No. 114
New Westminster
30th September 1868
My Lord Duke,
Just as I was congratulating myself on the improvement in the affairs of British Columbia, I hear of the destruction byfireManuscript image fire of Barkerville, the largest of the three towns on Williams Creek, Cariboo.
2. The fire broke out in the Middle of the day so no lives were lost. But property valued at from one to two hundred thousand pounds has been destroyed. The Banks of British Columbia and North America have had everything burnt and the Hudson's Bay Company's Shop has gone. These last were however prudent enough tohaveManuscript image have the greater part of their supply of goods kept in a cellar in the face of the hill behind the town and that has escaped.
3. Barkerville had risen by degrees from a mere mining camp to a considerable town. But the old plan had been adhered to and houses grew up on ground
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Qu (not more than)
amply sufficient for tents. Crowded together as they were in a narrow street it is not surprising that a few hours of conflagrationshouldManuscript image should have destroyed the ambitious but frail wooden tenements.
4. I enclose the Magistrate's account of the fire and of the losses alleged to have been sustained.
5. The good conduct of the people of British Columbia, of which I have often boasted, failed them on this occasion and a large amount of property was stolen. The Chinese were the principal offenders. Miners proved not to be allaboveManuscript image above temptation, but I have the authority of Chief Justice Begbie for saying that there has not been a single charge brought against an Indian. This seems strange and highly creditable to them.
6. The same energy which Cariboo has always shown has led to the beginning of the erection of a new Barkerville. Before the cinders of the late houses were cold new buildings were rising on the former sites. So totally however has the burnt portion been destroyed that thegreaterManuscript image greater part of the Magistrate's time is occupied in tracing with a Surveyor the space on which each building stood before the conflagration. It is a matter of very great satisfaction to me the having Mr Brew in charge of the Cariboo district at this time.
7. The frosts have already set in. Prospecting is at an end for this season, as all hands will be engaged in rebuilding Barkerville. But in the midst of devastation, the Miners are cheerful and the sceneofManuscript image of the evening's recreations has been for the present transferred to Richfield, a town about a mile off.
8. The Government Buildings are there, and in the destruction of Barkerville, I have only specifically to indicate my regret at the loss of the Public Library, the Miner's lounge and an object of my constant solicitude.
I have the honor to be,
My Lord Duke
Your Grace's most obedient
humble Servant.
Frederick Seymour
Minutes by CO staff
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CC 14/12
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Mr Monsell
Lord Granville has only, I conceive to express regret.
There is something really strange in the succession of Fevers, Earthquakes, hurricanes & fires which have afflicted the Colonies for the last two or three years.
FR 14/12
WM 16/12
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Express regret at this great and sudden calamity, join in the hope that the arrival of goods and provisions will prevent a dearth, and state satisfaction at the energy and public spirit which has beenManuscript image displayed in repairing the injury caused by the fire.
G 18/12
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
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C. Brew, Magistrate, to Colonial Secretary, 15 September 1868 and 22 September 1868, two reports giving details of the destruction of Barkerville by fire and subsequent events, including a list of property lost and stolen.
Other documents included in the file
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Draft reply, Granville to Seymour, No. 3, 22 December 1868 expressing regret regarding the destruction of Barkerville and hope for the prevention of death with the appropriate support.