Fort Vancouver
Cultural Landscape Report
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III. FORT VANCOUVER: TRANSITION, 1847-1860 (continued)


Fort Plain (continued)

Kanaka Village/Quartermaster's Depot

Beginning in 1849, and continuing through December of 1859, the army rented various Company buildings, including a number of dwellings in the Kanaka Village vicinity. The dwellings west of the church have already been discussed, and are not covered below. The dwellings in the vicinity of the river front, including those east of the pond, are addressed in the River Front section of this report.

During this period, the site of Kanaka Village was transformed from a "lively little village occupied by Scotchmen, Canadians, Kanakas, and half breeds..." to a U.S. Army's quartermaster's depot. [1050] By 1860 virtually nothing remained of the thirty to forty dwellings and the various fenced gardens which comprised the village where the Company's servants had lived in the mid-1840s.

It began in the late '40s. Because the number of employees at Fort Vancouver dropped significantly after the announcement of the discovery of gold in California, it seems probable that some houses in the village were abandoned before the army arrived in May of 1849, and it appears the population had pretty much dispersed by the fall of 1850. In 1852 assistant quartermaster Rufus Ingalls reported that when the first four-mile square military reservation was declared, in October of 1850, "...there were some two or three retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company living within its limits, but they have never been disturbed, as they were not in the way of the garrison, and as they were and are living, as stated, by permission of the Hudson's Bay Company." [1051] William Crate later testified that the village was "in as good condition in 1849 as it was in 1843; and in my opinion better." [1052]

The necessity of locating the quartermaster's depot near the river, the principal transportation route for supplies and equipment, apparently led to the subsequent development of the village site as the depot. All early development of the depot occurred on the west side of the village. In 1849 several vacated Company houses in the village were rented by the army. Up until 1859 the army continued to rent "outhouses" to various army officers and, perhaps, married soldiers. During the same period, the army constructed dwellings for quartermaster's employees, as well as stables, shops and other functional buildings to service the depot.

The larger road network established by the Company, which included the "river road" from the Catholic church to the river, and the Lower Mill Road, south of the stockade, can be seen on all maps of the period, although the angle of the west end of Lower Mill Road, after crossing "river road" changes from map to map, generally becoming more east-west as the years advance. While it could be cartographic error by early delineators, it seems fairly clear the west end of this road had swung further north by 1859. The 1854 map shows it connecting to the army road in the vicinity of the Company stable, byre and pig sheds, the same as or close to the position shown on the 1846 Covington stockade area map, and quite far south of the quartermaster's house. By 1859 this road is running almost due west, passing next to the quartermaster's house enclosure, and north of the Company animal structures.

By the early 1850s a new army road was established from the intersection near the church, running in a southerly direction west of "river road" to the Company wharf, apparently looping somewhat to the west to service the early quartermaster's depot buildings. As noted earlier, this road appears to have been altered by 1859, creating a less winding and more direct route to the river. The disposition of secondary streets within the village area is still, to a large extent, unknown. Vavasour has what appear to be sketchy roads or tracks which loop through the village area in his 1845 map of Fort Vancouver; one line seems to lie on approximately the same location as a road or path shown in an 1851 Gibbs sketch and in the 1854 Bonneville and Mansfield maps. It runs east-west between the "river road" and the quartermaster's--Ingalls--house, and appears to have been located on a bearing south of the stockade's northwest bastion. The Gibbs sketch also shows a road or path west and running roughly parallel to "river road" between the new army road and and village houses and enclosures. As discussed earlier, there are several references in the historic literature to additional streets within the village, but their location at this time is largely speculative.

Both Paul Kane's 1846-47 sketch and the c. 1846-47 painting attributed to Stanley show the village in the distance. Both show at least two tall trees, possibly cottonwoods, in the vicinity of the village. The 1851 Gibbs views of the village show no large trees within the village proper, although some stumps are shown, and paths or roads are distinguished by a lack of low-growing vegetation or grass, which he uses to illustrate the general ground cover. In the 1854 and '55 engraving and sketches of the north end of the site, only the Covington drawing shows any significant vegetation. In his illustration there is a cluster of small trees and brush south of the Charlesbois, and what may be the Little Proulx dwellings, and some trees at least taller than a man on horseback just west of the army road. The Sohon engraving also shows vegetation west of the army road, but the area south of the Charlesbois house is illustrated as vacant land. The 1860 Boundary Commission panorama looking westerly towards the quartermaster's depot, across the former village site after the army's demolition, shows bare land, without a single bush to mar the foreground.

