16 September 1861
I have much satisfaction in reporting to Your Grace that the Colony of British Columbia continues in a tranquilandManuscript image and progressive state.
2. The Gold Commissioners in their last monthly reports represent the continued exodus of the mining population from their respective Districts towards the "Cariboo" country, in speaking of which I have adopted the popular and more convenient orthography of the word—though properly it should be written "Cariboeuf" or Rein Deer, the country having been so named fromitsManuscript image its being a favorite haunt of that species of the deer kind.
3. The most extraordinary accounts of the wealth of that Gold Field are received by every succeeding Steamer from British Columbia; and those accounts are confirmed by letters from the merchants and traders of the District, and by fortunate adventurers who have realized, by a few weeks labour, their thousandsofManuscript image of dollars. It would in fact appear that Cariboo is at least equal in point of auriferous wealth to the best parts of California; and I believe the Gold deposits of British Columbia will be found to be distributed over a far more extensive space.
4. I am unable to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion as to the average daily earnings of Miners in the Cariboo country, but someideaManuscript image idea may be formed of the large sums realized, from the fact that 195 ounces of Gold were taken in one day out of a single mining claim, while ordinary claims yield as much as forty and fifty dollars a day to the man: but perhaps the most telling circumstance is the high price of labour, which has attained to the extraordinary sum of ten dollars a day, and any number of menmayManuscript image may find employment at that rate of pay.
5. The Cariboo Gold District was discovered by a fine athletic young man by the name of McDonnell, a native of the island of Cape Breton, of mixed French and Scotch descent, combining in his personal appearance and character, the courage, activity and remarkable powers of endurance, of both races. His healthhasManuscript image has suffered from three years constant exposure and privation, which induced him to repair with his well earned wealth to this Colony for medical assistance.
6. His verbal report to me is interesting, and conveys the idea of an almost exhaustless gold field, extending through the quartz and slate formations, in a northerly direction from Cariboo Lake.
7. TheManuscript image
7. The following well attested instances of successful mining at Cariboo may prove interesting, and will probably convey to Her Majesty's Government a more precise idea of the value and real character of this Gold-field than any mere generalizations, and with that object in view, I will lay the details, as received from the persons themselves, before Your Grace.
8. John McArthurandManuscript image and Thomas Phillips arrived here from Cariboo on the 17th of August last with nine Thousand dollars worth of gold dust in their possession, being the fruits of three months residence at the mines. They arrived there on the 1st day of May, and left again on the 1st day of August, having previously sold their mining claim at a high price to other persons. Their largest earnings for onedayManuscript image day amounted to five hundred and twenty five dollars, and no single days work yielded less than twenty five dollars. Both those persons have been mining in California, and are acquainted with its resources, yet they give it as their opinion that Cariboo, as a "generally paying country, surpasses the best days of California".
9. Mr Patterson and brother arrived at NewWestminsterManuscript image Westminster by the Steamer of the 14th instant, with Ten Thousand dollars worth of gold dust, the produce of five weeks work at Cariboo. I personally inspected their treasury, of which they are justly proud, being the well earned reward of their skill and enterprise. Mr Patterson's mining claim was on the Lowhee, a tributary of Swift River, and about 16 Miles distantfromManuscript image from Antler Creek. The ground was composed of gravel and many quartz boulders, and the depth to the bed-rock was from 4 to 6 feet, beyond which he did not attempt to penetrate, though the richest deposit of gold was immediately over the bed-rock. The largest days return from the claim was 73 ounces of gold, worth about Twelve Hundred dollars;onManuscript image on another occasion he received 70 ounces at the close of a days work. The Gold is in rough jagged pieces, the largest found by Mr Patterson was over six ounces; but on the next claim to his, a piece of ten ounces was picked up by the lucky proprietor. Mr Patterson sold his mining claim before his departure from Cariboo, and is now returning to his native country, theUnitedManuscript image United States, with the wealth he has so rapidly acquired in British Columbia, this being one of the evils to which the Colony is exposed through the want of a fixed population.
