No. 40
30 November 1858
1. Since my last report on the state of the country of the 9th of Instant, 1 there have been no decided changes or events of much importance connected with British Columbia.
2. The exodus from Fraser's River continues at abouttheManuscript image the rate of 100 persons a week. The reasons assigned by those persons for leaving the country are various, some having families to visit and business to settle in California, others dreading the supposed severity of the climate, others alledging the scarcity, and high price of provisions, none of them assigning as a reason for their departure the want of gold.
3. There has lately been a great deal of rain at Fort Yale, and the mountain tops are covered with snow, there has been however no severe cold weather, neither is there any snow in the valley of Fraser'sRiverManuscript image River.
4. A considerable traffic with the Upper Fraser's River is now being started by the Harrison's River road, which will ultimately become the great commercial thoroughfare of the country. An unexpected obstacle to the passage of Steamers into Harrison's Lake has been discovered since the river fell to its lowest stage, in a shallow rapid about half a mile in length which occurs near the entrance of Harrison's Lake. When that obstacle is removed and no exertion should be spared to accomplish that desirable object; there will be a free passage for River Steamers throughHarrison'sManuscript image Harrison's Lake and to Port Douglas at every stage of the River.
5. A Mr Hovey called upon me this afternoon to report having struck rich bank diggings in the left bank of Fraser's River, 125 feet from the River, and about 8 miles below the confluence of Bridge River. 2 He also states that a party of 10 men who are employed, in working an adjoining bank have succeeded in bringing in a supply of water sufficient to run four sluices, which lately yielded 148 ounces of gold in three weeks. The gold found is not of the flaky sort, but of that description, which is termed in California, "round shot gold"whereManuscript image where it is considered indicative of the richest placers. Mr Hovey is of opinion that all the "River benches" or "Table lands" between the Forks of Thompson's River and the Fountain will be found equally productive in gold.
Mr Hovey also reports having seen a specimen of pure copper that was found near the same spot.
6. It has been for some time reported that several French Miners have discovered gold in remunerative quantities on Harrison's River, and that they are now at work, and making fair wages, a report which wants confirmation though it is not at all improbable as the soil inthatManuscript image that District is known to be auriferous and it will I trust become a profitable mining District.
7. I have not heard from Mr Commissioner Travaillot, since the beginning of the present month. He reports the general want of provisions among the Miners of the Fort Dallas District, and suggests that supplies should be forwarded to that part of the country by the Hudson's Bay Company, or by the Government.
8. The Hudson's Bay Company may act in that matter as they think proper, but it would, for obvious reasons, be highly injudicious to embark theresourcesManuscript image resources of Government in commercial undertakings, even to accomplish a public object.
9. In opening an accessible communication by Harrison's River, the Government has discharged its proper duties, leaving commercial objects entirely to private enterprise.
10. I have the honor of transmitting herewith the following numbers of the Victoria Gazette, which may prove interesting.
25th November.
27th November.
30th November.
11. I have been at some trouble to ascertain the amount of gold produced in British Columbia this season, and nowsubmitManuscript image submit the following estimates and returns which without professing to be absolutely correct, will serve to give an approximate idea of the quantities of gold dust, exported and remaining on hand in the country.
The quantities marked thus x are actual returns and their correctness may be relied on; the estimates are made up from the best information I could receive on the subject.
Wells Fargo & Co 3 - exported 16,593 ounces x
Freeman & Co 4 - no return but estimate 9,462 "
Ballou & Co 5 - in deposit 6,250 " x
Hudson's Bay Co - exported 4,000 " x
In the hands of private parties - exported 30,000 "
In the hands of Miners, in
British Columbia 40,000 "
Supposed production of Gold since
the month of June 1858 ounces 106,305
Manuscript image
12. The actual produce of gold probably exceeds the quantity I have stated, an impression derived from the official returns of goods imported into Vancouver's Island for the quarter ending with the 30th day of September last, amounting to the large sum of £23l,376 Sterling, nearly the whole of which appears to have been absorbed in supplying the demand of British Columbia, and paid for in gold dust.
