List and comments on Select Population References to the Lekungen (Songhees and Esquimalt Nations)


By Grant Keddie

(1) c. 1826-27 Census. Census of Indian Population compiled by Archibald McDonald, Fort Langley. In: Report to the Governor and Council, Feb. 25, 1830. H.B. Co. Archives, Provincial Archives of Manitoba, Winnipeg, D.4/123. Pub. 1979. In: The History of Fort Langley, 1827-96, by Mark K. Cullen, as Appendix A. Canadian Historic Sites: Occasional Papers in Archaeology and History, Paper No. 20, National Historic Parks and Sites, Ottawa.

The list for “Vancouver’s Island” moves geographically from the “Nanemoos” (Nanaimo) with 100 men; the “Cowaitchins” (Cowichan) with 200 men; the Sanutch (Saanich) with 60 men; the Tchanmus (Songhees) with 40 men; to the “Soaks” (Sooke) with 50 men. There is no mention of Klallam on Vancouver Island. The Songhees information may have been acquired indirectly from Cowichan visitors to Fort Langley as the word “Tchanmus” for the Songhees was that used by the Cowichan. The “Tlalams” on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca are listed with other “Halams” as being west of Puget Sound. The Tchanmus” referred to here probably include only the group of people at Cadboro Bay.

(2) 1838 & 1839 Census. “Census of Indian Population crossing over to Vancouver’s Island and coasting at about latitude 50’ from there returning southward along the mainland and up Frasers River to Simpson Falls”. Compiled by James M. Yale. H.B.Co. Archives, (B223/Z/1, fos. 1-21). Typescript in BCARS (B/20/1853) from Bancroft Library is titled: “Population of Indians at Fraser’s River” – includes groups on southern Vancouver Island and does not mention any Klallam on Vancouver Island [has addition mistakes] Microfilm of this census: BCARS 737A, pp. 7-33.

The Songhees are referred to here [on the typescript] as the “Samus” on the “East side of Vancouver Island, Point Gonzales”. At this time Point Gonzales was the name given to what is now 10 Mile Point – that forms the eastern side of Cadboro Bay and not what later became Gonzales Point. They include 127 people with a core group of 57 people and 70 “Male and female followers”. The Saanich are referred to as the “Eusanitch” on the “East side of Vancouver Island in Canal de Arro” [Haro Strait]. They include 183 people with a core group of 76 people and 107 “male and female followers”.

(3) 1841, Tolmie Census. “Vancouver Island Tribes” given by William F. Tolmie to Alexander George Findlay and published in: A Directory for the navigation of the Pacific Ocean; with description of its Coasts, Islands, etc., From the Strait of Magalhaens to the Artic sea, and those of Asia and Australia; Its Winds, Currents, and other Phenomena.

In Two Parts. Part 1. The Coasts of the Pacific Ocean. R.H. Laurie, London. 1851. (census in Volume 1 pages 391 and 392). (NW527 F494) This list with some altered descriptions of the location of the various groups was copied from Findlay 1851, and published by Alexander S. Taylor in the California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences, San Francisco, July 19, 1862.

It includes the following: “The Songees, 700 souls, inhabiting S.E. part of the Island”. Sanetch, 500 souls, inhabiting N. E. 10 miles N. W. of Mt. D’g’s.” [East Saanich Reserve area]. “Soke – 100 souls, inhabiting E. PtS. Juan to Songes tery”. A copy of this list dated March 14, 1848 and signed by Roderick Finlayson was given to Captain James Wood. In Wood’s Admiralty correspondence of September 19, 1848, he indicates that it was a “Copy of a return made by Mr. Roderick Finlayson to Captain Courtenay of her Majesty’s Ship Constance”. He states: “The following is a list of the different tribes of Indians that inhabit Vancouver Island”. This Wood version is more complete than the 1841, publication version: “Soke -100 – East Point of San Juan to the Songes territory”.

(4) 1844, Tolmie Census. “Census of various tribes living on or near Puget Sound, N. W. America, taken by W. F. Tolmie in the autumn of 1844”. Groups listed “Between Olympia and Na-wau-kum river”. Part of Section J. “Indian Affairs”. “39. Report of Mr. George Gibbs to Captain Mc’Clellan, on the Indians of the Territory of Washington. Olympia, March 4, 1854”.

In: Pacific R. R. Reports. Vol. 1, p. 434, Washington, 1855. [Also included is “Captain Wilkes’s Estimate – 1841” and “Estimate of tribes in the Western district of Washington Territory – January, 1854”. This is followed by “Form of Census Return – General Instructions” which shows the “185-” form with lines for Men, Women, Boys, Girls, Slaves, Total, Canoes, Horses, Cattle, Bushels of potatoes and remarks.

(5) 1845 Census. M. Vavasour & Henry Warre produced a: “Census of the Indian Tribes in the Oregon Territory, from Latitude 42 [degrees] to Latitude 54 [degrees], derived from the trading Lists of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and from the best obtainable Information.”

This list labeled “Fort Vancouver 1845” was submitted with a report dated October 26, 1845. Vavasour and Warre remark that: “The gentlemen in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s post, on the north of the Columbia, have made very accurate estimates of the Indian population in the neighbourhood of their several stations, and we have every reason to believe, from our own observations, in the accuracy of these statements.”

Only the Sooke and Songhees are recognized on the southern tip of the Island. “Soke Indians, 1 tribe Straits of St. Juan de Fuca, Males 39, Females 39, Slaves none, children under 12 years 12” Total “90”. This census now shows the Hallams” being composed of “11 tribes – Straits of St. Juan de Fuca, Vancouver’s Island” and gives a population of 517 men and 461 women for a total of 1,485 (same total as Finlayson 1848, list).

