Victoria I used to get up about 9, read the newspapers, take a few
solar observations with a Sextant till 12, have luncheon, and ride
up to town about 2, lounge about the town paying visits and
shopping till 3, then go for a ride till 4:39, get home about
5:30, have dinner at 6, cup of tea at 7:30, rubber of whist (for
love) till 11, and then turn in and that was our ordinary
employment. We used to be overrun at various portions of the
day by naval officers coming on shore for fun, and in the evening
we used sometimes to have as many as a dozen at a time in our
Mess-room, and we were all great friends with them."
-- 27 May
1860, Lt. Anderson RE
Haig, like all
Royal Artillery officers, was a Gentleman Cadet at the
Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where he learned his trade as an
Artillery Officer, upon completion received a commission as a 2nd
lieutenant on 19th December of 1848.
that he also received his "step up" to 1st Lieutenant on the same day,
19th December 1848 (There must have been some reason for this as most
had a gap of about 6 months before getting the step).
On the 9th of
May 1855, Haig is promoted to Captain. Harts' 1857 records no war
service for this officer but his promotion appears rapid. He had spent
the whole of the nine years up to '57 on full pay.
word that he is to be part of the British North American Boundary
Commission. The commission travels, from Southampton, England, 2nd
April, 1858, on board the Steamer "Parana".
steams into St. Thomas, where the Commission transfers to the Steamer
"Trent" and on to Colon (or Aspinwall as the Americans were calling it
at the time.
the Commission takes the Panama Railway across the Isthmus to then board
the "HMS Havannah". The Commission arrives at Esquimalt on the
11th of July, 1858.
counterparts, on the American side, had been working on the Boundary for
some time and awaited the British with a mixture of dread and
anticipation. Haig's opposite number, Joseph Harris, has left us with
some of his observation of the Commission in general and Haig in
28th of July, the HMS Plumper steamed into the harbour and Mr. Parke
went off to her. He had arranged with Mr. King that if the British
Commissioner, Major Hawkins, came ashore, he (Mr. P.) would wave his
handkerchief as they came in the mouth of the creek and a salute would
then be fired. We on shore were watching for the signal but Mr.
Parke, afraid of being seen by by those in the boat with him, waved so
feebly that no one saw it and as we could see no body that looked like a
dignitary but Captain Richards, we omitted the salute. However the
Commissioner Major Hawkins and Astronomer Captain Haig both were there
as found out afterwards. They came up and looked at the
instruments, books, maps and everything else that we had, asked a great
many questions and seemed as of course they ought to be quite au fait in
On the 26th
August, 1858, Haig along with Captain Darrah, RE, and Dr. Lyall, RN, set
off up the Fraser River with some of the sappers to establish a camp at
September, 1858 - Parke to Harris
Haig arrived yesterday evening from Sumas, having been three days coming
over the guide line. He came in with our man and an Indian and
expected to make the trip in one day. He had a hard time; and
followed your (Mr. Harris) line most of the distance.
measured down the Meridian from the observatory at Sumas Station, to a
post standing about eight feet above the ground, and covered with red
flannel, and finds the distance to be about 2200 yards. Does this
post answer to the one you placed on the parallel? If so, I fear
there is again some mistake..."
The following are
a set of letters from Haig to Hawkins. Haig's use of his superior
officer's surname, without the rank being used, was a common form of
address for British officers of the time. They considered themselves
gentlemen first and officers second.
6th June 1859
My dear Hawkins,
I beg to recommend that the following men have their pay raised
again in consequence of their good conduct -
Thomas Torque (particularily)
Robert Cowan (particularily)
The latter is a most valuable man as long as he gets no chance to
drink. As a surveyor is competent. He is very
intelligent and this is what I employ him for. As a good and
obedient soldier he does not shine so much, especially when under
Serjt. Rogers, for whom he entertains, I think, a sort of contempt
or perhaps, not quite so strong a feeling, say, ridicule.
Cowan came out quite strong at Langley with Serjt. Rogers and was
the best man of the party. He is on very low pay and I know
not since when this has been the case. However, ever since he
has been with me, he has done everything that could be wished for
and I am very glad he was not sent to England. From what I
have heard him say, I know he would have liked it above all things,
so there would have been no need to put him on board a man of war to
prevent him from bolting.
