Wednesday, 5 December 2007

A fragile story

An article in the Sunday Province 20 March 1932, tells about the unsuccessful three-week search in November 1931 for the missing prospector “Volcanic” Brown. Then Game Warden George Stevenson and Guide LeRoy McMartin made the search in the winter’s worse weather and found no trace of Volcanic Brown.

A dozen years later Stevenson told Cecil Clark (Vancouver Sun 31 December 1954) that on that search they had discovered Volcanic Brown’s collapsed pup tent and that, among his few personal possessions, they found “… a screw-top glass jar full of coarse gold." Why would Stevenson and McMartin not have mentioned in 1932 at least the finding of Volcanic’s camp?

Stevenson in 1954 time was the only witness to that alleged find—McMartin had died—and he (and Cecil Clark) may have had some fun telling this story. Cecil Clark mentioned the finding of the pup tent—but not the gold—briefly in his article trying to debunk the Slumach saga, “Over the Slumach’s Lost Mine.” It was written in 1968, just after the passing of Stevenson.

The article in 1932 quotes Stevenson as follows: “It was slow going—three or four miles a day. Our 12 by 48 shoes would sink to one’s knees, even without our packs. I’ve never seen it snow so thick and fast anywhere; we couldn’t see a yard sometimes." And yet, they found a collapsed tent and other artifacts, including that glass jar with coarse gold??

One wonders why an experienced prospector would have taken a glass jar with him into the mountains and why Volcanic Brown would have chosen such a fragile container to store his treasures. It seems a signal from Stevenson and Clark to take this story with a grain of salt.

Monday, 3 December 2007

The Flying Game

From: Furniss, Harry, Memoirs-One: The Flying Game, Victoria: Trafford Publishing, 2003

The Collishaw/Furniss expedition into darkest British Columbia was not just a shot in the dark. There was really gold in there, and wasn't Ray [Collishaw] the son of a miner who had roamed the fabled fields of Australia, California and the Yukon?
The whole plan was based on newspaper stories recently published in The Vancouver Province by my fellow-worker and ex-RCAF pilot Ray Munro. Ray had picked up the ages-old story of Slumach, a coastal Indian who had mysteriously turned up in New Westminster in the 1800s with gabs of gold which he said he found "just over there" in the mountains near Harrison Lake.
Munro and another reporter flew into the area, staked claims, wrote tantalizing newspaper stories, formed a company, sold shares—and did everything except find the lost mine of old Slumach.
It was this publicity that brought Collishaw to my door that particular day. “Munro’s got the Slumach story right,” he said, “but he’s got the wrong place. I’ve examined the old records and I think I know where that Indian really went. So let’s go in there, Harry Old Boy, and lay claim to fortune.”
It was a marvelous idea and it got better with each successive drink, but in the end I realized that I just couldn’t possibly afford to quite my $45 a week job and go prospecting. Ray finally hiked in by himself, the air drops worked perfectly, he found the area Munro had missed, but damned if he could find any gold.
The next summer Ray [Collisham] went up to Barkerville...and found gold but it wasn't profitable. The following year he struck it rich, only this time it was a copper deposit. which became on of the countries largest mines.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Pitt Country Pictures

Click here to log in and see some great pictures of Pitt country by Ryan Bougie !

Friday, 23 November 2007

Bullets of Gold

Some reporters have suggested that Slumach fashioned bullets out of gold and that he used these bullets for hunting and target practice. In 1931, Jason Allard (letter to McKelvie in Langley Centennial Museum holdings) told the story that "when gold was discovered in the Queen Charlottes" [1851] "gold was so plentiful that the Indians melted the gold and made bullets of the gold." It seems that this old tale was recycled at a different time and place. Lead bullets are quite easily made. Lead that has a melting point of 327°C (621°F). To fashion bullets out of gold requires more than a campfire. Gold melts at 1062°C (1943°F).

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Indian Diggings

Remember the news item in the Mainland Guardian of 1869 titled "Discovery of Diggings at Pitt River" that created considerable excitement in New Westminster? Click here to read it again.

A decade earlier, in 1858. the Fraser gold rush started and in that year a number of maps were drawn promoting the gold fields. Derek Hayes shows three of those on pp 151-154 of his Historical Atlas of BC and the Pacific Northwest.

The pictures I show here are details of these maps of the area around Pitt Lake area mentioning "gold" and "Indian diggings," and one map, in the extension of Pitt Lake the words "much gold bearing quartz rock." The maps must have triggered the stories of gold beyond Pitt Lake that have returned to the newspapers ever since. Click on the images to zoom in.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

"Volcanic" or "Sunset" or "Crazy" Brown

Some background information from The Virtual Crowsnest Highway about treasure hunter R.A. Brown, one of the real--not imaginary--persons in the saga of the Lost Creek Mine.

[In 1885, near Grand Forks] Brown staked his Volcanic and Fontentine claims on pyrrhotites and pyrites carrying significant gold, silver and copper values. He was soon convinced that a mother lode of gold-rich chalcopyrite lay within the claim, and his optimism for the properties soon attracted other treasure-hunters. Nearby, around what was dubbed Brown’s Camp, other claims including the Pathfinder, G.W. House’s Black Tail, Hummingbird, and Golden Eagle, were staked.

