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Coal Tyee “Chief of Coal”
In the mid 1800’s the Hudson’s Bay Company was looking coal on Vancouver Island. Archibald Muir, 18 years old, his uncle, John Muir and his family, Dr. Benson and Captain W.C. Grant, left Scotland in 1848 to open a coalmine at Fort Rupert for the Hudson’s Bay Company. This mine did not have good coal and they returned to Fort Victoria.
A story circulated around 1850 which told of a native trader, CHE-WECH-I-KAN, arriving in Fort Victoria to have his gun repaired. When he saw the blacksmith burning coal he said he knew where there was lots of the black rock. He was told to bring some back to Fort Victoria for them to see. No one believed he would, but CHE-WECH-I-KAN returned with a canoe full, which he traded for beads, blankets, utensils and cloth to make clothing.
Upon hearing this, the Hudson’s Bay Company sent J.W. McKay along with prospectors, John Muir Sr., his son and nephew, Archibald, aboard the S.S. Beaver to investigate and open another mine in Nanaimo. Instead of hiring single men from Scotland, they hired 21 married men who came with their wives and 42 children to colonize the area.
        CHE-WECH-I-KAN was named COAL TYEE (TYHE) for bringing the Hudson’s Bay men to Nanaimo where he knew there was plenty of coal. He was, “Chief of Coal”.

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