Vancouver Island 1881 Census

First Nations

First Nations, 1881

In 1881, the aboriginal population of Vancouver Island was administered in three federal government Indian Agencies and Native people were enumerated by government Indian Agents. The agencies and agents were as follows:

Western Coast   Map

Harry Guillod, Indian Agent

Extending from Otter Point to Cape Cook on the west coast of Vancouver Island, this district embraced 20 Nuu-chah-nulth tribes, from the Pacheena at the south to the Chekleset at the northern end of the agency.

Kwawkewlth Agency   Map

George Blenkinsop, Indian Agent

The Kwakwakwakawakw people (also referred to as Kwawkewlth or Kwakiutl people) are enumerated here. The agency extended from Quatsino Sound on the northwest coast to Cape Scott and along the northeast coast down to the entrance of Johnstone Strait. In the original census, Blenkinsop identified 25 separate "tribes"; however, many of the tribes were situated on the mainland and nominal cenus records for them have not yet been transcribed. In this database, 14 separate "tribes" or bands, comprising about 400 households or families, are represented.

Cowichan Agency   Map

W. H. Lomas, Indian Agent

The Cowichan agency embraces the Hul'qumi'num-speaking people on the eastern side and southern end of Vancouver Island. It extended from Comox on the Gulf of Georgia down to Otter Point on the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Lomas used "Cowichan tribes" as the collective term for the native people here. He enumerated them in two areas or sub-districts — Eastern Coast and Southern Straits.

Cowichan Agency: Eastern Coast

This portion of the agency extends from the Cowichan River north to Comox. Lomas enumerated 22 "sub-tribes" in this part of the Cowichan Agency. The "sub-tribes" are identified here as "bands."

Cowichan Agency: Southern Straits

This sub-district includes 10 separate "sub-tribes" or bands located at Sooke, at Beecher Bay, and on the Saanich peninsula. It also includes Lekwammen people (recorded here as Songhees) at Esquimalt and Victoria.

A note on spelling

We've spelled the names of sub-tribes and bands — Kyuquot, Tsartlip, etc. — and the names of individual band members as they were recorded by the Indian agents in 1881. Lomas, Guillod and Blenkinsop were fluent in the dialects spoken in their agencies and the evidence suggests they took care to record traditional names as accurately as possible. In the viHistory database, we've reproduced the diacritical marks, phonetic symbols and syllable breaks they used to represent aboriginal names on the nominal census schedules.

First Nations Search

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