13. A cutting from the San Francisco Herald of the 20th November last, which I have just received and now forward, corroborates the statements in this letter, and gives a return of $511,000 dollars as theamountManuscript image amount of Gold received from Fraser's River by the United States branch Mint and several mercantile firms at San Francisco, and in making that return the writer has evidently no desire to exaggerate the resources of British Columbia.
14. The whole return is satisfactory in as much as it shews that a very considerable revenue may be raised from the duties now levied on Imports as soon as that law can be strictly enforced.
15. The mail Steamer has I regret to say not yet arrived here, and it is almost certain that our letters nowreadyManuscript image ready for transmission, will not arrive at San Francisco in time for the mail Steamer, which leaves that Port on the 5th proximo for Panama. Our last mail was not more fortunate, and would I fear be detained at San Francisco for the Steamer of the 5th December.
16. I have just received letters from Mr Justice Smith of Fort Hope, who reports the arrival of the first government mail 6 from this place; that the Town is rapidly improving, and that substantial buildings are being erected and that peace and quiet reigns throughout the District.
I have Manuscript image
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
Ack. this report in terms of satisfaction. Communicate at once to Parlt.
ABd 31 Jany
HM Jan 31
C Feby 1
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Newspaper clipping, "Fraser River Gold Rush," San Francisco Herald, 20 November 1858, reporting that gold dust in the amount of $510,000 had been received by four local financial houses.
Manuscript image
Victoria Gazette, 25, 27??, 30 November, 14 December 1858. 7
  1. Douglas to Lytton, 9 November 1858, No. 30, 549, CO 60/1, p. 400, state of goldfields.
  2. Bridge River, which flows into the Fraser above Lillooet, was so-named for a one-hundred-foot long toll bridge crossing it. The river was the site of considerable mining activity in 1858; by 1859 a small town had developed about twenty miles from Lillooet. Gazette, 18 December 1858 and 28 May 1859. When built, by whom??
  3. Wells Fargo and Company began as a joint stock association in New York in March 1852, opening an office in San Francisco in July of that year and in Oregon in October. The company opened an office in Victoria in July 1858, with Samuel Knight as agent. Gazette, 28 July 1858; William Turrentine Jackson, Banking, Mail, and Express Service in British North America: The Role of Wells, Fargo and Company on Vancouver Island and in British Columbia, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, 76 (October 1985): 137-47.
  4. Freeman and Company was another express company based in San Francisco and Wells Fargo's chief rival. In June 1858 it hired William T. (Billy) Ballou as its agent in British Columbia and by July had opened an office in Victoria. A year later they were bought out by Wells Fargo. On 1 June 1872, the Colonist reported John Freeman, the former proprietor, was on the four million list amd living in California. Jackson, Banking, Mail, and Express Service in British North America, p. ??
  5. Billy Ballou, one of the pioneers in express and mail service in the California gold rush, operated Ballou's Pioneer Fraser River Express and established headquarters at Fort Hope. When?? He carried official mail as well as express letters and packages from Victoria to the gold fields around Hope and Yale. In 1861-62, following gold strikes in the Cariboo, he changed his company's name to Ballou's Cariboo Express and served the miners in the Cariboo area. Ballou left British Columbia for Idaho around 1863. See Jackson, Banking, Mail, and Express Service in British North America, and Gerald E. Wellburn, Ballou's Fraser River Express, Popular Stamps, 8, (January 1946): 5-7.
  6. Check Deaville, Gazette ??
  7. The newspapers remain in the file but because of their size have not been microfilmed. Check??
People in this document

Blackwood, Arthur Johnstone

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James


Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Merivale, Herman

Smith, Robert Thompson

Travaillot, Oswald Justice

Organizations in this document

Hudson's Bay Company

Places in this document

Bridge River

British Columbia


Fraser River

Harrison Lake

Harrison River




New York

Oregon Territory, or Columbia District


Port Douglas

San Francisco

Thompson River

Vancouver Island