Bolton was one of the men I stopped all boundary pay from but Serjt.
Hutchens does not mention him as worthy to have any of it restored,
so I suppose he has had some trouble with him. As for Kearney,
he appeared before me two days after the Langley affair for
drunkenness and as I had already stopped everything that I could, I
was obliged to order him 28 days confined to camp, which of course
amounts to nothing, but then the time for restoration of pay can be
postponed being that of the other men and ought to be.
Torque has been on short pay for a long time, I believe since he
last got drunk or otherwise committed himself. When sober, I
wouldn't wish for a more willing, hard-working man.
Yours very sincerely,
R. W. Haig
16th June 1859
My dear Hawkins,
I wish to send away the twelve axemen that I have here until the
survey down the parallel has been accurately made. Six of
them might be sent with Roche and the remainder might be sent
off on the Chilwkweyuk trail to repair it if necessary. I
have worked out a latitude for this place with weights for the
different star places. The probable error of this latitude
comes out to be twenty four feet. The latitude is 49.2
degrees 2 hours 12 minutes.
One of our men, Freeborn Gardner, gave notice to quit last
Saturday so I have paid him up. I can only (and that only
PERHAPS) pay the others up to the first of this month.
Many of them are hard up for boots which I believe they can buy
at Chilukweyuk. I have not been able to get any from
Langley lately. If you will have some mules, say six, to
make sure sent tomorrow, the axemen will be ready at Serjt.
Hutchens' camp at midday which will give them enough to get to
your camp the same day. If I had a surveyor now I could
leave this tomorrow myself as I have as accurate a latitude as I
want for lines down to the parallel and a trail also crossing it
all of which ought to be surveyed accurately.
With regard to the men I have punished by stopping their
boundary pay, I also added 14 days confinement to the camp -
Ryan, J. Smith and Kearney had all their boundary pay stopped
till further orders.
Jenkins 6 pence a day also.
McTirnan 6 pence a day till further orders.
Birch 7 days Boundary pay stopped and 6 pence a day till further
All the men had either 14 or 18 days confinement to camp.
The crimes are all entered in the order book which I do not send
as I understood from you that you would probably visit this
Yesterday was a disappointment and today is not much better
although the men are at work.
Yours very truly,
R. W. Haig
17th June 1859
My dear Hawkins,
I send two indians, the younger of which I have had employed here
since the 26th May inclusive at $1 a day. His name is Isthlaten.
He is strong and willing to work. The other man I know nothing
about except that he is said to be well aquainted with the Slepe
As far as I can make out from him, a good mule trail can be made to
the entrance of the valley and some way up it. The mountain
which has to be turned after leaving Coustas trail is, I understand
him to say, very steep, right down to the Chilukweyk river but it is
earth and not rock, so that, with a little spade work, a trail could
be got through. I also understand that this steep part over
which the trail has to go or rather, along which it has to go, is
about half a mile in length and then all is plain sailing again.
Of course, I cannot be dead certain of all this but it is the best
that I can make out. I think it is better to send the indian to
you so that Roche may make a fair start with every necessary. I
hope the sextant and the other instruments have been got up from
Sumas. They might be packed on the backs of good and safe mules.
I think where the trail is as good as it is between Sumas and your
camp, care being taken that the mule is lightly laden and it would
perhaps be as well to have an animal with such a precious load led and
then it could not stray and smash the boxes against the tress, etc.
I think while Roche is making the trail, a pocket compass will be
sufficient to guide him. I don't think he is up to sketching
with the prismatic compass and moreover sketching Coulter trail would
delay him too much. If he does sketch, I will have the
necessaries sent to him - I confess I hardly like sending away a
pocket chronometer on such a break-neck expedition although if the sun
does not come out it will be almost necessary in order to take stars
satisfactorily. However it will be as well for Roche to remember
that there is no use in his taking a latitude at all, until he gets
into the Slepe valley, where his course will be as near south as the
valley will permit.
east latitude observations will be of but little service unless the
trail is accurately traversed. By the by, I suppose Roche is
aware that the variation of the needle in these parts is about 21 1/2
degrees or 2 points East of true North.
If the two boxes of magnetic instruments were carefully packed on a
led mule and sent here, I could take some observations while the
survey is going on.
