No. 30
9 November 1858
1. Having just received a report from Mr Commissioner Hicks, 1 I beg to communicate the particulars of the same for your information.
2. This report refers chiefly to that part of the Fort Yale District, situatebetweenManuscript image between that place and Cornish Bar 2 four miles below Fort Hope. It appears that satisfactory progress is being made in the development of the resources of that District. Twenty one Canal or "ditch companies" have been formed for conveying water to the different mining bars. Thirteen of those works are finished and in full operation; seven are in progress and nearly finished, and permission to form the last has just been granted.
Those works are of vast utility in washing for gold, enabling the miner to carry on operations with more success and economyandManuscript image and to work soils that would not yield a remunerative return without the aid of those labor saving machines.
3. There are also several water companies 3 engaged in making water courses on the table lands in the vicinity of Fraser's River, their object being to erect flumes that will supply more than 1000 mining claims with water. As it is by such undertakings that the country will be fairly prospected, every encouragement is given to the enterprizing men who undertake them.
4. An extensive table land on the right bankofManuscript image of Fraser's River four miles below Fort Yale, and at least 60 feet above the highest water level which I have named "Prince Albert's Diggings" 4 was lately discovered to be highly auriferous. Extensive preparations are now being made for opening mining shafts there, and it is reported to be extensive enough to give employment to 4000 men, allowing to each 25 feet frontage, and 500 feet in depth.
This being the first dry diggings discovered in the Fort Yale District, the mining claims were laid off on a much larger scale than the regulation quantity; 5 as Mr Hicks wasdesirousManuscript image desirous of encouraging the miners who were looking forward with confidence to reaping a rich harvest in return for their labour. There is however no water at a convenient elevation in the vicinity, several companies have therefore been licensed to convey water from the neighbouring mountains; a work which will probably take about six weeks to accomplish.
5. It was lately reported that silver was discovered near Fort Yale, in a quartz lead, but the specimens brought here have proved valueless. 6
6. Hill's Bar is reported to be worked out and the miners have now turnedtheirManuscript image their attention to the banks of the River, which are found to be very rich, and they are now conveying water, at their own charge, for sluice washing from a distant source at a cost of about £800.
7. The Miners on American and Santa Clara Bars 7 were also waiting for a supply of water, which is being conveyed by means of a canal from a lake, about two miles distant at a cost of over £1100.
8. Very few claims can be worked to much advantage with the rocker on Cornish Bar, and theMinersManuscript image Miners are engaged in bringing in water for sluicing, so that they will shortly be able to carry on operations with a better prospect of success. In the operations of fluming and sluicing where the dirt only pays a penny to the pan, a man can earn ten dollars a day, in places, where with the rocker he could not save more than one dollar a day, the gold being so fine that it is almost impossible to save it without the aid of quicksilver.
9. Very little mining is carried on between Fort Yale and the upper end of DouglasPortageManuscript image Portage, the rain and cold weather together with the high price of provisions having compelled the miners to relinquish their occupation for the season.
10. On the table land directly opposite to Fort Yale several shafts have been sunk, and good mining ground discovered. It was proposed to lay out that table land in twenty acre garden lots, for sale, but we shall now reserve the land for mining purposes.
11. A shaft was lately sunk for the purpose of testing the ground, on whichtheManuscript image the town of Fort Yale stands, and good diggings of coarse gold were found, which caused so much excitement that the miners could hardly be restrained from opening works in the very heart of the little town.
12. Another discovery was lately made on a large extent of flat land, opposite to Strawberry Island, 8 which appears to contain rich deposits of the precious metal, yielding as much as nine pence to the pan, at a depth of eight feet from the surface. A licensed company has undertaken to bring water to the flat from a distant Creek, but it will take some time to completetheManuscript image the operation.
