Open Collections

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

BC Historical Books

The Fraser Mines vindicated, or, the history of four months Waddington, Alfred, 1800?-1872 1858

Item Metadata


JSON: bcbooks-1.0221882.json
JSON-LD: bcbooks-1.0221882-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): bcbooks-1.0221882-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: bcbooks-1.0221882-rdf.json
Turtle: bcbooks-1.0221882-turtle.txt
N-Triples: bcbooks-1.0221882-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: bcbooks-1.0221882-source.json
Full Text

Full Text

Array THE 
Fraser Mines Vindicated, 

"Scribitur ad narrandum non ad probandum." 

I offer you the first book published on Vancouver Island,* and
I recommend it to you. Not for its own merit, which I value at
no more than what it has cost me, that is to say a few days
scribbling at spare hours; but on account of its object. The
circulation of truth can but be useful; so I invite each of you to
buy a copy, which shall be carefully put down to your account of
patriotism, and also to that of the printer.
Victoria, Nov. 15, 1858. f
* When the above Was Written Judge Cameron's Book of Practice had not appeared.  THE
"Scribitur ad narrandum non ad probandum."
We hear every day that Victoria has caved in; that the country
has caved in; that the gold mines are a humbug; that our soil is
poor, the climate Siberian; that Victoria is no port at all, and that
the city will have to be removed somewhere else; in short, that the
bubble has burst, and nothing more remains to do, but to go away.
Luckily assertions are not facts.
Like many others, who feel attached to the country, I was in hopes
that such a torrent of invective would exhaust itself, or produce a reaction, or that some more fitting person would take up the pen; and
in the absence of any public organ apparently willing to vindicate the
©ountry and show things in their real light, would assume its defence,
and manfully point out those who were at fault and where the blame
should attach. Meanwhile the uncontroverted falsehood is daily
carried abroad, to be circulated, commented upon and exaggerated,
and since nobody else will come forward to put a stop to misrepresentations, which might ultimately blight our prospects for years; and
also a little because I have been mixed up with our first beginnings, I
will attempt to undertake the task. 4
The moment is favorable, and now that our dreams of fortune are
gone bye; that we have passed from the fever of overwrought excitement to the dull calm of reality, that idlers who had' no business here
have left, and detractcft^,; who had still less so, are gone to find fault
somewhere else; now that things have about found their level, and
we can soberly reflect on and appreciate our situation; let us pause
for a moment, and, casting a glance on the past, and also on the
probable future, examine whether we are really so badly off as some
will have it.
It would be a long story to go over all the blunders that have been
committed; and yet it is the only way to come at the causes of our
present disappointment, and show that they have nothing to do with
our future prosperity. I will, therefore, relate things as they have
taken place, in all truth and sincerity, endeavouring at the same
time to be as brief as possible.
The first fault was decidedly committed by the California miners,
in coming too soon in spite of all they were told, and when it was
neither possible to get to the mines, nor to do anything when there.
This gross mistake has been commented upon often enough.    It has
been one of the great sources of all their losses and disappointment;
and I will only add here, that they did no worse than the traders and
merchants after them.    For some time past labor and capital had
been at a discount in California; both were'in a hurry to find a remunerative   employment,   and  the miners   naturally   came   first.
The greater part of the country drained by Fraser river  strongly
resembles all other very mountainous countries, and more especially
those in the same latitude of western Europe, such as Switzerland for
instance; where the streams are invariably the lowest during the winter, and only begin to swell and overflow about June.    Now, as all
the diggings were at first concentrated in the bed of the river, it was
impossible under such circumstances, to have chosen a worse time
than the month of June to begin them in.    Before this however, and
as early as March  or the beginning of April, when the river was at
its lowest, parties of Canadians and adventurers from Puget Sound
had managed to get up the country with a small stock of provisions, 1
and had worked some of the richer bars below Fort Yale, and even
higher up than the Forks of the Thompson.
The existence of gold had been known to the Hudson's Bay Company for some years, and nuggets had been found by different parties
and shown to the officers ; but, as far as I can collect, the invariable
answer was, that supposing the gold to exist, the Company had no
particular interest to work it. The Indians, however, used to exchange small quantities for blankets and provisions, and I have seen
gold myself in the hands of an Indian chief in -1854. It is generally supposed, that the Company has collected more gold in
this way, and for a mere trifle, than it is willing to make known.
Since then, a few Canadians from Fort Colville, or that neighborhood, going over the country by the way of Fort Thompson and
Bonaparte river to the Fraser above the Big Falls, prospected on the
way ; and meeting with gold almost everywhere, and in some places
in sufficient quantities, made up their minds to tarry among the Indians and work it. It was the report of these men, which getting
abroad, decided the above adventurers to start in the early season and
try their luck also ; and these having succeeded beyond expectation,
the news soon spread over the Sound, and from thence was carried by
the steamers to San Francisco.
It may be useful here, and before going any further, to give the
reader some outline of the country where these gold discoveries are
situated; and which at that time, and even now, has hardly been explored.
Fraser river takes its rise in the Rocky Mountains, on the northern
slope and nearly at the foot of Mount Bruno, in lat. 52.20 and long.
4-19. From thence, taking a N. E. direction.towards the Russian
territory, it pursues a nearly straight line for about 75 miles along the
western slope of the Rocky Mountains, till it attains its highest northern latitude at 54.20 ; when it makes a turn to the west, following
that direction for about 20 miles, and then, as if uncertain of its
course, suddenly turns in a south-westerly direction towards Fort
George, situated in lat. 54, at which point it receives the waters of
Stuart river.    In the course of this semi-circular route the Fraser re- 6
ceives one or two affluents which take their rise in the Russian territory beyond 54.40 and of which Stuart river is the most considerable.
From Fort George, Fraser river continues its S. W. course for
about 20 miles more; and then describing an irregular turn, takes the
S. S. E. direction, which it constantly maintains for 4-1-2 deg., or
520 miles, to Fort Hope. At this point, the river makes- a gradual
bend towards the west, which direction it continues to the Sound;
and after receiving the waters from Harrison lake, 55 miles lower down,
empties itself into the Gulf of Georgia, 80 miles below Fort Hope.
Returning to Fort George, and about-100 miles below, or to the
southward, we find Fort Alexandria, situated on the Fraser about lat.
52.40. This is the extreme northern limit of the gold region explored up to this time; indeed only a few adventurers have penetrated
so far, though gold is well known to exist much further north.
From latitude 52.20 down to the Big Falls in lat. 50.5Q,
Fraser river and its affluents, the Joses, Pavilion and Fountain,
on the east side, and on the west, the Chilcoaton, Bridge river, and
other streams, have been partially prospected, and gold found on all
of them, as well as in some of the neighboring hills. The first diggings, however, that have been worked to any extent, are at the Fountain, six miles above the Big Falls, where the river is precipitated over
a ledge of rocks. From thence down to the junction of Thompson
river, about 60 miles below, the valley of the Fraser opens to 4 or 5
miles in width, and some few dry diggings have been prospected here
and there and paid well. Indeed they are well known to exist, but
almost all the gold has been so far taken out of the bars on the river.
These have been more and more worked as we approach to the Forks
of the Thompson. Considerable sums also have been taken out on
the bars of the Thompson itself up to Nicolas river, about \ 5 miles
higher, but I am not aware that they have been worked any further.
Gold is well known to exist, over a large extent of country
in this direction, both on the Thompson and its tributaries. This
river falls into the Fraser from the N. E:, in lat. 50.-JO, and as before
said, about 60 miles below the Big Falls. Most of the bars from the Forks of the Thompson, and for 55 miles
below, down to Fort Yale, have been more or less worked. It is between these two points, that the two famous canons, or defiles,
have proved such insuperable obstacles, both to the navigation of the river, and the forwarding of provisions upwards. About
eighteen miles below the Forks, and at the entrance of the Upper Canon, the river plunges into a series of defiles, forming miles of the
most violent rapids ; the whole surrounded by a chain of mountains
and precipices almost equally impracticable. The lower or Little
Canon, is situated one mile above Fort Yale, and extends 4 or 5 miles
upwards, presenting on a smaller scale the exact counterpart of the
upper one. Now that the river has fallen these canons though dangerous are more or less navigable for canoes, and present the only
means of sending up provisions during the winter.
From Fort Yale down to Fort Hope is a distance of -14 miles. The
river runs here between two ranges of Jess elevated mountains, but it
presents nevertheless a suite of dangerous rapids. It is between these
two points, that the greatest number of miners have been occupied.
At Fort Hope, as we said before, the river takes a gradual bend towards the West, entering the only chasm which traverses the Cascade
mountains north of the Columbia; and runs through some majestic
scenery for about 50 miles. Four miles below Fort Hope, Murderer's
bar and one or two others are the last and only ones that have been
worked as yet, but good bars are known to exist down to the entrance
of the Harrison or Lillooet river 55 miles below.
The reader will have observed, that all the diggings that have
been worked up to this day, have been strictly speaking river diggings j
and lye between Murderer's bar, 4 miles below Fort Hope, and the
Fountain, 6 miles above the Big Falls, stretching over a total length
of 440 miles: and that the three quarters of them have been worked
over a distance of-f 4 miles between Fort Hope and Fort Yale. It
is also important to recollect, that all the country above Fort Yale has
been nearly inaccessible till quite latterly; the mule trail from Fort
Yale to the Forks of the Thompson having been only opened on the
4 0th of September, and the other by the Lillooet route only last week,
that is to say, in November.
j X
ThlsJasi route was.begun in consequence of the .difficulties and delays of tha Fraser river mute, and because it remains open and free
from snow all winter: whereas the new pack trail just mentioned from
Fort Yale over the mountains is already impracticable with the rains,
(Nov. 6th) and will soon be closed with the snow, the river, which is
dangerous, alone remaining open, The Lillooet route starts from the
head of Harrison lake, follows the Lillooet valley to the lake of the
same name, and from the head of that lake turning to the north-east,
traverses the mountainous district by a low pass or thalweg, in which
are two lakes, which form part of the connection, and then joins
Fraser river below the Big Falls.
Here is therefore the point of junction, where the two routes, after
having been separated for -175 miles by a vast parallelogram of lofty
mountains, meet together again. They are destined, to supply the
Upper Fraser and all the Northern mining region. With respect to
the country itself, the whole mining region is mountainous in the
extreme, though less so above the Forks of the Thompson than
below, is in general heavily wooded, the climate cold in winter, and
the Indians, though thieving and treacherous, not by far so hostile
as has been reported.
I will now proceed with my narrative, and come to the second
blunder that was committed.
