APPENDIX G: CRITERIA FOR RECONSTRUCTING HISTORIC VEGETATION AND ASSOCIATED FEATURES AT FORT VANCOUVER
Accurately reconstructing historic features such as the garden, orchard, fields, and pastures, at Fort Vancouver is predicated on the identification of specific plant varieties that were historically used at the site between 1829 and 1846, and are still available. Even if historic varieties (cultivars) from Fort Vancouver are no longer available, a description of the characteristics of the variety should be obtained, if possible, to try and match these historic characteristics. All materials need to be verified using historical, pictorial, and physical documentation. A large network of heirloom plant research centers, societies, clubs, historic gardens, and demonstration farms exist today and an abbreviated list of resources can be found in Appendix H. Reconstructions should be based on primary and secondary sources if possible.
Primary sources include plants used specifically at Fort Vancouver or used at a place closely associated with Fort Vancouver. These sources include references in journals, diaries, illustrations, archeological investigations, seed and plant records, and extant historic plant material (Historic Apple Tree; folklore plants such as the plum tree and wormwood plant from HBC employee George Roberts' home in Cathlamet). Examples of primary sources include the list of seeds from Gordon, Forsythe, & Company for both the Columbia Department and York Factory, and vegetation grown at outposts administered by Fort Vancouver such as Cowlitz Farm, and Fort Nisqually. A list of historic plants from primary sources (summarized from Appendices B, D, and E) follows. For a preliminary list of native vegetation see Appendix A.
Perhaps the best source of plant materials for Fort Vancouver, are the lists of seeds from Gordon, Forsythe, & Company. These lists provide the most accurate list of plant material because they include the common name for plant varieties; visitors and employees usually only referred to plants by generic names, for example, carrots, turnips, apples, dahlias, etc.
Secondary sources include general reference materials, such as popular garden and horticultural books, and catalogues and magazines from the British Isles during the historic period. Plant varieties chosen from these sources should be based on the list of generic names identified in the primary research.
Reference materials specifically noted as being found at Fort Vancouver should be given high priority. For example, J.C. Loudon's An Encyclopedia of Agriculture (probably the 1831 edition) was in Chief Factor McLoughlin's library. Common plant varieties suggested in this book may be appropriate plant varieties for the site (if they are still available).
Current research indicates most of the plants grown at Fort Vancouver originated from sources in England or Scotland; therefore, identifying historic varieties should focus on varieties that were common in the British Isles. The use of secondary sources from America or other countries should be limited. While it is possible some plant varieties were introduced to Fort Vancouver by American settlers, foreign visitors, or through foreign trade (peaches from San Fernandez, acacia from Oahu) they should not be included as historic plant material unless the specific varieties and their use at Fort Vancouver can be documented. Note: This does not preclude that possibility that foreign or American varieties can be considered secondary sources since common varieties in England and Scotland included many varieties that originated in other countries.
If historic plant varieties identified through primary and secondary research are no longer available other historic varieties may be planted for interpretive purposes. It is important that these features are interpreted as being representational of the fort's agricultural operations and that they are not authentic HBC Fort Vancouver historic varieties. There is a wide range of other historic plant varieties, including HBC forts other than those listed as primary or secondary source, and heirloom or contemporary varieties. It is important to remember that all plant materials should be selected on the basis of restoring the historic scene at Fort Vancouver. The choice of plants should be based on the generic names identified in the historic research, and when possible, varieties should match the physical characteristics (color, form, & size) of historic varieties if they have been identified.
LIST OF POTENTIAL PRIMARY SOURCES (to date):
1. Hudson's Bay Company Archives (HBCA) Indent Book list of seeds from Gordon, Forsythe & Company for the Columbia Department and York Factory during the late 1820s, and 1830 to mid-1840s.
2. Any historic references specific to Fort Vancouver, Fort Nisqually, and Cowlitz Farm, during the historic period (1829-46).
LIST OF POTENTIAL SECONDARY SOURCES (to date):4
1. Any historic references specific to Fort Langley, and Fort Victoria during the historic period.
2. Seed catalogs from the historic period from seed companies used
by Fort Vancouver:
3. John C. Loudon An Encyclopedia of Agriculture (1831, 1835), An Encyclopedia of Gardening, 1830 and 1834, and Gardeners' Magazine (during the Fort Vancouver historic period).
