate bands or "tribes", but can be united into two philological families', and 'they all possess characteristics very different from the Haidas, or northern Indians, and go under the general name of Flatheads, from the habit many of them had formerly (and still continue somewhat) of flattening backward the foreheads of their children, or by compression of the whole head shaping the top of the skull into a conical form far from beautiful to civilized notions' (717). The old Indian practice of 'whaling has been abandoned of late years' now that 'fur sealing [...] occupies the native hunters, and gives better profits'. The 'great importance' of this industry 'to both white men and Indians' has led to a greater concern with the seals themselves, and on the question 'Whether the fur seal of this coast is the same species as that of the Pribylov Islands (Callorhinus ursinus), naturalists are disagreed', although it is 'generally believed that they are the same'. (718) Meanwhile, it has been 'proved that [the] young are born off the strait—one of several new facts for which naturalists are indebted to the labors of Mr. Swan' (719).

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