To whatever cause it may be attributed, the first feeling after the
gold discoveries became known in California, was to give the preference to anv American port on the Sound, suitable or not suitable, so
as to avoid an English one. Something might perhaps be said about
the preference thus given to an American port, when English gold was
the object, but the thing was natural in itself. Unfortunately, the
more respectable a feeling and the more capital can be made out of it
by some men, and speculators were not wanting to find this out; so
to work they went to build a big city. Port Townsend was the first
place chosen, probably on account of its Custom house, and as being
the port of entry of the Sound; and forthwith streets were laid out,
houses went up, lots too went up, and were sold and resold, and"
every body flocked to Port Townsend. 9
There were other speculators, however, who were not idle elsewhere. These wished to build a city at Watcom, and easily pointed
out the faults of Port Townsend; her open roadstead, her uncertain
anchorage in the stream, and above all her distance from Fraser river.
Watcom was certainly much nearer, but what was to give the greatest attraction to Watcom was the Bellingham Bay trail, which had
just been started.
This trail deserves some mention, for of all the extraordinary ideas
that have been broached, that of cutting a perilous, and finally impracticable, trail 120 miles long, over high mountains and perpetual
snows, in order not to make use of a navigable river close by, is
about the most extraordinary. But what may appear more extraordinary still is, that so many people believed in its success, and what is
worse, in its superiority! The whole scheme was got up under the
specious cover of American patriotism; so those interested, and who
perfectly knew the contrary, thought it might succeed, and the
California papers gladly repeated the hope. The Bellingham Bay trail
dragged on a long existence, and was continued till every body got
tired of it. It was the greatest humbug of the season, and the first of
a long series of disappointments to the California miner.
In the meantime numbers of adventurers began to assemble in both
these places, and merchants hesitated whether they should ship their
goods to Watcom or to Port Townsend. Watcom, however, got
the upper hand, for the reasons aforesaid. Besides, those interested
in the new city proved somehow or other that its very inconveniences
were advantages ; that the three-quarters of a mile mud flat in front
of it was useful, and the exposure of the bay to the south winds
more convenient than otherwise. The steamers, however, soon found
out that the mud flat was not so very convenient; and in order to
avoid it, a new city was proposed and started about a mile off, at
Sehome. This town though intended to be the third big city, attained
no great importance, nor ever rose above the rank of an annex to
Hundreds of miners from all parts of the Sound and from California, to whom we may add a good stock of gamblers, pickpockets.
vs&m 10
swindlers, and men of broken down fortunes, were now congregated
at Watcom, anxiously waiting for the opening of the trail. And as
the trail did not open, nor was very likely to open, people got tired,
and some of the longheads began to think of moving the city a step
further on towards the river, and planting it in Semiahmoo bay.
This last choice was perhaps the best. But the laying out of this
fourth or fifth city (for two rival cities were started nearly at the same
time on opposite sides of the bay) was reserved for other parties.
Most of us may remember having seen exhibited in the streets of
Victoria, a plan of one of the cities of Semiahmoo, handsomely laid out and colored, with lots to be sold to those who were
willing to buy them.
In the mean time a few modest traders, who were acquainted with
the Sound, and the advantages of Victoria as a good harbour, and an
English seaport withall, had made up their minds to go there and try
their fortunes. The writer was one of that small number, and if any
of them has since had cause to complain, it has been his own fault.
I was acquainted with the country—I knew there was gold, and plenty
of it; I knew it from the best sources. I communicated my information to my companions, and they were confident enough to believe it.
There was no great merit in all this, but when I have since heai;d
people say, they were merely luckey, I can only think, that sound
judgment is something more than mere luck*.
Leaving this aside, I naturally come to the next blunder, or rather
to the immediate consequenoe of the former one ; namely, that in the
midst of this invention of big cities, nobody had ever thought of Victoria. Indeed at that time the name of Victoria was hardty-to be met
with in a California newspaper. And yet after all Victoria was the
place for the big city, as every body might have found out a good
deal sooner, and as we shall presently see.
The port and canal of Camosack were selected for the site of Victoria as far back as 4 342, by Chief Factor James Douglas, our present
Governor. The situation, to quote his own words, is not faultless,
or so completely suited for a place of settlement as it might be ; but,
as he observes in his report dated 42th July, 4 842, and after discuss- 11
ing the merits of various other ports on the Sound. | He despaired
' of any thing better being found on the coast, and was confident that
' there was no seaport north of the Columbia, where so many advan-
' tages could be found combined." This favorable opinion was conj
firmed by Sir George Simpson in his despatch j dated 24 st June, 4 844,
in Which he says : "The situation of Victoria is peculiarly eligible j
1 the country and climate remarkably fine, and the harbour excellent."
And again in June, J 846 : | Fort Victoria promises to become a very
' important place."
It cannot be denied that the entrance to the harbour is difficult, and
that in the beginning a good pilot would have been useful. But
now that the entrance has been better studied, we see steamers
come in that could not do it before, and ships of 42 and
4500 tons, such as the Leonidas and the Oracle, have been anchored
in the roadstead for ihree weeks to discharge their cargoes. We
are also told that the harbour is of small dimensions, and only
fit for small craft.    Let us see how far these objections are founded.
The port of Victoria is composed of three harbours, the Outer, the
Inner, and the Upper, or the port above the bridge. The difficulties
in the entrance to the outer harbour, consist for large vessels :
1st. In a long shoal of white sand which projects from the east, or
Shoal Point, across the entrance. This sand bank is covered at half
tide, and is marked by a buoy. Its1 continuation under water forms a
kind of bar averaging 42 feet deep at low water: the whole of it could
be removed with a dredger, and that easily, for less than ten thousand
2nd. Opposite this shoal, and at about 200 yards distance in the
middle of the channel, is a sunken rock marked by a buoy. To"turn
round the shoal at right angles without grounding and pass within side
of this rock, is the difficulty, and a ship is obliged to take the shortest turn possible, which, however, brings the head of a large vessel close
up to the rock. This rock could also be easily blown up, and its removal, together with that of the shoal, would form a clear and safe
entrance to the harbour, the opposite side of the entrance being deep
though rocky. 12
Roadstead.—The open roadstead outside the harbour has good
holding ground, but is exposed in winter to the south and south-westerly winds. A vessel, however, could easily take refuge in the outer
Outer Harbour.—This is at present unnoccupied but will soon be
turned to account. The opening within the entrance is broad and
deep. Immediately inside Shoal* point, and near the wreck of the
Major Tompkins, is a first rate anchorage, with deep water and safe
from any winds.
Inner Harbour.'—This is the only one at present made use of, or
on which there are wharves. There are two small sunken rocks in
the middle of this harbour, between the Hudson's Bay Company's
wharf and the point or extremity of the Indian reserve. They are dry
at spring tide, and consequently easy to blow up.
Another sunken rock, and more dangerous, because never uncovered, is marked by a pole, and lies 50 yards nearer the town. It is on
this last rock that the Pacific got aground. These three rocks should
be removed immediately; they impede the circulation of vessels in
the harbour, and are most inconvenient. The depth at low water in
the inner harbour varies along the wharves from 8 to 20 feet, with a
muddy bottom and good holding ground.
Port above the Bridge.—This port is separated from the- former
one by the bridge and also by a kind of small bar, but the water in-*
side the port and along the east or town side is deeper than in the
inner harbour. The two last ports united and the bridge removed,
would present a town frontage three-quarters of a mile long, with a
depth of water, at low tide, beginning with 8 feet at the south end:
near James' hay, and increasing rapidly to more than 25 feet at the
north end. Few cities could boast of such a splendid wharf, forming
as it might have done a straight line, or rather two straight lines meeting at a small angle in the centre. Strangers will be astonished to
learn that the whole of this magnificent frontage has been parcelled
out and sold to private parties by the Company 1 each one having
made his wharf or jetty as he liked, so as to encumber and disfigure
the whole,
mmM 15
All the above inconveniences (except the latter one,) may be easily
obviated ; but as they still exist and are a cause of apprehension to
captains and seafaring men, some people think that Esquimalt will
finally supplant Victoria. And here again I will refer to Mr. Douglas'
report of 42th July, 4 842. § Is-whoy-malth (Esquimalt) is one of
| the best harbours on the coast, being perfectly safe and of easy
I access, but in other respects it possesses no attraction. Its appear-
l ance is strikingly unprepossessing, the outline of the country exhibit-
! ing a confused assemblage of rock and wood. More distant appear
' isolated ridges, thinly covered with scattered trees and masses of bare
'rock; and the view is closed by a range of low mountains, which
' traverse the Island at a distance of about 4 2 miles. The shores of
I the harbour are rugged and precipitous, and I did not see one level
I spot, clear of trees, of sufficient extent to build a large fort upon.
' There is in fact no clear land within a quarter of a mile of the har-
| bour, and that lies in small patches here and there, on the declivities
' and bottoms of the rising ground. At a greater distance are two
' elevated plains on different sides of the harbour, containing several
I bottoms of rich land, the largest of which does not exceed 50 acres
f of clear space, much broken by masses of limestone and granite.
• Another serious objection to the place is the scarcity of fresh water."
In other words, Esquimalt may be a fine harbour for a naval
station, or for large ocean steamers, but no fit place for a city. To
this I will add what has so often been said before: that when once a
city is established and has taken a start, that wharves are built, streets have
been laid out, large sums of money expended on it, and capital invested,
nothing but a long succession of causes, or some unforeseen event,
can displace it. Nor is it desirable that a naval station should be in
the centre of a large commercial city. After all Esquimalt is barely
three miles from Victoria, (much the same distance as from the Plaza
in San Francisco to the Mission,) and if necessary, it would be.very
easy to build a railroad from Selleck's wharf, at Esquimalt, along the
inside of the harbour, the little valley at the foot of Skinner's farm,
and afterwards the McKenzie road, so as nearly to obtain a level from
Esquimalt to Victoria.   There has been some talk also of a water com- i
munication between the two harbours, by completing and deepening
the present canal. To this I would propose the addition of locks at
both ends, so as always to have a high water level; and by placing
the lock at this end, where the present bridge crosses the harbour, a
magnificent floating dock could be formed, with thirty feet water, capable of holding any vessel. Whatever may be done hereafter with
respect to these two schemes, neither of which would be very expensive,
merchants for the present can go down in an omnibus and come up
in an hour ; and it is pretty clear, that in a commercial point of view,
and at least for some time to come, Esquimalt will be nothing more
than a seafaring town. Whether in future times the surrounding
country may become gradually settled, and the place rise to importance, will depend, in my opinion, on the prosperity of Victoria.