13. Mr Commissioner Hicks in continuation of his report proceeds as follows.
I have given your Excellency some idea of the mining prospects which cannot be but most gratifying to your feelings, especially with regard to Prince Albert's Flat, above the rock named Albert Head, 9 at least one mile of frontage on the river, [which] I intend to survey off into claims of twenty five feet frontage. Your Excellency will perhaps feel much surprised at the depth allowed for each claim, the stripping of the top dirt does not pay within eight feet of the surface, it would not pay men to go to the great expense of fetching in water so longaManuscript image a distance unless more extended privileges were granted, therefore it was to open these mines, and encourage the men, that induced me to comply with their wishes, there is plenty of ground that pays even up to the foot of the mountain, about one and a quarter mile back. I trust you will confirm the action I have thus taken.
I have very many difficulties to contend with, especially with regard to Water grants, men are almost at times out of their senses, and are determined to infringe on the privilege granted to others. I was compelled to issue Injunction notices to Messrs Williams, Burns, and six others, to restrain them from carrying a ditch from Santa ClaraCreekManuscript image Creek on to the bar and flat, and very much interfering with other operations in progress.
14. The mining claims are not in all cases remunerative, and there is much expense in bringing them into working condition, so that Miners are frequently from actual poverty unable to pay the license fee. For that reason, in making the first collection of mining fees, in the month of September, no less that 881 mining claims were found in the possession of persons in that condition, on whom necessarily no Fees were levied. Such merciful consideration for the destitute, opens a wide door forevasionsManuscript image evasions and complaint on the part of those who pay the tax.
That consideration and the great expense of collecting a monthly Fee; owing to the extent and inaccessibility of the country; its effects in exciting feelings of irritation and dislike of the Government, and provoking antagonism to the public officers, naturally suggest a reduction of the license fee, or perhaps its discontinuance, and the substitution of some other less obnoxious mode of taxation. Probably that adopted in Australia from the report of the Commission appointed to enquire into the condition of the gold fields ofVictoriaManuscript image Victoria10 might be altered and successfully adapted to the circumstances of British Columbia, a subject which I reserve for further consideration.
15. The miners on Hill's Bar have I understand lately exhibited dissatisfaction on account of their claims being limited to the River Bar, and I understand they lately held a meeting to petition me on that subject, and that the petition was to be forwarded through Mr Nugent, Special Agent of the United States, but the document has not yet been presented, and I presume Mr Nugent would consider it badtasteManuscript image taste to meddle with a matter of purely local law, and into the settlement of which, no question of nationality could possibly enter.
16. A considerable public Revenue may be raised from the grant of water privileges, which it is proposed to tax, to the amount of five dollars a month for each sluice or flume, and it is expected that in course of another year more than 2000 of these sluices will be in operation in the Fort Yale District.
17. Mr Hicks gives no idea of the miners general earnings, which it is at all times difficult to ascertain from their own statements.
18. One Manuscript image
18. One, among other more cogent, reasons for the establishment of a gold escort is the facility, it will give of ascertaining with something like accuracy, the real export of gold from the country. Mr Hick's accounts exhibit a very trifling collection for the last month; but it was sufficient to meet the expenditure, and he had not made the monthly collection of mining fees.
19. Mr Commissioner Travaillot whose district extends from the Forks of Thompson's River to the Fountain had time to do little more, than to report his safe arrival at theForksManuscript image Forks, where the Town site of "Lytton" was laid out, and now contains 50 houses and a population of 900 persons.
20. Some trouble had arisen between the Miners and Indians, which was however fortunately arrested after a loss of several lives on both sides. 11
21. The banks of Fraser's River above the Forks are said to afford good dry diggings as far as the upper Fountain, and sluices yield at the rate of 20 dollars a day to the hand.
