Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/86

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80
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

LIFE IN A SEASIDE SUMMER SCHOOL.
By Professor CHARLES E. BESSEY,

THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA.

LATE one night in August I boarded the staunch little steamer 'Queen City' at Victoria, and steamed out upon the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and up the western coast of Vancouver Island. This remarkable body of water, fifteen miles wide and seventy miles long, is the common gateway for British and American vessels. The treaty which settled the boundary dispute many years ago (1846) fixed the international line in the middle of the strait, so that each country has a broad and deep water passage to the Pacific Ocean. As we proceed northwesterly up the coast on the British side of the strait, the rugged and rock-bound coast of Vancouver Island rises on our right, while across the water is the Olympic coast of Washington. Of both shores little more is known than the mere coast line and a narrow strip near the water. Back of the shore line are foothills running back to the mountains still beyond them and covered all the way with dense and almost impenetrable forests of cedar (Thuya plicata) and fir (Abies amabilis). We steam along slowly, for this is a dangerous coast, and there is a heavy swell on the water and enough fog in the air to obscure the details of the shore line.

It is broad daylight when we turn into the deep harbor of Port Renfrew, almost directly opposite Cape Flattery, and come up to the long wharf. Here we find Jackson, the genial little Englishman, who fills the several offices of harbormaster, postmaster, storekeeper and hotelkeeper. When the boat comes in from Victoria, as it does once in a week or ten days, Jackson is a very busy man, but then he has a long time in which to recuperate before the next arrival of the boat. While he is looking after the freight and luggage, and sorting over the mail, we go to the big summer hotel and ask 'Jim,' the Chinaman, to get an early breakfast for two. My companion is a genial geologist, who has been here before, and knows Jim, and how to persuade him into complying without too great delay. While waiting for breakfast we look northward over the harbor to the foothills which surround it, and whose sides are covered with dense forests down to the water's edge. I have rarely looked upon a scene of such natural beauty, and stood long feasting my eyes upon sky and mountain, and forest and water.