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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 47

Chilcotin, &c

page 70

Chilcotin, &c.

This is the country on either side of the river of that name (see Map). It is bounded on the west side by the Cascade Range, and on the east by Fraser River. Chilcotin has not yet been thoroughly tested by farmers, but the country is attracting attention.

We have different accounts of it from travellers. The probability is that a good deal of the Chilcotin country is arid and sandy, with poor timber.

Its area, however, is immense, and may include also great tracts of good grazing land. Near its numerous rivers and lakes we might expect to find superior arable land. The surface is open in parts, and timbered in others, generally presenting either rolling prairies or forest table-lands. There are many lakes and rivers, and a great valley through which the Chilcotin flows. The average elevation of the district is considerable, say 2500 feet; but the altitude of the surface varies considerably. I have already stated that the highest point of the trail, from Bentinck arm, is 3500 to 4000 feet high. From that summit on the plateau, looking west, you see the Cascade Range; to the south, lonely massive heights; to the east, an expanse of forest, broken by lakes and marshes. Reindeer are numerous on the great mountain plateau near the head of the Chilcotin River.

Soil probably light on the high land, and rich near some of the rivers and lakes. Climate hot in summer, and very sharp in winter; the slopes opposite depressions in the Cascade Range, probably will be found the most suitable for crops, as far as climate is concerned.

Another large section of the province, east of the Cascade Range, is not much known yet, namely, the section extending to a great distance north and west from the elbow which the Fraser River makes to get round the Cariboo Mountains. Some part of this country has been described in my account of the Nasse-Skena district. (See West Cascade Region.)

Hudson's Bay Company officers describe this northern region as a hunting and mining region, containing, however, large tracts of good pasture; probably a good deal of winter fodder for cattle would be required here.

Wheat has been raised at Fort George (but was liable to night frost nips); barley and vegetables at Fraser's Lake; potatoes on the lake slopes at Stewart's Lake (the hollows are liable to night frost). Humming-bird common at Stewart's Lake in summer.

A fine country is also spoken of as existing "between Fort St. James and Nation River;" good land also between Babine and the "forks" of the Skena. On the whole, though much of the above section of the country north and west from the great elbow of the Fraser is known to be mountainous and swampy, it probably is as habitable as some inhabited countries of Northern Europe.

Under the stimulus of a demand for stock or produce, such as mining-camps would produce, the district doubtless would show considerable even farming results.