Another objection which has been raised against Victoria is the
possibility that Fort Langley, on Fraser river, or some other port in
Howe's Sound, or on the main land north of the Fraser, may gain the
preference. Now, if some people are afraid that the port of Victoria
be hardly suitable for large vessels, how much less so would Fort
Langley, or any such place on Fraser river, be. The entrance to
Fraser river is obstructed for miles by shoals, visible at low water,
through which a narrow tortuous channel, two to three fathoms deep,
winds its wray. Such a channel, with the uncertain tides that prevail f
can never be considered safe for vessels of more than 8 or 900 tons.
Besides which, and with respect to Fort Langley, or any port on the
main land, no sea captain, who is. at all acquainted, with the change*
able winds, tides, and currents to be encountered among the islands
that lay between Victoria and the main land, would prefer thus risking
his vessel to a good secure harbour at the entrance of the Sound.
Let the port of Victoria be improved as soon as possible, and with
her lovely situation and temperate climate; her rich back country,
extending for more than one hundred miles, and offering every temptation to the agriculturist; her land titles free from litigation ; the
produce of the gold fields and accompanying immigration ; her free
port and no taxation ; a military station, and a naval one at Esquimalty
together with government improvements, and Victoria will not only remain the key of the Sound and command the whole coast, but must
soon become the commercial centre of the country. I will say more.
The distance from Europe to Victoria is little more than that to San
Francisco, with three dollars per ton less charges, besides a sure return trip of lumber, the finest in the world, or coal. With such advantages, and provided she remains a free port, Victoria is destined
to become the emporium of British goods on the whole American
coast of the Pacific.
Having thus disposed of this question, I will return to the thread of
my story.
On landing in Victoria we found a quiet village of about 800 inhabitants. No noise, no bustle, no gamblers, no speculators or interested parties to preach up this or underrate that. A few quiet gentlemanly behaved inhabitants, chiefly Scotchmen, secluded as it were
from the whole world, and reminding one forcibly of the line of Virgil
1 Et pene toto divisos ex orbe Britannos."
Though not perhaps quite so shrewd as Californians, they evidently
understood the advantages of the situation, were quietly awaiting the
results, and more or less acquainted with the country, seemed rather
surprised that a people so sharp as the Californians were supposed to
be, should be running after such an impossible air bubble as the Bellingham Bay trail. As to business there was none, the streets were
grown over with grass, and there was not even a cart. Goods there
were none, nor in the midst of this | Comedy of Errors" had a single
California merchant thought of sending a single bag of flour to
Victoria! The consequence was that shortly after our arrival the
bakers were twice short of bread, and we were obliged to replace it,
.first by pilot bread and afterwards with soda crackers. At the same
moment flour was worth eight dollars in Watcom.
People were now beginning to leave Port Townsend and Watcom to
come over to this side of the Sound. In the beginning miners had
been allowed to go up the river without hindrance ; but as their numbers increased, a proclamation, dated 42th of Mayor thereabouts,
prohibited any one from going up without first paying a sufferance of
six dollars for a canoe or open boat, and twelve dollars for a decked 16
vessel. So far however the clearance could be taken out at Victoria or Fort
Langley, which latter place perfectly suited the miners at Watcom j
but towards the beginning of July it was decided that they must all be
taken out in Victoria, and the guardship Recovery was stationed on
the river below Fort Langley to enforce the measure. This of course
drew many to Victoria, though reluctantly, since it was out of the
way ; besides which numbers were ready to leave who had got tired
of waiting for the interminable Bellingham Bay trail.
As trade fell off in Watcom and Port Townsend so did it improve in
Victoria ; and as those places were overstocked with goods, handsome
profits were made by buying and shipping them over to sell in
Victoria a few days afterwards, and at double the price.
At length the first steamer succeeded in getting up the river and
reaching Fort Hope, thus proving the river to be navigable. This was a
thunderbolt for the new cities, and from this moment the influx of
population to Victoria became overwhelming. Miners now came
flocking over, together with all fhat heterogeneous class of adventurers commonly called the "pioneers of civilization." Adopted
citizens and others who had consulted their American patriotism rather than their interests, by stopping at Watcom, loudly
lamented the necessity of stepping on British soil, whereas others,
Britishers by birth and Americans by adoption, were now rewhite-
washed and became Englishmen again. This immigration was so
sudden, that people had to spend their nights in the streets or bushes,
according to choice, for there were no hotels sufficient to receive them.
Victoria had at last been discovered, everybody was bound for Victoria,
nobody could stop anywhere else, for there, and there alone, were fortunes, andlarge fortunes,tobe made. Andasthfi news of such a flourishing state of things soon found its way to California, it was not long
before the steamers brought up fresh crowds.
Never perhaps was there so large an immigration in so short a space of
time into so small aplace. Unlike California, where the distance from the
Eastern States and Europe precluded the possibility of an immediate
rush ; the proximity of Victoria to San Francisco, on the contrary,,
afforded every facility, and converted the whole matter into a fifteen i—   "»
I      1T1
dollar trip. Steamers and sailing vessels were put in requisition, and
old ships and tubs of every description actively employed in bringing up
passengers, something like to a fair.
As to goods, the most exorbitant prices were asked and realized, .
for though the Company had a large assortment, their store in the
Fort was literally besieged from morning to night; and when all
were in such a hurry, it was not every one that cared to wait three or
four hours, and sometimes half a day, for his turn to get in. The
consequence was, that the five or six stores that were first established
did as they pleased.
Ground too had risen to an exorbitant price.
So far none but miners, mechanics, retail traders, or men of small
means, had made their appearance ; but merchants and people of
standing, men who had so far hesitated, now began to arrive. Some
of them without exactly understanding the situation, or caring to
understand it, for the sake of a trip and solely out of curiosity. But
others might be seen coming on shore with certain heavy bags full of
gold coin, Which they were obliged to have carried, They had expected to get ground lots for nothing, and buy the whole city cheap,
and were sadly disappointed to find they had come a little too late.
Many of them had the trouble of taking their bags of gold back again,
without even opening them, and all of them cursed the place.
These "big bugs" were closely followed by another class, and
Yictoria was assailed by an indescribable array of Polish jews, Italian
fishermen, French cooks, jobbers, speculators of every kind, land
agents, auctioneers, hangers on at auctions, bummers, bankrupts,
and brokers of every description. Many of these seemed to think
very little about the gold diggings, the Company'^ rights, or their
consequences. Nor did they trouble themselves much about the
state of the interior, the hostile feelings of the Indians, or anything
else of the kind. They took it for granted that sold would soon be
coming down, and whether it did or not was not their object. They
came to sell and to speculate, to sell goods, to sell lands, to sell cities,
to buy them-and sell them again to greenhorns, to make money and
begone. s>
To the above lists may be added a fair seasoning of gamblers
swindlers, thieves, drunkards, and jail birds, let loose by the Governors of California for the benefit of mankind, (4) besides the halt,
lame, blind and mad. In short, the outscourings of a population
containing, like that of California, the outscourings of the
world. Let it be said here to the honor of Victoria, that some
of the worst of these last characters kept away. Mixed up
among all these, however, was a large body of respectable emigrants ; patient hard working miners, and others ; honest men who
had come here to live by their industry, hoping to assist their families
and better their position ; quiet law-abiding citizens, if ever there were.
Many of these have been sadly disappointed, whilst others, more
successful, have remained here and form a considerable portion of our
present population, as exemplary a one as is to be met with.
When the older inhabitants beheld these varied specimens of humanity
streaming down in motley crowds from the steamers and sailing
vessels, and covering the wharves, as if they had come to take possession of the soil, they looked on in silent amazement, as if contemplating a second irruption of the barbarians. There were others, and
sensible men, who, reflecting on the natural difficulties to be overcome, on those imposed by the Company, or incident to a new and
unexplored country, where the gold had first to be hunted out, and
the consequent uncertainty of any immediate returns, were filled with
apprehension and almost with alarm.
Shops,, stores, and wooden shanties of every description, and in
every direction, were now seen going up, and nothing was to be heard
but the stroke of the chisel or hammer. In six weeks 225 buildings,
of which nearly 200 were stores, and of these 59 belonging to jobbers
or importers, had been added to a village of 800 inhabitants; and
people seemed to think the number insufficient, for others were on
foot. Besides which the whole country around the town was covered
with tents, resembling the -encampments of an army.
The price of land rose in proportion.    The plan followed by the
(1) Among these  was the  infamous   Paddy   Margin: the  French   population   however,
forced him to leave for shame.
0 10 i-      §
Company for the sale of their lots was as follows : The purchaser on
depositing-his money, was inscribed on a list by order of priority,
nobody being allowed to buy more than six lots ; after which, and
when a sufficient number had been taken up, the holders were notified
to come !| the order of their tickets, and choose their lot or lots on
the official map. In consequence, however, of the increased demand
the Company had been obliged to suspend the sales, in -order to give
the engineer time to survey a sufficient quantity of ground before
hand ; and the price of the lots which had been already raised from
fifty dollars to seventy-five dollars, was fixed at one hundred dollars.
The opening of the land office was announced several days before hand,
as also the hour for 9 o'clock ; but before four in the morning the
door was already besieged, and at nine the crowd was such that it was
useless for those who had come rather late to think of getting a place
or a lot.
The lots thus paid for in advance bore the name of blind lots, and
their market price depended on the number of the ticket. Town lots
60 feet by 420 feet, that had been sold by the Company for fifty' and
seventy-five dollars, were resold a month afterwards at prices varying
from fifteen hundred to three thousand dollars, and more. Amongst
others, one half of a fifty dollar corner lot, the whole of which had.
been offered successively for 250, 500, 750, and 4 000 dollars, and
finally sold for 4 4 00 dollars, was resold a fortnight afterwards, that is
to say the half of it, for 5000 dollars. Old town lots, well situated,,
brought any price, and frontages of 20 and 50 feet, by 60 deep, rented
from 250 to 400 dollars per month.
With respect to business, it was equally flourishing. Victoria was already a free port, besides which one of the first acts of the Governor after
the gold discovery, had been, upon his own responsibility, to
allow American steamers to run upon Fraser river. Though a necessary measure, since there was scarcely a British steamer on the Sound,
this was also a liberal concession, when we reflect that a private English pleasure boat cannot ply on the bay of San Francisco, but must
either be torn to pieces or taken away. On the other hand,, miners
going up the river were obliged to take out a monthly license, which
J mm-
mm, ..«■-
cost five dollars, and gave them the right to take up what provisions
they wanted. In the beginning the steamers allowed them 200 pounds
of freight gratis, and afterwards 400 pounds, on the passage up to
Fort Hope, which cost twenty dollars; but most miners preferred
clubbing together and buying canoes or building boats.
