27 October 1862
The regular course of my official communications to Your Grace has been lately interrupted by an absence of six weeks in British Columbia, fromwhenceManuscript image whence I have just arrived, and I will do myself the honour of now laying before Your Grace the result of my observations on the state of the Country.
2. In my progress over the Colony I visited all the principal Towns, inspected the new roads which are rapidly advancing towards Alexandria; and held free and daily intercourse with the inhabitants of all classes; hearing complaints, and granting redress wherever grievances were found toexistManuscript image exist. I also took advantage of the opportunity to enquire into the local administration, and the condition of the internal revenue; and I am glad to say that I saw much to commend, and little to reprove in the conduct and proceedings of the Magistrates; and their accounts were found in every instance clear and correct. These were not the only gratifying circumstances which I had occasion to observe in the course of my journey, there was also a markedfeelingManuscript image feeling of confidence exhibited by business men in the extent and richness of the Gold-fields, and a generally expressed satisfaction with the prospects and condition of the Colony.
3. I cannot speak too favourably of the newly formed Roads. In smoothness and solidity they surpass expectation. "Jackass Mountain," "The Cleft," "The Great Slides," "The Rocking Bridges," and other passes of ominous fame, so notorious in the history of the Colony, have lost their terrors, theynowManuscript image now exist only in name, being rendered alike safe and pleasant by the broad and gracefull windings of the Queen's Highway.
4. There is also a striking improvement in all the principal towns, except Hope, which is almost deserted in consequence of the migration of the inhabitants to Carribou and other places; an evil to which gold producing countries, occupied by a purely mining population, are peculiarly exposed.
5. I noticed withsatisfactionManuscript image satisfaction that Settlers are beginning to take up the Public Land along the course of the Public Roads, and are turning their attention to tillage and Stock raising. A few successful experiments shewing how profitable farming may be made in British Columbia will induce other persons to follow their example; and I apprehend the majority of British emigrants will probably find agricultural pursuits better adapted than mining, to their tastes and former habits of life. FarmproduceManuscript image produce of all kinds fetches an enormous price, not at Carribou only, but in the Midland Districts as well. Hay for example is now selling at Lillooet and Lytton for 5d a pound, or £46.13.4 a ton. Barley at from 45 to 75 shillings a Bushel. Potatoes at 2 1/2d a pound, and garden stuffs of all kinds, at the same rate, prices which I conceive would be very profitable to the farmer.
6. Turning to another subject, I have the satisfaction of stating that but one seriousoffenceManuscript image offence has been committed in the Colony since my report of the 13th of August; and also that no attempts have since then been made to rob or molest persons travelling to or from the Mines.
At the General Assize held at Van Winkle, Lightning Creek, on the 25th of August last, the names of two persons only appear upon the Calendar, a Copy of which is enclosed, a Circumstance which most strikingly illustrates the quiet and orderly behaviour of the large mining populationassembledManuscript image assembled there.
7. The Lillooet and Lytton Alexandria Tolls Acts, imposing a charge of One half-penny a pound on all goods passing over the new roads, came into operation shortly before my arrival at the former place. These Tolls, it is calculated, will yield a collective sum of Sixteen Thousand Pounds for the fiscal year ending on the 31st of December 1863; a Revenue, that with its estimated increase, will in a few years pay the whole cost of constructing the Roads, as well as providinginManuscript image in the meantime for necessary repairs and improvements.
8. The General Revenue of the Colony for the first three quarters of the current year ending with the 30th September, may be stated approximately at Sixty Seven Thousand and Seventy three pounds, against Forty Seven Thousand and twenty four pounds for the same period of 1861, shewing an increase of Twenty Thousand and forty nine Pounds, or 42 5/8 per cent in favor of 1862, and I am in hopes, notwithstanding the great loss, equivalent to two and a half months collection sustained by the revenue in the beginning of the year throughtheManuscript image the severity of the winter, that the total revenue for 1862 will not fall much short of the Estimates forwarded to Your Grace at the close of 1861.
