16 July 1862
I have the honour to enclose for the information of Her Majesty's Government, copies of several important communications, received this day, from the Assistant GoldcommissionersManuscript image Commissioners for the Carribou District, reporting on the present condition of that Gold-field.
2. The almost impassable state of the roads beyond Williams Lake, and the high price of food and of all other necessaries of life, are, as Your Grace will learn from these reports, of great detriment to the Country; and I add with the deepest regret, that it is wholly out of my power for want of money to undertaketoManuscript image to a greater extent than is now being effected, the removal of obstacles so fatal to the growth and prosperity of the Colony.
3. While these Reports prove the vast extent and richness of the Mines, that thousands of people may be employed in rendering them productive, that they cannot be fully developed without a larger population than the Colony yet possesses, that labour and capital areessentialManuscript image essential for that purpose, and that every individual miner is really of value to the Country, we receive the painful announcement that upwards of four hundred able-bodied men have been driven from the mines by mere inability to procure subsistence during the time required for testing, and getting their claims into working order.
4. I am using every effort, and taxing the uttermost farthing of the local revenuetoManuscript image to remove these obstacles to access, which so greatly enhance the price of all the necessaries of life in British Columbia. I have endeavoured and find it impossible to raise money in this Colony at any rate of interest less than 18 per cent per annum, and the Attorney General is now amending the "Loan Proclamation" as suggested in Your Grace's Despatch of the 13th May No 123, and I trust it will be ready toforwardManuscript image forward by the next mail. In the meantime, until the aid expected from that measure arrives, we shall struggle with the difficulties that beset the Colony in the best manner we can.
5. Mr Elwyn's Report is chiefly remarkable for its revelations respecting the extraordinary richness of the mines, especially "Cunningham's Claim", which surpasses every precedent of California Gold Mining. In another letter, not transmitted with thisDespatchManuscript image Despatch, he reports the discovery of a Quartz Reef on Lowhee Creek, a circumstance which I mention from its being the first auriferous quartz in situ discovered in this Colony.
6. Mr O'Reilly in his Report estimates the number of men in the Carribou Gold field at between four and five thousand, and that four hundred have been lately compelled to leave those Mines from sheer destitution. He also reports the discoveryofManuscript image of a new Gold field on North River to the eastward of Quesnelle Lake, which promises to be a most valuable acquisition to the Colony.
7. The same Report is corroborated by Mr Commissioner Ball, in the accompanying letter from Lytton. He also states that the construction of the public Roads is progressing satisfactorily, and mentions other circumstances, which may be interesting to HerMajesty'sManuscript image Majesty's Government.
I have the honor to be
My Lord Duke,
Your Grace's most obedient
and humble Servant
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
I am at a loss to know how the Secretary of State or any authority in this Country can help the Colonists in this matter. HM Govt have rendered all the assistance in its power by sending out a body of highly skilful R. Engineers, who were to make themselves serviceable in the construction of roads, and by sanctioning a loan of money for the use of this very auriferous Country. The rest, as it seems to me, must be done by the Community. The Govr is not a man apt to be appalled at the difficulties, and generally finds his way out of them. I am therefore rather surprised that it has not occurred to him to enact a Proclamation ordering the performance of Statute labor on the roads, alleging that the law of self preservation requires the measure. The Magistrates wd not have the power to enforce the Law I admit if it was decidedly resisted, but they might by persuasion induce the miners to devote some of their time to the construction of trails, witht which it seems that they are in a fair way of perishing.
ABd 1 Sep
I should simply acke receipt, & should send to the Treasury for their information.
TFE 1 Sept
This evidently means "give us help from home"—i.e. tax the starving people of LancashireManuscript image for the benefit of men of their own class who are making thousands of pounds in a few months! Acke.
N 1
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Thomas Elwyn to Colonial Secretary, 15 June 1862, reporting on the extensive and rich gold fields in the Alexandria district.
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P. O'Reilly to Colonial Secretary, 28 June 1862, reporting as noted above.
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H.M. Ball to Colonial Secretary, 6 July 1862, reporting from Lytton on the status of road construction and the formation of pack trains to carry freight to the mines in the Cariboo region.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Elliot to G.A. Hamilton, Treasury, 8 September 1862, forwarding copy of the despatch for information.
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 138, 16 September 1862, acknowledging receipt of Douglas's despatch and reports.