No other permission had as yet been granted for trading with the
About this time the amount of idle foreign population in Victoria
was so preponderant, that one evening some of the rowdies, having
rescued a prisoner (California fashion) from the hands of the police,
the crowd, in the excitement, proposed to hoist the American flag on
the F ort,. and take Victoria ! Some little alarm was created at the time,
and a gun steamer sent for from Esquimalt in the night, which entered the harbour next morning; but all was quiet. This ridiculous
exhibition, the hooting of the Governor by the rowdies at Fort Yale,
and the' late insulting address of the II. S. Consular agent, (I) have been
the only items of this kind during four months; though frequently
men might be seen crying through the streets, that they were "true
Americans," or singing and shouting about the " Stars and Stripes,"
American flags, too, were plentiful. Nobody paid any, attention to
these things, as a natural consequence, of freedom in a free country,
indeed the behaviour of the Americans here has been generally most
orderly and law abiding. But who would ever dream of going down
Montgomery street, shouting out | God save the Queen," unless he
wished to be knocked down! or when did anybody ever see British
flags floating over San Francisco, To be sure the English are not
very demonstrative on these subjects,
The greater part of the miners from Port Townsend and Bellingham
Bay, as well as those who had been employed in building their boats
(1) For the benefit of the old residents and English population unacquainted with AJr.
Nugent, and who have fe't much aggrieved at this address, I will" explain that be was editor
of the San Francisco Herald; that he is a British born subject, and has been running down
his country for years on every occasion ; apologised for Russian despotism in every form ~
and when three wretches cast dee as to who should shoot down King of William, an independent and deservedly popular editor, he held such a course, that the merchants and citizens of all classes in San Francisco, collecting together his newspaper, made a bonfire of it
in Front street. His name since then has been a reprobation to most Californians, and fhe
government in Washington could hardly have made a more unsuitable choice for all parties 21
in Victoria, had now started for the mines, their boats loaded with
provisions, and were mostly congregated at Fort Hope, or on the
neighbouring bars ; where numbers of others from Bellingham Bay
and the Sound had found their way before them. They were all glad
to rest from the fatigues of paddling and dragging their loaded boats
during one hundred miles in succession up the most dangerous and violent rapids; and were now occupied in looking at the river and eating
their provisions, waiting till it would fall. It don't appear that any
of these experienced miners had any thoughts at that time of prospecting the level banks between the river and the foot of the mountains.
I even recollect their-smiling when I mentioned the idea, and pointed
at the trees on them, saying, they would all be leveled before three or
four years.
In the mean while the river did not fall, or only fell a trifle ; just
enough to keep up expectations. Many therefore went up to Fort
Yale, above which the rapids are far more numerous and dangerous than below. Fort Yale may be considered in many respects as
the head of navigation, Immediately above, the river rushes for four
miles violently down between perpendicular cliffs, 4000 feet high ;
iind this defile, which is called the little or, presented at
that time of the year an insurmountable barrier to canoes, or to any
regular intercourse with the upper country.
Some miners, however, had gone higher up by the foot trail, along
hair breadth ledges and over gaping precipices, and managed even to
take up provisions on their backs. By this means the bars above the
little canon, and up to the forks had become gradually crowded ; and
that in spite of all the difficulties in getting up fresh provisions, which
obliged the miners to be continually going and coming., to bring back
flour loaded on their backs, something like pack mules. Still the
desire to get gold is such, that the bars up to the forks of the Thompson river, and even above, were crowded; till at last difficulties occurred with the Indians, and a petty war broke out which drove every
body down again to Fort Yale.
All this up river news did not improve things in Victoria, where
people, however, still kept up their spirits/   During the first arrivals ■■H
and departures of so large an immigration, business had been very
brisk ; but as miners began to leave, their wants were no longer supplied by the jobbers, for the Hudson's Bay Company allowed no
trading whatever with the interior. The only exception to this stringent rule, had been the permissions to miners, and another paltry
one just published, authorizing the trade and sale of fresh meat and
vegetables. The number of up river passengers had also much increased with the facilities afforded by the steamers ; all which together
contributed greatly to lessen the population, in Victoria. Still the
arrivals were numerous, and things went on well, till later news
from up river began to create some doubts. Rumour said that the
river .did not fall, some even said that it never would fall; and as nobody had ever thought of mining any where else except on the river,
the state of the river became the barometer of public hopes and the
pivot on which every jbody's expectations turned. This untoward
news soon spread abroad and was caught up with avidity by the California newspapers. It was the first check on immigration, and with
the existing restrictions on the commerce of the interior, was, I
believe, for the good of all parties.
Just at this time a few American and Canadian miners, who had
started early in the spring and spent some time on the upper Fraser,
returned to Victoria by a new route, and informed their friends of the
possibility of opening a trail by the Lillooet river and across the mountains ; thus avoiding the interminable difficulties and dangers of the
river. The information was not entirely-new, but as this Indian trail
was not generally known, it was new to the public, and the news
spread like wildfire. Two days after, the little steamer Umatilla started up on a pioneer trip to the head of Harrison's lake, loaded with
adventurers determined to get through at any rate.
A friend of mine was uf the number, and has since related to me
the fatigues and miseries he had to endure, when creeping through
underwood and thickets for miles and miles, sometimes on his hands
and knees, with a bag of flour on his back, under fallen trees or over
them, scrambling up precipices, then sliding down again over sharp
stony ground, or through bogs and swamps.    As the adventurers trod 23
their weary way onward every day more exhausted and way worn, each
little caravan became smaller and smaller, according as one or the
other lagged behind to rest, or turned back in despair. Tired and
almost ready to drop, they would come to a likely piece of ground to
prospect, but nobody had the inclination to do it; besides if one had
stopped he would have been left behind, so the prospecting was put
off till another time, or till their return ; and as the same causes existed then as before, the prospecting was never done at all. And thus
it is that through sheer misery and fatigue, and owing to the want of
access, the country has hardly been prospected up to this day.
The only thought, the only preoccupation seemed to be to get on,
to push forward whilst they still had any provisions, and to reach the
river.    The party were now reduced to  three, one of whom, they
having fallen in with an Indian camp and bartered a salmon or two,
made up his mind to  return.    So casting a farewell look from the
mountain side on the valley beneath him, the valley which was to have
been the goal of all his hopes, and to reach which he had endured so
much hardship, he wished his companions good bye, and, calmly observing I he had had enough of it," turned back again.    Nor did tho
two  others fare much belter.    My friend during a fortnight's stay
among the Indians lived on salmon, when he could get it, and oftener
on wild fruit.    Once he got a meal of horseflesh, but never tasted a
spoonful of flour, nor even salt.    On his journey back, he had to live
for three clays solely on blackberries, and returned with his clothing
tattered and torn, like a scarecrow.    As to the gold,  (I had well nigh
forgot it) there was plenty of it, but unequally distributed.    He was
convinced of that from his own personal observation, and still more
so from the reports of all those he met; in short, to use his own
words, I it was folly to deny it,"
I have related this.particular case, because I can vouch for the truth
of it; and also because it has been a very common one, And we are
surprised after that that miners should not have succeeded ! and that
they should have come back with empty pockets ! and that it should
be trumpeted abroad, that the gold mines are a humbug ! If the
commerce of the interior had been thrown open, and private enterr
t * • 24.
prise allowed to compete with the natural difficulties of the country,
these would have been overcome by this time. Forests would have
been opened, provisory bridges thrown over precipices, hollows levejr
ed, and the rush of population following behind, the country would
have been rapidly settled, and the trader brought his provisions to
the miner's door.
It may be accounted one of the greatest misfortunes of the season,
that this Lillooet trail was not discovered or made known sooner.
The whole mining immigration was kept in suspense for two months,
idling and trying to get up Fraser river, whilst there existed a much
easier and more practicable pass elsewhere ; thus confining all their
prospects to the lower Fraser. and consuming their time, their hopes,
and their provisions, in waiting for the opening of a navigation which,
after all, was" next to impracticable. The new trail, however, is not
without objections. It passes over a tract of country which is not
generally supposed to be rich in gold, and the number of portages,
requires goods to be loaded and unloaded ten different times before
reaching the upper Eraser, thins makhig the expense and delays considerable.
Very latterly there seems to be some chance of obviating a part cf
these difficulties, by opening a new communication to the valley of
the Lillooet by Howe's Sound and the Skowhomish river, which is
navigable for small steamers to its junction'with the Siakamish, sis
miles above. If the remainder of the road be really as practicable as
it is said, but which I rather doubt,- this third trail would shorten the
distance, and perhaps the difficulties, materially, thus rendering, the
Northern mining region still more accessible.
The Governor took active measures to'have the Lillooet trail opened
immediately, and a curious arrangement was entered into to that effect.
Five hundred miners and others, who had been losing.their time in
Victoria, agreed to deposit twenty-five dollars each. They were to be
transported gratis to the head of Harrison lake, and,engaged to work
at the trail for their food until it was finished ; when their deposits
were to be returned them, either in provisions delivered them there
and at Victoria prices, or the equivalent in money.    They calculated 25
mat in this way they would get up to the mines for nothing, be fed,
and when there find their provisions all delivered, instead of waiting
in Victoria, and there having to buy canoes or pay for their food and
passage to get up Fraser river.
They were taken up by the Company in two trips, and set heartily
to work. But as the trail advanced, the Company not having provided mules enough, half the men had to be employed in carrying up
provisions for the other half and for themselves, so that the trail got
en slowly. Some got dispirited, left and sold out their tickets cheap,
though latterly not a few would have been glad to remain all winter, provided they were furnished with pork and beans, so as to be ready in
the early spring to work at the mines. Finally a question arose,
whether those who had completed their contract were to have their
provisions delivered them at the lower or the upper end of the trail.
This difficulty was settled by a compromise, and the provisions or the
equivalent were delivered them, I believe, half way; very
much to the disgust of the poor miners, who had to walk back 70
miles to get them. The whole thing was unskillfully managed, and
many of the miners who would have remained in the country returned
home disheartened and discouraged.
The trail thusfinished and opened, and with plenty of mules to pack,
it now turns out that there are no provisions, nor is there any steamer
to take them up. This is another of those blunders which have been
so frequent since the gold discovery, either owing to the former stringent measures of the Company, or to distrust and uncertainty on the
part of the merchants. The whole thing can only be explained by the
conflicting struggles between free trade and monopoly ; but both the
miner and the country suffer the consequences. Thus, beans which
are worth 4 4-2 cents in Victoria, and would cost at most 5 cents at
Port Douglas, sell for one dollar per pound at the end of the trail.