10. The firm of Messrs Levi and Boas of New Westminster have kindly permitted me to communicate the following extract from a letter dated 27th August 1861, which they very latelyreceivedManuscript image received from Mr Levi the managing partner of the firm at Cariboo:
Hamburger went to Abbott who used to be at Langley, and borrowed $2000. I must let you know that Abbott and Jordon have one of the richest claims in the country. The least they take out a day, three of them, is 120 ounces. They have a flour sack of Gold 14 inches high.TheyManuscript image They will make till fall $100,000 a piece. Out of one little crevice, while Hamburger was up there, he, Abbott, took 60 ounces out of it, and Gold makes your eyes water, and you will never see a greater excitement as there will be next season.
If you can send up such goods as we want, do so, as I will explain to you it is only5 orManuscript image 5 or 6 weeks more that pack trains can come in here, and then we can get any price for them, besides which, Spring, when there is a lot of people rushing in, and we the only ones which have goods. You bet I would soak into them. The Country is alright, there is more gold in it as there was in California, dont say nothing to nobody.
11. I will not multiplytheseManuscript image these details, having said enough to show Your Grace the opinion entertained by the public of the newly discovered gold fields, and of the probable influx of population from California and other countries which may be attracted by those discoveries. I need not assure Your Grace that every precaution will, in that event, be taken to maintain the peace, order, and good governmentofManuscript image of the country, and to increase its permanent population, but it is impossible to repress a feeling of profound regret that so few of Her Majesty's British subjects have yet participated in the rich harvests reaped in British Columbia, though there is certainly no country in the world that offers greater inducements to the labouring classes, or for the employment of capital. The settlerenjoysManuscript image enjoys the peculiar advantage in British Columbia of an unfettered choice of the public domain, and may without expense, or official delay, select any part of the Colony he pleases, as his future home; the ultimate price of country land being in no case over four shillings and two pence an acre, payable by instalments spread over several years. In fact the system of no country can offer greaterinducementsManuscript image inducements to the settler and Miner than the land Regulations and Mining laws of British Columbia.
12. The Miners at Cariboo have, I am glad to inform Your Grace, suffered no privation whatever from the want of food. Besides the large importation of bread-stuffs and salt meat packed in from Lillooet and Lytton, large droves of cattle have been sent to Antler Creek, where thenativeManuscript image native grasses are nutritious and abundant, and fresh beef is now selling by retail at 1s/8d a pound. A Mining town of some note has sprung into existence at Antler Creek, and supplies of all kinds can be readily purchased.
The traveller who is prepared to encounter famine in its gauntest forms on his arrival at Cariboo, is not a little astonished to find himselfinManuscript image in the midst of luxury, sitting down every morning to fresh milk and eggs for breakfast, and to as good a dinner as can be seen in Victoria.
13. The great commercial thoroughfares leading into the interior of the country from Hope, Yale and Douglas, are in rapid progress, and now exercise a most beneficial effect on the internal commerce of the Colony. I have many other productive publicworksManuscript image works indispensable for the development of the Colony in view, but I cannot undertake their execution until I am made acquainted with Your Grace's decision about the proposed loan of money for British Columbia.
14. There is nothing in the condition of the other Districts of the Colony with which I need trouble Your Grace at present, though it may be necessary soon to draw Your Grace'sattentionManuscript image attention to a reported discovery of Gold on Stickeen River—Latitude 57o within Her Majesty's Territories north of British Columbia, to which some adventurers, trusting to the faith of the native Indians who brought the tidings, have inconsiderately repaired.
15. Should the report prove correct, it will be necessary to take steps for the government of the country,andManuscript image and to prevent the many disorders that will naturally arise from the absence of any duly constituted authority.
16. I will not fail to exercise that power, should circumstances require it, until Your Grace's instructions are received.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Graces most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Manuscript image
Mr Elliot
Acke receipt.
Lay before Parlt.
As this despt shows so forcibly the prosperity of B. Columbia I think it might be well to furnish the T-y with a copy of it—that Dt having, at present, under its consideration, the question of a Loan of £50,000 to the Colony.
ABd 2 Nov
TFE 2/11
To Treasury.
N 9
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 12 November 1861, forwarding copy of the despatch for information.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 91, 18 November 1861, acknowledging receipt of Douglas's despatch.