25 October 1860
My Lord Duke
Resuming the Subject of my Report on British Columbia, marked Separate, of the 9th of the present Manuscript image present month, I proceed to inform Your Grace that on leaving Lytton, accompanied by Mr Good, Private Secretary and four mounted attendants, my course was directed towards Shimilkomeen and Rock Creek, the latter being about 228 Miles from Lytton.
2. It is not my intention, neither does it appear necessary, that I should occupy Your Grace's time with a narrative of the incidents of the journey. I Manuscript image I will therefore in continuing this report dwell on subjects only which serve to elucidate the present state of the Country, its natural capabilities as a Colony, and the effect of its institutions on the development of its resources.
3. With the exception of the Miners assembled on Thompson River at Rock Creek and Shimilkomeen, the part of British Columbia through which my route lay, is still exclusively occupied Manuscript image occupied by the Native Indian Tribes, a race of bold and active hunters, forming, when mustered in force on their hardy native horses, an imposing array. I fell in with detachments at different points of the route, where they had assembled to offer a rude but cordial welcome.
4. I received them with every mark of respect and kindness, entered freely into conversation with the Chiefs, assuring them of the Manuscript image the warm regard of Her Majesty's Government, and leading them into the discussion of their own affairs in order to discover if they entertained any real or fancied grievance which might lead to disaffection, or induce them to make reprisals on the white settlers.
5. There was one subject which especially pre-occupied their minds, as I discovered by the frequent allusions they made to it, namely the abject condition Manuscript image condition to which the cognate Native Tribes of Oregon have been reduced by the American system of removing whole Tribes from their native homes into distant reserves where they are compelled to stay, and denied the enjoyment of that natural freedom and liberty of action without which existence becomes intolerable. They evidently looked forward with dread to their own future condition, fearing lest the same wretched fate Manuscript image fate awaited the natives of British Columbia. I succeeded is dis-abusing their minds of those false impressions by fully explaining the views of Her Majesty's Government, and repeating in substance what I have in a former part of this report informed Your Grace was said on the same subject to the Assembled Tribes at Cayoosh and Lytton.
6. Those communications had Manuscript image had the effect of re-assuring their minds and eliciting assurances of their fidelity and attachment.
7. An appalling Indian outrage committed in the neighbouring State of Oregon, as related with its attendant horrors in a Slip enclosed herewith from the "Vancouver Chronicle," will shew better than comment the impolicy of the American system, and how careful we should be in guarding against Manuscript image against the contagion of evil example, by treating the Natives with justice, and removing when necessary, every cause of distrust as to the ultimate views and policy of Her Majesty's Government with respect to them.
Govr Douglas has shewn so much tact in the management of the Natives that his opinion is valuable.
8. The country situated between Lytton and Rock Creek is highly attractive, and no other part of British Columbia, nor of the United States Manuscript image States Territory north of Columbia River, offers so many inducements in point of soil and climate to the enterprising emigrant. Its distance from the Coast, and difficulties of access have hitherto almost excluded it from intercourse, but as those impediments are removed by the formation of Roads, now in rapid progress, from the navigable points of Fraser River, it will no doubt Manuscript image doubt become a centre of population, and the seat of flourishing settlements.
9. I will not attempt to describe its physical aspect; but to give a general idea in few words, I will observe that it forms an elevated table-land of great extent sometimes rising into hills, and is traversed by many noble valleys and watered by numberless streams flowing into its great Manuscript image great arteries the Thompson, Shimilkomeen, and Okanagon Rivers. There are many varieties of soils—much arable land, and a great deal that is fit only for pasture; but as a remark generally applicable, I may observe that the valleys contain a large extent of good open land; while the steeply swelling hills are mostly covered with trees formed Manuscript image formed into groups, or growing with park-like regularity, widely apart, and free from brush or underwood: but the peculiar feature of the Country is the profusion of grass that covers both woodland and meadow, affording rich pastures for domestic animals, a circumstance which gives to this District an extraordinary value, as every part of the surface, whether hill or valley Manuscript image valley, may be turned to account and made available either for tillage, or stock farming.