So enthusiastically did Brown expound upon the thousands of tons of pure copper ore and gold and silver that he knew were just beyond the end of his current tunnel, and so wild were his prognostications that the riches within reach would fuel a benevolent economic Goliath that would summon a half-dozen railroads and shelter its workers in Utopian settlements where all the churches would be “halls of science,” that he soon became known to some as “Volcanic” Brown, to others, “Crazy.” Despite his best promotional efforts, however, Brown failed to attract much investment, and in 1897 leased the Volcanic to the Olive Mining and Smelting Company while he went off hunting for his next bonanza.

By January of 1904 the Michigan-backed Volcanic Mining Company had purchased the property, renaming it the Volcano in an attempt, perhaps, to try and disassociate it from Brown. When told the next year that the tunnel was in 800 feet and still no lode had been located, Brown assured his interviewer that the “real thing” was just beyond the end of the tunnel. There it remains, for even Brown himself, who returned to the abandoned property towards the end of the Great War, could never push the tunnel far enough to hit pay.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Serpent

An article in the Columbian of 14 March 1963 titled "Lost Pitt Lake Mine--Fortune Still elusive" tells a legend about an old and dying water serpent guarding a cave, mostly hidden by the water, where "deeper within" there "were many shiny pebbles."

On the microfilm print the author of the article can hardly be read. It is something like Brian Makken or Makers. Is anyone out there familiar with this gentleman? Was he the author of this "legend" or did he repeat what he read or heard somewhere else?

I doubt that it is a Native legend. Gold played no role in traditional First Nations culture in the Northwest corner of the Americas before contact. (Note 23 November 2007: I quote from a letter written in 1931 by Jason Allard to Bruce A. McKelvie mentioning first gold finds in BC : " the year 1857, what did an Indian know about gold at the time?" Letter in holdings of Langley Centennial Museum).

For another gold/serpent story read The Sea Serpent (E Pauline Johnson-Tekahionwake, 1911)

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Menzies Island?

On page 47 of Slumach’s Gold, in search of a legend (2007) the authors suggest that Sheridan Hill was in the early days called Menzies Island. The source of that information is a 1961 article in the British Columbian by journalist Syd Orpwood. He refers to “A yellowing old topographic chart of the Pitt River area…made from surveys undertaken in 1875, [that] shows the large rocky outcropping was at that time known as Menzies Island.”

The year of 1875 and the words "yellowing" and "old" are misleading. Survey charts always show the dates of previous surveys and this is clearly a recent chart.
This should put the misnomer to bed. "Sheridan Hills" (plural) is the name shown on the maps made by Captain George Richards and the officers by H.M.'s surveying ship "Plumper" in 1859-1860.

The origin of the misunderstanding? In 1900 Henry William Menzies, who worked for the CPR purchased land on Sheridan Hill, to raise his family there. It came to be referred to as "Menzies Mountain."

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Victor Harbord Harbord

Click here to read a poem celebrating the dedication of the Peace Arch in 1921, written by Victor Harbord Harbord under the pseudonym Justin Wilson. What has that to do with Slumach? Victor Harbord Harbord was the journalist who, in 1926, interviewed Jason Allard mentioning gold in connection with Slumach for the first time. (Click here for a transcript of the article.) It would be interesting to see if he has written before about "Slumach's gold." The following note from the Peace Arch pages shows that he did not only write for The Province:

The poet’s granddaughter, Lynda Daddona, lives in Burnaby. “His occupation was as a writer and he was the Fraser Valley correspondent for the Vancouver World newspaper, which merged into the Vancouver Sun,” [in 1924] she said. “Victor Harbord Harbord wrote his newspaper articles under his own name, but his poetry was written and often published under the pen name Justin Wilson.

Victor was born in Ireland in 1872, was raised in Bath, England and spent much of his adult life managing a tea plantation in Ceylon and in New Guinea. He died in New Westminster in 1943.”

Wednesday, 7 November 2007


The Province of 8 August 1926 includes an interview with Jason Allard, who, claimed the Province reporter Victor Harbord Harbord, "knows all there is to be known of Fraser Valley Indians." Jason Allard, (almost 80) told him a Gothic tale about "Slough Moug" and his brother "S'Mamqua," originally from Nanaimo, who settled at Stave Lake "and murdered everyone that ventured into their territory."

The account refers to an article by a Mr. S.A. Fletcher that I found in The Province of 27 June 1926. Click here for a transcript. Fletcher reminisced about his early years fishing and hunting at Pitt Lake, "long before the gas engine was thought of," and told the story of his encounters with old Chief Swampkwa and the widow of his brother Shloomack. [A 1878 census (see May postings) shows the spelling of the name of the chief as Tsa mem.kwah.]

Old Chief Swamkwa, who saw his people diminish around him, "did not like the white man: he had been cheated and abused by them," but there is no reference to Slumach's end in this account and nothing that would hint at a violent reputation of this old gentleman or his brother Shloomack. Nor is there any reference to gold in Fletcher's story.

It still looks as if Jason Allard's phantasmagorical story is the first where Slumach is connected with the gold in Pitt Lake country.

