No. 59
New Westminster
27th September 1866
My Lord,
I returned on the 25th Instant from visiting the Mining districts of Cariboo and Columbia River. The completion of our Road system enabled me to travel a distance of 1800 miles throughtheManuscript image the interior in the comparatively short period of six weeks.
2. The Town of Yale, situated at the termination of Steamboat navigation on the Lower Fraser has made rapid progress during the past year. I was received by the Inhabitants with every mark of loyalty and respect. I enclose an address presented to me on my arrival. It is a fair specimen of others received during my tour.
3. There is little worthyofManuscript image of note in proceeding over the 400 miles of Waggon Road from Yale fo Cariboo. The mining on the Fraser River is entirely confined to Chinese who still continue to take a considerable amount of Gold from the Bars.
The small portions of land capable of agriculture along the route are under cultivation and cereals of every description grow luxuriantly wherever irrigation has been undertaken.
4. TheManuscript image
4. The Towns of Lytton, Clinton, and Quesnelmouth have not progressed. These placed flourished while Fraser River was the centre of mining attraction and prior to the construction of the Waggon Road when the expense of living in our Northern Mines drove the miners to winter in the lower Country. Now, however, provisions are cheap and abundant at Cariboo and miners prefer remaining throughout the year in the neighbourhood of their mining property. TheexistenceManuscript image existence of these Towns, therefore, depends upon the passing traffic between the Upper & Lower Country, the small requirements of the agricultural settlers, the sale of supplies required by the Chinese Miners and a certain amount of Indian trade.
5. I arrived in Cariboo on the 10th day after my departure from New Westminster. I remained eight days on William's Creek and visited many other creeks in the vicinity upon whichminersManuscript image miners are working. The number of men in the Cariboo district is about the same as last year. The Miners as a body are all doing well. The amount of Gold Dust purchased by the Banks of British Columbia and British North America during the month of July exceeded any previous month on record namely $277,000. Quartz veins are attracting attention. Several rich veins having been discovered. The want of capital for the development of this permanent source of miningwealthManuscript image wealth is much felt, as yet no Quartz Mills have been established in the Colony and it is necessary to send Quartz to San Francisco to be crushed before the value of the vein can be ascertained. I have with the advice of the Council offered a reward for the first Quartz Mill established within the Colony, and I trust before the end of the Mining Season to be able to report that the work has commenced.
6. Leaving Cariboo IproceededManuscript image proceeded northward a distance of sixty miles to the newly discovered mines situated on a small river emptying into the Fraser about 25 miles below Fort George. Eighty men had arrived at these new diggings but the extreme difficulty of obtaining supplies had prevented the proper development of the mines. This new discovery is considered important as tending to confirm the theory that rich gold fields extend from the Upper Columbia to the Fraser. From QuesnelmouthtoManuscript image to Fort George the Fraser River is navigable and should these mines attract attention and population a Steamer will be at once constructed to run upon this portion of the river.
7. Returning by way of the Fraser River Valley, I was enabled to visit the chief farming districts. I found settlement progressing—large tracts of land have for the first time been brought under cultivation, several grist Mills are in course of erection,andManuscript image and I have little doubt that after another harvest sufficient Wheat will be raised by the settlers to supply the miner[s]. Hitherto the imports of flour have averaged 17,000 barrels per annum.
8. The Steamer lately constructed on the Thompson River by the Hudson Bay Company, conveyed me a distance of 110 miles from Savana by way of the Great Kamloops and Shuswap Lakes to the New Town of Seymour. A journey of 35 miles across themountainsManuscript image mountains brought me to the Upper Columbia or Big Bend mining district.
9. The representations made on the first discovery of Gold in this district were very incorrect, and caused much disappointment among the class of miners who flocked there in the early spring. The mines were reported as "shallow diggings" capable of being easily worked, whereas the "Bed Rock," on which the Gold is found—with few exceptions—liesManuscript imagelies at considerable depth from the surface, and a large expenditure is required in sinking shafts before any return can be expected. Thus many who could not afford this expense were obliged to leave. At the time of my visit the population did not exceed four hundred. The few companies working day and night had reached the "Bed Rock" at a depth of from 60 to 120 feet, and were taking out Gold. There is every indication that when the proper systemofManuscript image of working the ground has commenced these mines will equal Cariboo in richness.
10. An American Steamer plies on the Columbia River from Colville to within 18 miles of the mines. The competition thus created between the British Columbian and American Merchant reduces the price of living at these mines very considerably.
11. There are many subjects connected with my recentTourManuscript image Tour on which I shall have occasion to report to Your Lordship. The departure of the Mail Steamer so shortly after my return to the seat of Government only enables me to give this rough outline of my travels. I enclose a Map showing my route.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord,
Your most obedient
humble Servant
Arthur N. Birch

The Right Honorable
The Earl of Carnarvon
&c &c &c
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Elliot
The Acting Governor reports in this Desp: the results of his visit to the Mining Districts of Cariboo & Columbia River. Acknowledge?
VJ 10 Nov
TFE 10/11
CBA 12/11
C 12 Nov
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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Note in file: "Guide Map to the Big Bend River, British Columbia, 1866, being fo. 78 of C.O. 60/25, has been removed to the Map Room. Map Room Reference M.P.G. 651. December 1950. D.B. Wardle."
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Newspaper clipping, unnamed, 30 July 1866, "Official Visit of Her Majesty's Representative to Yale," containing copy of address to Birch.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Carnarvon to Seymour, No. 20, 15 November 1866.
Birch, Arthur Nonus to Carnarvon, Earl 27 September 1866, CO 60:25, no. 10626, 71. 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/B66059.html.

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