Surveying in 1875

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Surveying in 1871
Surveying in 1872
Surveying in 1873
Surveying in 1874
Surveying in 1875
Surveying in 1876
Surveying in 1877
Surveying in 1878
Surveying in 1879
Animated Map

The main task of this season was surveying a trial location from Bute Inlet via the Homathko River, Puntzi Lake, Nazko River, Chilako River to Fort George (now Prince George). Then up the Fraser River to the Yellowhead Pass. The Fraser River section was not completed this season.

From north to south, the survey groups were N, R, S, X. The groups N and X started at the ends; N from Fort George, X from Bute Inlet. R and S started from near Tatla Lake and worked outward.

Group M started from Yellowhead Pass and got near Tete Jaune Cache with their trial location survey before the end of the season.

Map of surveys from 1875 - Also see month-by-month animation

The Survey Crews


(Red) This group was led by H. P. Bell (more on Bell) and left Victoria on May 18th for the Nechako River near Fort George. They surveyed south towards the Blackwater drainage. On the 18th of September they were met by Marcus Smith on the Blackwater River near where "the river is crossed by the telegraph trail." (p 167 - Appendix I - Fleming (1877) - Report) Bell and Smith explored the area between the Blackwater and Chilacoh Rivers for several days with Smith leaving on the 23rd of September.

On October 20th, this group connected their survey with R near the month of the Nazko River (refered to as 'Nazco' in the reports). They returned to Fort George and started on the trial location survey eastward up the Fraser during the winter.


(Gray) This group was led by W. T. Jennings (more on Jennings) and worked on the middle section of the route. It left Victoria on May 18th with group S. The two groups travelled together to 7 miles east of Tatla Lake. This group survey east and north. Near the end of June, Marcus Smith met this group near Puntzi Lake. They had completed 15 miles of trial location at this time. On October 20th, they connected with N near the mouth of the Nazko River and afterward returned to Victoria.


(Green)Led by Henry Cambie (more on Henry Cambie), this group left Victoria on May 18th and travelled with R to near Tatla Lake. They started their trial location southeast towards the Homathko River. On July 3rd, they were met by Marcus Smith on the east shore of Eagle Lake. They had completed 14 miles of trial location by this time. Smith left them to explore the 'east' fork of the Homathko River (the 'west' fork is now called the 'Mosley River'). Exploratory surveys in previous years had always taken the west fork. Smith reported back via Indian that the east fork was favourable so this group continued their survey past Tatlayoko Lake. On October 15th, they connected with X in the East Homathko River and both groups returned to Victoria.


(Yellow Led by C. H. Gamsby (more on Gamsby), this group was tasked with the trial location survey started from Bute Inlet up the Homathko River. They left Victoria on May 20th on board the steamer "Sir James Douglas" and arrived at Bute Inlet on May 23rd. H. O. Tiedemann (more on Tiedemann) was leading a trail cutting crew up the Homathko but due to the spring run off was not making much progress with bridging the side streams. On July 16th, Marcus Smith traveled down the Homathko and directed Tiedemann's team to join Gamsby's survey crew. When Smith met the survey crew on July 20th, they had completed 18 miles of location survey. They met S on the east Homathko River on October 15th and returned to Victoria.


(Pink) This group began the season by completing, along with Y, a preliminary survey between Nanaimo and Esquimalt on Vancouver Island. They did this work between May 13th and May 25th.
Then, led by John Trutch (more on John Trutch), this group left Victoria on June 1st on the steamer "Sir James Douglas" for Dean Inlet, dropping off supplies for X at Bute Inlet. They began a trial location survey from tide water up the Salmon River (now the Dean River) and connected with Y about the 21st of August about 50 miles up the Dean River. At this point the report refer to this group as 'T' but I think this might be an error. On August 28th, Marcus Smith arrived by boat and reorganized this group and 'V'. This group was sent to Kemano to survey towards Lake Francois. They arrived at Kemano about September 1st. They did a trial surveyed over the height of land to the first lake draining east and turned back because of the poor weather. They arrived back in Victoria on October 21st.