10. The climate, like that of all other parts of the Colony, is perfectly healthy; and there is much less humidity at all seasons, than in the Districts bordering on Fraser River. Vegetation was nevertheless fresh and green to a degree that was hardly to be expected at that time of Manuscript image of the year. The seasons exhibit no extremes of temperature, the summers being warm, and the winters sharp, but not severe.
The Lakes, except the Okanagon, and all the Rivers, freeze in winter; and there are occasional falls of snow, but it seldom lies in the valleys more than a few weeks at a time. The fact that horses and domestic cattle are left out all winter to shift for Manuscript image for themselves, and generally thrive without any care on the range of the country, is probably, however, a better criterion of the temperature than any other circumstance that can be adduced. It is in short, a very pleasant and desirable part of the Colony, possesses a healthy climate, and many other advantages; pastures being already formed where thousands of cattle may find Manuscript image find food; and the industrious colonist will find it much better and easier to raise crops than in the woodland districts, where it takes much labour and expense to clear a small space.
11. After five days travel in a fine open country, we reached the main branch of the Shimilkomeen River, a few miles below the lately discovered Gold Diggings, where 80 or 100 Miners were at Manuscript image at work, all seemingly in high spirits, pleased with the country, and elated with their prospects and earnings. Many of them were engaged in putting up dog-huts, and making other preparations as they intend to winter there if they succeed in having supplies of flour and other necessaries brought from Hope before the mountains become impassable from snow. As that was clearly impossible without greater facilities Manuscript image facilities of communication, it was evident they would have no alternative but to desert their claims, and leave the country at a serious loss to themselves and to the Colony.
12. That circumstance brought the vital subject of Roads again forcibly to mind. A Road-party working out from Hope, had, I knew, nearly got the length of the summit-ridge, about 36 miles distant from our Camp Manuscript image Camp, and could means be found of cutting through to that point, and connecting Hope with Shimilkomeen by a practicable trail before the advent of winter, I felt assured that an important object for the country would be gained, and I resolved to make the attempt.
Some Indian hunters were soon found who undertook to conduct a party to the desired point, by a better and less circuitous line than Manuscript image than the present almost impassable trail; and the subject was immediately brought before the miners, who, seeing the object of the measure, at once volunteered in force sufficient for the work, and early the following morning a party properly equipped with tools, provisions, and means of transport, was dispatched with instructions to open a path which would connect with the Horse-way from Hope.
13. Leaving Manuscript image 13. Leaving Mr Good and one of my attendants at this point to urge on the work, and to enquire into the condition of the Miners, I pushed on without further delay with my three other attendants in light marching order, towards Rock Creek. On the way I fell in with Mr Cox, the Revenue Officer of the Southern frontier, who joined my party, and after three days travel we arrived at the town known as Manuscript image as Rock Creek, situated at the junction of that stream and Colvile River.
14. The town contains fifteen houses, and several more in progress, chiefly shops and buildings intended for the supply and entertainment of Miners.
15. Nearly five hundred Miners are congregated about Rock Creek, and another tributary of the Colvile, about ten miles below that point.
16. The Manuscript image 16. The Rock Creek diggings were discovered last October by Mr Adam Beam, a native of Canada, as he was travelling from Colvile to Shimilkomeen; he again visited the spot in December, but did not begin to work till the 7th of May: the following is a statement of his daily earnings with the cradle for the first few days afterwards: First days work produced 20 Dollars
Second days work produced 43 Dollars
Third days work produced 33 Dollars
Fourth Manuscript image Fourth days work produced 27 Dollars
Fifth days work produced 32 Dollars
Sixth days work produced 17 Dollars
Seventh days work produced 99 Dollars
The subsequent record of his daily earnings could not be found, but on the 20th of June, that is, six weeks from the day of commencement, he had made nine hundred and seventy seven dollars in gold, valuing it at sixteen dollars to the ounce.
17. Hugh McKay, another Canadian Miner, said that on Manuscript image on his claim, the bed-earth of the stream yielded nothing, but a drift into the bank produced twenty dollars a day. I moreover ascertained from the testimony of the miners generally, that none of those who had succeeded in opening gold claims were making anything less than ten dollars a day.
