The story of the old Company farms in Esquimalt really begins in Oregon as far back as 1825. When Dr. John McLoughlin built Fort Vancouver in that year, some eighty miles from the mouth of the Columbia River or. the north bank, it was in the belief that down the Columbia River would run the boundary line between British and American territory. He was largely influenced in his choice of site by the luxuriant meadowlands that surrounded it. Three thousand acres of cultivated fields, orchards and pastures soon replaced these natural meadows. Large crops of wheat, barley, oats, peas, potatoes, roots and other vegetables were harvested. The orchards supplied apples, pears and quinces. Cattle, sheep, pigs and horses fattened on the rich pasturage and increased rapidly. Dairies were built and quantities of butter produced. Flour and saw mills were soon in operation. Lumber from these mills was exported to the Sandwich Islands and flour to the Russian trading posts in Alaska. The Hudson's Bay Company's farming operations were extended with the development of the Cowlitz Farm on the Cowlitz River, a branch of the Columbia, and of the stock farm at Fort Nisqually on Puget Sound.
In 1827, Fort Langley was established on the south bank of the Fraser River and contributed generously of produce from the farm and salmon from the river. So successful did farming under Dr. McLaughlin's brilliant direction become that, in some cases, its profits were greater than those from the fur trade. Markets were waiting. There was no danger of overproduction. Trading· posts and vessels of the Hudson's Bay Company, visiting naval ships and whalers, and the settlements of Russian traders in Alaska, were eager to purchase everything the farms could supply. Rivalry was keen between the two great fur-trading companies, the Russian-American Company and the Hudson's Bay Company. Clashes had occurred. The British company feared that their northern posts might be cut off from the sea. The Alaskan Panhandle, owned by the Russians, was a door that might close at any moment. In 1839, an agreement was concluded between the two companies, with Sir George Simpson acting for the Hudson's Bay Company and Baron Wrangel, on behalf of the Russian-American Company. In return for a ten years' lease of the Alaskan Panhandle as far as Cape Spencer, the British company agreed to supply the Russians with 560,000 pounds of wheat, 19,920 pounds of flour, 16,160 pounds of peas, 16,160 pounds of barley, 36,880 pounds of bacon, 19,920 pounds of beef and 3,680 pounds of ham, at certain fixed prices.
In addition, a certain quantity of manufactured goods from England were to be supplied annually and 2,000 land otter skins. Thus was trade used by wise men in pioneer days as the golden key to unlock the door to peace, a peace that survived even the Crimean War. For the combined British and French fleets that sailed across to Alaska from Petropavlovski in 1855, after finding that port deserted by the Russians, could have blown Sitka, the great depot of the Russian-American Company, to high heaven, but refrained. Rear-Admiral Henry William Bruce, R.N., was in command of the Allied squadron. According to a Russian dispatch to the Czar, dated August 28th, 1855, and signed by Captain Voevodsky :" The former [ Admiral Bruce] states that he respected the neutrality of the Colonies and that he had ·come with the friendly intention of delivering to the Director some newspapers containing interesting European news." The lusty growth of the Hudson's Bay Company's farming enterprises led to the formation of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company. This subsidiary of the Company of Adventurers was formed in London in 1840, with the same officers and management and almost the same shareholders as the parent company. Its business was to take over and control all the farms and farming activities. The name was chosen from the Puget Sound Agricultural Company's intention of developing further the fertile lands of the Puget Sound area, around Fort Nisqually and up the valley of the Cowlitz River. To retain these lands north of the Columbia by development was still their fond hope.
When the Agricultural Company took over the management of the farms, commitments to the Russian-American Company were increased. The settlement of the Oregon Boundary dispute came in 1846. The 49th Parallel became the dividing line between British and American territory. The hopes of officers of the Hudson's Bay Company that their lands in Oregon might be held for Britain were blasted. The gloomy prospect loomed ahead of losing to the Americans in Oregon their great depot and headquarters at Fort Vancouver. The Fort Langley farm and the three dairy farms now in production around Fort Victoria could not he expected to carry the load. The need for development of more farms on land north of the Boundary Line and free from encroachment by invading American settlers grew urgent. It was this urgent need that led to the development of the four Puget Sound Agricultural Farms in Esquimalt.
