No. 111
Victoria Vancouver's Island
10 March 1859
My report No 95, of the 7th Ultimo on the state of British Columbia, contains advices from Fort Yale to the end of January; the intelligence since that date is satisfactory in all respects, except the weather which has been severely cold andManuscript imageand trying to the miner, whose operations have been in consequence nearly altogether suspended for the last two months.
Mr Commissioner Brew has, owing to the same cause, also been unable to collect the Mining Licence fees, for that time, a circumstance, which for obvious reasons, I much regret.
2. It appears from late reports that the Miners on "Hill's" and "Emery's" Bars, have abandoned the Beach workings, and transferred their labors to the Banks or elevated table land reaching from the River to the mountains. Those banks areManuscript imageare of great extent varying from a few hundred yards to two miles in breadth, and should they prove, as expected, more remunerative than the River beds, they will offer a wide field for mining enterprise.
3. Water for washing the auriferous soil is at present the chief want; it must be brought from the mountains, by means of artificial canals, and in consequence of the encouragement given on the part of Government, many persons are now engaged at their own private expense, in the construction ofManuscript imageof such works.
4. Those enterprises will materially aid in the development of the Gold fields and other industrial resources of British Columbia. The miners, to their praise be it said, are full of ardour, grasping eagerly at every opening, for the profitable employment of their labour or capital, and require no urging beyond the protection and regulating care of Government.
5. Those elevated table lands were until lately covered with deep snow, and therefore inac[c]essible to mining operationsManuscript imageoperations, but will soon I trust become the cheerful scene of successful and wide spread industry.
6. I may here state as a valuable fact, corroborating what has been before stated in my despatches, concerning the general productiveness of the gold fields in British Columbia, that a company of 6 men, holding a gold claim, on Hill's Bar, worked by a sluice took out the enormous return of 110 ounces of gold, in one week, and this I am informed, is not an isolated case of successful mining, many other claims having been proved equally productive, but I particularizeManuscript imageparticularize this instance, in consequence of there being no doubt as to the fact.
7. I will add to the preceding another corroborative fact in support of the same conclusion, supplied by the following statement received yesterday from Mr Latham, their Agent; of the quantity of Gold dust, shipped to San Francisco, and received on special deposit by the House of Wells Fargo & Co, of this place from June last, to the present time.
Shipped to San Francisco $525,000 value of, in Gold dust.
Received on Special Deposit 97,000 " " " " "
dollars 622,000 which valued at the current priceManuscript imageprice of gold 15 1/2 dollars an ounce, gives 40,029 ounces nearly, as the quantity of gold dust that has passed through their hands for the period mentioned. This statement compared with the quantities given in my Despatch No 40 of the 30th November last, as the export of Messrs Wells Fargo & Co, up to that date, shows an export of gold by that House, since that statement was prepared, to the extent of 23,436 ounces of gold.
8. The most favourable reports continue to arrive from Bridge River, and from the bank diggings of Fraser's River betweenManuscript imagebetween Lytton and the Fountain. Many private companies are engaged in bringing in water from the mountains for sluicing the elevated table land in that District, and though the mining season has not properly speaking yet commenced, the miners appear to have unbounded confidence in the resources of the Country and are gradually moving towards the upper District.
The weather being now fine and the country accessible, the tide of immigration will soon be setting towards Fraser's River.
9. The report of aManuscript imagea Mr Lindhart, a person residing at Port Douglas, speaks favorably of the banks of Harrisons River, situated between the Lake of that name and Lillooet Lake, as a productive gold field.
10. He states that a company of French miners are sluice washing, when the weather permits, on the Harrison River, ten miles beyond Port Douglas and are making from 28/- to 40/- a day, to the man.
One mile further up and on the opposite side of the River, three miners, hand washing with cradles are making from 10/ to 20/s aManuscript imagea day.
11. The same Mr Lindhart also states, as a generally received opinion, of the Miners about Port Douglas, that there is an extensive Gold field on the 35 mile table land, which separates the Lillooet from Anderson's Lake, and in proof thereof he has forwarded several specimens of the Gold procured at those place respectively.
12. Mr Commissioner Brew further reports that the country is in a state of perfect tranquility; that Gold is being brought down Fraser's River in "large quantities" and that the gold brought down is "coarse grainManuscript imagegrain and scale gold," which may be collected at any temperature.
13. It also appears from Mr Brew's communication that it is difficult in very cold weather to collect the fine or dust gold by amalgamation, as the quicksilver will not take up the gold when below a certain temperature.
14. Mr Brew further confirms the general belief in the rich auriferous deposits of British Columbia, and of the River Bars, above "Lytton", which he remarks, are said to be "rich beyond anything that was ever known."
15. ItManuscript image15. It does not however appear from Mr Brew's report that he has made any further collection of revenue, a subject on which I therefore cannot give you the information I would desire.
16. I may nevertheless remark that we have hitherto paid all the expenses of Government out of Colonial funds, and we shall endeavour by the careful and frugal application of the public revenue, to indespensable objects only, to tax the Imperial Treasury to as small an extent as in the circumstances ofManuscript imageof the Colony may be possible.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Lord Carnarvon
This is sufficiently interesting I think to send a copy to the Queen. (done)
2. Send also to Sir E. Lytton.
3. Print immediately for Parliament. (done)
5. Acke with satisfaction.
I almost think, though the suggestion should have come from the Governor (Capn Gossett did raise the question of a Mint to Sir Edward who viewed it favorably) that the time has come when an assay Office at once, & a mint shortly, shd be established; in order that the miner may ascertain, & obtain the full value for his gold, & that he may convert it into coin & spend it in the Colony, instead of, as many thousands have done, walking off to the S. Francisco Mint for dollars to the great benefit of the San Franciscan trade, & detriment to B. Columbians ditto. Miners will mistrust the private assayers, & private carriers of their dust; preferring an expensive process, sale of tools, and passage to S. Francisco, rather than send there the produce of their labor. I scarcely like to venture such a suggestion; but do you not think it might be worth while to ask the T-y as to the expediency of sending the Colony an assay outfit. I am Manuscript imagepersuaded Capn Gossett, under whom the Office wd be worked, would make the Department more than defray it's own expenses. I doubt the outfit costing more than £1000, whh must be put down in the bill agt the Colony—(whose back I hope we shant break at starting). We should, at the same time, ask the Treasury whether the moment has yet arrived for the establishment of a Mint—for an Assay Office without a Mint—would be an inconsequent piece of business; and whether they would approve of this Office directing the attention of the Governor to the subject and instructing him to report thereon. When the distance of this Gold bearing Colony from the United Kingdom is considered, whh renders it difficult and expensive to supply it with English Coin, and that the Colony must therefore resort to the United States for the requisite accommodation in the circulating Manuscript imagemedium it may well deserve attention whether some steps should not be taken by the Imperial Govt which shall have the result of preserving a business to the Colony which will otherwise pass into the hands of Foreigners.
ABd 2 May
I agree in all Mr Blackwood's proposals. Perhaps he will be good enough to prepare a draft to the Treasury raising the question of a Mint, and enquiring as to the probable minimum expense of the first establishment. I am afraid that this is more considerable than we cd desire.
C May 4
It was the great expense of a Mint which alone deterred me from forming it in the first instance.
Print this for Parlt. Print for Parlt the annexed [cut off file] to Treasury [cut off file].
EBL May 10
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 14 May 1859, enclosing copy of the despatch for consideration.
Minutes by CO staff
Not yet printed. I ventured to defer the execution of Sir Edward's instruction, as the correspondence was incomplete, & I had misgivings as to the views the T-y wd take on the subject.
ABd 13 July