22. Many of the miners are leaving the country on account of the want and highpricesManuscript image prices of provisions, flour being now sold at the Forks at the rate of 4s/2d per pound, and other articles of food being equally high priced, arising from the cost of transport, and the inaccessibility of the country; the land route between the Forks and Fort Hope and Fort Yale being now rendered impassable through the depth of snow in the mountain passes, though the level country still exhibits the appearance of early autumn.
23. The mining population in Fraser's River may beestimatedManuscript image estimated as follows.
From Cornish Bar to Fort Yale 4,000
Fort Yale 1,300
Fort Hope 500
From Fort Yale to Lytton 300
Lytton 900
From Lytton to the Fountain 3,000
Port Douglas & Harrison's River 600
Total 10,600
24. I herewith forward a reconnaisance of Fraser's River by Lieut. Colonel Hawkins, R.E. which shows the mining Bars of Fort Yale District and places referred to in this report, as well as the general character of the country. 12
25. I have the satisfaction of announcing that the great work of the season the route byHarrisonsManuscript image Harrison's River, to a point on Frasers River, beyond the mountains, about eight miles below the upper Fountain is now completed; and a number of mule trains are upon the road about to engage in the transport of provisions and other supplies for the mining population of "Lytton," and the mining districts beyond that Town. 13 It is, in fact, to that route that we must ultimately look for a convenient communication with the interior of the country. This has been an arduous undertaking and the cost will be about £10,000, which I feel assured Her Majesty's Government in view of the great importance and urgency of the work, for the transport of food in winter; its bearingonManuscript image on the future development of the country, and above all looking to the fact that the Revenue collected already in the country is to defray the whole expense, will sanction by their approval.
The difficulties encountered in the process of this undertaking were more serious than anticipated arising in a great measure from the want of experienced conductors; but I think the work could not be done under any circumstances at a cheaper rate.
26. I herewith forward for your information a hastily prepared sketch of the Harrison's River route 14 showing its connection at both ends with Fraser's River, a table of distances and a descriptivestatementManuscript image statement of bridges constructed on the road. I beg to remark in explanation that the only reliable part of this sketch is the tracing of Harrison's River and road, the latter in red ink, with the connecting Lakes, the Compass directions and distances having been accurately determined by the road Surveyor.
Harrisons River and Lake are navigable for River Steamers, which ply as far as Port Douglas; 15 from that point the road is cut through the forest in the valley of Harrison's River a distance of 33 3/4 miles to Lake Lilooett; the water communication between these points being dangerous and expensive, except at the lowest stage of theRiverManuscript image River. The passage of Lake Lilooett 13 miles in length, and with depth of water sufficient for large vessels is effected by means of large sized boats constructed for the purpose. From Lake Lilooett to Lake Anderson a distance of 24 3/4 miles, a road traced on the sketch in red ink is carried over land. Lake Anderson 15 miles and Lake Seton 16 miles in length, both having a great depth of water are traversed in large boats. A road 1 1/2 mile in length connects those two Lakes, and from Lake Seton a road four miles in length leads to the terminus on Fraser's River. The whole distance from thence to Port Douglas being 108 miles in the course of which there are 62substantialManuscript image substantial wooden Bridges, varying from 12 to 90 feet in length.
27. The comparative cost of transport by this and the Fort Yale route is as follows.
Fort Yale to Lytton 1s.11 1/4d for each pound weight
Port Douglas to terminus of road 35 miles beyond Lytton 9d for each pound weight
Thus shewing a saving in transport expense by the Harrison's River as compared with the other route of 1s.2 1/4d
28. A great number of miners have left Fraser's River and returned to California and Oregon. The course of immigration has ceased for the present, and will probably not be resumed till the spring. There is still however a large foreignpopulationManuscript image population at this place, and the Town is continually on the increase.
I have etc.
James Douglas
