No. 52
24 December 1858
Sir,
1. In consequence of the return of mild weather, the ice on Fraser's River has broken up and vessels are again plying with goods and passengers between this place and Fort Langley.
The Steamers
"Santa Cruz"
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2. The Steamers "Santa Cruz" 1 and "Beaver" lately returned from thence, with upwards of three hundred passengers from the mining districts, and, as reported on good authority, 7340 ounces of gold dust, exclusive of the sums in the hands of miners.
3. The passengers who arrived by those vessels suffered much privation on their journey to Fort Langley, in consequence of the freezing of the River, about forty miles above that place, where they were detained by ice, and imprudently attempted to make theirwayManuscript image way through the woods to Fort Langley without the precaution of taking guides or food, or in short, providing in any manner for their own comfort or safety. The poor fellows soon lost their way, and after wandering for several days through the pathless forest, were nearly perishing of cold and hunger, before they could be rescued from their perilous situation.
4. Those people who were principally returning miners, complain bitterly of the cold, and appear physically disqualified bytheManuscript image the enervating effects of a long residence in California, for the more rigorous climate of British Columbia.
5. The reports from the upper Country are favorable; confirming all our previous opinions of the great mineral wealth of the interior of British Columbia.
The want of roads and difficulty of access, are still the great impediments to the development of the mineral wealth of that region.
6. The Harrison's River road is, after an endless deal of trouble and anxiety,fromManuscript image from the want of honest and able men to carry out the plans of Government, fairly open to traffic, and its advantages will be of incalculable value to the country. We have had a town site laid out on that road, at Port Douglas, and have caused town lots of the usual size, 2 to be issued under leases, to all persons wishing to build there for the present winter, and about seventy of those lots are occupied.
7. Some specimens of gold procured by sluicing on Harrison's River, have lately come into mypossessionManuscript image possession, adding force to the opinion that the country in that quarter, is probably not greatly inferior to Fraser's River itself, as an auriferous district.
8. Bridge River is now the favorite gold district: specimens of copper and a small specimen of silver now in my possession having recently been brought from that part of the country. 3
9. Mr Commissioner Travaillot's last report from "Lytton" (Forks of Thompson's River) is dated on the 7th of December.
There was thenManuscript image a very slender stock of food in his District, and provisions were selling at a high price; but there was a prospect of speedy relief, as supplies of flour and other articles of food were beginning to arrive by the Harrison's River road.
10. Many of the white miners had nevertheless left the country in despair of being able to get through the winter without suffering much privation, and those who remained behind were peaceable and well conducted.TheirManuscript image Their conduct towards the Indian population, and of the latter to the whites had been good, and no serious difficulty had occurred since the month of October.
11. The Police had in one instance, met with resistance on a mining bar above Lytton, from a party of miners who sought to protect a person named D. Brown, charged with a criminal offence; but they succeeded after a hard fight, in capturing the criminal, who withfourManuscript image four of his friends, had posted themselves in a log house for defence. Brown was severely wounded in the struggle and is not yet recovered.
12. This is the first and only instance of open resistance to the Law, that I have had to record in British Columbia, and I am glad to say the Police did their duty faithfully on the occasion.
13. Mr Travaillot's statement of public receipts and expenditures, exhibitsaManuscript image a deficit of nearly £100 against his District, and he remarks, that in the present state of things, a more favorable result could hardly be expected. Food of all kinds has been scarce and dear, and the sources of supply at a great distance from the mining bars—the miners were therefore kept continually travelling to and fro to procure subsistence thereby exhausting their money as well as their physical energies, in extremely fatiguing journies over a rugged country,carryingManuscript image carrying loads from 80 to 100 pounds on their backs.
And latterly, the cold weather—the Thermometer having fallen to 10o Fahrenheit, had compelled the miners to suspend work altogether. In such circumstances, the licence fees could not be enforced with advantage to the public revenue.
14. There is nothing further of much importance to communicate respecting the affairs of Mr Travaillot's District.
15. I have alsolatelyManuscript image lately received satisfactory accounts from the district of Fort Yale. Mr Hicks, the Assistant Commissioner having failed in carrying out his instructions for collecting the Mining Licence fee, and being deficient in nerve for the position he holds, it is my intention immediately to remove him, and to appoint Mr Inspector Brew to the office he now holds—as Assistant Commissioner of Crown lands. 4
16. This arrangement will not interfere materiallywithManuscript image with Mr Brew's other duties, while to me it will afford an incalculable degree of relief, as I can implicitly rely on Mr Brew's firmness and integrity.
17. I forward for your information three numbers of the Victoria Gazette which contain the latest reports from the mining Districts, and on that account may be found interesting.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Governor
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale
It is a satisfactory account of the State of the Colony & should I presume be printed?
VJ 12 Feby
HM F 14
And satisfactory also as to Mr Brew's capability & conduct.
C F 17
Print for Parlt.
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Victoria Gazette, 18, 21??, 23 December 1858. 5
Footnotes
  1. The Santa Cruz ran from California to British Columbia and Vancouver Island. In 1861, the ship was loaned to the U.S. government, was fitted out as a revenue cutter, and renamed the General Sumner. The government sold it for $40,000, whereupon the owners sold it again in China for $81,000; it was destroyed by fire on the Yangtze River in 1862. (Colonist, 19 April and 9 May 1862; Wright, Lewis & Dryden's Marine History, pp. 69, 100. Owners??
  2. I.e., 60 by 120 feet. Lots were leased for £10 each. See Douglas to Lytton, 11 October 1858, 12180, CO 60/1, p. 181, par 10 and Douglas to Lytton, No. 44, 13 October 1858, 12718, CO 305/9, p. 197. See also Sage, Gold Rush Days on the Fraser River, p. 161. Leases because land could not be sold until surveyed.
  3. = copper & silver Specimens of copper and silver; check newspapers before 24 December??
  4. = dismissal of Hicks For information about Hicks, see entry in Appendix A. Colonist ? OMIT??
  5. The newspapers remain in the file but because of their size have not been microfilmed.
People in this document

Brew, Chartres

Brown, D.

Carnarvon, Earl

Douglas, James

Hicks, Richard

Jadis, Vane

Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer

Merivale, Herman

Travaillot, Oswald Justice

Vessels in this document

Beaver, 1835-1888

Santa Cruz

Places in this document

Bridge River

British Columbia

Fraser River

Harrison River

Langley

Lytton

Port Douglas

Thompson River

Vancouver Island

Victoria

Yale

Douglas, James to Lytton, Edward George Earle Bulwer 24 December 1858, CO 60:1, no. 1527, 520. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871, Edition 2.2, ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria, B.C.: University of Victoria. https://bcgenesis.uvic.ca/B58052.html.

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