It is fairly certain that in addition to dwellings, there were sheds and other outbuildings within the village associated with them. The clearest evidence in the 1851 Gibbs sketch, which shows small structures of a scale and with details drawn that indicate functions other than housing. Although the only early reference to a garden associated with the village is in reference to the Lattie house, west of the church, in 1844, it seems clear from the 1851 Gibbs sketches that several dwellings, at least, had enclosed areas which may have served either as corrals or as gardens. The 1846 Covington stockade area map shows enclosed areas around some dwellings, and a reference is made to Kanaka Billy's fence in 1860. In the Gibbs sketches the areas are enclosed with four rail or pole fencing. [1053] In the 1854 maps, the central site of the village, between the dwellings along "river road" and the army road, is depicted as consisting of two large fenced enclosures which correspond roughly to one of the Gibbs sketches. The fences line the east-west street which terminates just short of the army road and east of the quartermaster's house. There are three structures within or at the south edge the northern enclosure, near the east-west road. In the McConnell version of the Bonneville map, almost all of the northern enclosure is shown as a cultivated field, while the southern enclosure is not, perhaps indicating it was used to enclose livestock.

The Bonneville map also shows a small structure south of the quartermaster's house with an attached enclosure; it may be that this structure was the John Johnson house. This structure was depicted on the 1846 Covington stockade area map as located within an enclosure, although the position of dwelling to fence line is different. The Mansfield map keys this particular building as an army structure, however, and this study found no record of the John Johnson house being an army rental; it was the James Johnson dwelling, west of the John Johnson structure, that was rented by Ingalls, and rented for army use until at least 1853, when the identity of individual buildings on the rental roll ceased.

The 1859 maps show two enclosures within the area between "river road" and the army road, but the configuration has changed; it appears this is a new structure, rather than either of the two enclosures shown earlier, although the proportions on the map make assessment difficult. [1054] By 1860 the Boundary Commission photographs indicate all fences are gone.

The 1846 Covington map shows an outlined enclosure near the northwest corner of the intersection of the "river road" and Upper Mill Road, which was probably a Company corral. It appears in approximately the same location on the 1854 army maps. In 1859, it no longer appears. In September of 1856 Ingalls requested permission from the Company to demolish an abandoned corral belonging to the Company, and to occupy the site for the "public service." Chief Trader James Grahame protested. [1055] The corral in question appears to have been this enclosure. Its site is believed to have been found archaeologically. [1056] Dr. Tuzo, at the Company's post between 1853 and 1858, said "The company's corrals were made use of at first, and finally altogether removed by the quarter master's dept." [1057]

Hudson's Bay Company Structures

As discussed previously, the exact number of buildings and their disposition is still open to question. Pre-1860 maps are more or less diagrammatic, and only general relative positions of different buildings can be determined with any degree of certainty. Below is a brief discussion of Hudson's Bay Company buildings known to be associated in any way with the U.S. Army during this period.

A count of buildings as shown on the 1846 Covington and 1845 Vavasour maps indicates there may have been between thirty and fifty buildings in the village, including those west of the Catholic mission and those in the river front area. In 1849 Theodore Talbot estimated the village contained "...40 or 50 houses occupied by servants of the Company. " [1058] In 1850, according to a settler, Daniel Bradford, "There were fifteen or twenty houses, some small patches of gardens." [1059]

In June of 1849 Ingalls rented Captain James Johnson's house in the village, the two schoolhouses north of the stockade, and "two small houses" in the village. Ingalls lived in the Johnson house until construction of his new house to the north in 1850. It does not appear on the company rental rolls after December of 1849, until 1852, when it was rented by a Mr. Bolon, from October 9 through February of 1853. Dr. Holden, the army surgeon, briefly occupied the two small houses--the Charlesbois and Little Proulx dwellings on the west side of the north end of "river road;" perhaps one of these was used for an army hospital and/or dispensary. On December 4, 1849, he moved to the LaFramboise house in the village, southwest of the first two houses he occupied, and north of the Ingalls rental. Theodore Talbot noted in his journal on December 4: "Dr. H. moved down to his new Quarters near Ingalls a very comfortable house, also left our mess joining Ingalls family. Major Reynolds pay m.[master] arrived taking Dr. Holden's quarters in the log building." [1060] That month Ingalls leased "all land" lying between the Johnson house and the LaFramboise house, approximately six acres. [1061] Archaeological studies indicate the Ingalls house was built near the location of the LaFramboise house.

artillery units
Figure 15. Looking southwest towards U.S. Army Quartermaster's Depot in 1860, from site of Hudson's Bay Company orchard; structures to left of photo, within enclosures, are believed to be Village dwellings left standing. Building to right is Quartermaster's House. North American Boundary Commission Survey, 1860-61, original at Royal Engineers Library, Kent.

