Susan Sturges
According to Hamilton, George Alexander to Merivale, Herman 27 September 1852, CO 305:3, no. 8866, 269, Susan Sturges was an American Schooner that sailed from San Francisco to Haida Gwaii in 1852. From April 20th – May 11th of that year, Susan Sturges visited Mitchell Inlet in a quest for gold, but met with no success. It did, however, bring back a batch of spars, cut from Haida Gwaii timbers, which made Douglas bristle: here was a US ship taking liberties with what he considered British resources.1
Greater drama ensued on another trip to the same region in Fall of the same year. The boat was plundered and burned by the Masset Haida, but accounts of the nature and details of the assault are divided.2 Captain Rooney, commander at the time, and his trade-contact Chief Edenshaw relate that the Masset swarmed the boat and that Edenshaw's wife came between Rooney and a musket barrel, thus preventing the assailant's shot, then Edenshaw ushered Rooney to a safe cabin.3 Then Edenshaw, to keep up appearances, joined in the looting, apparently to give back to Rooney the more critical objects Rooney would require, such as his chronometer.4
The Masset version is that Edenshaw merely pretended to befriend the White traders in order to subdue their defenses, and that it was another Masset chief, Scowell, that rescued Rooney and his men.5 Neither story alters that fact that the Susan Sturges met its fiery fate that day.
  • 1. Andrew Scott, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2009), 576.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. G. P. V. Akrigg and H. B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1847-1871 (Victoria: Discovery Press, 1977), 51.
  • 4. Ibid., 52.
  • 5. Ibid.
Mentions of this vessel in the documents