18. Rock Creek is supposed to indicate the course of the gold-lead, and to be everywhere auriferous; it is also believed that all the Manuscript image the Benches near the River will pay well; and many of the miners propose running in tunnels without delay. There is much uncertainty however, as to the real extent and value of the lead, nor can it be ascertained until the country comes to be more extensively prospected.
19. I met the assembled population of the place, the day after my arrival, and addressed them on various subjects. I did not attempt to Manuscript image to conceal that the object of my visit to Rock Creek was to enquire into their conduct, and to suppress the disorders which were reported to be prevalent in that part of the country; and I assured them that I was agreeably surprised to find that those reports were unfounded. After that merited compliment, I proceeded to explain the views of Her Majesty's Government, the general mining regulations of Manuscript image of the Colony, especially directing their attention to that Section of the Act which provides for the establishment of Mining Boards, with powers to frame Bye-Laws adapted to the circumstances of each District; or in other words, investing the Miners themselves with full powers to amend their own laws. I further pointed out the nature and object of the Pre-emption Law, passed expressly for the encouragement of settlers, and demonstrated the fact that Manuscript image that the whole policy of Her Majesty's Government was considerate and liberal in the extreme. I then announced the appointment of Mr Cox as Justice of the Peace, and Assistant Gold Commissioner for the District of Rock Creek; and that he was duly authorized to punish offences, to attend to the maintenance of civil order, to the Registration of Mining Claims, and to receive all dues payable to Her Majesty's Government.
I Manuscript image I concluded by exhorting them, one and all, as they valued, and looked to the Laws of the land for protection, to aid and assist him on all occasions, not only as a duty incumbent on good subjects, but as being also their manifest interest; for I continued, if the laws are not enforced, there can be no security, and without security there can be no prosperity; therefore, I went on to say, as you hope for redress yourselves when individually Manuscript image individually suffering wrong, you must be prepared to rally round the Magistrate charged with the execution of the Laws.
The meeting ended pleasantly, and the measures announced appeared to give general satisfaction.
20. Mr Cox then proceeded to the less pleasant task of levying the regular Customs charge on all goods found at Rock Creek which had not been entered for importation, such goods being really contraband Manuscript image contraband and legally forfeited, might have been seized for the benefit of the Crown, had it not been considered inexpedient in the circumstances to inflict the extreme penalty of the Law.
21. I left soon afterwards on my return to Fraser River, and have since then added another Officer to the Revenue Establishment at Rock Creek, and authorized the employment of any amount of force when necessary Manuscript image necessary for restraining the illicit importation of goods into British Columbia; and the cost of such extra establishment is to be super-added as a Treasury fine to the import duties. It is however, impossible I conceive, altogether to prevent smuggling at places situated so immediately on the frontier as Rock Creek, which is within two miles of the Boundary.
The simple, and only certain means of effecting the object is to under-sell the foreign merchant Manuscript image merchant by supplying goods at the cheapest rate, and much may be done towards that object by improving the communications and lessening the cost of transport from Hope.
22. The total distance from that place to Rock Creek is about 160 miles. By improving the channel of the Shimilkomeen River and rendering it navigable in boats, we may substitute 60 miles of water for land carriage Manuscript image carriage, at a great reduction of cost. The improvement of the Shimilkomeen would not involve an outlay of more than £1000, while it would reduce the land carriage to 100 miles by substituting a cheap water conveyance for the remaining 60 miles. With that advantage the whole trade will flow towards Fraser River.
23. The following mining statistics were collected by Mr Good, at Shimilkomeen:
Mr Manuscript image Mr Alison's claim produces £10 a day, for each man employed.
Mr Dowell's claim £12 a day, per man.
Merrill and Eddy, worked three days and made from £10 to £12 daily, per man.
McDougal took out £26 in the Cradle the first day; in prospecting his claim he found £1 and upwards to the pan: anticipates earning £50 per man, when sluicing operations commence, in about Manuscript image about a weeks time they will all begin to work.