Bacon is worth two dollars a pound, or to be more exact there is none,
flour seventy-five cents a pound, boots twenty to twenty-five
dollars per pair, and blankets the same. Nobody can be astonished
at miners leaving when they have to pay such prices, and are so m>
certain of their existence into the bargain.
J w
All that can be said of this trail for the present is, that remaining
open all winter it will enable a certain number of miners, who are now
on the upper Fraser, to spend the winter there, to prospect the
neighbouring country and prepare the way for future adventurers.
This is one of the spots where many California miners, and the wise
ones too, have told us there were no diggings to signify; and yet a
party of Italians have felt sufficiently encouraged to open a very considerable water ditch for sluicing, and all around the Fountain, six
miles above the Big Falls, miners are doing remarkably well. If it-
were otherwise, and with the privations they are subjected to, and the
exorbitant price of provisions, they would come down immediately.
It is time now to return to Victoria. There every thing had been
till latterly hope and expectation, summer and sunshine, a clear morning sky with scarcely a speck in the horizon. But the miners who
were still waiting to go up the river, the retail traders, and more particularly the jobbers, began now to put on rather long faces. Merchants who had gone to the risk of leaving their homes in California,
and embarked their capital here, began to wonder why they did not
sell more, and enquired for the first time seriously if business could
really be carried on under the monopoly of the Hudson's Bay Company.
People knew it is true from the onset that Fraser river was next to
unnavigable, and that the river was the only means of communication
with the interior, (the Lillooet trail was not yet known,); that further
up, the country was unexplored, that there were no roads, no communications and consequently no provisions to be had; that the Indians
were not friendly ; that the country was rugged and mountainous in
the extreme ; that the river had to  fall before any gold could be got
out,  and that the winters were severe.   All these difficulties were
known from the first, but people did not seem to have thought much
about them, or to have taken them into account.    Besides American
enterprise (which, bye the bye, in this instance was no American enterprise at all, but that of energetic men representing almost every
nation in the world,) would overcome them.
And I verily believe they would have overcome them had they been 27
allowed to act and only left to themselves. I recollect talking with a
young California miner—a young man but an old mirier—who was
preparing his canoe, and reminding him of all these difficulties. J[e
knew them all, he had seeri them all, he had encountered the like, and
feared nothing. He could do every thing, could . overcome every
thing; in fact it seemed to me as if he could do more than was
possible. With such men the country would have been opened in
three months, had not all spirit of enterprise been crushed and overcome by a still greater obstacle. And that was the Hudson's Bay
Company, which standing in the way closed every access. Like a giant
with whom it was in vain to struggle, or a rock, against the "vis
inertise" of which all their energies were to be spent in vain.
No foreigner could go up the river without a permit, no British subject could take a canoe up the river without a permit, nobody could
trade up the river without a permit, and no permits were granted for
that purpose ; nobody could cut down a tree, nobody could even pick
up floating wood on the beach without a permit, or paying for it. The
poor wood cutter had to pay 4 0 per cent, on every cord of wood he
sold, and before putting up his tent must pay seven dollars and fifrf
cents for the permission ; finally no'permanent settlement was allowed,
nor could anybody hold the smallest piece of ground on the whole
continent. In presence of such obstacles, commerce and enterprise
were out of the question.
I am not one of those who find fault with every thing that the Hudson's Bay Company, or their servants, have done. They have been
the pioneers of civilization in the back settlements of North America
and Oregon ; they have constantly shown the greatest kindness and
humanity towards the Indian tribes, when others who also style themselves the "pioneers of civilization," have shot them down like dogs,
and often, with shame be it said, for their mere amusement. They
had been created lords of the soil, and acted generously as such. But
now that a more enlightened population has taken possession of the
country, the object of the Company for the purposes of civilization is
at an end, and its intervention for commercial purposes a nuisance.
Not but that the Company in many late instances has shown both 28
liberality and foresight. For instance, we are indebted to it during
the late rush for having hindered flour from reaching famine prices,
and for having victualed to a certain extent the Forts in the interior.
But as free trade is the soul of commerce, so is a monopoly its bane ;
and it cannot be denied that since the gold discoveries the Company,
to say the least, has been a constant obstacle to the development of
the country.
Besides, there are other concessions which have been attributed
to the generosity of the Company, and which, if calculated for the good
of the community, were in singular accordance with its own interests.
Thus, the miners were permitted to take up 400 pounds of provisions,
which, it is said, the Company was not obliged to allow ; and again,
that the tardy permission which has been granted latterly for taking
goods up the river was doubly a concession ; since the 4 0 per cent, duty
was for the government, whereas the competition was for the Company. But it is exceedingly doubtful whether the Company had a
right to hinder goods from going up for the use of the white population ; and at all events these goods are heavily taxed, whilst their own
are not, or if so, nobody knows to the contrary.
Complaints without end have been made against these taxes on
other scores, and perhaps rightly, though the increased expenses of.
government had to be paid somehow or other. It is with these funds
that all the trails, roads and ferries have been opened to vivify the
interior, render it habitable, and prevent the recurrence of past disasters. If burdensome, they have been nobly employed, and these
taxes will bear a favorable comparison as to amount, and still more
so as to their application, with the high duties of the American tariff
on the other side of the Sound, varying from 45 to 55 per cent., and
the manner in which we were shaven and shorn into the bargain in
California, to support the most corrupt and inefficient of governments. (4)
I will here give a short abstract pf the different acts by which the
Hudson's Bay Company is supposed to hold its authority ; together
(1) The foreign miner's tax for Mariposa  county amounted this year   to 22,000 dollars \
t&e property tax in San Francisco to 3.08 1-2 per cent. 1 -    ? li
with what other information I have been able to collect on the subject, in presence of the utter secrecy observed by its servants, and the
impossibility of procuring documents here; I have been at some
trouble to divest them of all useless phraseology, so as to render the
whole both palatable and intelligible to the general reader.
The Original Title of the Hudson's Bay Company derives from
letters patent granted May 2d, in the twenty-second year of Charles
II. These letters gave the company thereby incorporated all the seas,
bays, lakes, rivers, etc., within Hudson's Straits, together with all the
lands and territories on the same not already possessed by or granted
to any of his Majesty's subjects, or any Christian prince or State,
together with the right of fishing, the royalty of the seas and all mines
royal, as well then discovered as not then discovered, of gold, silver,
gems and precious stones; said land and territories to be called
Rupert's Land. The whole in free and common soceage. Constituting the Company true and absolute lords and proprietors" of the same,
with power to possess and enjoy all lands, rents, privileges, jurisdictions and hereditaments, etc. ; to give, grant, demise, alien, assign
and dispose of the same, and to do and execute all things appertaining
Doubts have been entertained as to the validity of this grant, on the
ground that the above named territories belonged to the Crown of
France at the time the grant was made. Such doubts, however, can
hardly be considered of much weight after a quiet occupancy of tw©
hundred years, confirmed by the silent acquiescence of both the crown
and the nation.
In the course of time the Company had extended its trade far
beyond the limits of the above charter, (which limits have since been
better defined,) and over a vast extent of Indian territory not then
By act of 45d, George III, the criminal jurisdiction of the Provinces
of Lower and Upper Canada was extended to these territories.
Towards the close of the last century two Canadian companies, the
J *m
first called the North-west Company of Montreal, "and the X. Y.
Company," had been formed for the purpose of trading in the above
Indian territories in competition with the Hudson's Bay Company.
This lead to great animosity, and finally to a regular war between the
servants of the North-west and those of the Hudson's Bay Companies.
The two Companies at last came to, terms, and entered into an agreement dated March 26th, 4 824, after which, and probably as a consequence jof it, the following act was passed :
An Act of -1st a 2nd, George IV, authorizing the Crown to make
grants to any company, or persons, for not more than 24 yearsj and
under various restrictions, relative to civil and criminal jurisdiction,
selling liquor to the Indians, etc., for the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians in any part or parts of North America not before
granted to the Hudson's Bay Company, (by their original charter,)
or belonging to the two provinces of Canada, or to the United States.
Such right of trade not to be exclusive with respect to American citizens in the whole of the territory to the west of the Rocky Mountains.
This territory had been declared by treaty with the United States, free
and open to the citizens and subjects of both powers for 40 years.
By the same act, the provisions of the act of George III, concerning criminal jurisdiction were expressly extended to the territory originally granted to the Hudson's Bay Company.
In accordance with this act, letters patent were granted December
6th, -182 i, to the Hudson's Bay Company, and the former heads of the
Montreal Company, William and Simon McGiliivray and EdwardElllce,
conjointly, for 24 years.
The Hudson's Bay Company having acquired the rights of WT. and
S. McGiliivray and E. Ellice, surrendered the above grant, which was
not yet expired, and obtained, 50th May, 4 858, the present grant for
2 5 years, for the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians in the
same territories and on the same terms as above. The Crown reserving the right of establishing or annexing any colonies or provinces
within said territories, with such form of civil government as it might
deem fit; and of revoking the present grant in so far as necessary to
that effect. 31
The boundary line to the west of the Rocky Mountains, was still
unsettled ; but by treaty of 50th June, 4 858, with the United States,
this line was "continued along the 49 deg. parallel westward to the
j middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver
£ Island, and thence through the middle of said channel and up Fuca
£ Straits to the Pacific. The whole of said channel and Straits to be
'-free and open to both parties."
The grant of Vancouver Island originated in a request from the
Hudson's Bay Company, after the above treaty for the division of
Oregon Territory had been concluded. The first letter containing this
request is addressed to Lord Grey, 7th September, 4 846, and states,,
that the company have founded and are annually enlarging an establishment (Victoria) on the south point of the Island.
This letter was followed up by a long correspondence, and the negotiations were pending for nearly two years, during which period they
were interrupted for nearly a year, (from March, 4 847, to February,
4 848.)    Instead of its first request to be confirmed in the possession
of Vancouver Island, the Company had gradually extended its desires
and its demands ; and was now." willing to undertake the government
I and colonization of all the territories belonging to the Crown in
' North America, and receive a grant accordingly."    (Letter from Sir
J. H. Pelly, chairman of the H. B. Co., to Earl Grey, 5th March, 4 847.)
Such, a formidable proposal rather startled his Lordship, and the
negotiations were broken off, as said before.    They were, however,
renewed in February, 1848, and things explained,    j j The proposal by
' placing the whole territory north of 49 deg. under one governing
'power, would have simplified arrangements ; but the Company was
\ willing to accept that part of the territory west of the Rocky Moun-
' tains, or even Vancouver Island alone j in. fact to give every assistance 32
' in its power to promote colonization." And further on : "In every
I negotiation that may take plaee on this subject, (Vancouver Island,)
41 have only to observe that the Company expect no pecuniary ad-
' vantage from colonizing the territory in question. All monies
' received for land or minerals would be applied to purposes connect-
1 ed with the improvement of the country." (Letter from the same,
4th March, 4 848.)
