No. 42
23 April 1860
My Lord Duke,
I have the honor to inform your Grace that the winter has passed away without the occurrence of any extraordinary event in British Columbia.
2. The season has been comparatively mild, and the miners residing in the various inland districts, have been abundantly provided with food and with home grown vegetables in small quantities which Manuscript image which have had the effect of checking the ravages of scurvy by which the health of many of those laborious men was seriously impaired in the winter of 1858.
3. Very satisfactory reports have been lately received from all the mining districts of the Country; on these however strict reliance cannot always be placed, though, in the present instance, they are corroborated by heavy arrivals of gold dust both in the hands of miners and of the exporting companies.
4. The roads leading into the country from Hope and Yale, have, in consequence of Manuscript image of the great depth of snow in the mountain passes, been impassable since the beginning of winter to any other mode of transport than by Indian packers, who with singular force and power of endurance, toil through the mountain trails at that trying season with loads of one hundred pounds each; but that mode of transport is not even attempted in winter by the Hope trail, which is hermetically sealed to travel from the interior, between the months of October and Manuscript image and June, yet these two trails may, I believe be made available for winter travel, by evading the precipitous hills over which they pass, and carrying the line of road by easy grades, through the deep valleys. The transport might then be carried on during the winter by means of sleighs drawn by horses, as it is evident that the depth of snow would not form in itself an insuperable obstacle provided the precipitous ascents which constitute real Manuscript image real difficulty of the road could be avoided.
5. Much attention has been directed to the exploration of those difficult routes, and we have ascertained the feasibility of running an easy graded line of road from Yale to Lytton, and I am daily expecting a report from a surveying party employed at Hope, in examining, with a similar object in view, the passes leading from that place to the Shimilkameen Valley. These routes may without exaggeration be severally compared to the passage of the Alps. It Manuscript image It is however a great satisfaction to known that the country beyond the mountains is generally level and of easy access.
6. The great outlet of British Columbia continues to be by the Harrison River Trail, and that fortunately has been uninterruptedly open during the whole winter, and large stocks of food have been accumulated at its further terminus near Cayoosh, in anticipation of the influx of miners for the Upper Fraser. The price of food is in consequence of the abundance comparatively low, the last quotation Manuscript image quotations being 8d per lb. for flour and beans at Lytton, and 11d at Cayoosh, and at both places bacon is quoted at 14d per lb. The improvement in the condition of the miner is very great, as he can live substantially for 1 1/2 dollars per diem, instead of 3 or 4 dollars, and many claims are now workable at a profit which could not afford the miner any support last year.
7. A detachment of 80 Royal Engineers under the command of Captain Grant has been employed Manuscript image employed since the beginning of March embanking the shoals near the mouth of the Harrison River, for the purpose of deepening the channel, which is now impassable in winter for the lightest Steamer, and there is every reason to believe that the work will be brought to a successful termination.
8. The same detachment of Royal Engineers will shortly proceed to resume work on the wagon road from Douglas, which it is expected they will complete in a few weeks as far as the Ten Manuscript image Ten Mile house, from that point a party of civilian labourers have undertaken a section of 6 miles of the road, for which they are to receive the sum of £550 per mile. This will carry the road to the 16 mile house, where the Royal Engineers will recommence operations, and probably complete the next twelve miles, that is to the 28 mile house situated on the smaller Lillooet Lake, before the end of summer.
9. We propose to use that and the larger Lillooet Lake as a water communication, connecting them by means of a good Manuscript image good wagon road 1 1/4 miles in length, which is already made and in use.
The application of some enterprising settlers to run a Steamer without any special privilege on the larger Lillooet Lake has been granted, which will greatly facilitate transport. An excellent mule trail 30 miles in length with substantial bridges over all the rivers, connected the larger Lillooet Lake with Lake Anderson, beyond which the route to Cayoosh offers no very serious difficulties to engineering enterprise.
10. Two Manuscript image 10. Two stern wheel Steamers intended to ply on Lakes Anderson and Seaton are nearly completed, by an association of settlers who at much labour and expense packed the engines and boilers from Douglas over the Harrison Road. To give an idea of the difficulty of the undertaking I may mention that the boilers being too heavy to carry on mules, were rolled over the trail, as far as the 28 mile house, in five sections. Serious difficulties of that kind will not be felt when the wagon road is made, and the facility of communication Manuscript image communication will, I have no doubt, give a prodigious impulse to industry and to the rapid development of the resources of the country, as all kinds of machinery required to assist the operations of the gold miner may then be imported.