In April of 1851, the army rented Joe Tayentas' house, the building labeled "L" on the 1846 Covington stockade area map, situated east of the LaFramboise house; it was rented for at least one month in October of 1850 by the paymaster, Major Reynolds. After March of 1851, the house is no longer recorded as a rental. In October, 1851, the house of Joe Onowanoran, or possibly Anowanoran, was rented to someone named Beers for two months; it is labeled "O" on the Covington map. It appears it may have been rented to a Carson--possibly John William Carson, apparently an army officer who was an in-law of the Tubbs or Tubs family, between July and October, and possibly co-rented by a Johnstone or Johnson between October and December. After December it is not listed in the rental roll. [1062]

E.A. Hitchcock, Colonel in the Pacific Division headquarters said in 1851 that "...along the river, and extending back from the river, there is quite a village of ordinary frontier huts, disposed in streets, and occupied by employés of the Company..." [1063] Dr. Tuzo later testified that in 1853 the village contained "...several streets when I first went there, occupied by Co's employés. At least 10 dwelling houses worth 1200; twenty worth 500, and nearly as many more worth 300, besides a number in the occupation of Indians and Kanakas of very small value." [1064] If Tuzo, who testified on behalf of the Company for the British and American Joint Commission, was not overstating the size of the village, then some time in late 1853 around ten dwellings in the village had been demolished, even if the dwellings west of the church and in the river front complex are counted. The 1854 maps by Mansfield and Bonneville indicate approximately twenty four structures that could be considered Hudson's Bay Company dwellings. In 1854 Governor Isaac Stevens reported to the U.S. state department, on behalf of the U.S. in the settlement, that outside the stockade there were "...about twenty cabins, occupied by servants, Kanakas and Indians. These cabins are, with few exceptions, built of slabs. Most of them are untenated and left to decay." [1065]

As noted above, the configuration of the village between the "river road" and the army road to its west changed significantly between 1854 and 1859. In 1854, according to the army maps, there were six structures arrayed along "river road," from north to south. In addition, there were four structures north of the east-west street between "river road" and the army road, and one just south of it. West of the army road and south of the quartermaster's house were four or five structures, one with an enclosure. By 1859, only one structure along "river road" was left, and three additional structures west and north of it, within enclosures. South of the quartermaster's house, there were only one or two structures left. Tuzo later stated that in 1859 many buildings in the village "...had been destroyed or removed," and Dugald Mactavish noted that when he left in 1858, "...many of the buildings outside the fort were burnt down and others removed by authority of the military during my residence there." [1066]

On 1 March 1860, the army officers appointed to assess the site prior to their actions to clear it for a drill ground, reported it contained four to five hundred yards of fencing and eight or nine buildings, "mere shells" going to decay. [1067] In March of 1860, as noted earlier, the army began demolition of structures west of the fort. Among those buildings surviving to this time was the house occupied by William Kaulehele ("Kanaka Billy"), and another structure occupied by a Hawaiian, although it is not clear which. According to John Work, on March 20th, the "Govt. burnt down house occupied by William Kaulehele, doors and windows removed by govt and W.K. compelled to leave to save his life. Several other buildings also burnt down, one in that neighborhood left alone was a small one occupied by a Sandwich Islander, which was hauled to the Ordnance Reserve..." [1068] Another house, probably in the Kanaka Village area, was an "old Hudson's Bay Company structure used as a hay house," which Work said the army burned on March 16. [1069] Work also said the military left two houses standing: "Johnson's and Field's houses," and possibly a few more. The Fields family, by that time, were living in a house in the river front complex. [1070] On the 1859 maps, there are two structures south of the quartermaster's house. On the 1860 Boundary Commission photograph looking west towards the quartermaster's house, there are two structures enclosed by what appear to be vertical posts laid side by side. The one to the south is a small gable-roofed structure and appears to date from the Hudson's Bay Company period; the one just north of it is hidden by tall deciduous trees within the enclosure, but was probably a Kanaka Village dwelling as well. [1071]

U.S. Army Structures

It is not known when the army road from the intersection at the Catholic church to the Company's wharf was built, although it must have been established some time around 1851, by which time five quartermaster's buildings had been erected. The southern end of it probably followed the road established by the Hudson's Bay Company, from the juncture with Lower Mill Road, and it is possible part of the rest of it followed an earlier secondary Company path or street, although the 1846 Covington stockade area map does not show a path following the same route. The 1845 Vavasour map, however shows a line extending in a northwesterly direction, which may indicate a road, from the Hudson's Bay Company stables. By 1854 the army road is shown leaving the original Company road extension of Lower Mill Road just west of the Company's horse stable in the river front complex and extending in a northerly direction, running close to the quartermaster's buildings. By 1859, as noted above, the west extension of Lower Mill road, has swung north, and passes the quartermaster's house enclosure, apparently to connect with a route into Vancouver City to the west.