On examining the country, prospects were so good, that they all immediately commenced preparations for sluicing, wing-damming, and other costly works for mining on a large scale.
24. The Road-party were far advanced with their task on my return to Shimilkomeen, and I took that road to the Summit or Punch Bowl, where Manuscript image where I fell upon the new Road from Hope, which is carried over an elevation of 4000 feet without a single gradient exceeding one foot in twelve, a fact very creditable to Sergeant McCall and the detachment of Royal Engineers employed in marking out the line; it moreover suggests the possibility of converting it hereafter into a Cart-way. It is even now a great boon to the country, yet pite Manuscript image it will lose much of its value unless it be kept open for traffic in winter by sending out parties of men on snow-shoes to beat the roads after every fall of snow, a course which I strongly recommended to the merchants at Hope.
25. The persons who held the Union and Emory Bar silver leads near Hope are making great exertions to open the works, with, I believe, every probability of a Manuscript image a most profitable result.
26. Masses of nearly pure virgin Copper have been found in the excavations made for mining purposes above Yale; and valuable outcrops of coal occur on the Shimilkomeen River, but the present value of those minerals is not sufficient to induce the investment of capital.
27. The new Horse-way from Yale to Spuzzum is now Manuscript image now open for traffic. Unlike the mountain trail which it supersedes, the new road is carried over the mountain side along the course of Fraser River at a moderate elevation, and will be open for travel both in summer and winter. In riding over the face of those frowning cliffs, which a twelve month ago seemed to defy all efforts at improvement, it was impossible to repress a feeling of thankfulness and Manuscript image and intense gratification at the successful issue of our labours, and their probable influence on trade and the development of the country. The arduous part of this undertaking—excavating the mountain near Yale—was executed entirely by a Detachment of Royal Engineers under Sergeant Major George Cann, and it has been completed in a manner highly creditable to Manuscript image to themselves, and to the officers who directed the operation.
28. The most favorable accounts continue to arrive from the Quesnel River and Cariboeuf diggings, confirming all the former reports of the vast auriferous wealth of those Districts.
29. An opinion is gaining ground among persons who have closely inspected and studied the phenomena of the Gold-fields, that Manuscript image that there exists a zone or belt of country 50 or 60 miles in breadth which is the matrix or depository of the gold found in British Columbia. Its course has been partially traced from the neighbourhood of Fort George, at the forks of Fraser River, for nearly 60 miles in a South-South-East direction; and the theory derives a measure of support from the fact that the rich diggings Manuscript image diggings at Cariboeuf, Quesnel River, and Rock Creek, the latter unknown when the theory was started, come within the limits which it prescribes. Mr Nind, the Assistant Gold Commissioner for Quesnel River District, may probably be able to throw light upon the subject, and I await his report with much anxiety, especially as I have had no official communication from him since his appointment. I learn Manuscript image I learn from other sources that the Miners in that quarter are making large profits, and that good order, and tranquillity reign throughout the District. The want of roads is, however, seriously felt, and has become a general subject of complaint. As soon as those more important communications now in progress are completed, we shall not fail to turn our attention to the remoter Districts.
30. Some Manuscript image 30. Some specimens exhibiting the varieties of Gold found in British Columbia, are forwarded with this Report.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
This Report is a continuation of 11678 & should be dealt with in like manner?
VJ 2 Jan
Mr Fortescue
I suppose so.
TFE 2 Jany
Certainly—to be included in next Parlty Papers.
CF 3
N 8
These gold specimens were sent some to the Jermyn Street Museum some to Oxford and the remainder to Cambridge.
GDE 6-3-61
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
Newspaper clipping, Vancouver Chronicle, 9 October 1860, "Massacre of an Immigrant Train by the Snake Indians—45 Persons Butchered."
Manuscript image
Inhabitants of Hope to Douglas, 3 October 1860, discussing the importance of road links into the interior in order to forestall American traders in the southern regions, and expressing thanks to the governor for his help and encouragement in promoting construction of the existing routes, signed by A.D. Pringle, W.H. Sutton and "50 others."