9. The "Sunday Observance Act" which was recently passed to remove doubts which had arisen as to the powers of the Magistrates in enforcing the observance of the Lord's Day, appears to have given rise to a very general feeling of satisfaction. It will also have the effect of producing a more general attendanceonManuscript image on the religious ministrations of the Clergy sent to all parts of the Colony through the watchful care of our excellent and indefatigable Pastor, the Right Reverend Bishop of Columbia.
10. I encountered in the course of my journey a number of overland emigrants from Canada who came through from Red River settlement by the Tetê Jaune Cache route referred to in my despatch "Separate" of the 15th of April last. They suffered a good dealofManuscript image of privation, but did not experience any serious difficulties in the route until they had passed Edmonton, from whence to Tetê Jaune Cache appears by their representations to be the worst part of the journey, they are, however, of opinion that a good road may be formed between those points at a very moderate cost; a statement essentially agreeing with the opinion expressed in my before-mentioned Despatch. In the event of a large emigration next summer overland from Canada, theenterprisingManuscript image enterprising owners of a Stern-wheel Steam Boat recently built at Alexandria for the trade of the Upper Fraser, may be induced to extend her trips to Tetê Jaune Cache, an arrangement that would lessen the difficulties of the overland journey, and greatly aid and facilitate the progress of any emigrants arriving hereafter by that route. I transmit herewith for Your Grace's information a descriptive report of the route gathered from various persons attachedtoManuscript image to the overland party, and should Her Majesty's Government deem it a matter of national importance to open a regular overland communication with Canada, I submit that parties of workmen might be dispatched from this Colony at less expense than from Canada to carry their views into effect.
11. Mining on the Lower Fraser is now almost exclusively confined to Indians and Chinese; a remark which applies with equal force to Shimilkomeen, Rock Creek, and Thompson'sRiverManuscript image River Districts, which have been entirely forsaken; the white Miners and newly arrived emigrants having almost to a man gone to Carribou, and considering the enormous sums realized by some of the principal mining Companies, it is not surprising that the Miners, as a body, should be attracted to that quarter. This year many causes have conspired to retard the development of the Colony, a large emigration following immediately in the train of an exceptionally severe winter, served to consumetheManuscript image the stocks of food faster than they could be replenished by the tedious and expensive process of packing on Mule-back, and all kinds of eatables consequently went up to famine prices, whereby hundred of valuable labourers, poor men, who had neither money of their own, nor could obtain employment from others, were literally compelled to fly the country. Large as the product of gold undoubtedly is this year at Carribou, there would have been a far greater return had food been obtainableatManuscript image at any thing like fair and moderate prices; and the auriferous deposits would moreover have been far more extensively explored. With all these concurrent disadvantages however, enough has been effected this season to illustrate the great extent and richness of these deposits. The Gold Commissioners—the returning miners, whether fortunate or the reverse—and the Merchants who are embarking their capital freely in mining operations, all admit the fact, and bear testimony to the soundness of that conclusion.TheManuscript image The last great discovery at Carribou reported by the Gold Commissioners, was made at Williams Creek, where the Gold-lead was reached at a depth of forty feet, and about one quarter of a mile from the spot where it was before lost. It is therefore inferred that the lead is continuous for that interval, and that it may exist for an indefinite distance down the course of the stream. The value of that discovery may be estimated from the fact that the yield of GoldhasManuscript image has averaged Two Thousand dollars per running foot of the lead. The reports from the "Antler" and "Lightning" are less favourable, the Miners on the latter having this season encountered difficulties for which they were not prepared; but those who have been so fortunate as to acquire interests in the mines, appear satisfied with the prospects, and resolved to enter the field next year with the advantages of greater experience. Some rich specimens of Auriferous Quartz have been lately brought fromtheManuscript image the Mountains on Snow Shoe River, Carribou District; they were found near an extensive quartz-reef in that vicinity, which it is intended to work in the course of the coming year. I herewith transmit extracts from the reports of Commissioners O'Reilly and Elwyn, containing further information of much interest, and a report of exploration on North River, (North Branch of the Thompson), carried on by a party of working miners, aided by a small contribution from Government.
12. As a furtherillustrationManuscript image illustration of the true character of the Gold-fields, I will here submit the following Gold statistics, supplied at my request by the holders of several of the richest mines in Carribou, and, wonderful as they appear, their accuracy may be relied upon.