S. A. Fletcher may have been Sidney Ash Fletcher, who died in December 1934, 78 years of age, at New Westminster. A Sidney Ashe [sic] Fletcher appears from 1903 until 1911 as collector for the Provincial voters list for Delta, Dewdney and Richmond and New Westminster city.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Twelve O'clock Sharp

Twelve O'clock Sharp was written and published by Michael Eisele in 2006. "This book contains fifteen stories written in a literary style, which never lack suspense, nor a whiff of mystery."

In one of the stories in the book called "A Lesson," Slumach appears at his hanging in New Westminster. Peter Slumach, his nephew, becomes the inheritor of the secret mine and is the one "walking the streets of New Westminster with bulging pockets, seldom sober, always boisterous." The story leads on to the Thompson area. "Slumach's fabulous mine, originally said to be located in the Pitt Lake distrct, somehow managed to relocate to an area north of Ashcroft, between Deadman and Bonaparte River; home of rattling snakes, howling coyotes, and screaming eagles."

Click here for more of the story and enjoy.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Bee's Niece

On 24 May, I posted on this blog that, at the time of Slumach's trial, Bee was described "as in the habit of blustering at and threatening everyone with whom he came in contact," and it was said, that there was "bad blood between Slumach and Bee." But there are no particulars about that "bad blood" and what really caused Slumach to shoot Bee may remain unknown.

That has not stopped some to present their own theories.

In their video "Seekers of Gold" (see post of October 23) Friesen and Nicholson suggest that Bee and Slumach "fought for the gold." Something similar was proposed in articles in The Columbian of June 1961 by Elmer McLellan, Columbian's City Editor. McLellan suggested that Bee got shot because he came too close to Slumach's gold cache that McLellan thought to be at Sheridan Hill. Of course, without evidence that Slumach had anything to do with gold, both ideas are just that: ideas.

In 1988, Jim Christy had a different idea. He suggested that "Slumach hadn't killed Bee because the man was on his trail, no, Bee was attempting, albeit too late, to defend the honour of his niece." That would surely explain the "bad blood" between Slumach and Bee, but the court records show that Slumach did not act in self-defence. He was not threatened or attacked by Bee.

Click here to read a transcript of Christy's article "Slumach's Gold," published in BC Outdoors January/February 1988.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Chronicles of valley and coast mines

In Slumach’s Gold (Rick Antonson et al) is noted on page 113 : “[Rob] Nicholson’s research revealed that…a man named Shotwell and a partner named Harrington showed up in Ruskin … in 1911 having returned from a long trek into the Pitt Lake country.” Nicholson’s source (often neglected by researchers) is Charles A. Miller’s self-published book The Golden Mountains, 1973.

Click here to read the part of chapter 12 of the book (Volcanic Brown’s Last Trip) relating to the appearance of Shotwell and Harrington in Ruskin. There is much more interesting information in these "chronicles of valley and coast mines." Daryl Friesen sells original copies of The Golden Mountains for $20.00. Go to

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Seekers of Gold

I just found two video clips on YouTube showing Daryl Friesen and T.W.Patterson talking about the the search for Lost Creek Mine. Look at Seeker of Gold part 1 and part 2 if you feel you need a refresher about the mystery.

Saturday, 29 September 2007


On 6 September, "Jackson" wrote on Clubtread Forum

In regards to Fred Branches [sic] yeah I know of him and have talked to him by email a couple of times. It's his passion to find the truth of Slumach. He is a really nice guy. But Slumach is not the be all and end of the Lost mine saga.

The truth about Slumach is he is just one of many to find gold in those mountains and he did find gold. How much and where is the question? ... Slumach did however bring gold into New West. ... The first mention of his find was in the paper back in 1889. I believe Fred has the article on his site about the Indian coming into New West with a good showing of gold. That indian I believe is Slumach and this is where the legend starts
The newspaper article is from the Mainland Guardian of 10 November 1869 and not 1889. Yes, I agree that, until we find some earlier evidence, the story of the Indian who found gold in a little stream on the north side of Pitt Lake, is probably the first publication linking the area with gold and the start of the legends.

But why would that Indian be Slumach? Slumach only became part of the Pitt Lake gold saga in 1926. The question is not how much and where Slumach found gold. but if he found gold at all. The truth is, that there is no evidence that he found any or did "bring gold into New West." And those "many to find gold in those mountains"? Many searched for it but only a few are rumoured having found gold there.

By the way, I am equally interested in the legendary figures, such as Jackson, who probably never existed.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Jack Mould missing?

Campbell River Mirror, 12 September 2007

The 71-year-old prospector (Jack Mould) is missing after mysteriously disappearing while gathering fresh water from the Southgate River.

Jack Mould and the Curse of Gold, Elizabeth Hawkins and Jack Mould
ISBN: 0-88839-281-8

Stanford Corey, prospector

An article titled "Stanford Corey, First to Discover Pitt Lake Glacier," by A.C (Fred) Rogers published in BC Historical News, Winter 2003, tells a story about prospector Stanford Corey, "who traveled through the trackless wilderness into the headwaters of the Pitt and Stave River country in 1899." The article quotes extensively from an interview with Corey (then 77 years of age) by Lawrence Donovan published in the Vancouver Sun of 28 August 1926.