The general vegetation pattern in the vicinity of the quartermaster's depot, in so far as is known, was discussed in the Kanaka Village section. By 1854, a fence had been erected around the quartermaster's house, and what appears to be an enclosed, cultivated field extended north from the quartermaster's house enclosure to what appears to be a fenced corral west of the quartermaster's stable. What was probably the Hudson's Bay Company corral, west of the army road and south of Upper Mill Road, was probably, at this point, in use by the army. This corral can be seen in the 1846 Covington stockade area map, and in the 1854 maps as an outlined box just south of Upper Mill Road. A second corral is shown in an 1851 Gibbs sketch as surrounded by wagons or possibly caissons, and possibly field artillery; this was probably located just east of the quartermaster's stable, and indicated as three rectangles on the 1854 Bonneville map, and labeled as "K," corral, in the Mansfield map.

Some time in 1850 assistant quartermaster Rufus Ingalls had a dismantled two-and-one-half story frame house, shipped from Quartermaster Robert Allen in San Francisco, erected near the west edge of Kanaka Village, near the LaFramboise house. This building, with four rooms on each floor, served as his quarters and office, and in the early fifties also housed Ingalls assistant, quartermaster's agent G.C. Bomford, and quartermaster's clerks. In 1854 Ingalls' house was described by Mansfield as a "very good wooden building." [1072]

By June 22 of 1851, there were five army structures comprising the depot, aligned in a northerly direction on the west side of the village. From south to north, they were the quartermaster's office and quarters, where Ingalls resided; a quartermaster's stable and hay shed; a quartermaster's house for employees; a quartermaster's carpenters' shop and a storeroom, and a quartermaster's blacksmith shop. The blacksmith shop was located north of Upper Mill road, west of the Catholic mission enclosure. These buildings are shown on the 1850-51 Bomford map, and are listed in a report prepared by assistant quartermaster Thomas Brent in 1854. When Ingalls made his report in June, he noted that all the post required--other than to "...erect buildings of a different style and more permanent character..." were new commissary and Quartermaster's storehouses, for which he said he had the materials. [1073] These two structures were not built until 1858-62.

Mansfield's report from his August 21-23, 1854 tour, noted the: "The Quartermaster's Department here is a sub depot for the supply of places in this vicinity and is under the direction of Captain T.L. Brent, assistant quartermaster...He has a suitable smith's and carpenter's shop and stable." [1074] Mansfield noted Brent had plans for, among other buildings--some not erected for another three to four years--a hay shed. Brent, in his report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1854, listed these buildings, although the carpenter's shop now included a saddle shop, rather than a storeroom. By November of 1854, Brent reported to Commander Bonneville that a straw shed had been built. [1075] This structure may have been located on the south or north side of the quartermaster's stable corral.

Brent's report of June, 1854, noted that the stables were "not worth repairing" and would probably "soon tumble down." [1076] In June of 1856 he submitted plans for construction of a hospital, storehouses, stables, forage houses, and wharfs for the army post at Vancouver. In the records reviewed for this study, no specific construction dates were found for these structures, other than the wharf. However, by 1862, the list of buildings at the post included three frame horse and mule barns with hay lofts that could accommodate 200 horses or mules. The list also includes: "1 large corral, with mule and cattle sheds on 3 sides and hay loft above." [1077] Two of these stables were above the quartermaster's depot, west of the garrison, built, according to a later list of buildings, in 1854 and 1858. [1078] The third was probably in or near the quartermaster's depot, and, if so, was probably the east side of the "large corral" with mule and cattle sheds." [1079] Rufus Ingalls, in an 1857 letter said, "When I arrived here a new stable was in process of construction. It is finished and costs about $13,500..." [1080] This could have been one of the stables west of the garrison, supposedly built in 1854 and 1858, but only one building is seen on one of the 1859 maps. It also could have been the third stable listed in the 1862 list, and also listed in 1864, which may be the structure seen in the 1860 Boundary Commission photo looking northwest. It may be that the old quartermaster's frame stable stood until 1860, or it is possible it was replaced by a new stable in 1856, which included wings for mules and cattle, in the same location. Archaeological studies indicate that the original quartermaster's stable was renovated in 1856: remains of a wood stable were found in floor girder trenches and gaps in masonry footings, and bricks in some piers suggest that renovation could have occurred in the mid 1850s. [1081]

Quartermaster's Depot
Figure 16. Looking west towards U.S. Army's Quartermaster's Depot in 1860, from site of Hudson's Bay Company orchard after demolition of Kanaka Village buildings. Building to right is Quartermaster's barn. North American Boundary Commission Survey, 1860-61, original at Royal Engineers Library, Kent.

