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Betts Dropped Off Alice And Was Drowned In Fraser River

October 20, 2016

In August 1883, Elijah Betts disembarked from the steamer Alice while it was still moving, to board his tethered canoe. He fell into the river and was drowned.

EJ Betts was the first settler at North Arm on Fraser River, now Vancouver. His partner was Henry Mole. Their homestead was on the upriver side of Musqueam Reserve.

Betts had tied his canoe to the small steamer SS Alice, which ran between North Arm and New Westminster.
He wanted to get off at “Daniels’ place.”

John Daniels and William Daniels had separate lots further up river (opposite present day Mitchell Island).

Tbetts-daniels-lots-north-arm-fraser-riverhe steamer did not come to a stop before Betts alighted into his canoe. The canoe caught the side of the steamer, wobbled, and Betts was tossed overboard.

As the Alice was moving ahead Betts was quickly left in its wake and went under before any attempt to rescue him.

Elijah John Betts was a native of England and believed to be in his 60’s. He was said to have been “much respected.”.

An inquest determined his death was accidental.

Captain Sexsmith, owner and Master of the Alice, said: “We generally slack down when people get off.”

F Bieler, Engineer, stated that Betts told him he wanted off and Bieler wanted to stop the boat: “but Betts said he would drop off in his canoe.”

Mr McInnes, of the crew, stated “Betts had no gum boots on.”

(For the significance of wearing gum boots see earlier post: Slough Boot on Fraser River.)

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