Stanford Corey reportedly "was the first one to blaze a trail from the head of Pitt Lake to Howe Sound and Squamish in 1900 while on his own four months in the trackless wilderness." At the end of Fred Rogers's article is a mention of Slumach, but those are Rogers's words and not those published in 1926.
To read the article click BC Historical News Winter 2003 and go to page 6.
Stanford Corey was born about 1853 in New Brunswick. He died in March 1932 in Vancouver, BC.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Newspapers 1900s

All newspaper and magazine articles I could find and copy to date have been transcribed and posted as pdf files. Click on Newspapers 1900s on the Slumach site.

I am sure there are more out there also from the 1800s.

I'd be grateful for references of any relevant newspaper or magazine articles that I have not listed yet. Send a message to

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Slumach's gallows curse: fill in the blanks

In August 2000 Mike Cleven posted a message on the Chinook page. I have tried to send an e-mail to Mike asking for his approval to post part of his text, but my messages were returned. So, I’ll just assume that he would agree until he tells me that he doesn't.

Some of you may know the legend of Slumach and his legendary gold mine, and the curse he supposedly uttered just before his death. [...]

"The curse put on the mine by Slumach has been reported as "Nika memloose, mine memloose." The interpretations of this curse vary, but all centre around the idea that "when I die, mine dies" or "when I die, so does my mine." Some have tried to enlarge the translation by adding words to the effect of "and all who search for my mine will die, also." There is no reliable proof whatsoever that Slumach uttered this
or any other curse at any time. The most reliable reports say that he went to his death without saying a word." [...]

I thought I'd throw it out to the group to finish off the curse with the supposed tag line; the mine-hunting theorists who've expanded on the account of the curse most likely spoke no Chinook, but I think we can all see that "nika memloose, mine memloose" doesn't include a hint of "and all who...etc."; mind you he could have been misquoted and "nika memloose, mika memloose" is a bit closer to the mark, maybe "nika memloose, mika (or yaka) memloose ticky mine" or some such.

But for the hell of it, why doncha'all try and come up with yer own phraseologies for what might have followed "nika memloose, mine memloose........."

[Unfortunately “the group” did not take up the challenge]

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

"Slumach's Tomahawk" in doubt

Gerry Armstrong, great-grandson of Dr. Richard Irving Bentley, kindly reported that “Slumach’s tomahawk” is still in his possession. He remembers the smoking pleasures it gave him and his siblings as kids, and told about its recent failure (in the hands of a burglar) to break a lock in his house. Smoking? Yes, this a pipe tomahawk.

It is said that this tomahawk had been taken from Slumach’s possessions after his death by Dr. Bentley and, as Gerry Armstrong was told, that Dr. Bentley was the physician who pronounced Slumach dead. But the official records don’t show Dr. Bentley’s presence at Slumach’s hanging, at least not in an official capacity. It was a Dr. Isaac M. McLean who certified Slumach’s death.

The picture of the tomahawk shown here appears in most of the Slumach stories of Antonson et al and most recently also in The Province of 2 September 2007. The corresponding text suggests that it was “of the type traded by the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1880s.”

I doubt that the HBC ever called their axes tomahawks and I can't imagine (please prove me wrong) that pipe-tomahawks were sold over the counter at Fort Langley at any time. “Pipe-hawks,” ceremonial tomahawks, presentation tomahawks and fighting tomahawks have their place in the cultures of the US Northern Plains and the countries “back east,” but seem so foreign to our Native traditional culture.

It seems so improbable that one would have been in Slumach’s hands and in his days hiding from arrest he would have carried a true axe, if he even carried one at all. Dr. Bentley’s tomahawk may therefore have an entirely different tale to tell than what was told in the family.

An axe turns up twice in the Slumach story, but it was not Slumach’s axe. Charlie Seymour, the sole witness of the murder committed by Slumach, saw an axe at Slumach’s camp that he recognized as the victim's, Louis Bee. The second mention of an axe is by Amanda Charnley who remembered having been told that Bee went after Slumach with an axe--that Slumach acted in self defence, but that is not what happened.

Illustration from Slumach's Gold, In Search of a Legend by Rick Antonson et al, 1972

Friday, 24 August 2007

Slumach, a band of Katzie

Slumach. A band of the Katsey (q.v.) in British Columbia; pop. 69 in 1896, when last separately enumerated.
Slumach. - Can. Ind. Aff., 276, 1894. Slumagh. - Ibid. 313, 1888
The Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology Handbook of American Indians. 1912 edition. Volume 3 N-S.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Pitt River Gold in 1869?

The following little story from the Mainland Guardian, New Westminster, 10 November 1869 gives us an idea where the legend of the bonanza north of Pitt Lake and the "Indian" connection came from.

Discovery of Diggings at Pitt River-- An Indian brought in a good prospect of gold a few days ago which he states he found in a little stream on the north side of Pitt Lake. He has volunteered to lead a party to the place and arrangements are being made for their immediate departure. The event has created considerable excitement in this city.
Source: Donald E. Waite

Don Waite's Accounts

A few months ago Don decided to retire The Lost Gold Mine of Pitt Lake from the Internet. Don was among the first to write about Slumach and his legendary bonanza in a book he published in 1972. His Web site contained the stories of his adventures and encounters with numerous people during his many years following the trail to Slumach's gold and what he learned from them. He generouslys shared his findings with anyone interested. I regretted the site's demise and I am sure that I am not the only one who missed it.

