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Copies or extracts of correspondence relative to the discovery of gold in the Fraser River District,… Great Britain. Colonial Office 1858

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relative to
WvmmUt! to ©otlj bourns of IPavlianmit tig command of fflev Mtisttv.
July 2, 1858.
1858.  [  3  3
From whom.
Date and Number,
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
The Right Hon.
H. Labouchere to
Governor Douglas.
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
The Right Hon.
H. Labouchere to
G o vernor Douglas.
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
Governor of the
Hudson's Bay
Company to Secretary Sir E.
Bulwer Lytton.
Governor Douglas
to the Right Hon.
H. Labouchere.
April 16, 1856
(No. 10.)
Aug. 4, 1856
(No. 14.)
Oct. 29, 1856
(No. 28.)
Jan. 24, 1857
(No. 5.)
July 15, 1857
(No. 22.)
Dec. 29, 1857
(No. 35.)
Jan. 22, 1858
(No. 1.)
April 6, 1858
(No. 15.)
June 3, 1858
May 8, 1858
(No. 19.)
Columbia.     Reports.    Tax on persons
\ digging, impossible to levy without a
military force
ACKNOWLEDGES the preceding Despatch. Digging Licences not practicable
to raise Revenue by issue of. Leaves to
his discretion the means of maintaining
Progress of the discoveries.
Hostility of the Indians, and exclusion
by them of Americans. The number
of diggers small and the district quiet   -
ACKNOWLEDGES receipt of the preceding Despatch        -
FIELDS. White men prevented from
digging by the Natives. Danger of
Affrays in event of an influx of Adven^
turers from Oregon. Protection of the
Natives     ------
STATES, and expected influx of persons from Oregon and Washington.
Has issued a Proclamation declaring
Rights of the Crown, which will be
published in the United States. Licence
Fee of 10*. a month. Progress of the
discoveries.   Offers to visit the Mines   -
LICENCE FEE raised from 10s. to 21*.
a month      ------
PROGRESS OF DISCOVERY. Hostility of the Indians and danger of
affrays. Necessity for the ultimate intervention of Her Majesty's Government to preserve order. Refusal of
persons from the United States, notwithstanding the Proclamation, to take
out Licences       -
ENCLOSES Extracts of two Letters from
Governor Douglas, dated 22d and 25th
March, reporting result of exploration of
the Fraser's and Thompson's rivers. The
Governor anticipates much suffering at
the diggings from scarcity of food, and
trusts that Her Majesty's Government
will take measures for the prevention of
crime -	
ARRIVAL OF MINERS from San Francisco. The diggings flooded. Accidents
in the rapids of Fraser's River. Prospects of the country
A 2
12 [    4    ]
From whom,
Date and Number.
Governor   of   the
Hudson's        Bay
Company  to   Secretary    Sir     E.
Bulwer Lytton.
June 24,
ENCLOSES Extracts of Letters from
Governor Douglas, dated 19, 27, and
30 April; further accounts of the Diggings. Arrival of Emigrants from San
Francisco, and return of parties of
Miners on account of the flooded state
of the Rivers    -
The   Secretary  cf
the Admiralty to
Herman Mer- rale,
Esq.,        Colonial
June 26
ENCLOSES Extract of a Letter from the
Commander of H.M.S. Satellite. Excitement in Oregon and Washington
territory, and large Emigration to the
Gold Region. Anticipated want and
disturbances there
Secretary   Sir   E.
July I,
Bulwer Lytton to
MENT of the Territory ;  H.M.'s Go
Governor Douglas.
vernment have under consideration
measures to establish. The assertion
by Proclamation of the Rights of the
Crown approved. Resort of foreigners
to the Gold Fields, not to oppose -
Governor Douglas
to Secretary of
the Hudson's
Bay Company.
Feb. 18, 1858
SMALL amount of Gold exported compared with that produced by the Mines
of California during the first eight
months after their discovery C0RRESP0NDIE K0E
No. 1. No. 1.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry
Labouchere, M.P.