In any case, a stable is definitely shown in this location on the 1860 Boundary Commission photograph looking west. It is a two-story, gable-roofed structure with a shed roof appended to the west elevation, possibly one leg of the "mule and cattle sheds" referred to in the 1862 list. The building appears to have a hay loft in the second story, with openings on at least the south end and the middle of the east elevation for loading hay. The south enclosure of the corral to the west of the stable appears to the left of the stable, a long, low, gable-roofed building with what appears to be a single large opening extending to just below the eaves on the south elevation. Just north of the stable a very low gable-roofed structure can be seen extending west, probably the structure enclosing the north edge of the corral, as shown on the 1859 maps; it may possibly be the earlier temporary straw shed mentioned in 1854. On the 1871 Winman map, the latter structure is missing; the east building on the corral is identified as a stable.

A small portion of the lower end of the enclosure indicated as a field in 1854 and a corral in 1859, is, by 1859, enclosed and labeled "gardens." In the 1860 Boundary Commission Photo looking west, Ingalls house appears behind a picket fence, with small trees north of it in an area enclosed by a picket fence, at least on the east side.

The blacksmith's shop was a one-room frame building north of Upper Mill Road, and the carpenter's shop, apparently expanded in 1855 to include a paint shop and saddlers. The blacksmith's shop appears on the 1854 maps. In the 1859 maps, there are two structures north of Upper Mill Road, just west of the mission enclosure, in the vicinity of the blacksmith's shop. The maps show one building north of the other. The 1860 Boundary Commission photograph looking northwest shows what appears to be a one-and-one-half story, gable-roofed building with a central entry door in this location, with the edge of another building just showing behind its east elevation. In later maps what appears to be this structure is referred to as a medical storehouse, and later a warehouse; these maps also show the blacksmith's shop to the west of this building. It appears that the blacksmith's shop is the building whose edge is seen in the photograph, and that it was north of this "medical storehouse." In the 1980s, archaeologists found features, including the floor, and an assemblage of artifacts, believed to be the blacksmith's shop. [1082] A fire demolished the original blacksmith's shop in 1862, which archaeologists found evidence of, and although it has been believed a new blacksmith's shop was erected on the same site, it appears that it was actually moved somewhat south and west of its original location, as shown on the 1871 Winman map. [1083]

The carpenter's shop, described as a two-story frame building, fifty by eighteen feet, appears in the 1854 and 1859 maps, and can be seen on the 1860 Boundary Commission photograph, north of the officers' quarters and stables. The carpenter's shop was moved to a new L-shaped structure north of the stable in or around 1859; the building can be seen on the 1859 maps, and in the 1871 Winman map, where it is labeled carpenter's shop, saddler shop and engine house. Apparently it included a place for a saddler and a paint shop. [1084] The 1862 list calls it a carpenter's shop and saddler's shop. It, too, is in the 1860 Boundary Commission photograph looking west, behind its predecessor. It is unknown what the original carpenter's shop building was used for in 1859-60.

A two-story twenty-four by eighteen foot frame building was listed in June of 1854 as a storeroom; it is believed the building used as quarters for the quartermaster's employees, north of the stables, was used for storage that year because the following year it is listed as an employee dwelling again. [1085] The building can be seen on the 1854 maps. The structure can be seen north of the stable in the 1860 Boundary Commission photograph, looking west, and appears on the 1859 maps. By 1859, as noted above, there are two small buildings in that vicinity, on the east edge of a new enclosure; the smaller one to the south is probably that building. By 1854, however, there is also a small building to the west of the Ingalls house, within the same enclosure. It is shown again on the 1859 map, now located within its own enclosure. In 1871 what appears to be a new building, located south and west of the site of this structure, which has disappeared, is noted as "Citizen Quarters." The 1862 list of buildings included two structures identified as: a "frame house--2 rooms and 1 kitchen, officers quarters near the depot;" and "1 building mess house for Quartermaster employees." It may be the mess house was the small building west of the Ingalls house, and the 2 room officers quarters the "new" building south of the Ingalls house. By 1862, three new structures had been erected north of the stables.

As noted earlier, by May of 1860, little was left of the original Hudson's Bay Company structures between the stockade and the quartermaster's depot. By 1860 the west edge of the army reserve in the quartermaster's depot area was fenced with the single rail fence style used around the parade grounds.

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Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003