Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Vancouver

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Vancouver

Having landed the Queen of the Sandwich Islands at Panama, as I have said, about the middle of June, [1865], we left the Bay early in July, and proceeded to Vancouver, arriving there in the middle of August. There we remained until early in December.

I was placed in charge of a working party from the Clio, to cut a trail through the virgin forest of magnificent timber with which the island was then covered. I was pleased enough to receive an extra shilling a day check-money. Where the flourishing town of Victoria now stands, there were a few log huts, closed in by gigantic woods. When I revisited the country recently, I found a tramway running along what was once my trail, and I met several persons who remembered my having helped to cut it, nearly fifty years before.

I believe that Canada will eventually become the centre of the British Empire; for the Canadians are a splendid nation, gifted with pluck, enterprise and energy.

The free forest life was bliss to a boy of my age. To tell the truth, we were allowed to do pretty well what we liked. In the Clio, which was so easy-going a ship that she was nicknamed “the Privateer.”  We used to go out fishing for salmon with the Indians, in their canoes, using the Indian hook made of shell. To this day the Indians fish for salmon in canoes, using shell hooks. I made a trot, a night-line with a hundred hooks, and hauled up a goodly quantity of fish every morning. I remember that a party of midshipmen (of whom I was not one) from another ship were playing cricket on the island, when a bear suddenly walked out of the forest. The boys instantly ran for a gun and found one in an adjacent cabin, but there were no bullets or caps. So they filled up the weapon with stones from the beach. In the meantime the bear had climbed a tree. The midshipmen levelled the gun at him and fired it with a lucifer match.

We used to go away into the forest deer-shooting, and on one occasion we were lost for a day and a night. It was at this time that I made the acquaintance of the celebrated Mr. Dunsmuir, who became a mayor and a millionaire, simply because he slept one night in the forest; for the sake of coolness. When he awoke in the morning, he found that he had pillowed his head upon a lump of coal. He subsequently obtained an enormous concession of land from the Government and amassed a huge fortune in coal. Two of our lieutenants put money in the scheme. I wrote at the time to my father, asking him to let me have a thousand pounds to invest in the coal business. But he replied affectionately but firmly that, until I ceased to exceed my allowance, he did not think it right that I should embark in a gambling project. The two lucky lieutenants were eventually bought out by Mr. Dunsmuir for a very large sum of money.

I was very happy in the Clio; but, for reasons, it was considered expedient that I should be transferred to the Tribune. Accordingly, I turned over to the Tribune early in December, by the orders of my constant friend, Admiral Charles Eden. He said it would do me good to serve under Captain Lord Gillford. He was right. It did.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project