(No. 10.)
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, April 16, 1856.
(Received June 30,1856.)
SlR, (Answered, No. 14, August 4, 1856.)
I hasten to communicate for the information of Her Majesty's Government a discovery of much importance, made known to me by Mr. Angus
McDonald, Clerk in charge of Fort Colvile, one of the Hudson's Bay Company's
Trading Posts on the Upper Columbia District.
That gentleman reports, in a letter dated on the 1st of March last, that gold
has been found in considerable quantities within the British territory, on the
Upper Columbia, and that he is moreover of opinion that valuable deposits of
gold will be found in many other parts of that country; he also states that the
daily earnings of persons then employed in digging gold were ranging from
21. to 8/. for each man. Such is the substance of his report on that subject,
and I have requested him to continue his communications in respect to any
further discoveries made.
I do not know if Her Majesty's Government will consider it expedient to
raise a revenue in that quarter, by taxing all persons engaged in gold digging,
but I may remark, that it will be impossible to levy such a tax without the aid
of a military force, and the expense in that case would probably exceed the
income derived from the mines.
I will not fail to keep you well informed in respect to the extent and value
of the gold discoveries made; and circumstances will probably be the best
indication of the course which it may be expedient to take, that is, in respect
to imposing a tax, or leaving the field free and open to any persons who may
choose to dig for gold.
Several interesting experiments in gold washing have been lately made in this
colony, with a degree of success that will no doubt lead to further attempts for
the discovery of the precious metal. The quantity of gold found is sufficient
to prove the existence of the metal, and the parties engaged in the enterprise
entertain sanguine hopes of discovering rich and productive beds.
I have, &c.
(Signed)        JAMES DOUGLAS,
The Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, Governor.
&c. &c. &c.
No. 2.
Copy of a DESPATCH from the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere to
Governor Douglas.
(No. 14.)
Sik? Downing Street, August 4, 1856.
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch, No. 10, of the
16th April last, reporting the discovery of gold within the British territory on
the Upper Columbia River district.
A 3
No. 2. 6   CORRESPONDENCE relative to the DISCOVERY of GOLD in the
In the absence of all effective machinery of Government, I conceive that it
would be quite abortive to attempt to raise a revenue from licences to dig for
gold in that region. Indeed, as Her Majesty's Government do not at present
look for a revenue from this distant quarter of the British dominions, so neither
are they prepared to incur any expense on account of it. I must, therefore,
leave it to your discretion to determine the best means of preserving order in
the event of any considerable increase of population flocking into this new gold
district; and 1 shall rely on your furnishing me with full and regular accounts
of any event of interest or importance which may occur in consequence of this
I have, &c.
To Governor Douglas, (Signed)        H. LABOUCHERE.
&c.        &c.
No< 3- No. 3.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Hbnby
Labouchere, M.P.
(No: 28.)
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, October 29? 1856*
^ (Received January 14, 1857.)
^IR5 (Answered, No. 5, January 24, 1857.)
1. I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your Despatch, No. 14,
of the 4th of August, communicating the arrival of my Despatch, No, 10, of
the 16th April last, in which wras reported the discovery of gold within the
British territory in the Upper Columbia River District.
2. I have, since the date of that letter, received several other communications
from my correspondent in that part of the country, who, however, scarcely
makes any allusion to the subject of the gold discovery ; but I have heard
through other almost equally reliable sources of information, that the number of
persons engaged in gold digging is yet extremely limited, in consequence of the
threatening attitude of the native tribes, who being hostile to the Americans,
have uniformly opposed the entrance of American citizens into their country.
3* The people from American Oregon. are therefore excluded from the gold
district, except such, as resorting to the artifice of denying their country, succeed
in passing for British subjects. The persons at present engaged in the search
of gold are chiefly of British origin and retired servants of the Hudson's Bay
Company, who, being well acquainted with the natives, and connected by old
acquaintanceship and the ties of friendship, are more disposed to aid and assist
each other in their common pursuits than to commit injuries against persons or
4. They appear to pursue their toilsome occupation in peace, and without
molestation from the natives,  and there is no reason to suppose   that  any
criminal act has been lately committed in that part of the country.
