Balne’s nationality is unclear and his name presents little information as to country of origin; names of servants in the HBC Fort Journals were generally written with irregular spelling. Finlayson described three men who had deserted as “the Steamer’s [Beaver] men,” which may characterize Balne’s position as a labourer by association with Lazard and Desjardin. No reason for the desertion was offered by Finlayson, save that the men were going in the direction of Nisqually. Nevertheless, Balne’s desertion illustrates a widespread problem for the Hudson’s Bay Company officers between 1848 and 1854, when hundreds of men sent from Britain to work as agriculturalists and labourers, deserted to the United States attracted by the prospects of earning considerably higher wages in the California gold rush.


  • Mackie, Richard, “The Colonization of Vancouver Island, 1849-1858,” B.C. Studies, No. 96 (Winter, 1992-93): 3-40.
Frederick Gentz