[P.S.] On the accompanying map of the Harrison's River route I have also traced out, the route taken by Mr Joseph McKay who was lately despatched with a party of five men to examine the country between the Lilooet Lake and Howe's Sound, an enterprise which was successfully accomplished greatly to my satisfaction. The country examined is mountainous, with some fertile valleys and very fine timber, but not attractive as a place of settlement. Mr McKay's Journal is herewith forwarded for your information. James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
This despatch contains some very interesting details of Mining operations & the progress made in constructing Roads. It should I conclude be added to the printed series.
VJ 17 Jan
Sir Edward Lytton
This is a very interesting & a satisfactory report and I think in acknowledging it, Govr Douglas sd be entirely approved. The cost of the road is very remarkable—108 miles & 62 bridges at £10,000—and this when prices generally are extravagantly high.
C Jany 19
(The tracing sd be placed upon linen or cardboard to preserve it as it is important.)
Print for Parlt. An answer must be given as to the 10,000 wh must go out of Col. funds not imperial.
EBL Jan 20
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Lytton to Douglas, No. 7, 22 January 1859.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
J.W. McKay to Douglas, 2 October 1858, reporting particulars of his explorations (thirteen pages).
Register of bridges constructed on the Harrison-Lillooet road.
  1. Hicks to Douglas, 26 October 1858, is published in Howay, Early History of the Fraser River Mines, pp. 5-9. Full ref needed. PABC??
  2. Cornish Bar, named after the large numbers of miners from Cornwall, was located on the south bank of the river, just below Hope. The bar was also called Murderer's Bar, for a murder committed there. See Donald Sage, Gold Rush Days on the Fraser River, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 44, (October 1953): 162, and G.P.V. Akrigg and Helen B. Akrigg, British Columbia Chronicle, 1847-1871, p. 110-11.
  3. Water companies on the Fraser River. Check Howay, Waddington?? October-November 1858. Gazette is silent.
  4. Prince Albert's Diggings, situated on a flat of the same name, were located on the west side of the Fraser about six miles below Fort Yale. British Colonist, 6 November 1858.
  5. = mining regulations The regular size of mining claims was twenty-five feet of river frontage, twenty-five feet to either side of creeks or ravines, or twenty square feet of table land for dry diggings. General Regulations for Gold District, enclosed in Douglas to Lytton, 30 August 1858, No. 37, 10344, CO 60/1, p. 134. The regulations are printed in Papers Relative to the Affairs of British Columbia, Part I, pp. 31-32. Necessary??
  6. = discovery of silver near Yale Silver mining. Check Gazette ??
  7. American Bar was on the west bank of the Fraser River about four miles above Fort Hope. The Santa Clara Bar was also above Fort Hope. Location needed?? On 2 November 1858, the Colonist reported that King & Co. took out 118 ounces with four rockers, in one week from the American Bar.
  8. Strawberry Island is about six or eight miles below Fort Yale. Source??
  9. Prince Albert Diggings, and the flat of the same name, were located just above the rock promitory still known as Albert Head. Location needed??
  10. = Report on Gold Fields Cf. fn. in Douglas to Merivale, 29 October 1858, Private, 586, CO 60/1, p. 329.
  11. = Hawkins reconnaisance & sketch FIND ?? In Papers??
  12. = Harrison Lillooet The Harrison-Lillooet route was superintended by A.C. Anderson, who had first explored the route for the HBC in 1846. First entry. More ??
  13. Tracing in PRO, on linen or is that Hawkins map?? McKay's route added by Douglas?? FIND & GET
  14. Port Douglas, at the head of Harrison Lake, was named for Douglas by A.C. Anderson on 10 August 1858, after workers on the road suggested it be named for Anderson. As one of the men present on that occasion predicted, Port Douglas, as the head of steam navigation, must become a most important place. . . . See report by Charles Bedford Young, Gazette, 17 August 1858.
People in this document

Anderson, Alexander Caulfield


Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Hawkins, John Summerfield

Hicks, Richard

Jadis, Vane

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

McKay, Joseph William

Merivale, Herman

Nugent, John

Travaillot, Oswald Justice

Waddington, H.

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Albert Head

American Bar

Anderson Lake

British Columbia

Cornish Bar [formerly Murderer's Bar]


Fraser River

Harrison Lake

Harrison River

Hill's Bar


Howe Sound


Lillooet Lake


Oregon Territory, or Columbia District

Port Douglas

Prince Albert's Flat

Santa Clara Bar

Santa Clara Creek

Seton Lake

Strawberry Island

Thompson River

Vancouver Island


Victoria, Australia