'Fort Rupert, Beaver Harbour, Vancouver's Island, July 23rd 1851' [Canada]

No. 57 in Fanshawe's Pacific album, 1849 - 52. Captioned by the artist on the album page below the image, as title. Fort Rupert was a former Hudson's Bay Company fort, built in 1849 on the south-east side of Beaver Harbour, itself in north-east Vancouver Island opening into the Vancouver Sound, south of present-day Port Hardy. The view here is approximately south-east, with the sound to the left and the fort on the right.

Fanshawe's 'Daphne' reached Beaver Harbour after sailing from Esquimalt Harbour on 3 July and lay there from the 10th to the 30th, when he sailed back to the Victoria settlement (next to Esquimalt), now the capital. His mission at Fort Rupert was to punish a local Indian tribe for the murder of an Englishman. A party sent ashore under Lieutenant Lacy sighted the culprits and 'probably inflicted some loss, but could not get to close quarters, as they had taken refuge in inaccessible country'. While 'Daphne' was there, a party of Indians living by the fort also waylaid and murdered a fishing canoe of men, women and children from a harmless neighbouring tribe with whom they had a feud, and then flaunted their scalps at some of Fanshawe's officers who happened to walk through their village. Fanshawe greatly blamed the Hudson's Bay Company regime: he considered its officials 'autocratic and domineering' and that the 'company's policy had been, and continued to be, adverse to progress and civilisation in the country dominated by them. It was in the interest of their fur trade to keep the country wild and the natives ignorant and savage, and other considerations did not appear to have influenced them': see Fanshawe (1904), pp. 269 - 72. The Company unsuccessfully attempted to exploit a local coal seam in 1851-52 but then gave up and moved its operation to Nanaimo. Modern Fort Rupert is an historic Kwakwaka'wakw village of the local Kwagu'ł (Kwagyewlth or Kwakiutl) subgroup, specializing in traditional indigenous crafts. Indian canoes are here shown on the calm water of the bay, with others drawn up on the distant beach round the fort. 'Daphne', is shown distantly at anchor in the centre, to left of the fort. Fanshawe also did a drawing of Indians at Fort Rupert (PAI4661) and a view out from the beach towards offshore Deer Island (PAI4663), from which he may have drawn this one.

Object Details

ID: PAI4664
Type: Drawing
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Fanshawe, Edward Gennys
Places: Vancouver Island
Date made: 23 Jul 1851
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Sheet: 173 x 256 mm
Parts: Album of watercolours of Madeira, Brazil, the Falkland and Pacific Islands, Chile, Panama, Mexico, Vancouver, and California (Album)

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