The Cunningham Mine
William Wallace Cunningham, a native of Kentucky, and discoverer of William's Creek, opened a sluicing mine in 1861, conjointly with three other persons. The areaofManuscript image of ground held by the Company under the Mining Regulations, was 584 by 100 feet, and was divided into four equal interests or shares: three shares were sold in 1861 for the sums of 600, 800, and 2300 dollars respectively. The Company's operations were carried on for three months, till necessarily suspended, on the approach of winter, at the close of September 1861. The net returns, deducting the working expenses, amounted to 675 ounces of Gold, valued at Ten Thousand Eight Hundred Dollars, or Two Thousand SevenHundredManuscript image Hundred dollars per share. In 1862 the yield rapidly increased, and was large and regular throughout the season. Shares were sold for Thirty two thousand dollars, and the extraordinary amount of 52 lbs of Gold, avoirdupois weight, was raised in one day. The gross returns from this Mine for the four months ending with the 30th of September last, are as follows; 18,450 ounces of Gold, valued at three hundred thousand dollars; the working expenses for the same period amounting to 40 thousand dollars; leaving a net return of two hundred and sixty thousand dollars.Manuscript image
The Steele Mine
Hugh Nathaniel Steele, a native of Kentucky and two other persons jointly interested with him in the Mine, broke ground on William's Creek on the 18th of May 1861; prepared their boxes and commenced ground sluicing on the 17th of June; reached the gold-drift on the 4th July, but had no return until the 10th, when the days yield amounted to 10 ounces of Gold; on the 11th the yield was 41 ounces, and, having then reached the Gutter, or former River bed,theManuscript image the daily return was very large, having on one occasion amounted to 280 ounces.
The cost of opening the Mine, including
that of their own labour was £5000
Working Expenses for the Season of
1861—3 1/2 months 30,000
Total £35,000
The returns for the same period were as follows; 10,312 ounces of Gold, valued at One Hundred and Sixty five thousand Dollars.
TheManuscript image
The Company have been no less fortunate this year, 1862, having in four months between the 1st of June and the 30th of September, when the cold set in, succeeded in raising 17,781 1/4 ounces of Gold, valued at Two Hundred and Eighty four Thousand Five Hundred Dollars. The Gold-lead, as far as it has been traced in this mine, is about 100 feet wide, and has yielded Two Thousand Dollars a running foot. The Company have worked about 180 feet of the ground, and hope to realize a large profit by re-washing the earth.Nelson'sManuscript image
Nelson's Mine
Nelson Dutoux, a native of Lower Canada, and the discoverer of "Nelson's Creek," in company with three other miners, commenced sluicing on that stream in the month of July 1861, and by the 1st of October, when work was suspended, had raised 1437 1/2 ounces of Gold, valued at Twenty Three Thousand Dollars.
Recommenced sluicing on the 1st July 1862, and after realizing 500 ounces, or Eight Thousand Dollars, commenceddriftingManuscript image drifting into the bank, fifty feet above the River, with the view of extending the mine. At seventy five feet he broke into a rich bed of auriferous earth, and is now conveying water in races to wash out the Gold. He moreover says that the earth from any part of the drift will give a return of ten or twelve dollars a day per man.
The Adams Mine
John R. Adams, from the Province of New Brunswick.HadManuscript image Had never been engaged in mining before going to Carribou in 1861. Bought, on the 6th of August, a third share of a mine on Williams Creek, the area of the ground allowed by the Gold Regulations for himself and two partners being 300 feet long by 100 feet wide. From that date to the 1st of October, when the cold weather prevented further working, the Company raised 500 ounces of Gold, equal, at 16 dollars per ounce, to Eight Thousand Dollars. In the working season of1862Manuscript image 1862, that is from the 1st day of June to the 1st day of October, the Company have taken up 10,000 ounces, equal to One Hundred and Sixty Thousand Dollars. The working expenses, including their own labour, being for the same time equal to about Thirty Thousand Dollars. One day's yield amounted to 480 ounces.