This group and 'Y' continued their work on the Vancouver Island route by working on a trial location until December 8th when they stopped because of the weather. They had about 8 miles left at this time.


(Orange) Along with V, this group completed a preliminary survey between Nanamio and Esquimalt during the month of May. On the 1st of June (written as 1st of May in the report in error) they left for the Chilcotin via the Cariboo Road, led by Joseph Hunter (more on Joseph Hunter). On June 14th they arrived in the Blackwater Drainage and began a trial location westward towards the Dean Inlet and V. This group connected their survey with that of 'V' around the 21st of August. When Marcus Smith arrived on August 28th this group was sent back to Victoria and worked on a trial location on Vancouver Island route. On December 8th they stopped because of the weather with 8 miles left between this group and 'V'.


(Dark green) This group was formed in late July when E.W. Jarvis reported that the Smokey Pass route he had explored was not feasible. Led by George Keefer (more on George Keefer), they left Victoria soon after July 18th, 1875 and travelled to the Yellowhead Pass to began a trial location survey westward down the Fraser towards Fort George (Prince George). In late October, they set up winter camp at Tete Jaune Cache. They did survey work during the winter as weather permitted. It isn't clear how far down the Fraser they got.

The People

Marcus Smith

(Purple) Marcus Smith arrived in Victoria for the season on May 13th and began organizing the surveys. He left Victoria on June 11th up the Fraser River and Cariboo waggon Road to Soda Creek, arriving June 22nd. He rode to Puntzi Lake and met group R which had completed 15 miles of trial location. Smith continued west and met S on 3rd of July on the east shore of Eagle Lake.

Smith then explored past Tatlayoka Lake (at south end of July 7th) to the East Fork of the Homathko. He was at the confluence of the east and west forks of the Homathko (now the confluence of the Mosley and Homathko Rivers). Since this route seemed better than the west fork which had been surveyed previously, group S was directed down this route.

Near tide water, Smith met H. O. Tiedemann (more on Tiedemann) building a trail up the canyon and on July 20th met X about 18 miles up the canyon working on the trial location. Unfortunately Tiedeman's bridges had been wiped out by the spring run off which slowed progress. Smith returned to Victoria by steamer on July 26th.

He left Victoria on August 23rd for Dean Inlet, stopping to drop supplies at Bute Inlet. He found V and Y at Dean Inlet having completed their survey a week previous. He sent 'V' north and 'Y' back to Victoria. He headed east up their trial location. On September 18th, he met Bell's N group on the Blackwater River near the Telegraph crossing and explored the area between the Blackwater and Chilacoh Rivers for several days. On September 27th, he found Jennings and R about 20 miles up the Nazko River from the confluence. He continued to the Alexis Lakes, down the Chilcotin River and arrived at Soda Creek on October 7th. He was back in Victoria on October 16th.

In late October and early November, he explored the Valdez Islands by canoe making a quick survey to replace notes lost in the fire in Ottawa.

E.W. Jarvis

(Narrow pink) In a group of 8 men and 6 dog teams, Javis left Fort George (now Prince George) on January 14th to explore the Smokey River Pass through the Rockies. They headed up the Fraser River and then up the 'north fork' (now the McGregor River). He crossed the height of land on February 25th. Starving and exhausted, they snowshoed to Edmonton and then by horses to Winnipeg, arriving April 21st. He describes crossing the divide:

"Having discovered the exact spot at which the waters divide, several trees were blazed, and having marked one of them in a conspicuous position, as the 'Boundary between British Columbia and the Nor'-west Territory,' with our names and the date, we started 'Eastward ho!' with more satisfaction than we had felt for many a day." p153 - Appendix H - Fleming (1877) - Report

The trip took 116 days covering 593 miles by dogsled and then another 339 miles with packs in the middle of winter. He summarizes by saying "...I am glad to be able to report the successful completion of the most hazardous expedition I have ever taken part in." (p146 - Appendix H - Fleming (1877) - Report)


  • Appendix H - Report on Explorations across the Rocky Mountains by Smoky River Pass, by E.W. Jarvis
  • Appendix I - Report on Explorations in 1875 by Marcus Smith