11. I have received advices from Lytton up to the 6th of this month (April). Commissioner Ball reports that the mining season had commenced, and that the miners who had migrated to the lower country for the winter, were fast returning to their old claims on the Benches Manuscript image Benches of Fraser River, but the great majority of those hardy wanderers were making their way towards Quesnels River, where it is confidently expected rich hill diggings will be found.
12. A great number of Chinese Miners were also arriving and taking up mining claims on the River Bars, in the Lytton district, who are reputed to be remarkably quiet and orderly. Mr Ball's report refers to no other subject of general interest.
13. The prevailing impression respecting the great auriferous wealth of the district about Alexandria Manuscript image Alexandria Alexandria and the Quesnel River will have the effect of attracting a large population to that distant quarter, and I shall consequently be under the necessity of appointing a Magistrate and a small body of Police to remain there, for the purpose of maintaining the peace, of the Country, and preventing conflicts among the miners, and with the Indian Tribes.
14. The last intelligence from the Shimilkameen River is not so favorable as before reported. I perceive Manuscript image perceive by the Oregon papers that many persons who had gone there for the purpose of mining had been unsuccessful. It is stated in those papers that 20 or 30 miners only were making from 8 to 10 dollars per day while the others engaged in the same occupation were not paying expenses. That is, I conceive, but the usual and silly outcry of the idler and the visionary, and does not in the least shake my opinion in regard to the auriferous nature of the country, founded on its geological character, and Manuscript image and further strengthened by the report of Lieut Park, a highly scientific member of the American Boundary Commission, who entertains a similar belief in the auriferous character of that district and in the existence of extensive Placer diggings. Should a large population assemble there, the attention of Government will have to be directed towards it and a police force employed to maintain the peace. I shall use every exertion to connect the Shimilkameen with Fort Hope Manuscript image by means of a convenient road with the important object in view of making Frasers River, instead of the Columbia, the outlet of its trade.
15. British Columbia is becoming highly attractive to the Chinese, who are arriving in great numbers—about 2000 having entered Frasers River since the beginning of the year and many more are expected from California and China. They are certainly not a desirable class of people, as a permanent population, but are for the present useful
I shd think very useful.
as labourers Manuscript image labourers and as consumers, of a revenue paying character. I have therefore protected them from the payment of differential duties not equally borne by other classes of the population.
16. I have received advices from Commissioner Sanders of Yale District up to the 14th Instant (April). He describes the migration of miners for the Upper Country as being very general and expresses a fear that the feeling in favour of Quesnels River may lead to the depopulation of the Yale District.
17. In a previous passage of Manuscript image of this report I stated that we had ascertained the feasibility of running a line of road by easy grades the whole way from Yale to Lytton, which would avoid the lofty passes and be accessible in winter for pack mules, and not like the present trail, rendered valueless for five months in the year, by an impassable depth of snow.
With reference to that enterprise which I proposed to undertake, Mr Sanders complains of the character of the population. His remarks on the subject are as follows: There is very little probability of any person in Yale or its neighbourhood tendering Manuscript image tendering for the construction of the projected mule trail; the proposed part payment in land is very far from being an inducement, in fact it is generally objected to: an arrangement of that nature might possibly be acceptable to British subjects, but would naturally and unfortunately be objectionable to aliens and unfortunately the population of this Colony is almost without exception foreign.
We shall nevertheless commence that undertaking as soon as a small body of the Royal Engineers can be spared without detriment to other important work.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
This is in all respects a satisfactory report; & shd be laid before Parlt with as much dispatch as is possible.
ABd 11 June/60
I should answer that the Secretary of State has read this report with interest, and does not doubt that Governor Douglas cannot turn his attention to an object more important to the Colony than the improvement of it's internal communications.
I understand from Mr Joseph that he has nearly completed a Blue Book for Parliament on B. Columbia: it may as well be completed to the present date, and this despatch be included in the collection.
TFE 11 June
Add to Parliamentary Papers?
CF 12
Roads seem to be alone wanting to develope the resources of this Country.
N 17
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 36, 26 June 1860.