The Unwild Side of Vancouver Island
We are very fond of telling ourselves and other people about the many excellent things, which Vancouver Island can boast of, but we do not as a rule say very much about things, which we do not possess. It is therefore only fair that the reverse side of the shield should be shown, in order that it shall not be said that only half a case has been prescribed. Now there are some things of which we cannot boast, and yet there are conspicuous features of hands that have attracted thousands upon thousands of settlers and millions upon millions of capital. It is only right that these should be given due prominence. Among them we note:
The entire absence of venomous reptiles. There are parts of the world, that set a very great deal of store by themselves, where some people make a living catching rattlesnakes for various purposes. A rattlesnake catcher would starve to death on Vancouver Island, unless he pursued some other business. He might catch the innocent little garter snakes, but he would not find anywhere from Williams Head to Cape Scott anything of the reptile species that is not absolutely harmless.
Then there is a great lack of birds and beast of prey. In the inner recesses of the mountains there are some wolves, and occasionally cowardly panthers are met with. If you go looking for a bear in some localities, you may see one, provided he does not see you first; but as a general proposition, so far as wild animals are concerned a man my go anywhere on Vancouver Island without encountering them. The contrast between this island in this respect, and some other parts of the world where men and money have gone in abundance is remarkable.
There is also an absolute lack of hostile natives. To the man in search of excitement, and who does not feel that he is getting all there is in life unless he is shooting natives or being shot at by them, this also is a serious drawback; yet he will have to put up with it on Vancouver Island. To our credit, or discredit as your opinion may be, there is not the least romance to be got out of life here by reason of collisions with the hostile savages.
The lack of poisonous insects is another feature of the case, which may or may not call for an apology, according as you look at it. Even the universal mosquito is not nearly as much of a nuisance here as he is in many favored lands. Compared wit his fellows in other places, a Vancouver Island mosquito is a delusion and a snare. A New Jersey mosquito would refuse to recognize him as even the most distant relation.
Then there is the matter of cyclones. We do not believe that you can find anywhere in Vancouver Island a solitary specimen of that unique architectural structure known as a cyclone cellar, with which the Middle West of the United States more or less abounds. And while on this subject mention may be made of the fact you may search high and low here for a lightning rod. It is surmised that Mike King's wild man is simply a lightning rod peddler, who has gone out of his mind at the absolute lack of business. Therefore this is a good island for cyclone-cellar architects and lightning rod peddlers to keep away from.
There is also an absolute lack of miasma. There is not a swamp in the whole island that is capable of breeding fevers, which is a deficiency that need not be enlarged upon.
Of revolutions there is a total lack. In Cuba, Central America, and a lot of places in South America you can get a revolution while you wait; but you would die of old age waiting for one here. Our people have so little sense of the picturesque, that they have actually surrounded life and property with so many safeguards that existence is scandalously prosaic.
There are some other features of this character that might be mentioned, but these will prevent it being said hereafter that we have been endeavoring to entice people here under false pretences. The above criticisms of the country are true and there is no getting away from them. It is highly important that this should be known. In order to make a new country really acceptable to an Englishman, it is necessary that there would be a lot of naked savages on the beach ready to welcome him on arrival with poisoned arrows, assegais and the other specimens of bric-a-brac, affected by certain people, whom our race appears to think itself commissioned to civilize. If there is a layer of miasma over the country, so thick that you can lift it with a hay fork, so much the better, and the attractions are greatly increased if there is a whole menagerie of carnivorous creatures ready to receive you "into their midst." A thing that you do not have to fight either man or nature for is hardly worth having, according to the philosophy of our aggressive race, and we sincerely hope that the above drawbacks to our otherwise fair island will be made as widely known as the advantages in the shape of soil, climate, timber, mines, fisheries and ordinary things like that, which we possess in abundance. It is well to be prepared, in coming to a new country, to take the bitter with the sweet, and it is unfair to pretend that we have things that we have not.