This truly disinterested letter was accompanied by a private one.
of a very different nature, proposing nevertheless that " the privileges
' possessed under the grant of Rupert's land, in which the Company
' could establish colonies, governments, courts of justice, etc., be ex-
4 tended to the whole of the territories of North America, bounded by
I the 49 deg. parallel to the south, the Pacific ocean and'the Russian
' possessions to the west, and the Arctic ocean."
Earl Grey immediately decided to confine the grant to Vancouver
Island, and a draft was drawn up accordingly, some time after. (51st
July, 4 848.)
This grant, after referring to the various acts, and to the treaty of
June, 4 858, alluded to and explained above, proceeds to relate, that
the Hudson's Bay Company have traded as well within as beyond the
limits of the lands and territories granted them, and been in the
habit of erecting forts and other isolated establishments without said
limits, some of which are now existing in that part of the territory
including Vancouver Island. I And whereas it would conduce greatly
I to the maintenance of peace, justice and good order, and the ad-
i vancement of colonization, and the'promotion of trade and commerce,
' and also to the protection and wellfare of the native Indians of Van-
' couver Island, if such Island were colonized by settlers from the
' British dominions, and if such Island were vested for the purpose of
'such colonization in the Hudson's Bay Company, etc."
The grant then proceeds to make and constitute the Company absolute lords and proprietors of Vancouver Island, much in the same
terms and to the same extent as in the charter of Charles II. M Pro-
' yided always, and we declare this present grant is made to the intent
c that the Company shall establish upon the said Island a settlement or c settlements of resident colonists^ emigrants from our United King-
j dom of Great Britain and Ireland, or from other our dominions,
i and shall dispose of the land there as may be necessary for the pur-
'pose of promoting settlements j and for M actual purposes of coloni-
\ zation, and shall at least once in two years certify the number of
1 colonists and what land shall have been disposed of."
From the above acts it would appear, that the Company are real
lords and proprietors of the territory called Rupert's land ; that they
are also proprietors of Vancouver Island, under certain restrictions
concerning its colonization, and a stipulation for the reimbursement
of all their outlays at the end of their grant; and that they only possess
the exclusive privilege of trading with the Indians in the other British
territories, together with certain rights of jurisdiction.
It is with some diffidence that I give the above abridgement of the
rights of the Hudson's Bay Company, with whiclfhobody appears to
be thoroughly acquainted, not even the ministers of'tlfe Crown.
In conjunction with the grant of Vancouver Island, a settlement of
the Island was drawn up conferring on the emigrants certain powers
of local self-government, and also a commission to be issued to the
Governor appointed by the Crown on the presentation of the Con>
pany; with directions to summons an Assembly elected by the general
voles of the inhabitants, to exercise, in conjunction with himself and
a council nominated in the usual manner, the powers of legislatiocH-..;
But when it came to the point, it was found impossible to go on
with such a constitution, or have free legislation under the anomalous
institutions of monopoly, the antagonistic powers of which could never
agree ; for, as there were as yet but few settlers, the Company would
have been obliged to call a legislature of its own dependants, and such
an Assembly would not even have been nominally free.
At the end of two years things had not much improved, and the
number of settlers was still very small. This might be attributed to
thebal)surd colonial restrictions and other obstacles thrown in their
J 34
way. A settler paid five dollars for an acre of ground, when he could
get it on the American side for one dollar and twenty-five cents ; and
a subscriber to the Puget Sound Agricultural Company was obliged to
buy 4 00 acres of ground, and bring or send out five men, British subjects, to work them. Such were some of the obstacles. But there
were others of a more negative kind. The truth is the Company did
not wish for colonists. Not, that it refused to sell ground ; on the
contrary, any settler might go and choose it, when it was measured
out to him and he paid for it. But as there was nobody but the Company to sell to or trade with, and as the Company only bartered, or
seldom bought for cash, few wished when their farm began to produce to be obliged to exchange their goods or cattle for blankets, pots
and pans, powder or old muskets. (I) In presence of all these objections, many declined settling.on the Island, and those who did
without positively buying ground were treated as adventurers. Even
to this day we areiJooked upon as interlopers, whilst foreigners are
told that I they have not been invited."
Such being the state of things when Governor Blanchard left, he
contented himself with naming a council of three to assist the Governor in the government of the Island,.and no further attempt was made
at that time towards popular representation.
Things went oh so for several years, when, if I am not mistaken,
and in order to enable the colonists to levy a license on liquors, and
make some local improvements, the constitution was at last put in
execution, and the electors possessing 20 acres of land, or 500 pounds
in money, were convoked to name a House of Assembly representing
the districts. This took place in July, two years ago, and nobody can
tell me, nor do I believe is it known, when the Assembly is to be renewed, unless it be at the will of the Governor.
(1) There are some queer stories afloat respecting these times. Such as emigrants brought
out, and imprisoned on their arrival for not choosing to work; of others peremptorily forbidden to locate on certain lands or the Company would not protect them. Of respectable emigrants coming over to obtain the necessary information and settle and leaving in disgust; of
workmen flogged for trifles; of a miner having his skull cracked with a blacksmith's hammer by a foreman of the Company at Namaino, and receiving a compensation in land or
money to make him hold his tongue; or agreements subscribed on the Island promising never
to speak ill of the Company, etc.   Some of these stories have been probably exaggerated. 35
In the meanwhile the government of the island is composed as follows :
The Governor.—Mr. James Douglas.
A Council of Three, or sort of House of Lords, except that its
deliberations are secret.    This council is composed of
Mr. John Work, second Chief Factor under Chief Factor Douglas,   (the Governor.)
Mr. R. Finlayson, Chief Trader of the Company.
Mr. Todd, an old servant and pensioner of the Company.
A House of Assembly composed of seven members, representing
the seven districts of the Island, as follows :
Dr. Helmeken, Speaker, Staff Doctor of the Company, and son in
law of the Governor.
Mr. Pemberton, acting Colonial Surveyor.
Mr. McKay, Clerk of the Company.
Mr. Muir, a former servant of the Company, and father of the
Sheriff,    -i       -^M '#      |f;   ' /J$J> "■-'% '-■''■
Mr. Skinner, agent of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company.
Dr. Kennedy, a retired officer of the Company, appointed by the
Governor and Council to represent the district of Namaino.
Mr. J. Yates, Merchant.
Judiciary Department.—D. Cameron, Esq., Chief Justice;
brother in law of the Governor.
Collector of the Customs.—Mr. A. C. Anderson, retired Chief
Trader of the Company.
Every thing depends then on the Governor. Born in the West
Indies, and having left England when, I believe, only fourteen years
of age, he has been habituated almost from childhood to the mean,
petty, despotic dealings of the Hudson's Bay Company. On that
account alone I signed a petition against his renomination. Indeed
unlike many democrats and others, who have been constantly bobbing,
bowing to, bothering and visiting His Excellency, for what purposes
1 36
it would not be easy to say, I have never been near him, nor even
spoken to him. So far, his acts though tardy have been judicious and
liberal, considering circumstances and the many difficulties he has had
to contend with. He knows the country thoroughly, was the founder
and originator of Victoria, and his best interests and affections belong
here. But attached as he has been and still is to the Hudson's Bay
Company, he has a hard game to play as Colonial Governor ; whose
province it now is, to assist the country in emerging from the swaddling clothes of that same monopoly, and finally fijeeing itself from Colonial restrictions obtain self-go vernment with popular institutions. If
his efforts tend that way, and<<;he succeeds, it will redound to his
honor. .Jj|
We will now return from this Jong digression to Victoria, where
traders and new-comers of every class were more and more gloomy ;
for all the miners from above, instead of bringing down gold dust,
brought down the most discouraging tajes concerning the river and
every thing else. The greater part of these men. belonged it is tj&e to.
that roving, restles^f^Ociljing population from California,-before, mentioned ijfjm | rereme^p varum av^di ''.of Caesar ; men looking out for
something n^w^i a ne^Wj-country, .fancy miners in short.,; jimfitted to
the purpose, and no great loss when gone. As to these men bringing
down gold-dust, it was preposterous to expect it, for they h&d never
worked, at least any thing to signify ; and the bulk- of real miners had
not been gone much more than a month, of which nearly a fortnight
had been spent in getting up the river. Every body, however, was so
impatient, that these facts were overlooked, and people wondered more
and more why no gold dust was to be seen. Another reason which
hindered the little dust that had been taken out from coming down
was the low price at which it was valued, and the consequent drainage
of coin for commercial purposes. Large sums of money had been
sent back to San Francisco in the first instance, and whole cargoes of
goods, which had been ordered during the excitement and were no
longer wanted, were now coming in. Large remittances therefore
had to be made by every steamer, and the upper country was drained
of specie. 37
At last the river did fall, so that those that had staked out claims
could work them. The Indians too, had been driven back, and thirty-
three belonging to a friendly tribe surprised and massacred, and their
huts and winter provisions destroyed. They were Indians, and that
was enough ; so the thing was done just to teach them better manners,
and inspire more confidence among the hostile tribes. The bed of
the river, however, did not appear to get richer, and many who had
reckoned on finding valuable claims, and had lost their time waiting
for them, were sadly disappointed.'^ Besides there were twice too
many miners for the ground occupied, since all the claims lay on the
river. Moreover many of these claims, which were only 20 feet square,
could be worked out in a week, and there was no elbow room to take
up others. So those who had none were obliged to remove higher up
towards the Forks, where the mule trail was about being opened, and
run the chance of getting a good claim there while it was still time,
and before the end of the season, or of returning to Victoria,
This latter course was most congenial to^tne tastes of the greater
number, whom nothing could satisfy, and who, ijfthey were to work,
must make 4 2 or 16 dollars per daf. There Was an exception however,
to this general rule. Watcom had now entirely caved in, and a number of rowdies and gamblers who had remained there to the last, had
just come up, having made up their minds to turn over £-new leaf and
begin mining. They were naturally joined by a number of birds of
the same feather, and as none of them much liked the idea of mining
they adjourned to Fort Yale, where gambling houses prospered for
some time in spite of the law. Indeed the police could not have
closed them without bloodshed ; for these men, though ever obedient
to law and order when it suited their tastes or their interest, would in
this instance have set all authority at defiance, and the thing was well
known. They had got up a curious theory for the case of resistance,
invented probably by some lawyer and publicly broached on several
occasions, namely: that the Boundary Commission not having yet
laid down the 49th parallel, there might exist a reasonable doubt as to
Fort Yale being really British ! The distance north is well known to
be full 20 miles, yet many miners believed or pretended to believe this 38
nonsense. These were the same men who hooted the Governor on
his passage, as before said.