The two men that I retain were required to complete the second trail
down to the parallel and by sending them with the surveyors to carry
the instruments or clear away an intervening bough, I hope to get on
much quicker that otherwise. If the magnetic instruments are
sent, one set of legs will be sufficient (the longest).
Yours very sincerely
R. W. Haig
The name of the older indian is Telichkil.
(Harris to his brother)
Camp Skagit, 7th August, 1859 -
"Captain Haig of the English Commission has now
been here all day and nothing could be done towards getting letters
The HMS Satellite has been ordered to San Juan and
it is said the HMS Plumper too to prevent the landing of any more
troops and the Sappers and Miners, the only military in the country,
have been taken down from the Fraser River to go to San Juan. The
speck of war looks large to appear so quickly but I do not know what
will come next - more quiet times I think. Haig appears to think the
affair decidedly threatening: he gave me most of the information,
though a letter from Warren and the Victoria papers confirmed
Haig returns to Chilliwack Lake and I suppose with
him return all hopes of the English Commission doing much more this
season. He is now acting Commissioner and Hawkins cannot be back
before three months."
As soon as he was able,
it appears that Haig moved on disciplining his errant men.
RE Camp, New Westminster,
30th September, 1859
I have the honor to acknowledge the
receipt this morning of your communication of the 14th
Instant, referring to the case of Lt. Wilson RE having applied
to me for a District Court Martial to be assembled for the trial
of No. 2209 Sapper James Kearney, of the 32nd Company
of Royal Engineers attached to the North American Boundary
Commission under your Command.
Your approval of the steps taken by
that Officer, under the circumstances, has my entire
I submit herewith the proceedings of
the Court martial, which have been approved by me, and shall
feel obliged by your returning them, according to the rules of
the Service, to the president, Captain Parsons RE, by whom they
have to be transmitted to the Judge Advocate General, after they
have been read out to the Men under your command, and the usual
Sapper Kearney is undergoing his
Imprisonment here according to Lt. Wilsonís request.
I have etc., etc.,
RC Moody,Colonel Commanding
To Captain Haig, RA, Commanding NAB
On the same day
Haig received another letter from the Columbia Detachment from Captain
RE Camp, New Westminster,
I am instructed by the Col. Commanding
to enclose for your information a charge of Drunkenness against
Sapper (late Lance Corporal) John Healey belonging to your
Detachment, and to request that, whenever you may deem it
necessary to order any Non-Commissioned Officer or Sapper to
this place for medical treatment or on any duty, his Defaulter
Sheet may, in future, when practicable, be sent with him, in
order that in the event of his committing himself, the case may
be dealt with according to the character he may have, by his
previous conduct, established for himself in the Service.
Sapper Healy proceeds by this
opportunity to rejoin your Detachment, with orders to report
himself to Lt. Wilson RE at the Chilickweyuk Depot.
I have etc, etc,.
HRLuard, Captain RE
To Captain Haig, RA, Act. Commander NAB
In January of
1860, the explorer John Palliser, came to Victoria.
Esquimalt harbour is about three miles from
Victoria, where the "Ganges" (Amdiral Baynes) and several other
steamers are lying. Esquimalt is also the head-quarters of the
Boundary Commission, under Col. Hawkins, and then under Captain Haig.
We were most kindly and hospitably entertained by
Governor Douglas, Admiral Baynes, and all the officers of the fleet;
also by Captain Haig and his brother officers.
- Appendix IV of The Palliser papers, pg. 536
ladies out here are not quite so ceremonious as those at home;
they often speak of gentlemen by their surnames, and one of
them who happens to be a namesake of mine also speaks of me as
her cousin, tho' I should be sorry to own any relationship.
They say this very young lady was proposed to by Captain Haig,
one of our officers, and the story goes that she was actually
so silly as to refuse him, so we consider that he has had a
14 April 1860
Anderson, daughter of A. C. Anderson. the young lady who
refused Haig's proposal. She went on to become Mrs.
[Fraser River, Boundary Bay, 1860
Chilliwack River and Skagit
River] / by Captain Haig,
N.A.B. Boundary Commission
ANDERSON, James Robert, 1841-1930. Victoria; accountant,
Minister of Agriculture.
Originals, 1824, 1858-1927, 2.16 m
Haig (standing) and Darrah (seated in tent with theodolite)
at Yahk River station.
We have found 6 photographs featuring Haig.
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