A smallpox epidemic was said to have been spread from a sailor from San Francisco to the indigenous work camps around Victoria. The disease spread up the coast as workers returned home from the work camps. Thousands of indigenous people died within a few months. More than one-third of the indigenous population on Vancouver Island perished.
In the Comox area there were three groups of indigenous people to be encountered by the settlers. The Comox (whose original name was Sa-thool-tuch) were resident here. The Puntledge (originally Pentlatch) the other permanent residents were on the brink of extinction from the small pox epidemic and moved in with the Comox in 1862 and deserted their village about a mile up the river from the Comox. The third group were the Eucletaw (Lekwiltok) came from Cape Mudge and were the most southerly group of the Kwakwaka’wakw. They possessed herring and salmon fishing sites along the river and would camp here to collect their winter rations and then return home. All three tribes seemed to get along quite well most of the time. Currently, the fishing sites, and the old fishing pylons pounded into the low river bed and ocean are of great interest of modern day scientist. Some samples are currently (2010) being carbon dated.
The land that was the abandoned indigenous village on the river was pre-empted by George Ford (Section 41).