Fortunately Don has allowed me to post the eight chapters of The Lost Gold Mine of Pitt Lake on Look out for a pdf file containing these chapters in the Miscellania section.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Slumach as seen by a Katzie today

From an article "Katzies share strong bond with land" by Rod Stott from the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times Website, updated 2004.
Slumach, a member the Katzie First Nation, is still revered today as an important teacher and advocate for conservation and protection of Katzie heritage. He is also renowned for his good fortune as a miner in the upper Pitt river, where he resided for most of his adult life. Rumours continue today of his lost fortune that remains somewhere in the upper Pitt River.
On page 61 of Jennes, The Faith of a Coast Salish Indian, I found a story of a "Timber-giant" that may be at the base of this modern interpretation.
A Katzie man named [sounds like sumah] obtained the guardian spirit; and although he never peformed at the winter dances, he acquired tremendous strength, He could spilt apart the two sprongs of an elk skill that ten youths, five pulling on each side, could not separate. etc

Saturday, 30 June 2007


Stories of gold in the Pitt Lake area and of a mythical “Indian” (a role later given to Slumach) or a white man (later mostly called Jackson) who had found the bonanza, may have circulated among prospectors since the late 1800s, but the stories did not find their way to the newspapers.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, only a handful of stories appeared in the papers about Pitt Lake gold: but no word about Slumach. In 1925 a newspaper story named Shotwell (not Jackson) as the discoverer of the mine.

Not until 1926 did a newspaper article connect Slumach for the first time with Pitt Lake gold, presenting Slumach as a pathological killer rather than as a murderer of one man. Slumach is not mentioned again in connection with the gold for more than a decade, including the time of Volcanic Brown’s searches and disappearance.

It is not until 1939 that the newspapers revived the 1926 story and tied Slumach for good to the legends of the gold of the Pitt Lake mountains. From that time onward the media created and recreated a Slumach of their own imagination.

Deaf Englishman

Someone told me an unusual Slumach story, suggesting that there were two other First Nations people with Slumach. A deaf Englisman was hunting and shooting in their direction. They tried to stop him, but being deaf he did not hear them yelling. To stop him, Slumach came from behind and hit the Englishman on the head with a club.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Missing affidavits

In his interview of Amanda Charnley on April 26, 1978, Mike Collier asked the following question:
Slumach’s daughter said at the trial, “I, Annie,an Indian woman of Cowichan in the Province of British Columbia make oath and say that I am a daughter
of the above named Slumach, that I arrived in this city on the 5th instant and have since been endeavoring to procure the attendance at this court of one Moody an Indian and one Florence Reed to give evidence on the trial of the said Slumach of the above charge, that I have not been able to procure the attendance at this court of the said Moody or said Florence Reed.”

In Justice Drakes records of the Assizes of 15 November is noted: "The affidavits of Slumach and his daughter Slumach were produced and read." It seems the affidavits did survive--but where are they?

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Slummok Crowclaw?

Following from a Danish Web site:

Book: The Indian Treasure / Original Title: Indianerskatten

Join in the Gold Fever! Nicolai is in Canada with the Black Foot Indian girl Beverly. She has come across a secret letter and a map that reveals the position of the gold. The letter origins from a descendant of a gold digger called Slummok Crowclaw, who back then was hanged for the murder of a young woman. Rumour has it that he took seven women to the place where he was digging for gold and killed them one by one.
One year has passed since Nicolai saw the divinely beautiful Beverly for the first time, one year since their last journey up the mountains searching for gold; And now he has returned. Looking for more gold and especially for more adventures. . .
Young Adult fiction, Gyldendal
272 pages
Ages: 10+

Monday, 18 June 2007

From a Rafter?

Don Waite recalled that in 1967, when stationed at the New Westminster Detachment of the RCMP at the Court House, a Corporal Frank Bacon mentioned "that an old Katzie Indian named Slumach had been hung from a rafter above the vault's stairwell for murdering another Indian who had supposedly followed him to a gold mine on Pitt Lake." That was the first time Waite had ever heard of Slumach or the Lost Mine of Pitt Lake and it resulted in his "writing a short book about Slumach and his Lost Mine in 1972."

In Archie Miller & Dale Kerr booklet The Great Fire of 1898 we read on page 14. Sepember 10-11, 1898:

The court house, which stood on Clarkson Street, was on fire before the flames from below had really reached it, owing to the intense heat of the air and the sparks which had fallen on the roof. The records had been put into the safe but the building itself was soon a screaming huricane."

So, Slumach could never have seen the inside of the courthouse building where Corporal Bacon suggested that he'd been hung "from a rafter above the vault's stairwell." In fact, he was hanged in the yard of the Provincial jail and not at the court house at all.

The official records of the hanging and the contemporary newspapers reports show the "Provincial Goal" as the place where he was executed. "Over fifty persons witnessed the hanging." They never would have fitted where the corporal suggested the hanging took place.

Slumach was also kept at the Provincial jail. The Columbian on 11 November 1890 tells us: "Slumach, the murderer of Louis Bee, now confined in the Provincial Goal, awaiting trial at the Assizes."