Canoes and steamboats were now put in requisition for Victoria,
and hundreds came down much quicker than they went up, and filled
the place with consternation. The storekeepers of Victoria felt as if
annihilated. That comet too, which had lately appeared shedding its
radiant light every evening over the placid waters of the harbour, had
shaken its ominous tail ove|i:their stores, and it could no longer be
doubted that every thing would go on worse and worse. "Not an ounce
of gold had as yet eome down from the mines, and the miners were
all leaving." Such was the general cry ; and the exodus of miners
from above, was followed by that of traders, restaurant and hotel
keepers, and all those who could conveniently leave, or had never intended to remain from below. (I) The same facilities which had
existed when coming to Victoria, were now at hand for those who
wished to leave : very different in that respect from California in4 849,
where the poor adventurer when once landed was caught as in a mouse
trap, and obliged to work whether he pleased or not. j
Business was at an end, since none could be transacted with the interior, and jobbers had nothing more to do but to "croak," sweep
down cobwebs, smoke segars at their store doors, and project idle
spittle into the street. This state of things became so intolerable, that
the Governor at last took the tardy decision by which goods were admitted up river, on paying an ad valorem duty of 4 0 per cent, indiscriminately. The effects of this measure, however, were at first only
partially felt; for each miner had taken up such a large stock of provisions with him, that when those who left sold out, they encumbered
the mines with goods below cost, thus leaving those who remained
more provided for than ever. Besides, all the old miners who stopped
behind were steady, industrious men, who had become thrifty and
spent little on superfluities.
The bright sunshine of past days was now over, and the sky dark
1) So little did some of these temporary residents care   about the place, that they would
fire reservojr!   Are we much to blame for not regretting the loss of
not even subscribe for a fire reser
such selfish citizens t ft,   x®
with clouds and coming tempests. Every disappointed newcomer
began to find fault or to croak, and those who had had nothing to
hope or to lose in California, the foremost. Men who had tried every
country, their own, England, Canada, then New York and the Eastern
States, afterwards New Zealand and Australia, and finally California,
and had never been able to do anything anywhere, or succeed in any
one of them, now began to run down the country, its climate, its
government, and especially every thing English. Others would with
more justice accuse the Company. Others again, and among them
were some of the prominent ones, would sneer at the very idea of
there being any gold. Germans would expatiate on " American enterprise," fondly attributing every disappointment to the absence
of it, and forgetting that two thirds of the improvements in Victoria
were owing to English or foreign capital l whilst here and there some
rough looking Califorman, who had done nothing himself, would talk
contemptuously of English fogeyism, using with a taunting emphasis the words, 1 British subject."    There are men who can find it
in their minds to deny their country, and glory in what to others
would be shame ; there are others, and much more, numerous, who
in presence of such ignorant conceit, and through timidity, dare not give
utterance to their feelings ; but since I have it on my lips, I will say
loudly that I feel prouder of being a free British subject on Vancouver
Island, than subject to the rule of a rotten democracy in California.
The native Americans seemed annoyed at these displays of bad taste,
and were in general much more reserved and moderate in their language. The French too, who had made up their minds to leave, did
it in sorrow, for they liked both the country and the liberty and security they enjoyed in it.
At last the gold dust did begin to come down, and a new era appeared to be opening; but nobody felt inclined to wait any longer.
People had made up their minds to leave and nothing could stop them ;
traders sold out their goods at ruinous prices, and whole stocks were
disposed of at auction, where they would scarcely fetch half price.
Sailing vessels left every day loaded with "repentant Fraserite*
5> '       ■ 40
and some of the old inhabitants might think they were once more
going to be left alone.
There was however^ a tolerably numerous class of adventurers,
composed of men of persevering habits, sturdy miners, men who were
not over ambitious, and those who had got good claims, who finding
they were not doing amiss decided to remain. Some of thpm on the
contrary, and they were not to blame, who saw that the winter season
was approaching, thought of leaving also. It has been said, that one
half of the amateur miners who came in the spring only did it for the
fun of the thing ; and that one half of the real miners who have left
latterly, have done it because they were afraid of the cold. When I
see Bostonians, who have been living in California, shaking here with
a white frost, I am inclined to believe it. There can be no doubt that
the approach of winter has brought down many. The prospect of
paying a couple of dollars a day for food, and not being sure of getting
it at that, of having to build a log house or perish of cold if not of
hunger, or be murdered by the Indians, and after all not be able, as
many thought, to work more than half the time on account of the
frost, was not very enticing. I am speaking here of the country above
the Forks, for below Fort Yale there has never been any serious want
of provisions.
The greater part of those who have left on account of the winter,
have dune well here, and have quietly taken home their earnings, with
the intention of returning in the spring. It is well known that this
class of miners, who never talk about their gold'dust, unless to particular friends, and never trust it out of their own pockets, or the lining
of their clothes, have taken away large quantities with them ; much
more so than the sums officially set down.
Tims, and laying aside the views of outsiders, the miners themselves
have been divided into two different camps of adverse opinions; and
whilst those who are gone away, taking their prejudices or'perhaps
their wishes for the reality, assert loudly that there is little or no gold ;
those who have remained and have given the country a fair trial, who
are working still and making money are convinced of the contrary.
I appeal to the reader as to which of the two parties he thinks most worthy of belief. And this brings me naturally to the main point iri
question, the existence of the Gold, and in what quantities.
In the first place the geological features of the country speak for
themselves : but as few might understand them, I will pass them over
and merely observe, that all the gold dust below Foit Yale is so fine,
that though the miners invariably use blankets with their rockers they
very probably lose one half. Latterly the introduction of copper
plates with quicksilver has been a great improvement, but still the loss
is very great. Now, when gold is so exceedingly fine, it is a sure
sign that it comes from a distance ; and when there is so much of it,
(infinitely more than any depot of the kind in California,) we may conclude that so much fine gold miist come from an extensively rich
country. This is an inference which it is difficult to deny, though
some people would deny anything. And here let it be remarked,
that not one of the discontented miners who have come down, denies
that there is gold. Its existence is uncontested. He even allows that
there is some gold,-and if asked how much, will answer: perhaps enough to gain a couple of dollars a day.
Such a concession from such a source tells more than it intended.
Indeed every thing we see and hear corroborates we fact that there is
gold in plenty ; and the steady increase in the' amount of dust, which
has been coming down by every steamer, begins to convince even the
most incredulous. Here I will lay before the reader a few calcula^
tions oq the subject; and though it would be difficult to obtain any
very accurate result, still by comparing notes we may arrive at a tolerable approximation.
I have been assured by respectable parties, I know not with what
truth, that the 'whole official exports from California to the Eastern
States in 4 849, comprehending a lapse of more than six months from
the first discovery of thG gold, amounted only to 60,000 dollars. It is
possible that as much more was sent to Chili and the Sandwich
Islands^ and we will suppose the same amount to have been taken
away by private hands, though the opportunities at that time were few
and far between." To the above may be added 60,000 dollars more for
what remained in circulation in the countrv, and we shall reach a total
/ 42
of 240,000 dollars, for the production of California during the first six
months. If such were really the case, we have beaten California out
and out. To make another comparison: all the gold brought
to Melbourne in 4 854, janaounted to 4 04,4 54 ounces, or, at 4 6 dollars
per oz., 4,666,464 dollars, whilst New South Wales, which is now so
productive, gave for the first six months of 4 846 only 45,4 90 ounces,
or 725,000 dollars. v|j
Now for Fraser river. The first gold brought down by the miners
before the spring, found its way to San Francisco by the Sound and
Washington Territory. I consider it no over evaluation to put it
down at « 4 0,000.
From that time to the middle of July, the quantities
brought down were small. They were divided between
Watcom and the ports of the Sound, and Victoria, where
the Hudson's Bay Company at that time bought the greater
part of the dust. I put down the amount for the first at
the low figure of 5,000,
and for the Company, at the same, 5,000.
Total to the middle of July, $ 20,000
From this date we have the sums shipped by Wells, Fargo and Co.,
and so reluctantly disclosed (4), to which are to be added those sent
down or taken away by merchants, miners and private individuals.
Their amount relatively to the remittances of. Wells, Fargo and Co.
have been very variable, especially in the beginning. For instance,
Wells, Fargo and Co. only shipped 600 dollars by the Santa Cruz,
Aug. 27th, whereas the sum total sent down was probably 42,000
dollars. And again, their shipment by the Northerner, Sept. 24 st,
was 4 4,964, when the total amount which was discussed in the papers
at the time, probably reached 80,000 dollars. This difference is easily
explained by the small distauce between Victoria and San Franciseo,
and the facilities for sending down treasure, which are such that all
(1) When a public establishment or its employees have shown so little sympathy for the
country that it has become notorious, it is as well to-publish it, if it be only to oblige
them, by giving a greater circulation to their opinions. ii
1    CI/ "AAA                  $       6000
oO. 4,844 a5000  )
Julv    5. 5,559 5,000   1
21. 470 5,000   (          .« ftnA
28. 22,556 50,000   [ ,UUU
29. 5,042 5,000   )
Aug.   4. 8,560 45,000   ]
I    44. 5,540 40,000
I    20. 5,556 40,000
I * 27. 600 42,000
Sept. 2. 28,669 45,000
1    5. 3,697 4 0,000
"   24. 44,964 80,000
|   22. 4,594 4,000
"    25. 4,995 40,000
Sailing vessels, 4 5,000
Oct. 8. 49,957 70,000
I 42. 40,724 25,000
"  49. 56,214 60,000  }       255,000
" 29. 70,000
Sailing vessels, 4 0,000
Watcom and Sehome,     9,760 20,000  f Ka AAA
Portland, 28,457 50,000  (        *u>uou
Besides the above, the Hudson's Bay Company has bought and bartered gold dust to a considerable amount, both in the interior and here
in Victoria ; 20,000 dollars worth was brought down on one single
occasion towards the middle of September, and I think I am under the
mark when I put down the total "for these four months and a half at
80,000 dollars.