13. Your Grace will observe in Mr McKenzie's narrative of the overland Journey from Canada, thataManuscript image a valuable seam of Coal crops out on the Pembina, a tributary of the Red Deer, or Athabasca River: that salt was picked up in a crystallized state on the margin of several ponds, the waters of which were strongly impregnated with that mineral. Copper ore also was found between Edmonton and Jasper's House; and what may be regarded as a point of especial interest, is the discovery of Gold on the flats of the Sascatchewan near Carlton, and in the beds of otherrivers.Manuscript image rivers. The best yield of the precious metal was, however, obtained from the Fraser at Tetê Jaune Cache. These discoveries, and the large tracts of fine arable land seen by the traveller on the road from Edmonton, indicate the great value of the country, and the possibility of its hereafter becoming an important portion of the Empire.
14. Reports have also been received of Gold discoveries on Peace River on the East Slope of the Rocky Mountains.ItManuscript image It is certain that a small party of Miners left Stuarts Lake in 1861, and descended Peace River to the junction of Finlay's Branch, a little below which they commenced washing the earth and gravel taken from the flats, and realized Twelve Hundred Dollars in the course of thirty days work. The experiment was again tried by the same persons this year, with even better success, as they are said to have raised Three Thousand Eight Hundred Dollars worthofManuscript image of Gold, by cradling alone, in eight days. The Gold is supposed to come from Finlay's Branch, which rises in the same Range of Mountains, though flowing in the opposite directions—as the Stickeen and Nass Rivers. The auriferous character of the two latter is now clearly established, and is, I am persuaded, derived from a common source existing in those mountains, which may probably be hereafter traced from thence to the Gold Mountains of Carribou.IfManuscript image If that theory be correct, the resources of British Columbia are of almost boundless extent.
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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Sir F. Rogers
Acknowledge & print for Parliament?
VJ 23 Decr
Mr Elliot
This shd pass through your hands.
FR 24/12
Acke and print as proposed?
TFE 29 Decr
Let me have a copy of par: 10 with date of this despatch.
N 30
Copy of par: 10 sent to the Duke of Newcastle.
VJ 31 Decr/62
Manuscript image
Mr DeRobeck
This despatch was returned to the Department a day or two days ago minus the Minute of Mr Joseph to which the other Minutes allude. Would you see if you have it downstairs?
EBP 5/5/64
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Mr Pennell
Mr Joseph's Minute dated in Jany 63 merely asked Mr Fortescue if this despatch was to be printed for Parliament.
Mr Fortescue looking through his papers the other day told me it was not to be printed & might be put by, on which I tore up Mr J's note.
Manuscript image
Mr Fortescue
See the annexed minute from Mr Joseph. I merely followed Mr Jadis' minute, because to print such despatches has hitherto been the routine in respect of British Columbia, and I daresay that the time has come when this exceptional practice ought to cease. But I pass Mr Joseph's minute through you in order that the course to be followed may be determined with your knowledge and sanction.
TFE 26 Jany
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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P. O'Reilly, High Sheriff, to W.A.G. Young, Colonial Secretary, 28 August 1862, forwarding "calender of assize held at Van Winkle on the 26th and 27th Instant," containing two entries.
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"Report of Journey from Toronto, Canada West, to British Columbia, by Red River, Edmonton and Tete Jaune Cache by Mr James McKenzie and others."
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Thomas Elwyn, Gold Commissioner, to Colonial Secretary, 22 August 1862, reporting events at Williams Creek, including map of the area.
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Extract, Elwyn to Colonial Secretary, 29 September 1862, reporting rising cost of provisions at Williams Creek.
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O'Reilly to Colonial Secretary, 2 September 1862, reporting a feeling of despondency at Lightning Creek attendant on difficulties encountered with respect to extraction of gold, but expressing a belief that the region would prove a rich one.
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O'Reilly to Colonial Secretary, 25 September 1862, advising provisions were becoming less plentiful and more expensive, while the weather had deteriorated and a great number of miners were leaving for the lower country. Including a price list of provisions at Van Winkle.
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W.G. Cox to Colonial Secretary, 18 September 1862, forwarding report of the North River exploring party.
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S.H. O'Grady to Cox, 18 September 1862, reporting on recent expedition to the North River.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Newcastle to Douglas, No. 7, 2 January 1863, acknowledging receipt of Douglas's despatch.