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Research Fellow

Dr Karen Wonders, is a Research Fellow, Institute of the History of Science, University of Goettingen, in Germany. Dr Wonders mentions Slumach on her Web site, First Nations Land Rights and Environmentalism in BC: "She speaks about Slumach as the "legendary Indian" who "had become famous for his hidden gold stash." Dr Wonders comments: "Unable to to speak English and illiterate, he [Slumach] had no defence to the fabricated charges against him."

There are no reasons why the charges would have been fabricated. There was no white skin to protect. All involved were "Indian." From the sources it is clear that Slumach shot Bee and the only reason to twist the evidence would have been to demonstrate that the shooting was in self defence. The records suggest that the Court would have liked to twist the evidence in favour of Slumach, but that the witness consistently denied that there was anything on board to threaten or attack Slumach with. Also, Slumach may have been illiterate and unable to speak English, but he had access to translators and a lawyer.

What bothers me is not the fairness of the trial, but the lack of compassion of the white population as a whole and the harsh and inhumane execution of an elderly "Indian" and fellow human being. Even if that was a usual punishment for murder in those days.

Dr. Wonder's refers to a questionable source of information, a 2005 German film: Auf Slumachs Spuren, [On Slumach's Trails]. The German treasure hunter Toni Lennartz claims in the film that all the records of the trial and the testimonies were lost in a fire, which is evidently not correct. But Toni's interest is not like Dr. Wonders in the fairness of the trial, but what the legal records could have said about Slumach's gold. He complains that the meager news reports of the time don't give any good information about the treasure. In truth the newspapers don't mention gold at all. Toni sets out on an expedition in the Pitt Lake mountains, aided by an entourage of experts and comes back with the suggestion that the gold was perhaps pyrite: False Gold.
Good joke! One hears the laughter of Volcanic Brown and all the other sourdoughs!

Thursday, 24 May 2007


Called at the trial is Kitty, wife of Louis Bee for ten years before his murder. In the 1881 Census no Louis or Louie Bee at all nor any trace of Kitty at Katzie even at the 1891 census.

In the 1881 Census is Lewey, indigenous, 27 years and Kitty, indigenous 40 years in the Cowicham [sic], Coast of Mainland, New Westminster, BC. NA film No. C-13284 -- District 187 -- Sub District D -- Division 7 – page number 123

Slumach had a daughter Mary living at Cowichan (Interview Don Waite 1972)

Slumach: murderer of women?

C. V. Tench in "The Gold Mine Murders of Nine British Columbia Women," Liberty, July 1956, gave the women names and faces and a life, but the idea of Slumach as a repeat murderer of women was not Tench’s.

Prior to this, in a 1951, the murder of women was presented by Chief August Jack Khahtsahlano. He was then in his eighties and "the only Indian still living who knows the whole story."

Chief Khahtsalano may well have been inspire by a January 1947 article, "Hoodoo Gold!" by Clyde Gilmour raising he possibility that Slumach murdered up to eight "squaws." Before that, in June 1942, a similar story written by W.W. Bride, titled "The Bluebeard of Lost Creek Mine," appeared in BC Provincial Police's The Shoulder Strap, .

But the origin of this legend lies probably in a story written by Jack Mahoney for the Province, 30 June 1939, from which the following: "Slummock was a tough character, and it was believed but never proven, that he had drowned three of his Indian "wives" near Siwash Rock at the mouth of Pitt Lake to prevent them from divulging the location, which they had been fortunate enough to learn, of his find."

Census 1881

The Census 1881 does not show any names that could be interpreted as Slumach or Bee. Indian Agent McTiernan did the census for the Fraser Valley, including Katzie.

Daily Columbian second half 1890 missing!

My search for the original articles about the murder, the search, the arrest, and the conviction in the Daily Columbian was not successful. The microfilm for the period from June to December 1890 is missing—no one has the July to December Columbian on film.

Fortunately, bound originals (the only surviving ones known) were found to be in the custody of the New Westminster Public Library. They are in a poor condition and the library believed that the volume should not be used at all. Experts have now examined the print copy and determined it can be filmed. The libraries are working on organizing the financing of the filming. Hopefully the missing months will soon become available for researchers.

For now I have used for my transcripts on the site the same articles published in the Weekly Columbian rather then the Daily Columbian, and where missing in the weekly, the transcriptions in the Native Voice of July 1959 (the usual source for quotations by authors writing on the subject).

District Court records missing?

On 3 November 1890, preliminary hearings of the Slumach case were held at the District (County) Court before Justice of the Peace Capt. Pittendrigh. According to the press, "several witnesses were examined and a mass of evidence taken down."

These records were not found in the BC Archives or any institution in New Westminster. It is possible that these records were destroyed in the 1898 New Westminster fire but I still hope that the manuscripts survived and will some day be found, even if I doubt that they would add substantially to our knowledge of the case.

Verbal or physical confrontation?

Aunt Mandy Charnley reported that according to what her father, Old Pierre had told her, "Bee came at Slumach with an axe." Aunt Mandy’s remarks about an axe-wielding Bee and Slumach acting in self-defence do not match testimony at the trial, that suggest that the murder was triggered by a few words by Bee.

An axe-wielding Bee would have suffered a frontal shot, and not one "at the shoulder, going down through the heart and lung", which was described by Doctor Walker, who performed the autopsy on Bee’s body. The results of the autopsy are consistent with witness Charlie Seymour’s testimony that Bee was sitting down in the canoe when Slumach, standing on the shore, shot him.