# # ^ # # ^
5. It is reported that gold is found in considerable quantities, and that
several persons have accumulated large sums by their labour and traffic, but I
cannot vouch for the accuracy of those reports; though, on the other hand,
there is no reason to discredit them, as about 220 ounces of gold dust has been
brought to Vancouver's Island direct from the Upper Columbia, a proof that
the country is at least auriferous.
From the successful result of experiments made in washing gold from the
sands of the tributary streams of Fraser's River there is reason to suppose that
the gold region is extensive, and I entertain sanguine hopes that future researches will develope stores of wealth, perhaps equal to the gold fields of
California. The geological formations observed in the " Sierra Nevada "of
California being similar in character to the structure of the corresponding range
of mountains in this latitude, it is not unreasonable to suppose that the resemblance will be found to include auriferous deposits. FRASER'S RIVER DISTRICT, in BRITISH NORTH AMERICA.  7
6. I shall not fail to furnish you with full and regular accounts of every
event of interest connected with the gold district, which may from time to time
I have, &c.
The Right Hon. H. Labouchere,        (Signed)        JAMES DOUGLAS,
&c. &'c. &c. Governor.
No. 4* No. 4.
Copy of a DESPATCH from the Right Hon. Henry Labouchere to
Governor Douglas.
(No. 5.)
Sir, Downing Street, January 24, 1857-
I have to acknowledge your Despatch (No. 28) of the 29th October
1856, relative to the discovery of gold in the Upper Columbia River district.
I have, &c.
Governor Douglas, (Signed)        H. LABOUCHERE,
&fc.        &c.
No. 5.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry
Labouchere, M.P.
(No. 22.)
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, July 15, 1857.
SlR, (Received, September 18, 1857.)
1. I have the honour of communicating for your information the
substance of advices which I have lately received from the interior of the
continent north of the 49th parallel of latitude, corroborating the former
accounts from that quarter respecting the auriferous character of certain
districts of the country on the right bank of the Columbia River, and of the
extensive table land which divides it from Fraser's River.
2. There is9 however, as yet a degree of uncertainty respecting the productiveness of those gold fields, for reports vary so much on that point, some
parties representing the deposits as exceedingly rich, while others are of opinion
that they will not repay the labour and outlay of working, that I feel it would
be premature for me to give a decided opinion on the subject.
3. It is, however, certain that gold has been found in many places by washing
the soil of the riverbeds and also of the mountain sides ; but, on the other hand,
the quantities hitherto collected are inconsiderable, and do not lend much
support to the opinion entertained of the richness of those deposits ; so that the
question as to their ultimate value remains thus undetermined, and will probably
not be" decided until more extensive researches are made.
4. A new element of difficulty in exploring the gold country has been interposed through the opposition of the native Indian tribes of Thompson's River,
who have lately taken the highhanded, though probably not unwise course,
of expelling all the parties of gold diggers, composed chiefly of persons from
the American territories, who had forced an entrance into their country". They
have also openly expressed a determination to resist all attempts at working
gold in any of the streams flowing into Thompson's River, both from a desire to
monopolize the precious metal for their own benefit, and from a well-founded
impression that the shoals of salmon which annually ascend those rivers and
furnish the principal food of the inhabitants, will be driven off, and prevented
from making their annual migrations from the sea.
5. The officers in command of the Hudson's Bay Company's posts in that
quarter, have received orders carefully to respect the feelings of the natives in
that matter, and not to employ any of the Company's servants in washing out
gold, without their full approbation and consent. There is, therefore, nothing
to apprehend on the part of the Hudson's Bay Company's servants, but there
is much reason to fear that serious affrays may take place between the natives
and the motley adventurers who will be attracted by the reputed wealth of the
country, from, the United States' possessions in  Oregon, and may probably
A 4
No. 6 8    CORRESPONDENCE relative to the DISCOVERY of GOLD in the
attempt to overpower the opposition of the natives by force of arms, and thus
endanger the peace of the country.
