150 Mile House, B.C. 1872 Marcus Smith Letter to his wife describing his early surveys for the Canadian Pacific Railway in British Columbia, torn at fold. Lot 81 in our 9 May auction
My dear Nannie,
I have got back safe from my trip up the Quesnelle lake and am glad it is over for we had no proper boats and the upper end of the lake is a narrow gorge (about 1 to 9 miles wide) running right through the terrible serrated snowcapped Selkirk range into the heart of the rocky mountains for the last 20 miles the sides are not only perpendicular but for miles overhanging rocks 400 to 500 feet high then sloping a little for three or four thousand feet more and the slightest breeze comes roaring down like through a funnel we only had one dangerous (lull) having just got into a week of calm which precedes a storm. Snow began to fall each day coming farther and farther down the mountain till at last it reached us and we had a blow for half a day and had to lie by- started again and got to the foot of the lake (it is 100 miles long) just one hour before a heavy gale- we saw the big waves coming miles behind the lake is so deep the waves are like those of the ocean- all the surveys on the mainland are closed and parties on their way home I shall be a fortnight yet before I have to examine two crossings of the Fraser river and some work to the west of it some 50 miles from here in “Chilcotin” country. I have also to make the Chilcotin Indians some presents ordered by the dom(inion) govt. in the spring, but which they have not yet had- for if I had given them then they would have begged more now and it would have looked like a bribe to give them at first on the whole they have behaved well and I am a great favorite with them- I hope to get to Victoria by the end of this month- we had a snow storm two days ago have now 1 and a ½ feet of snow. And it is very cold and not pleasant camping out- I am however much stronger than I have been all summer and my rheumatism has nearly left me- I have some work to do yet on Vancouver Island but there it is never very cold but often very wet- I cannot say yet when I shall start for home but hope early in January. Love to all the children. Yours ever,
I can hardly write having only one eye of an eyeglass left broken everything else except the gold ones which I left at Victoria.