No. 185
Government House Victoria
Vancouvers Island
4 July 1859
The latest intelligence received from Mr Sanders the Assistant Gold Commissioner for the district of Fort Yale is very interesting and of a cheering character.
2. That gentleman in his last report dated the 28th June statesManuscript imagestates that the accounts from Prince Alberts Flat continue to be favourable, and the Miners who have taken up claims there, assure him that the pay streak yields five cents to the pan, which they consider a fair return for their labour, and Mr Sanders is of opinion that, the Flat which is of great extent will afford profitable employment to hundreds of Miners for years to come.
3. A Mining Bar about seven miles above Yale, commonly known as Sailors Bar which is occupied by a person named MeadManuscript imageMead and another, who are the sole grantees of two springs yielding sufficient water to supply three sluice heads are making, according to their own statement fifty dollars to the man a day. In consequence of the small supply of water on this extensive Bar it is unavoidably monopolized by these two men, and will afford them employment at the same rate of remuneration for many years to come.
4. Some Chinese Miners have settled on an elevated Bank on Fraser's River beyond Spuzzum, and as there is no water on the spot, and theirManuscript imagetheir own small means are insufficient to bring in an artificial supply from the neighbouring mountains, they convey the soil for washing in wheel barrows to the rivers edge, a fact which goes far to prove the extensive richness of the deposit.
5. These elevated banks have long been known to be rich, but there being, on many of them, no natural supply of water, it will require a considerable capital to bring in supplies of that indispensable element.
6. The Ditch on Emorys Bar hasManuscript imagehas been moved back, in order to facilitate the working of the Bank, which has however not proved so productive as expected.
7. The Miners on Hills Bar are sinking shafts in the mountains, in rear of the Bar, but when Mr Sanders last visited the spot on the 21st June, they had not attained to a sufficient depth, to determine the value of the auriferous soil with any degree of positiveness; the Miners were however quite satisfied from the indications of the beds of earth, that their endeavours were likely to prove successful.
8. Mr Sanders laments theManuscript imagethe great loss of gold arising from careless working and the want of proper means to retain the "rusty gold", and remarks that one half at least of the fine gold escapes on the surface of the water used in washing, nor will "rusty gold" amalgamate with quick silver, and he states, in proof of the superficial, ineffective manner in which the diggings are worked, that an experienced and well informed Ditch owner, assured him that he would have no hesitation, in undertaking to work over again those parts of Hills Bar, which are supposed to be exhausted, with a certainty of realizing from six to eight ($6 to $8) dollarsManuscript imagedollars a day for each man employed, yet, on this Bar many Miners have taken out of a twenty five foot claim as much as six and seven thousand dollars ($7,000) exclusive of cost of labour, water, and subsistence.
9. The miners are full of confidence in the resources of the country, and are looking forward to great discoveries in British Columbia. They seem to think that parties should be organized to prospect the interior, and good miners have offered their services for that object, on condition of being furnished with food, and rewarded in the event of success withManuscript imagewith grants of mineral land, or a quartz-land claim.
10. Mr Sanders further reports that the accounts from the upper districts of Frasers River are most encouraging, rich alluvial diggings having been found in the neighbourhood of Ft Alexandria, and extensive and rich dry diggings near Lytton.
11. Mr Sanders had also been informed, that silver has been discovered to the Eastward of Sailors Bar, and he promises to procure and forward specimens next week. It is also reported that quicksilver had been discovered, but the Commissioner thought itManuscript imageit not impossible, that the discoverer, had mistaken Red Sandstone for "Cinnabar" the mineral which contains Quicksilver.
12. Mr Sander's report contains nothing further of importance.
13. The opening of roads through the mountainous districts of British Columbia into the interior, is now the object which has the strongest claim upon our attention. A party of Royal Engineers are now employed in making the road from Fort Hope to Boston Bar, and a detachment of Royal Engineers and Royal Marines, exceeding one hundredManuscript imagehundred (100) men are employed in widening and improving the Harrison Lillooet road.
14. The transport by that road into the interior is already very great. About one hundred (100) pack mules leave Douglas weekly with freight for Bridge river; From returns made up at Douglas it appears that Three Thousand six hundred (3,600) tons of provisions have been carried over that road since it was first opened in the month of November last. The rate of freight by that route, rose at one time last winter to Thirty seven (37) cents a pound a state of thingsManuscript imagethings induced by the want of competition, and by the severity of the weather, but it is now reduced to 10 cents a pound all through from Douglas to Bridge River, and from this place (Victoria) to Douglas 1 1/7 cents making the whole expense of freight from this place to Bridge River a distance of Three hundred and sixteen (316) miles of inland transport 11 1/7 cents a pound, which is reasonable compared with what the charge once was; though still susceptive of reduction.
15. The regular settlement ofManuscript imageof the country by a class of industrious cultivators is an object of the utmost importance to the Colony, which is at present dependant for every necessary of life, even to the food of the people on importation from abroad.
16. It is thus drained of its wealth and its progress retarded: evils which must exercise a depressing influence on the country at large, until it possesses a fixed population, and produce of its own.