This was not the first time that Bee and Slumach confronted each other and that axe-wielding may have been part of an earlier incident. Also the reported finding of Bee’s axe in Slumach’s cabin may have to do something with an earlier encounter.

Why did Slumach shoot Bee?

Bee was described "as in the habit of blustering at and threatening everyone with whom he came in contact," and it was said, that there was "bad blood between Slumach and Bee." A few words by Bee that day may have been the last straw and it was enough to enrage Slumach to the point that he shot and killed Bee with his old front loader.

There were rumours in the press that Slumach killed at least one more man before Louis Bee is raised in the 1890 newspaper reports. The "Colonist" (January 1891) even suggest that he had killed 10 men "before the whites settled on the mainland of B.C." Indian Agent McTiernan believed Slumach when he denied that he had killed anyone other than Louis Bee in his life. The buzz may have related to a number of unsolved murders in the area for which Slumach’s hanging was meant to be a deterrent. Still the accusation that Slumach killed more people than Bee persists till the present. Unjustly I asume.

With the hanging of this old man the press’s interest in Slumach died. What was there to report? Slumach was only rumoured to be involved with other murders and there was not a thing about gold. British Columbia between the Fraser gold rush and the Klondike, was is a world full of prospectors, fortune seekers and speculators and even gossip about gold would have triggered a stampede to the Pitt Lake area, duly recorded by the press —but it did not happen.

Witnesses Moody and Reid

The Daily Columbian report on the Assizes of November 14, 1890, mentions that the defending counsel asked for Slumach’s case to be adjourned on the grounds that two important witnesses for the defense, Florence Reid and Moody could not be "obtained" in time for the trial.

It has been suggested that this "Moody" would have been an illegitimate offspring of Colonel Richard Clement Moody, but Colonel Moody left British Columbia in 1863 and George Moody, thought to be the witness, was born in 1875, son a Native women and Sewell Prescot Moody, the first large-scale lumber exporter of lumber in BC.

Although both witnesses Florence Reid and (George) Moody were present at Slumach’s trial, they were not called by the defending council.

Simon Pierre, who in his interviews with Wayne Suttles, referred to George Moody as "white." Simon was a son of Old Pierre, who supported Slumach in his time of imprisonment and who shared his experiences with his daughter Amanda.

Florence (Brouseau) Reid (1849-1899) married Abraham Reid, who died about 1873.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

“It all started with all the lies.."

"It all started with all the lies they said about him. He was this and that you know, a cruel old man and all that." (Aunt Mandy)

Who was the real Slumach? Was he indeed the "bloodthirsty old villain" of the newspaper reports? In her interviews, Aunt Mandy stressed that her parents (Peter and Katherine Pierre) said that Slumach was a kind old man, closer to eighty than to sixty and that he was a crippled and harmless old widower who lived in a shack at the bottom end of Pitt Lake, on the abandoned Silver Creek Indian Reserve.
Why did this kind, elderly man shoot Bee? Louis Bee was described as "in the habit of blustering at and threatening everyone with whom he came in contact. " Slumach also told Jason Allard "that the young man who he killed had tantalized him on every occasion." It was said, that there was "bad blood between Slumach and Bee." Bee’s words that day may have been the last straw, enough to enrage Slumach to the point that he shot and killed him with his old front loader.
Was Slumach a serial killer? There were rumours in the press at the time of his conviction that this was not the first time that Slumach had killed, but as Aunt Mandy said: "It all started with all the lies they said about him. He was this and that you know, a cruel old man and all that." Indian Agent McTiernan believed Slumach, who denied that he had killed anyone other than Louis Bee. The buzz may have related to a number of unsolved murders in the area for which Slumach ’s hanging was meant to be a deterrent, aside from as punishment of his own misfortune.
With the hanging of this old man, the press ’s interest in Slumach died. What else was there to report? Slumach only was rumoured to be involved with other murders, and at that time there was nothing about gold in his story. British Columbia, between the Fraser and Klondike gold rushes, was a world full of prospectors, fortune seekers and speculators, and even gossip about gold would have triggered a stampede to the Pitt Lake area. That would have been duly recorded by the press —but it did not happen.

Monday, 21 May 2007

Jason Allard interview, 1926

"The Sunday Province." 8 August 1926

In August of 1926, the The Sunday Province published an interview with Jason Allard about Slumach. Jason Allard "who knows everything there is to be known about Fraser Valley Indians" knew Slumach "the desperado" by repute and he is reported to have been one of Slumach’s jailers.
Allard believed that Slumach and his brother were born in Nanaimo, although their father came from the Pitt Lake and Pitt River area. Living up the Nanaimo River Slumach murdered any stragglers coming his way for the only reason that he "liked to be monarch of all he surveyed." Caught in the act of killing "an Indian" he escaped by playing dead in his canoe and with his brother moved to Pitt Lake and there, living like hermits, murdering "everyone that ventured into their territory." "One can picture the wild terror of being hunted by this long-haired strange creature." That went on until Slumach was caught and sentenced to die for killing Louis Bee.
Jason Allard told the interviewer that, "when Slumach was first captured, he behaved just as any wild creature would do." Jason remembered that the long- haired Slumach "had wonderfully large eyes which reminded of the eyes of a grey lynx. Later in the article we read that Slumach "…was not given to talk and never boasted about the number of scalps he had taken." In the eyes of many in those days, Slumach was the savage Indian personified. On the other hand Jason Allard, described Slumach as a "most charming personality, with the manners of a French dancing master.., [who] continued to exhibit the same good manners" during his time in jail.
Slumach ’s, name, according to Allard, was actually Slough Mough, which means rain and he also suggested that Slumach’s brother’s name was S’mamqua or"ceremonial undertaker," a name Allard thought very appropriate because this brother "always chose the graveyard to do his courting." The surname Bee of the victim, "half-breed Kanaka" Louis Bee, is interpreted by Allard as Poll-al-ee.
About the "secret of a great gold mine" the reporter adds: "Had Mr. Allard only known that his prisoner knew of its existence, he might have become a very wealthy man, for the murderer, with his fine manners, would undoubtedly have told him where it was."

