That Cowichan history is one hell of a story. The oral histories of the people that were there as children are fascinating. I had no idea the Cowichan had a Fraser River connection.
There was more than one smallpox decimation of indigenous peoples on the west coast. Here is what Captain Vancouver found on his arrival some 70 years before the outbreak that the San Francisco miner brought to town.
“Everywhere they looked, there were corpses. Abandoned, overgrown villages were littered with skulls; whole sections of coastline strewn with bleached, decayed bodies.”
Here is my favourite read on the topic buy a UVic student that addresses some of the theories proposed by Swanky as well as others. It’s a good read...and it’s only 40 some odd pages.
“Tom Swanky has argued a radically different interpretation of the epidemic: that it was a genocide perpetrated deliberately by the Douglas government in collusion with a group of land speculators, including Doctor Helmcken. He asserts that smallpox was deliberately introduced from San Francisco, and that once the infected passenger landed he was conducted directly to the Songhees village in order to spread the disease there.”
There are some people that think Swanky is a bit ahead of his skis on this. That's why I linked Wipond's article. There's also a BC Bookworld review worth reading if you're interested.
The fact that the colonial records from the period covering the Jim Taylor excursion into the interior are missing from Victoria, Ottawa and London remains very suspicious.
Page 3 of the June 13, 1864 Colonist has the Alfred Waddington allegations. That the account is contemporary (within a few months, anyway) is compelling. It could be false but you have to admit at that time there was a huge incentive to speed up the smallpox epidemic to unlock the settler's land claims.
Irony alert: Waddington died in Ottawa of smallpox.
Edited by Rob Randall, 15 October 2019 - 06:37 PM.
"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"
-Tom Hawthorne, Toronto Globe and Mail