We have also to take into account the gold dust accumulated by the
miners,  who  have been unwilling to dispose of it at the ridiculously
I 4S ■        -| 1
thuse who have -been able have avoided the expense of Express and
There are no positive means of ascertaining the exact amount of
gold dust thus sent away ; but the total by each steamer, or sailing
vessel, has been pretty generally known at the time, and I give it as
1858. Weds, Fargo arid Co. Total amounts. Monthly shipm'ts.
June 22d. $4,278 $5,000 44
low price of fourteen dollars and fifty cents, and prefer keeping it
(except to buy goods) to supporting such a loss, besides having to pay
two per cent, freight and insurance for the risks of the river to Victoria alone. There can be no doubt that this last sum is very considerable, for there is hardly a miner, but who has his fifty or one hundred dollars in dust about him, and some few up to a thousand. Supposing 5000 miners at fifty dollars each, this item would make
250,000 dollars. As this sum, however, is still in firsthands, and
not yet as it were issued we merely note it without carrying it out.
As to the dust in circulation we will value it at the same sum as that
which we supposed in California.
We shall now arrive at the following general results :
I do.
:. do.
up to June 4 5,
$ 20,000
do.   50,
from Victoria in July,
do.         in August,
do.         in September,
do.         in October.
from Watcom and Sehome,
by Portland,
taken in
by the Hudson Bay Company,
in circulation in the mines,
Total up to October 54, $ 705,000
Against 240,000 dollars in California, and 725,000 dollars in New
South Wales.
I consider the above calculations as most moderate, and certainly
under the mark.
These results, however small in comparison with the capital expended to procure them, are truly encouraging, and those who have had
the perseverance to remain here are beginning to find it out, A reaction has already taken place, none are now leaving the mines except
those unprepared for the weather, and the number of those going up
or coming down the river is more nearly balanced. In other words
the exodus is about at an end.
VS— ; .§'      '   • 45 .   .   -
With respect to the observation, that more money and labor has
"been spent to get out the gold than it is worth, it is at best but a
sophism. A man who builds a manufactory might as well complain at
the end of a year, that the returns have not paid him for his outlay.
The capital, let it be labor or money, which has been laid out here,
either to work the mines, to build up Victoria, or improve the country, is an investment which may not have suited California, but which
suited its merchants, many of whom are foreigners; and like other
investments when abandoned in a hurry, it may have turned out a bad
Undoubtedly a large amount of capital in money, goods and labor
has been transported (some would say buried,) here from California;
but the propensity to exagerateis so great, that I have thought it worth
while trying to reduce the thing to something like figures.
As to the coin that has come here, the greater part has been sent
back again, and the quantity is so reduced that I doubt if it amounts
to $ 50,000
I value the stock of goods on hand on the first of November at 2-50,000
Gold dust in circulation and in the hands of the miners,
as explained before, 54 0,000
"Real estate in Victoria.    One thousand town lots at 4 00
dollars each, cost price, 4 00,000
Two hundred more valuable ones,  together
with all the property sold here or at Esquimalt,
present value, 200,000    500,000
Wharves, new buildings and other improvements in Victoria, at their present value, 400,000
Buildings in the interior,  all other improvements having
been made at Government expense, - 50,000
Ships, steamers, etc., capable of being removed, "    "
The 705,000 dollars extracted, or rather the 565,000 dollars, of
gold    dust    exported   to    California    have    either    served    to 46
pay the goods sold, or a part of the labor of those who have
returned. The remaining 4,560,000 dollars above will therefore rep- .
resent more or less the amount of capital, labor or industry that has
been permanently invested in the country. Without attaching more
importance to these figures than they are worth, and admitting that
this investment has been disastrous to many, I leave to others to examine whether as a whole it has been.profitable or unprofitable and
whether it will not eventually prove much more advantageous for California to have a wealthy and civilized community in its neighbourhood x
than a few scattered tribes of wild Indians.
Every candid reader will now he convinced, (and I am speaking to
those abroad, for those here know it well), that the disappointments
attending this unfortunate gold crusade have had nothing to do
with the existence of the gold itself; and that in presence of the nume*
rous obstacles wjiich have had to be contended with, the quantity so
far extracted may compare most favorably with the beginnings of any
other gold field, and is of itself a sufficient proof of its abundance.
Indeed the state of the country has alone hindered a much greater
quantity from being taken out; and the steady increase in the amount
coming down, and which will probably amount to near 500,000 dollars for November ; though with a relatively small number of miners,
and all the impediments of the winter season to compete with, adds a
new proof to the fact. If the above calculations could -have been carried down to the present date (Nov. 4 5) this would have been still
more apparent; but it is becoming every day more difficult to obtain
the real amount exported, for every other store deals now in gold
dust, besides which many get their friends to take it down at a small
premium, to avoid the expense of the Express.
Moreover, and with the future yield, hardly a spot beyond the bed of the river had been prospected in the whole country,
and now within a fortnight bank diggings have been discovered extending on both sides of the Fraser to the foot of the mountains, including thousands of acres. These are in fact a species of dry diggings, but it is beyond doubt that the other kind of dry diggings exist
plentifully in the north ; and indeed they have been found wherever 47
the miner has been able to search for them with any persistency.
Again, leads of gold quartz are well known to exist on Pitt river, and
quite latterly coarse gold has been discovered 60 miles up the Squam-
ish river, on Howe's Sound; leaving little doubt that gold will be
worked before long on this side of the coast range north of Fraser
So much for the gold mines. And now taking a farewell look at
Victoria, and though comparisons are said to be invidious, let us re~
capitulate and confront what has been done there.
We will say nothing of its climate, its unrivalled position and other
natural advantages.    But where, in spite of the stifling influences of
monopoly, shall we find so much progress in four short months as in
Victoria?   Where now are her rivals, Port Townsend, Watcom, Se-
home, and the two Semiahmoos, for which so much has been done or
attempted ?   Where in so short a time have there been so many streets
laid out, built up and some of them graded, macadamized,  planked,
and even lighted up, as in Victoria ?   Eight substantial wharves carried out into the harbour,  two brick hotels and other brick buildings,
numerous frame houses and stores, besides those going up, twenty or
thirty restaurants and coffee houses, steamboats built and launched,
in short all the beginnings of a large city.    Where a more orderly
population, or more law-abiding?   Where in the United States a city
without taxes, lawyers, or public debt ?   Where in the United States
the town or city, where there is more money to be made, even now,
by the industrious trader -or craftsman who is at all decently started in
\ his business, than in Victoria ?   And as a proof, rents are higher at
this moment than in San Francisco, and in spite of the sudden revuL-
sion in business and the departure of so many jobbers and traders,
there are scarcely six business stores empty.    A proof, bye the bye,
that the prosperity of the country could do without them.    Could San
Francisco boast of as much at the end of four months ?   And yet she
had at her disposal a whole territory possessing the greatest possible
facilities for internal communications and commerce, without restrictions or monopoly to  cope with, or a neighbouring hostile press to
calumniate her and drive every body away from her shores, '3
it is to the newspapers of San Francisco that, with one or two exceptions, we owe our bad name abroad, and the conspquent check°on j
foreign emigration. If I recollect right there exists in San Francisco
an association, which has not been over successful, for the promotion
of immigration. The newspapers have done better than the associa--
tion, for they have succeeded not only in stopping all our immigration,
but in keepingdt to themselves. Much could be said on their way of
treating every thing in this country, but their strictures have been so
evidently tinctured with jealousy that it would be hardly worth while ;
and as to their correspondents, some of their letters have been so ridiculous, not to say worse, that I rather suspect they must have been
tinctured with rum.
Assuredly there has been enough to find fault with, without having recourse to all these exaggerations. Most of them have been totally unfounded, and I may truly say that, under a different regime,
the almost, superhuman difficulties we have had to contend with would
have been overcome, and our short history instead of being chequered with reverses would have presented a brighter page.
Providence, for wise reasons, had ordained that it should be others
wise, and that our exaggerated dreams of prosperity, our castles in the
air should be roughly interrupted and destroyed. We have been
brought to our senses, and some of us have been taught the lessons
of adversity. Over speculation is at an end, and land agents in despair*
A flock of men, the scouts of civilization, and who would have converted this country into a second California, have left our shores.
Many immigrants too, of a much better class, but who were not suited to the country, have left us. Men who wanted impossibilities—
Miners who have their wives and children, their homes, their claims
with which to gain an independence, and all the comforts of a congenial climate in California, were not the men to stop here. Besides
they had been spoiled, and no ordinary gains could satisfy them. Nor
did we want so many- jobbers and importers. Where goods can be
thrown into the market from San Francisco in a fortnight, speculation
is out of the question, and instead of 59 jobbing houses (about as
many as in San Francisco,)  ail that is wanted for the present trade 49
with the mines and back country is a small number of wholesale mer~'
We have then reason to be thankful, and if our short sighted disappointments have been a severe trial to all, we have still a good aftergrowth of hope before us. The truth is already spreading abroad ;
all the assertions of those who have left us will not diminish one ounce
of the gold in our mountains, and those who are gone will soon be
replaced by another population as active, more hardy and less ambitious. Let that population once reach our shores, and measures be
taken to encourage them, foreigners or not. Let miners be allowed
to make their own bye-laws and regulations for each bar or district,
subject to the approbation of a council of mines ; instead of starving
them out, let the country be entirely thrown open, so that provisions
may be as cheap as possible in the interior, and let the tax on goods
be modified, so as to be levied on the superfluities and not on the
necessaries of life. Let every one be allowed to buy land at American prices and not at five dollars an acre ; and instead of throwing
obstacles in the way of the colonist, give the poor bona fide settler a
right of pre-emption, and a premium of land, taken from the wild
waste, to the deserving father of a numerous family. Above all, let
us have no tardy measures to drive emigrants away once more and
make us lose the advantages of another year. Let all this and more,
if possible, be done, and the progress of this favored country will
be as sure as it will be rapid."
Reader, my task is over. You may have found me prolix, but
faithful to my motto, I have wished to relate rather than to prove ;
convinced that a simple narrative would tell more than volumes of argument, assertions, or dry facts.  	
Gold Dust Extracted.—I see that the amount of dust received
by the Hudson's Bay Company since April, has been 150,000 dollars,
instead of 80,000 dollars, thus increasing the amount up to the end
of October to 755,000 dollars, or with the gold dust in the miners'
hands and in circulation to 4,065,000 dollars.
Wells, Fargo and Co.—J have learned with much pleasure, that
the gentleman now at the head of this-establishment professes the best
feelings towards the country. I consider it a duty I owe to Mr. Latham and myself to make this observation before closing my publication.
Newspaper Correspondents.—My criticisms on this subject of
eourse extend no further than deserved. Some of the last communications sent to San Francisco have been ably written.
Errata.—Page 6, second line, for 52.40 read 54.40.
Page 45, real estate in Victoria $ 400,000. This sum should
have been carried on the inner column.   


Citation Scheme:


Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics



Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            async >
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:


Related Items