6. 1 beg to submit, if in that case, it may not become a question whether the
natives are not entitled to the protection of Her Majesty's Government, and if
an officer invested with the requisite authority should not, without delay, be
appointed for that purpose.
I have, &c.
The Right Hon. H. Labouchere,        (Signed)        JAMES DOUGLAS,
&c. &c. &c. Governor.
No. 6. No. 6.
Extract of a DESPATCH from Governor Douglas to the Right Hon,
Henry Labouchere, M.P., dated Victoria, Vancouver's Island, December
29, 1857.    (Received March 2, 1858.)
(No. 35.)
Since I had the honour of addressing you on the 15th of July last,
concerning the gold fields in the interior of the country north of the 49th
parallel of latitude, which, for the sake of brevity, I will hereafter speak of as
the " Couteau mines" (so named after the tribe of Indians who inhabit the
country), I have received further intelligence from my correspondents in that
It appears from their reports that the auriferous character of the country-
is becoming daily more extensively developed, through the exertions of the
native Indian tribes, who, having tasted the sweets of gold finding, are devoting
much of their time and attention to that pursuit.
They are, however, at present almost destitute of tools for moving the
soil, and of washing implements for separating the gold from the earthy
matrix, and have therefore to pick it out with knives, or to use their fingers
for that purpose; a circumstance which in some measure accounts for the small
products of gold up to the present time, the export being only about 300 ounces
since the 6th of last October.
The same circumstance will also serve to reconcile the opinion now generally entertained of the richness of the gold deposits by the few experienced
miners who have seen the Couteau country, with the present paucity of production.
The reputed wealth of the Couteau mines is causing much excitement
among the population of the United States territories of Washington and
Oregon, and I have no doubt that a great number of people from those
territories will-be attracted thither with the return of the fine weather in
In that case, difficulties between the natives and whites will be of frequent
occurrence, and unless measures of prevention are taken, the country will soon
become the scene of lawless misrule.
In my letter of the 15th of July, I took the liberty of suggesting the
appointment of an officer invested with authority to protect the natives from
violence, and generally, so far as possible, to maintain the peace of the country.
Presuming that you will approve of that suggestion, I have, as a preparatory step towards the proposed measures for the preservation of peace and
order, this day issued a proclamation declaring the rights of the Crown in
respect to gold found in its natural place of deposit, within the limits of Fraser's
River and Thompson's River districts, within which are situated the Couteau
mines; and forbidding all persons to dig or disturb the soil in search of gold,
until authorized on that behalf by Her Majesty's Government.
End. Nos. 1, 2.       I herewith forward a copy of that proclamation, and also of the regulations
 since published, setting forth the terms on which licences will be issued to
legalize the search for gold, on payment of a fee of ten shillings a month, payable in advance.
When mining becomes a remunerative employment, and there is a proof
of the extent and productiveness of the gold deposits, I would propose that the
licence fee be gradually increased, in such a manner, however, as not to be higher
than the persons engaged in mining can readily pay. FRASER'S RIVER DISTRICT, in BRITISH NORTH AMERICA. 11
6. The extent of the gold region is yet but imperfectly known, and I have,
therefore, not arrived at any decided opinion as to its ultimate value as a gold-
producing country. The boundaries of the gold district have been, however,
greatly extended since my former report.
7. In addition to the diggings before known on Thompson's River audits
tributary streams, a valuable deposit has been recently found by the natives on
a bank of Fraser's River about five miles beyond its confluence with the
Thompson, and gold in small quantities has been found in the possession of the
natives as far as the Great Falls of Fraser's River, about eighty miles above the
Forks. The small quantity of gold hitherto produced,—about eight hundred
ounces,—by the large native population of the country is, however, unaccountable
in a rich gold-producing country, unless we assume that the want of skill,
industry, and proper mining tools, on the part of the natives sufficiently account
for the fact.