This geographical description is a very broad regional term; as Puget Sound groups such as the Skagit and Snohomish are also listed under it. The use of the term “Vancouver’s Island”, therefore, does not imply the existence of “Hallams” on the Island. Listed are the “Challams Corvaitehims” as “24 tribes, speaking the Challam and Corvaitzchim languages” they are found along the mainland from north of the Fraser River to Whitbey Island and “part of Vancouver’s Island”. This grouping includes Halkomelem and possibly some North Straits speakers. It is not known whether the Songhees and some Klallam were subsumed under this grouping. [Miscellaneous Papers relating to Vancouver Island, 1848-63, Vancouver’s Island, No. 5, Extract from a Report by Lieutenants Warre and Vavasour, dated 26 October 1845. (BCARS, NW971 K/G786mi)].

The population information on this 1845, list was extracted in part from the census taken on the northern coast, from the 1839, New Caldonia census and the Tolmie census published in 1841. There were also a few other unidentified censuses dating to 1845, or earlier that were used.

(6) 1845 Census. In 1845, Roderick Finlayson “made a count of the Klallams” (Myron Eells 1887, p. 612). He also appears to have undertaken one for the Saanich and Sooke in the same year – which may be the source of some of the figures for the Warre and Vavasour report submitted Oct. 26 of that year. The census return copied for Courtney in 1848, and attributed by Wood to Roderick Finlayson has many of the same totals as the 1845, Vavasour and Warre report. Relevant to the southern coast are the same population totals for the Cowichan, Clallam, Saanich and Sooke tribes. This copy of the Finlayson census (Signed by Finlayson on March 14, 1848) likely dates to the first part of 1845, or previously, and is the source of data for the Vavasour and Warre report.

A typescript of this Finlayson (1845?) census is found in the Private Papers of James Douglas, second series, (BCARS, B/20/1853). “Census of the following Indians inhabiting the Straits of Juan De Fuca”. One transcription of this census is with the September 19, 1848, correspondence of Lt. Wood of H. M. ship Pandora to the Secretary of the Admiralty, London (O/A/P19w). This was published by Wood in the Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for 1849:301.

Wood arrived in Victoria on Aug. 27, 1848. Wood states: “I subjoin a list of the Indian population in the Straits and Puget’s Sound according to the last census, allowing a decrease of 1/5 th for the effects of the late mortality amongst them from the measles, Influenza, etc. which has made great havoc this year, part of this list I was kindly permitted to copy from a return made to Captain Courtenay [who was surveying the south end of the Island in the ship Constance] by Mr. Finlayson; the rest I collected from the above gentlemen and Doctor Tolmie, the tracing which accompanies this, was copied from a manuscript chart supplied by the latter gentlemen which though incorrect as a chart gives the locality of the various tribes correctly”.

The Woods census includes Cowichan population totals that are the same as the more general 1841, Tolmie list – this is likely that part Wood acquired from Tolmie. As the measles first occurred in Victoria in March of 1848, the census predates 1848. There are a minor number of coping errors in the various versions.

The Finlayson version with the Douglas Papers lists the Sooke as follows: “General name – Soke. Names of Tribe – Skuningis. Number of Tribes – 1. Names of Chiefs – Tling.ilt. Men – 39, women – 39, slaves – none, children under 12 – 12. Total 90”. Also in Wood’s 1848 letter he lists the same general numbers for groups as reported by Tolmie in 1841. These include 700 “Songes” “Inhabiting Country N.W. of Sanetch Territory”; 500 “Sanetch” “Inhabiting North East 10 miles North West of Mount Douglas”; 100 “Soke” “East point of San Juan to the Songes Territory”.

(7) 1856 Census. Presented Dec. 18, 1856, by James Douglas to the House of Assembly for the Colony of Vancouver Island. The document is referred to as “No. 2 Indian population Vancouver’s Island 1856”. In submitting this Douglas states, “Not having time to procure copies, I have sent the original documents which the House will probably cause to be returned when convenient”.

(Journals of the Colonial Legislatures of the Colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1851-1871. 1980, Vol. II, p. 17).

The original of this is in the J. S. Helmcken papers, (BCARS, Ms.505, Vol. 10, Folder 4). (A copy – BCARS A E H37 H37.13). In the Private Papers of Sir James Douglas, second series (B/20/1853) is a Typescript census list entitled: “Original Indian Population – Vancouver Island”. [This list is arranged in these documents from the “University of California Academy of Pacific Coast History” between Diary information of Jan. 1852, and Jan. 3, 1853].

The number of men with beards given for each group in the Songhees and Saanich treaties is mostly the same as given in the 1850 and 1852 treaties – implying that some of the data was collected during the time of the treaties. Differences occur in numbers given for the “Metchosin”, “Rocky Point” and “Soke Inlet” groups. (see – Douglas to Smith, Oct. 16, 1856. “A census of the native tribes of Vancouver’s Island, which may be considered as a close approximation to the total population of nearly 25,873 souls”- (A/C/20/Vi3)].

The total number of Songhees of 700 is the same as given on the 1841, list by Tolmie. It seems unlikely that this Songhees list was originally developed in 1841, and used in the Victoria Treaties of 1850. Since the 1841 figure may have been rounded off to the nearest hundred like all the other groups on the same list (Except the Cowichan) it may be just a coincidence that the detailed list came to a total of 700.