Miles to Lytton
Lachine near Montreal, Canada East
18th. Augt. 1858.
I see by the public journals that New Caledonia is created a separate Colony, and that in all probability, by this time, a Governor is appointed for it. I have no wish to intrude or occupy your valuable time uselessly, yet I consider it my duty to lay before you, the following circumstance relative to the gold discoveries. In the event of any unwillingness on the part of the Thompsons River Indians to permit whites to enter their country, the cause will be known to you and the Governor of the Colony, and thus, perhaps, negociations may be facilitated, which would otherwise be surrounded by insuperable difficulties.
In 1854, when I was in Vancouvers Island, conversing with a friend about the Indians of New Caledonia, Fraser's & Thompson's Rivers, he told me of an earthquake that occurred in the region of the Thompson's River, and which was felt at Langley, on the embouchureManuscript imageembouchure of the Fraser, and slightly at Vancouvers Island. When residing at Kamloops, he had often noticed a mountain at a distance of about twenty five or thirty miles, which was volcanic and at intervals emitted smoke, in a greater or less degree. He told me, in confidence, that his wife, who was of the tribe of Shooshwap Indians who inhabit that region, had been informed by some of her family, that the mountain had exploded and so terrified the Indians, that for nearly two years, they did not approach it. At the end of that time, one braver than the rest of his tribe entered it, and discovered the extinct crater seamed with yellow metal, mixed up with much that was white. On being shewn gold, he said it was like that, and his chief had told him, that that was what the white man came into the country south of them for.
The chief, a man of sagacity according to Indian notions, called his people together and addressed them. He spoke of the Indians in California and Oregon, shewed them the evils that had beset the natives of those regions, and proved that their wars and gradual extinction, were caused by the white man's thirst for gold. He then drew a picture of their previous freedom and happiness, and ended by an appeal to their common sense, calling upon them to be silent on the subject of gold being in their country. The appeal was not made in vain. They jealously guarded all approaches to it, and were silent to all but their own kindred. The Hudsons Bay Company had no knowledge of it, until in 1856, I made the following proposition to them. That my friend, whose secret it was, and who was unconnected with the Company, two other friends and I, should be permitted to work this quartz mine, the Company to furnish the capital, and the profits to be divided 5/10ths to the Company, 1/10th to each of us, & 1/10th to promote theManuscript imagethe education and civilisation of the Shooshwap Indians. The Company declined the proposition for two reasons: they had not a right to grant it, and even if they had would be afraid of being embroiled with Indians. They did not doubt, by what I could understand, the existence of gold in very large quantities.
I made CaptPalliser acquainted with the locality of this mountain, and it would not astonish me to hear, he had crossed the Rocky Mountains, and endeavoured to discover it. By a letter I received a few days since from Victoria, Vancouvers Island, I am informed that Mr Dallas, one of the directors of the Hudsons Bay Company, who belongs or did belong to the firm of Matheson & Co. in London, and who has lately married a daughter of Governor Douglas of Vancouvers Island, is gone into the interior, and probably with the same purpose of exploration, as he knows of my application to the Board, of which he was a member.
I am inclined to think a plan like the one I proposed to the Hudsons Bay Company would be better for the interests of the Indians, (if it be a veritable gold mine in a quartz matrix) than any other that can be adopted; as I know Indians are unable to bring an undertaking of this kind, to a successful issue. Should this prove what I suppose it to be, a connecting link of the gold strata range from Queen Charlotte's Island to the Californian mountains, and it be granted away by the government on the principle I propose, I hope you are of opinion that my friends and myself are entitled to such grant, independent of any other than Capt Palliser, whom we should like to include as one of the grantees.
I trust you may have seen the necessity of my telling you all this, and altho' I may appear to have pled my own cause, believe me it has not been from any unworthy motive. Whatever the issue of this matter to my friends and myself mayManuscript imagemay be, I am very thankful that I have given you the report of such a crater gold mountain being in existence, as if it prove a fact, such information may be the means of saving human blood. This I hope will be considered an ample apology for addressing you.
I have the honor to be Sir with
profound respect
Your most obedt humble
John Miles
Rt. Honble. Sir E. & B. Lytton; Bart, M.P.
Her Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies
Colonial Office,
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Merivale Acke with thanks (through the Governor) & stating that H.M. Govt are precluded, on general grounds, from entertaining a proposal which would confer on any Company, or private individual the exclusive right to work gold mines in B. Columbia. Shew this to Coll Moody & send copy of the correspondence to the Governor.
ABd. 9 Sepr.
Yes. The story is a curious one, but I do not see what the writer's discovery is, on his own observing, only something some Indians told him of.
HM S 9
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Sir Edward
This curious history calls to mind the stories of the golden peaked hills wh haunted the Spaniards during their earlier invasions of Mexico. I suppose Mr Miles must be thanked & informed as suggested by Mr Blackwood?
C. S.9.
Yes—& if not a breach of confidence, I think both the govr & Col Moody may have copies of this letter. My only doubt is whether that wd be fair to Mr M. I am not incredulous as to some truth in the story.
EBL. Oct. 13
Other documents included in the file
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Draft, Colonial Office to Douglas, 25 October 1858, transmitting a copy of the letter and reply given, and suggesting Miles be given priority in working his claim.
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Draft, Colonial Office to Governor Sir E. Head, 25 October 1858, requesting him to inform Miles that applications for working gold mines can only be made by the governor of the colony, and that a copy of his letter has been forwarded to Governor Douglas.
Minutes by CO staff
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Mr Blackwood
Should Mr Miles' letter be sent to Gov. Douglas? He might under the gold regulations obtain a grant of the vein in question? & it might not be fair to him to disclose its position until he has had an opportunity of prosecuting the discovery himself.
I think Mr. Miles' letter should, as Sir Edward proposes, be sent to Govr. Douglas, & that the govr be instructed to consider favorably Manuscript imageany application which may be addressed to him by Mr Miles for a grant to work the ideal quartz-mine, subject of course to existing local regulations & conditions. And so write to the Governor sending him a copy of this correspondence.