28 February 1861
Since I last had the honor of reporting on the state of affairs in this Colony, I have received various communications from the District Gold Commissioner, the substance of which I will now lay before your Grace.  
2. A report from the
Gold Commissioner at Hope dated 31st January represents that district as being in a perfectly tranquil state; that about 300 miners were then employed in that vicinity a large proportion of whom were Chinese; and that it was probable there would be a considerable emigration of that class towards Rock Creek and Shimilkomeen in the course of the spring.  
The river communication
from New Westminster had been closed by ice for eleven days, but was then open and the Steamer "Hope" had arrived on the preceding day, with some freight which was carried at the reasonable charge of Twenty shillings a ton. Food was abundant in the District and prices moderate, as will be observed from the enclosed statement.  
3. The miners at
Shimilkomeen had not been able to do much work on their mining claims in consequence of the coldness of the weather, and the River being covered with drift ice. Bench diggings had however been discovered by several mining companies which were expected to yield from Twenty to Thirty shillings a day to each man employed
in washing. Many new houses were being erected, and deals and other material prepared for the operations of the coming season. Bread stuffs and other articles of food were not abundant and the price of those articles much higher than at Hope. Great exertions were being made to forward supplies by the mountain road opened last summer
which is practicable even in winter notwithstanding the depth of snow. It is now therefore apprehended that the Miners in that District will suffer from want of food.  
4. Mr Commissioner Sanders reports that the Yale district continues in a satisfactory state. Mining is carried on to an equal extent, but he is of opinion with less
remunerative results than last year. The Mining claims are with few exceptions in the hands of the Chinese, there being about Two Thousand of this people within the district. As a rule they have been successful and many have returned to their homes the possessors of from Two to Four thousand dollars. There are but few white miners, and the major part of the
small number still in this district intend to leave for Rock Creek or the Carreboeuf Country in spring. The total number of miners wintering in the district is about Three thousand. There are about Two Thousand Chinese in Yale and its environs alone. The cold weather had put a stop to all mining operations. The enclosed extract from Mr Sander's
report contains some interesting information respecting the state of trade, and the public works in progress, especially the road leading from Yale to Lytton.  
5. The accompanying tracing of the boundary line of British Columbia and the Territory of the United States lately received from Mr Cox, Gold Commissioner at Rock Creek exhibits the
position of the 49th parallel as respectively marked on the ground by Her Majesty's and the United States' Commissioners. The line as determined by Her Majesty's Commissioner runs south of and includes a small town built some months ago by American Citizens who having full confidence in the accuracy of the line previously traced by the United States Commissioners
proceeded to build upon and occupy the site. It is by no means certain which of the two lines will be finally adopted as the true line of demarcation between the two countries, but it is very important on public grounds that the point should be settled without delay while the commissioners are on the spot, or it will give rise to numberless difficulties and become a fruitful source of
contention between the frontier settlers on both sides. I would therefore take the liberty of suggesting to Your Grace that instructions should be forwarded through the proper department to Colonel Hawkins, Her Majesty's Commissioner for determining the boundary, relatively to that effect. The enclosed extract from Mr Cox's report of the 16th January to the
Colonial Secretary will convey in his own words the latest information from the mines on Rock Creek.  
6. The last report from Mr Elwyn the Gold Commissioner of Cayoosh District is dated on the 16th of February. The melancholy fate of Mr Price, a respectable tradesman, who was barbarously murdered in his own house at Cayoosh on the evening of the 1st of February, has excited an
intense sensation. The authors and object of the crime are unknown, it is supposed however to have been committed by Indians and three of those people have been taken into custody on suspicion, and duly committed for trial at the next assizes. The weather was already warm and pleasant at Cayoosh and the exodus had commenced of Miners and mule trains with supplies
for the upper Country. Their departure being probably hastened by the arrival of several Miners from Alexandria with reports of some wonderfully rich discoveries on Bear River, a stream which discharges into the South branch of Fraser's River above Fort George. These men assured the Gold Commissioner that Twenty five shillings worth of gold had been washed out of a single bucket full of the auriferous earth, and though he
freely admits that there may be some exaggeration in these statements, yet he seems to entertain no doubt of their general accuracy nor of the fact that very valuable discoveries have actually been made during the present winter in that quarter. Mr Elwyn also states that the bridge over Frasers River which was in course of erection by a private company near Cayoosh was
accidentally destroyed when more than half of the work was finished and the enterprise is therefore abandoned for the present a circumstance which I much regret not only on account of the travelling public who will be put to much inconvenience through the want of a bridge at that point; but also of the spirited adventurers who have sustained a heavy pecuniary loss
and whose enterprise merits a better fate.  
7. There is no further intelligence of much importance from the mining Districts.  
8. The reduction from ten shillings to four shillings and two pence per acre in the upset price of country land will no doubt give an impulse to the settlement of the country, but the change has been so recently made that we are not yet able
to judge of its practical effects. We are however at present engaged in opening roads through the forests into the more fertile Districts around New Westminster in order to render them accessible and to remove every serious impediment to their early settlement which, by that means, will be greatly promoted.  
I have the honor to be,
My Lord Duke,
Your Graces most obedient
humble Servant,
James Douglas
Minutes by CO staff
Mr Elliot
Send Par. 5 to the For: Office requesting that the attention of the British Boundary Commrs may be called to the Governor's observations.  
Lay this desph &ca before Parlt with the next series; which will I shd think, almost comprise all we have to communicate to the Public respecting this New Colony.  
15 May
Mr Fortescue
Par. 5 to For: Off: As to Parlt, you will best know.  
So much as relates to the Boundary sh. go to the F.O.  
Documents enclosed with the main document (not transcribed)
  • Price list for provisions at Hope, 31 January 1861, signed by P. O'Reilly.  
  • Price list for provisions at Shimilkameen, January 1861.  
  • Extract, Sanders to Colonial Secretary, 27 December 1860, reporting on conditions in Yale district, including a price list for provisions.  
  • Extract, W.G. Cox to Colonial Secretary, 16 January 1861, reporting on conditions in Rock Creek district, including a price list for provisions.  
Other documents included in the file
  • Draft, Elliot to E. Hammond, Foreign Office, 31 May 1861, forwarding extract of the despatch relating to the boundary dispute.  
Despatch to London:
Douglas to Newcastle, 28 February 1861, National Archives of the UK, 4318, CO 60/10. The Colonial Despatches of Vancouver Island and British Columbia 1846-1871. Ed. James Hendrickson and the Colonial Despatches project. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed 10 December 2018. 

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