The Company's policy was to send out from the Old Country, with their families, bailiffs to take charge and men to work on these farms. In this roundabout way they hoped to comply with the clause in the Royal Gran.t of Vancouver's Island to the Hudson's Bay Company, requiring the encouragement of British colonists on the Island. Independent settlers were not looked upon with favor by the great fur-trading company. They preferred to people the district with their own employees. They knew from sad experience that colonization and the fur trade could not prosper side by side. Headquarters of the Western Department of the Hudson's Bay Company and of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company were transferred in 1849 from Fort Vancouver to Fort Victoria. James Douglas was now in charge of both companies. Soon after his arrival in June, 1849, Douglas received instructions from: the Londori Headquarters of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company to reserve ten square miles of land for farming in Esquimalt. Instead of one large farm he wisely selected four sections of the more arable land. With all possible speed the four farms were established, Viewfield Farm in 1850, Colwood or Esquimalt Farm in 1851, Constance Cove and Craigflower Farms in 1853. VIEWFIELD FARM One of the loveliest of the' many lovely sea views from the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island gave Viewfield Farm its name. Its southern boundary followed the shoreline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca from West Bay to Kanaka Bay and took in Work Point, Macaulay Point and Saxe Point. From this rocky foreshore, indented with small bays and sunny · beaches, across the ever-changing waters of the Strait, march the snow· capped mountains of the Olympic Range, peak after peak, into the blue distance. The lands of Viewfield Farm covered 600 acres. Its western boundary, starting at Kanaka Hay, cut across the sea end of Admirals Road and ran to a point near the top of the hill on Old Esquimalt Road.
Its eastern boundary passed through the Mount Adelaide property from West Bay to the present Victoria City Line and along Dominion Road to the bend. To the north, Viewfield Farm had a common boundary with Constance Cove Farm, running in a straight line along the ridge above Old Esquimalt Road. Viewfield Farm was opened up in 1850 with Donald Macaulay as bailiff in charge. Unlike the other three bailiffs he was not brought out from England but was already in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company. By this appointment time was saved in getting this first farm into production. Donald Macaulay was a Scot from the Hebrides_. born on the Isle of Lewis. He had come overland across the mountains to the coast. He served under Captain McNeill in the Company's brig, Llama,, and afterwards was stationed at Fort Simpson. Here he met his future wife. In the "Parish Register of Forts Vancouver & Victoria," copies of which are in the Provincial Archives at Victoria, their marriage is recorded and also the baptisms of their six daughters, Mary, Flora, Catherine, Sarah, Margaret and Mary Ann, by the Rev. Robert J. Staines at Fort Victoria. The two youngest girls ·were born at Viewfield. Two of the daughters were married while the Macaulays were living on the farm. On June 3rd, 1853, Mary, the eldest, married William McNeill, son of Captain McNeill, who built a comfortable house surrounded by 200 acres of land on the shores of McNeill or Shoal Bay. Two years later, Flora, the second daughter, married James Tod, son of John Tod, the well-known Chief Trader of the Hudson's Bay Company and member of the first Legislative Council of Vancouver Island. The third daughter, Catherine, married Pym Nevin Compton, on March 10th, 1863, after the family had left Viewfield Farm.
