No. 100
28 November 1860
My Lord Duke
I have the honor to inform Your Grace that nothing much of importance, beyond the usual course of events, has transpired in British Manuscript image British Columbia British Columbia since the date of my last Report.
2. The Miners of Alexandria and Quesnel River dreading the severity of the inland winter, have for some weeks past been arriving in great numbers from those Districts, and settling in the towns on the Lower Fraser, being attracted thither by the genial climate and cheaper rate of living: their labours, have, I understand, not Manuscript image not been unrewarded, many of them having been eminently successful; while, contrary to the general experience of mining countries, few or none have been entirely disappointed: so much indeed is this the case, that, as I am informed, they almost without exception, propose returning to Alexandria as soon as the snow disappears in Spring, and surface claims become accessible to the Miner. The population of those remote Districts Manuscript image Districts will probably for this winter be confined to persons who have invested their means in the construction of sluices, and especially such miners as are employed in tunnelling, whose operations are little affected by the external temperature, and may be carried on during the severest weather.
3. I have lately received a communication dated Alexandria, 17th of October, from Mr Philip H. Nind, Magistrate and Gold Commissioner for Manuscript image for Alexandria from which it appears that he had from various causes, encountered much detention on his route to Alexandria. His arrival in the District was hailed with a general feeling of satisfaction and his services were immediately called into requisition by the complaints of the inhabitants against a few notorious evil-doers who had taken refuge there, and become the Manuscript image the terror of the place. The most vigorous measures were at once set on foot to bring them to justice, and one of the number was soon afterwards apprehended and committed for trial; but the others could nowhere be found, and are supposed to have fled over the frontier into Oregon. Mr Nind had temporarily established his head-quarters at William's Lake, on account of its central Manuscript image central position from whence diverge, as from a common focus, all the routes leading to the upper and lower country.
4. The Extract from Mr Nind's valuable Report which I here subjoin, contains some interesting statistical facts in addition to his own views of the auriferous and physical character of parts of the Alexandria District which he has lately visited.
The rate of wages to Manuscript image to hired labourers is five and six dollars ($5 & $6) a day and of provisions and other necessaries about the same as at Alexandria, in some instances a little lower from the greater amount of competition. I have the honor to enclose a list of the prices of various articles at Alexandria.
Fergusons or Rich Bar when first discovered proved highly auriferous, as much as Sixty dollars ($60) a day to the hand having been made; but after the pay-streak near the river became exhausted the Manuscript image the flat in the road had to be pierced, and the gravel wheeled over plank roads for some hundreds of yards to be rocked out at the river, the profits consequently of the days labour considerably decreased, so that when I was there the average receipts were from seven to ten dollars ($7 to $10) a day to the hand: as soon however as water can be brought on for sluicing there is no doubt but that high wages will be made. Unlike the bars on the lower Fraser, the ground is Manuscript image is here unobstructed by heavy timber or roots; and the miner finds that not only does the pay-streak yield gold, but also the sand overlying it in sufficient quantities to pay for the washing. It is the general opinion that there will be employment on this bar for more than a hundred men, and that it will not be exhausted in less than two or three years. The introduction of water is an operation requiring considerable capital Manuscript image capital and engineering skill; the ditch is cut from a lake situated between four and five miles to the N.E. and has to be brought on by means of a long tunnel: the expense of completing it is calculated at Twelve Thousand dollars ($12,000).
Three miles below Ferguson's Bar is British Bar, where a company of six Cornishmen are bringing in a ditch about five miles in length for their own use: the Bar is Manuscript image is but of small size. I did not notice any miners between here and Alexandria, though there were signs of work done in the spring. The Fraser between Alexandria and Quesnel River, is a swift but not turbulent river, averaging from two to three hundred yards across, it has a few small ripples, but none of the dangerous whirlpools so common in its lower course; the navigation does not appear difficult; Ferguson's Manuscript image Ferguson's Bar Ferguson's Bar being supplied with necessaries by boats from Alexandria, which make the trip of Sixty miles in about two days and a half. Between Alexandria and Fort George I hear but of two impediments to Steamboat navigation which it would be difficult to surmount, vizt two passes on Canons where the river narrows and rushes violently through precipitous rocks. The physical features on the Upper Fraser that attract the attention of the miner Manuscript image miner are three—
1st Its benches, bars and flats,
2nd Its earth-slides, and high banks displaying several strata of wash gravel,
3rd The water in its vicinity that can be made available for mining.
The first are very extensive, and some have been worked with rockers; but rockers are really only an advanced kind of prospecting apparatus, and stand in the same relation to sluicing and the hydraulic pipe Manuscript image pipe as the Chilian Arastra does to the California Quartz Mill; in both cases the deposit of gold must be very large to yield remuneration to the employers of so limited and primitive a method of obtaining it.
Respecting the second feature, the earth-slides and high banks yield the "colour" to prospectors, and in many cases two or three cents to the pan; were the hydraulic pipe brought to bear upon them, ground that is now unemployed would Manuscript image would be highly remunerative.