Donald E. Waite's mentions that Allard was an interpreter and perhaps not a jailer as mentioned in the 1926 interview. I quote from page 103 of Waite's The Langley Story :
Allard had earned a living over the years as an interpreter in the courts all over the province. He spoke five Indian dialects as well as French and English. The most notorious trail in which he took part was that of Indian Charlie Slumach, famous for the "Lost Mine of Pitt Lake Tale", who was hanged in 1891 for the murder of Louis Boulier, a half-French, half Hawaiian from Langley. Apparently Slumach, after weeks of eluding the police, surrendered to his nephew Peter Pierre and Allard. Jason, upon the death of his wife in 1915, moved from Langley into the Royal City in order to be always readily available for court appearances in New Westminster County Court. He died in the Royal City in 1931.

Great Fire of September 10, 1898

Indian agent Patrick McTiernan played in important part in the Slumach tragedy as intermediary between the First Nation people and the authorities.
Unfortunately the records of the Indian Agent became victim of the 1898 New Westminster fire and none of McTiernan’s correspondence about Slumach (if there was any) seem to have survived. Slumach’s conviction and death were not mentioned in Tiernan’s annual report. I still have to search the correspondence of the Indian Superintendent of that time, A.W. Vowell to find a mention of the Slumach case.

1890 newspapers in conflict with testimonies.

"The Daily Columbian" September and November 189o and January 1891.

The reliability of the press as a source of information is immediately put in question by the account of the murder in the Daily Columbian’s first report in September 1890, a version repeated in November with the conviction and again in January 1891 after the hanging of Slumach."
What is reported in the press is quite different from what is recorded at the inquisitions and the trial. If, as reported in the newspaper story, there were "several other Indians"around when Bee was murdered, they all would have been called to witness. In truth there was only one witness to the murder, a man called Seymour, from Harrison and it is on his pronouncement that Slumach was convicted. This Seymour lived in a fishing camp at Lillooet (now Allouette) Slough together with Louis Bee, their wives and an unnamed old man. On that fateful day, Bee and Seymour set out to find bait for their sturgeon line. They heard a shot and went to see who was shooting and what the shooter was hunting. Sitting in their canoe alongside the shore they encountered Slumach who was standing on the bank with a single-barrelled muzzle loader in his hand. Some words were spoken, Slumach fired, and Bee’s dead body dropped overboard into the river. Slumach went to his own canoe and started reloading his gun. Seymour fled over land, recovered his canoe later, and reported the murder to the Indian Agent Peter McTiernan at New Westminster that same night.

No Slumach in 1906 Pitt Lake gold story.

"The Daily Province" of 3 April 1906, "Buried Treasure at Pitt Lake."

Quote: "that it would appear that some man by the name of Frazier secured information that an old man, who has ere this been gathered to his rest [I love that expression], had some valuable placer grounds in the Pitt Lake country. He had recovered $8,000 in gold nuggets and these he had hidden under a rock, He had then passed away, but had left directions where the treasure and the placer ground had to be found."
That news came to the knowledge of others who set out to find the gold "ahead of another party which was stampeding to the treasure ground." Of course nothing was found. They had all a hard time though: "...the party had a very rough trip as the weather was rainy, and sleeping out did not remind one of the dreams between Dutch feathers."
The Slumach legend seems not born yet in 1906 and the old man in the story could well refer to the also legendary "Jackson."

Slumach in 1879 census?

RG 10 Census, Yale to Coquitlam 08397 -- Indian Census 1879 -- Yale tribes through Coquitlam; Indian Names, number of dependents. population etc.

Katzie Tribe –Pitt River Village on Pitt River, 30 December, 1878.

Population – 7 Total: 7 Adults. No Youth, No Children.
5 Males and 2 Females.
Livestock – (none listed)
Farm implements – (none listed)
Tsa mem.kwah (Chief) --- Male 1 Female 1
Slum.ook --- Male 1 --- Male 1
Skwul.skay.nim Charlie --- Male 1
Stul.lah --- Male 1 Female 1

Pitt River Village at the south end of the Stave Lake is hardly populated in the winter of 1878. Slum.ook may be Slumach. A brother’s name recorded as Smum-qua (Aunt Mandy interview) and S’Mamqua (Jason Allard interview) can’t be reconciled with the names of those living in the this village, or the names listed for "Ko.kwit.lam Villlages" or the "Katzie Village."