Compton belonged to an English Quaker family. He had come to Victoria as a clerk in the employ of the Hudson's Bay Company and was trading clerk on the Labouchere when that paddle steamer, in charge of Captain John Swanson, was seized in 1862 by the Chilkat Indians in Alaskan waters. Compton was afterwards stationed at Fort Simpson and was in charge at Fort Rupert in 1865. Viewfield Farm does not seem to have been a very productive farm. In a census of the white population of Vancouver Island, by districts, prepared by James Douglas as Governor of the Colony and Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, for the year ending December 31st, 1854, Viewfield Farm had then a population of fourteen, including nine children under fifteen. Indian laborers employed on the farm would add to this number. In the same report there were three dwelling houses listed on Viewfield. Only 35 acres were improved, with 565 acres unimproved. Sheep and wool were the chief products listed, with some horses, cattle and oxen, seven milk cows and a few pigs. Donald Macaulay was bailiff of the Farm for ten years, from 1850 to 1860, which seems to have been the life of Viewfield Farm as such. He returned to Fort Simpson and was employed there by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1863. Returning to Victoria, he was placed in charge of the Company's powder magazine at Esquimalt and was accidently drowned in Esquimalt Harbor in 1868. Part of Viewfield Farm property was afterwards used as a cattle ranch. Within the memory of some of Esquimalt's old-timers an old, moss-covered snake fence, some seven or eight feet high, surrounded a huge corral.
Here wild, long-horned cattle grazed until they were ready for slaughtering, when they would be driven along Esquimalt and Admirals Roads to Parker's slaughter house at Craigflower Farm. With the outbreak of World War II, Army hutments and Army buildings of all descriptions sprang up and took possession of Macaulay Plains. Macaulay Point was fortified. Rows of Wartime houses built to accommodate shipbuilders and their families cover the flat lands near Work Point Barracks which were once the fields of Viewfield. Today in Esquimalt the old Viewfield Farm is almost forgotten. None of the farm buildings are left standing. Only one short, unimportant street bears the name of Viewfield. KANAKA RANCH A small ranch, known as Kanaka Ranch, adjoined Viewfield Farm toward the west. Old residents of E squirnalt still remember the decrepit old ranch house near the sea end of Constance Avenue and the grass-grown fields and trails through the broom that ran down to the sea. This was the home of a small colony of Kanakas. The name of these natives of the Sandwich Islands, now the Hawaiian Islands·, has been linked with the white man's story of Vancouver Island since its beginning at Nootka. From the days of Captain Cook, sailing ships of explorers and fur-traders in the North Pacific wintered at the Sandwich Islands. That colorful figure John Meares, retired lieutenant of the British Navy and fur-trader, built at Nootka in 1788, the little trading sloop, the Northwest America., with Chinese carpenters, the first use of Chinese labor on this coast. The following year, the Argonaut and the Princess Royal were sent from China by the King George's Sound Company of which Meares was now a partner, to establish a permanent British trading post at Nootka. They brought seventy Chinese laborers.
The scheme called for the importation of a Kanaka wife for each Chinese and their settlement at Nootka, thus providing a future supply of cheap labor. The Kanaka wives did not arrive. The Chinese laborers went back to China, leaving be- hind them an Oriental strain in the Indians of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. From the early days of Fort Vancouver and Fort Langley, the Hudson's Bay Company had exported to the Sandwich Islands, lumber from Oregon and salmon from the Fraser River. In 1840, the Company established a trading post at Honolulu, which became a regular port of call for their trading vessels. The Kanakas sometimes joined the vessels as sailors or were brought to the Company's posts as laborers and herdsmen. In Victoria, during the eighteen fifties and early sixties, a small colony of Kanakas settled on Kanaka Row, the present Humboldt Street. One family attended services at Christ Church regularly. As the town grew the Kanakas moved out into the country and lived on Kanaka Ranch. The Sandwich Islanders and the Indians provided cheap labor for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company's farms. The Kanakas had their share in the excitement of the Fraser River Gold Rush. Captain Jones of the Wild Pigeon, a small American vessel, plying between Puget Sound, Victoria and the Fraser River, reported that he found Fort Langley deserted: "the chief factor being gone to the diggings with provisions, merchandise, etc., leaving but one clerk and a few Kanakas in charge." These Kanakas or others seem to have followed the lure of gold for we find one of the gold-bearing bars of the Fraser River below Lytton called Kanaka Bar. Not a trace of Kanaka Ranch is left in Esquimalt; the site of the ranch is covered with small houses. Its untidy fields have been replaced by neat gardens. However, their name is preserved in the shady beach, beloved of the children of Esquimalt, Kanaka Bay.