Respecting water, this great essential to extensive mining operations, can be procured without much difficulty, though not without labour and expense, for if streams are less frequently met with descending from these wooded hills than flow from the snow-topped mountains of the Lower Fraser, yet the great number of Lakes situated within accessible distances of either bank, would afford a supply entirely independent of rain-fall or melting snow.
at Manuscript image At present the country is struggling against the high rate of provisions and necessaries, the class of men that arrive in the spring have but enough money to purchase a few weeks provisions, they cannot afford to work for the future, but must make money immediately or return, so that a thorough testing or development of the auriferous resources of this particular section of country, till very considerable reduction takes place in the price of things, is not to be looked for. I Manuscript image I have conversed with many men who have been prospecting from Alexandria to the farthest point hitherto reached, and I find even amongst the unsuccessful no disbelief in the richness of the mines but a general impression to return next year, and try their luck again. Amongst the geological phenomena of this portion of Fraser River there is much to attract attention, more particularly a dark brown substance which the people call coal; on Ferguson's Bar and Manuscript image and the adjacent banks many detached pieces lie scattered about, and I was informed by a person on that Bar that he had used it for blacksmithing purposes and found it to answer; some eight or nine miles above Alexandria where the river, from a north and south course, makes an almost rectangular bend to the East, a high bank displays a complete stratum of this singular formation. I collected some specimens of it, and found on examination that Manuscript image that its specific gravity was much lighter than that of coal, that it did not soil the fingers, and that the grain of the wood was distinctly visible. I apprehend it to be lignite in a transition state, but whether it could be utilized for commercial purposes I am unable to judge. The banks of the river here are of considerable altitude, and are composed of a kind of inundated clay, called by the Miners, "soap-stone," they have been worn by the action of the water into cylindrical Manuscript image cylindrical forms and assume the appearance of buttresses and columns.
The trail between Alexandria and Ferguson's Bar passes through some exceedingly rich open land consisting of heavy black loam with a subsoil of clay apparently well adapted to the growth of wheat. The land that Mr Davidson has pre-empted, has produced excellent crops, a small patch of less than half an acre has returned twenty bushels of wheat, and Manuscript image and the turnips and cabbages would be considered fine in any country. Mr Davidson owns several head of cattle, a yoke of oxen, waggons and other agricultural implements. Finding his experiments so successful, he is preparing to farm next year more extensively, and is anxious to purchase land in addition to his pre-emption claim: several white men and Indians are at present in his employ. A substantial and commodious log-house has been built, and farm Manuscript image farm buildings are in process of erection. The price of vegetables on the ground has ranged from twenty cents a lb. to twelve and a half, onions excepted, which have never been sold for less that fifty cents a lb. Several of the hills that enclose the valley of Williams Lake are covered with pasture of the finest description, and in the valley and on the slopes are hundreds of acres of prairie that would repay the labor of the agriculturalist. The Manuscript image The timber in these hills principally consists of Douglas pine, Larch, Fir and Balsam; the larger trees make useful lumber, free from knots. Since I have resided in this District, the weather, during the early part of September was unsettled, but from the middle of the month 'till the present time it has been exceedingly fine; sharp at night, but the thermometer in my tent ranges between 60o and 70o during Manuscript image during the middle of the day. I have been enabled from the central position of this spot to transact a good deal of business with miners and traders returning from the Upper Country.
The Indians around here seem well disposed: some work well and readily, and are very intelligent, and would be, I think, susceptible of the influences of civilization: others, on the contrary, are extremely indolent, and neglect providing Manuscript image providing against the wants of tomorrow if supplied with food for today. As there has been a dearth of Salmon this summer, I very much fear they will suffer severely this winter: the greater number talk of wintering on the Thompson River and at Cayoosh.

5. I have received intelligence from Hope and Yale up to the 29th of November. The Gold Commissioners report that Manuscript image that the weather had been so far most favorable for mining operations, and that nearly all the miners in those Districts had built comfortable houses where they intend to remain for the winter.
Some Miners from the Cariboeuf Country had lately arrived at Hope with very fine specimens of lump gold worth from £1 to £8 a piece; their object being to remain at Hope until the winter is over, when they propose returning Manuscript image returning to their distant mining claims.
6. The miners at Shimilkomeen were making fair wages varying from 30 to 60 shillings a day to the man; and there was a sufficient stock of food in that part of the country to last till spring.
7. In consequence of the number of new steam boats which have been lately built here and commenced running on Fraser Manuscript image Fraser River Fraser River, the charge for freights from this place to Hope has fallen to 20s/- a ton, being a reduction of 300 per cent on the former rates of transport.
The Reports from British Columbia contain nothing further deserving of special notice.
I have etc.
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Acke.
Lay before Parlt.
ABd 31 Jany
If there be a Special Paper on B. Columbia, I suppose that this may be included.
TFE 31/1
N 31
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
Manuscript image
"List of Prices at Alexandria, 18 September 1860," including food, clothing, and miscellaneous equipment.
Other documents included in the file
Manuscript image
Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 70, 6 March 1861.
Douglas, James to Pelham-Clinton, Henry Pelham Fiennes 28 November 1860, CO 60:8, no. 915, 343. 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/B60100.html.

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