Charles Hill-Tout was born in England in 1858 and came to British Columbia in 1891. A pioneer settler at Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley, he devoted many years of fieldwork to his studies of the Salish and published in the scholarly periodicals of the day. He was honoured as president of the Anthropological Section of the Royal Society of Canada and as a fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain. In The Salish People, his field reports are collected for the first time.
In The Salish People each volums serves as a useful guide to a specific geographic area, bringing the past to the present. The four volumes, rich in stories and factual details about the old customs of the Coast and Interior Salish, are each edited with an introduction by Ralph Maud, who lives in the Fraser Valley and who teaches a course on the B.C. Indian Oral Tradition at Simon Fraser University.
Volume III of The Salish People deals with the Mainland Halkomelem, the people of the Fraser River from Vancouver to Chilliwack, and includes the earliest account of B.C. archaeological sites. The road to connect Vancouver to Sea Island (the present Vancouver International Airport) had already opened up part of the Fraser midden in 1889, two years before Hill-Tout’s arrival in British Columbia. He got into the midden right away and surveyed the area with Mr. F. Monkton, a mining engineer well-known in Vancouver’s early days and one of the founders of the Art, Historical and Scientific Association. By 1895, Hill-Tout was able to write an extensive report to the Royal Society of Canada, which, in the words of Harlan I. Smith, constituted “the first resume of British Columbia archaeology.”