James Murray Yale                       


James Murray Yale

James  Murray Yale (1776-1871).

The third Chief Factor in charge of Fort Langley, he ruled the outpost's destiny for 25 years.

James Murray Yale,   entered the Company's service in 1815, when a boy, and who in later life became one of their best officers.

In Commander Richard  Mayne's work  " Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island," he speaks highly of Mr Yale's service. as  shown below:

"This service," says Commander Mayne in his excellent work, " Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island," " devolved upon me, and I received orders to proceed up the river with despatches from Captain Richards, informing the colonel of the force at Langley.

"Mr. Yale, the Hudson Bay Company's officer at Fort Langley, undertook to provide a canoe and crew for the journey, and my own preparations," continues Lieutenant Mayne, "were soon made ”a blanket, frock and trousers, a couple of rugs, two or three pipes, plenty of tobacco, tea, coffee, some meat and bread completing my outfit. At this time canoe-travelling was quite new to me, and, familiar as it has since become, I quite well remember the curious sensations with which this, my first journey of the kind, was commenced. It was mid-winter; the snow lay several inches deep upon the ground. The latest reports from up the river spoke of much ice about and below Fort Hope, so that I was by no means sorry to avail myself of the offer of Mr. Lewis of the Hudson Bay Company, who had accompanied the Plumper as pilot to be my companion.

Mr. Yale had selected a good canoe and nine stout paddlers ”four half-breeds, and five Indians, and when I landed from the ship, a few minutes before eleven, they were waiting on the beach, dressed in their best blankets, with large streamers of bright red, blue and yellow ribbons, in which they delight so much, Hying from their caps.

Mr. Yale had previously harangued them, and presented them with the importance of the service in which they were engaged. Seating ourselves in the canoe, as comfortably as we could, away we started, the frail bark flying over the smooth water and the crew singing at the top of their wild, shrill voices ; their parti-colored decorations streaming in the bitter winter wind.

The Fraser River at Langley: At Langley the river becomes a broad, deep, and placid stream, and except during the three summer months (June, July, and August) the influence of the flood-stream is felt there. The current is not more than three knots and the depth of water ten fathoms, so that vessels of any draught may conveniently anchor.

Vessels of from eighteen to twenty feet draught may enter the Fraser and proceed as high as Langley, or even a few miles above it, provided they have steam-power.

The river is at its lowest stage during the months of January, February, and March. In April the snow commences to melt and the river to rise, which it does perhaps two feet in this month at Langley, the flood-stream at New Westminster being still strong enough to swing a ship.

In May the waters rise rapidly, and continue to do so till the end of June, when they have reached their highest point. They remain so until the middle of August, with perhaps slight fluctuations. During these six weeks, the banks being overflowed, the meadows at the entrance, and the extensive plains on the banks of the Pitt River above Langley, are covered for several miles, and the strength of the stream becomes four to seven knots, and in some places even more.

The ordinary rise of the river at Langley is 14 feet; but when we were there Mr. Yale, who had been in charge of the post for 30 years without intermission, said he had known it rise 25 feet. Higher up the river, of course, the rise is much greater. In 1859, when I was at Pavillon, the river rose 18 feet in one night.

After the middle of August the water begins to subside,

   Copyright  Jacob Romeyn   March 2008

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