Charles Hill-Tout was born in England in 1858 and came to British Columbia in 1891. He was a pioneer settler at Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley, where he raised his family in a log cabin. He devoted many years of field work 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.
The Salish People is a four-volume work. Each volume covers a specific geographical area and serves as a useful guide in bringing the past to the present for local residents and out-of-province visitors. 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 IV of The Salish People deals with the Sechelt and the South-Eastern Tribes of Vancouver Island and includes a bio-bibliography of Charles Hill-Tout, as well as miscellaneous short pieces of special interest, such as letters and a review of Franz Boas’ book about Bella Coola. Marius Barbeau tells the story of a noted English anthropologist arriving in New York in the first years of this century and asking his American colleague who met him at the pier: “Where’s Hill-Tout?” This query, says Barbeau, “was often repeated with a smile among New York anthropologists as characteristic of the British point of view as to the progress of American anthropology.” Ralph Maud’s introduction to this volume finally locates Hill-Tout among his peers. It reveals a man “whose inner dignity is real enough, not something dependent on the opinions of others. It sees him through.”