4. Catalogue of Fruits, 1826. A catalog listing the fruits in the garden at Chiswick, submitted by the Secretary of the Horticultural Society to the Council.5
Catalogue of Fruits 2nd Edition, 1831, from the Horticultural Society of London. A catalog of the fruit varieties grown in the Society's garden, and notes on each variety. This catalog was also listed as a reference book for Loudon's An Encyclopedia of< Gardening (1834).6
While historical documentation about the garden and orchard is limited, some elements were identified in the historic research and should be included when developing specific designs and plans for these features. For example, the garden walks were said to be lined with strawberry plants, historic illustrations suggest that fruit trees in the garden were more numerous in the northwest beds, and frames (hot or cold) were used in the east side of the garden. These elements should be reestablished to enhance the interpretation of the historic scene. Except for the frames, fences, and well, no other small-scale features or ornamental features have been identified in the garden. While many visitors expressed amazement about the quantity and variety of produce, and the orderly layout of the garden, except for the summerhouse, no other ornamental features such as trellises, benches, sundials, etc., were mentioned. Also, there was no mention of sitting in the garden, only walking, and likewise the use of the summerhouse is unknown; did visitors sit in the summerhouse or was it simply used to store tools? As a large-scale working garden, it may be more likely that the garden was limited in ornamental features, therefore, the introduction of ornamental small-scale features common to Victorian English gardens, without specific references to their use at Fort Vancouver should be pursued with caution. Accurately transposing features from designed Victorian gardens, to a remote Pacific Northwest fur-trading post, could create an inaccurate historic scene.
While it is possible dwarf apple trees existed at Fort Vancouver during the historic period, until more conclusive evidence is available, the majority of the trees in the garden and orchard should be standard size trees.
4. There is an intriguing series of connections between John C. Loudon's encyclopedias, The Horticultural Society of London (Chiswick Gardens), and Fort Vancouver. Fort Vancouver was often compared to Chiswick, documentation indicates plants were received from the Horticultural Society, Loudon's Encyclopedia of Agriculture was in McLoughlin's library, and the two primary seed sources for the fort were Gordon, Forsythe & Company, and Gordon, Thompson & Company. Loudon cites several major contributors to The Encyclopedia of Agriculture (1839), and An Encyclopedia of Gardening (1830, 1834), including Esq. William Forsyth F.A.S., and members of the Horticultural Society of London including Mr. Thompson and Mr. Gordon. Mr. Thompson was the gardener of the Fruit Department at the Horticultural Society's garden (Chiswick) and provided a list of fruit for the 1834 edition of Loudon's An Encyclopedia of Gardening. Is it possible that these three contributors were associated with the two primary seed companies used at Fort Vancouver, Gordon, Forsythe, & Company, and Gordon, Thompson, & Company? For example, Esq. William Forsyth (1737-1804) from Scotland, is identified in The Encyclopedia of Gardening, as an expert on fruit trees, and author of Treatise on the Culture and Management of Fruit Trees: in which a new method of Cure, invented and practiced by the Author London, 1791. The 1830 edition of An Encyclopedia of Gardening, includes lists of vegetable varieties recommended by William Forsyth. *His son 'was an eminent London seedsman and author of a botanical catalogue'. Was his son, Forsythe of the seed company Gordon, Forsythe & Company? Future research confirming all these possible connections would increase support of the use of these secondary sources.
5. Council Minutes of the Horticultural Society, November 11, 1826. Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural Society, Vincent Square, London.
6. Horticultural Society of London, "XLIII. Report on the progress of the Horticultural Society of London, from May 1, 1830 to April 30, 1840", From: Vol. II, Second Series of Transactions of the Horticultural Society of London, Lindley Library, Royal Horticultural Society, Vincent Square, London.
London purchased seeds from Gordon, Forsythe & Co. for shipment directly to the Columbia Dept. These seeds & quantities would not have been used exclusively at Fort Vancouver, they would have been shipped to Fort Vancouver and then distributed to the other Columbia Department forts. The following varieties were listed in the 1831 Hudson's Bay Company Archives Indent Books:Early Frame Cucumbers
Green Cos. Lettuce
Early Green Pease
Early White Pease
Early White Turnip
Early Yellow Turnip
Yellow Swedish Turnip
Early Angus oats
Winter Wheat--Triticum hybernum p. 811
Rye Grass--Secale cereale pg. 821
White & Red Clover
*Historic variety still available. Planted at a Chilton Gardens, Chilton Foliat, England, a restored Victorian kitchen garden. See Jennifer Davies, The Victorian Kitchen Garden, 1988.
**Historic variety still available see: Scott Kunst, "Victorian Vegetables", Old House Journal, March/April, 1987, pp. 46-51.
This summary was derived from Appendices B., D., and E. and other historic documentation.
Varieties that are underlined are varieties that are also listed in J.C. Loudon's Encyclopedia of Agriculture, 1835.
**>Historic variety still available see: Scott Kunst, "Victorian Vegetables", Old House Journal, March/April, 1987, pp. 46-51.
"Grass seeds sown at Nisqually April 1, 1847". From page 27 of the Botanical Notebook of William Fraser Tolmie 1832-1847 (PABC Add. MSS. 557 v.1/7).
NOTE: Common names for the grasses at Nisqually are from a catalog by Peter Lawson & Son, 1844, Edinburgh. These common names should be verified with other historic period catalogs (especially primary source catalogs), before relying on their accuracy.
Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003