SIR, - I have the honour to transmit herewith my annual report for the year ended 30th June, 1896, with accompanying tabular statement; also inventory of all Government-property in my keeping.
Health and Sanitary Condition. - The health of the Indians in this agency has been good during this year. No epidemic disease of any kind came amongst them.
During the month of May last, aside from a few alternate exceedingly hot days, a cold penetrating north-east wind prevailed, causing throat, lung and bowel complaints, with, in many cases, fatal termination amongst the very young children and old people.
The Indians of this district have been supplied this year with the usual amount of medicines. Through their proper use, much good was effected.
The Indians have been taught to observe sanitary measures. All those visited and otherwise coming under my notice were vaccinated, and those re-vaccinated upon whom a previous operation proved unsuccessful.
Resources. - The fur-catch has been very good. The salmon runs were heavy and in consequence the supply abundant.
Improved Condition. - The once overcrowded old villages on the Skeena River are left, almost entirely, to the old of the population. Great changes have taken place. New villages have sprung up in the most favoured parts of the respective reserves. The possession of separate holdings, with comfortable houses thereon, and enough land for all purposes, is making the Indians content and ambitious for higher aims. And as a result they will remain at home and vie with each other as to the best results, and will send their children to school regularly, and improve the prospect of their future in every respect. The women, formerly mere "beasts of burden," are now tidy housekeepers, able to cook, bake good bread, sew, knit and mend, being treated by there, husbands with due consideration. It is pleasing to observe, on a Sunday, families coming to church well dressed, plainly conscious of their moral elevation. A general improvement in all the Indians and their surrounding, in comparison with former years, is especially commented on by people even after a short absence from here.
Buildings. - The Indians are also much advanced in handling tools of all descriptions, principally those for woodwork. In Mr. Edward C. Stephenson, of the Anglican Church Missionary Society, at Kis-ge-as, the most northerly village on the Babine, and four miles above its confluence with the Skeena River, the Indians find a teacher and trade-instructor in carpentry, combined. During this year a splendid dwelling-house was built there by him with the Indians' hired help; a school is under way, and church to follow.
Farming. - It is only natural to expect that in due time attention will be paid to mixed farming. The only product raised so far, the potato, has of late been made more profitable by better planting and hoeing, and the crop this year was plentiful. Of the seeds sent by the department, the most prized are those of the Swede turnip; the outcome of that variety stands "cacheing" well every winter and keeps, for food, till late in spring.
Stock. - The Indians are also open to the conviction now that paying attention to raising cattle, in future, will be promoting their material prosperity to a substantial extent. Already I procured a lot of yearlings, a bull and some heifers, and they are on the way to the village of Kit-wan-ga.