17. The mining population are proverbially migratory and unsettled in their habits, seldom engaging in any other than theirManuscript imagetheir own absorbing pursuits, and therefore, it is he who tills the soil, the industrious farmer, who must clear the forest, bring the land into cultivation, and build up the permanent interests and prosperity of the Colony.
18. We are for that reason most anxious to encourage the actual settlement of the Country and that the process should commence on the sea coast, and spread from thence as much as possible, continuously along the course of the great rivers into the interior.
19. There are considerable tracts of level land, and some Prairie land on Frasers River. TheManuscript imageThe country on Harrisons River and lake is less favourable for settlement, the lake about 35 miles in length, being on all sides bounded to the waters edge, by precipitous mountains, and not comprising, I believe, throughout its whole extent, Five hundred (500) acres of land fit for cultivation. The valley of Harrisons River does contain some level land, but the quality of the soil is arid and stony.
20. Nothing however can surpass the imposing beauty of the mountain masses and deafening cataracts of those twoManuscript imagetwo districts, the admiration of every lover of the sublime and picturesque in scenery.
21. They are moreover not without value in other respects, possessing, as they eminently do in boundless extent, fine forests of the largest growth and finest quality, with an almost unlimited amount of water power, readily applicable for propelling machinery at the smallest expense.
22. With the further advantage of a safe water communication to the sea, the inhabitants of those Districts, will doubtless turn their attention toManuscript imageto the export of spars and deals, which can be rafted at little cost, to Queensborough and thence shipped to all parts of the world, a trade that must eventually become a great source of wealth to the country.
23. The geological phenomena observed on the banks of Harrisons River, favour the belief that the district is auriferous, and this opinion received corroboration from the fact that a party of French miners, have worked the gravel beds of that river with a marked degree of success, their joint earnings havingManuscript imagehaving averaged about seven dollars ($7) a day to the man, and they are now making earnest preparations for renewing the operation as soon as the River abates.
24. The present white population of Douglas is about one hundred and fifty (150) souls. I was much pleased with their conduct when recently on a visit to that place, they came forward in the most liberal manner, after an address from me on the subject, to tender a subscription of about Three hundred dollars ($300), and the offer of an assessment of tenManuscript imageten per cent on the value of their property, in aid of the road to Bridge river. I thanked them for the support thus tendered, and promised to make honorable mention of their act to Her Majesty's Government.
25. A Water power saw mill of great capacity, with a planing and grooving Machine attached, has been lately erected on one of the Mountain Streams that sweep through the town of Douglas and I have no doubt that the enterprise of Mr McDonald the spirited proprietor, will meet with a rich rewardManuscript imagereward.
26. Colonel Moody is making great efforts to bring surveying parties rapidly into the field but the survey of the site of Queensborough, and other necessary work, has led to unavoidable delays, and no country land has as yet been brought into market. There is much popular clamour on that account, and should the pressure for land be great, I think it will be advisable, to meet the emergency by establishing some temporary system of occupation, which would enable settlers to holdManuscript imagehold and improve certain specified tracts of land under a preemption right until the surveys are completed, when it might cease to be in force.
27. The declared value of Imports into British Columbia for the quarter ending the 30th June amounts to Two Hundred and Forty seven thousand, seven hundred and fifty-five dollars, sixty-six cents ($247,755.66) and the revenue derived from Customs duties for the same period amounts to Four thousand one hundred and thirty-three pounds sixteenManuscript imagesixteen shillings (£4133.16).
28. There is some excitement at present about the gold diggings of Queen Charlotte's Island, and application has been made to me for aid and protection on the part of the Government.
29. If a party of sufficient strength for self protection, can be united for the purpose of exploring that Island and developing its mineral resources (which I believe to be valuable) and thus form the nucleus of a settlement, I will at once enter into communicationManuscript imagecommunication with the Senior Naval Officer present, requesting him if possible to detach one of Her Majesty's Ships now here, to accompany and give the party such aid and assistance as may be requisite on their first landing and to remain near them until they can construct works for their protection against the Native, who are numerous and troublesome.
30. I have only further to report the generalManuscript imagegeneral tranquillity and welfare of the Colony. The numbers of the Victoria Gazette mentioned in the margin
June 9 to July 9.
are herewith enclosed.
Only to July 2.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Merivale
The delay in bringing the country lands into the market (see par 26) is a serious evil. Perhaps the E. Commrs might offer some suggestions on the subject. A large number of the Royal Engineers are employed on the Harrison River Road and without some temporary measure such as the Governor suggests being resorted to there would Manuscript imageseem to be only a remote prospect of the land being made available. It is probable too that the R. Engineers are not very rapid surveyors.
The customs duties for the quarter to 30 June are £4133.
Acknowledge receipt of the report.
Send to Em Comn in the first instance, with reference especially to par. 26, which as Mr Irving truly points out, raises a question of very great importance to the future welfare of the colony. The admission of squatters to preemption rights (American fashion) is an evil if it can be avoided, but difficult or impossible to avoid under such circumstances.
HM Augt 29
I believe we must resort to the American fashion. The very neighbourhood to U.S. territory renders it next to impossible to maintain the present system.
N 29
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft, Merivale to Emigration Commissioners, 2 September 1859, forwarding copy of the despatch for consideration.