8. On the contrary, the vein rocks and its other geological features, as
described by an experienced gold miner, encourage the belief that the country
is highly auriferous.
9- The miner in question clearly described the older slate formations thrown
up and pierced by beds of quartz, granite, porphyry, and other igneous rocks;
the vast accumulations of sand, gravel, and shingle extending from the roots of
the mountains to the banks of Fraser's River and its affluents, which are peculiar
characteristics of the gold districts of California and other countries. We
therefore hope and are preparing for a rich harvest of trade, which will greatly
redound to the advantage of this Colony.
10. I have further to communicate for your information that the Proclamation
issued by me, asserting the rights of the Crown to all gold in its natural place
of deposit, and forbidding all persons to dig for gold without a licence, have
been published in the newspapers of Oregon and Washington territories, and
that notwithstanding some seventy or eighty adventurers from the American
side have gone by the way of Fraser's river to the Couteau mines without
taking out licences.
11. I did not, as I might have done, attempt to enforce those rights by means
of a detachment of seamen and marines, from the " Satellite," without being
assured that such a proceeding would meet with the approval of Her Majesty's
Government; but the moment your instructions on the subject are received, I
will take measures to carry them into effect.
# $ -& 4 *
I have &c.
(Signed)       JAMES DOUGLAS,
The Right Hon. Henry Labouchere, M.P. Governor.
&c.        &c.        &c.
[An explanatory sketch of Fraser's River is forwarded with this report.]
No. 9- No. 9.
Copy of a LETTER from the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company to
the Right Hon. Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, M.P.
Sir, . Hudson Bay House, June 3, 1858.
I have the honour to enclose for your information extracts of two letters
received by the last mail from Governor Douglas, dated respectively, Victoria,
Vancouver's Island, 22nd and 25th March, giving the latest information from
the gold fields recently discovered on the North-west Coast of America.
I have, &c.
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart.,     (Signed)     JOHN SHEPHERD,
&c.        &c,        &c. Governor, 12   CORRESPONDENCE relative to the DISCOVERY of GOLD in the
Encl. 1 in No. 9. Enclosure 1 in No. 9.
Extract of Letter from James Douglas, Esq., to W. G. Smith, Esq., dated Victoria,
Vancouver's Island, March 22, 1858.
" The winter has been remarkably dry and mild, and the farmers generally report
their stock to be in fair condition for the season. Seed time has commenced in earnest,
and with the most favourable weather for that important operation of husbandry. There
is, however, a great scarcity of labourers, as nearly the whole floating population of the
colony have moved off towards the Thompson's River gold mines.
"There will be much suffering in that quarter for want of food, as the country is
without resources, and the transport from the sea coast is difficult and expensive.
" I trust Her Majesty's Government will take measures for the prevention of crimes,
and the protection of life and property in that quarter, or there will, ere long, be a large
array of difficulties to settle.
" A great number of Americans have also gone towards Thompson s River, and others
are preparing to follow.
." I have written to Her Majesty's Government on that subject, and shall not fail to
communicate with you as soon as I receive their reply/'
Encl. 2 in No. 9. Enclosure 2 in No. 9.
Extract  of Letter from James Douglas, Esq., to W. G. Smith,  Esq.,   dated
Victoria, Vancouver's Island, March 25, 1858.
"I returned from Fort Langley on the 16th instant, having despatched a party to
build Fort Dallas, and another party with a further supply of trade goods for
Thompson's River.
"Mr. Simpson's transport party had experienced some difficulty above the Falls, and
lost two canoes which were dashed to pieces on the rocks, but the property was saved
and no lives were lost. We have received no more definite tidings from the gold
country than we before possessed.
" An experienced miner whom I met at Fort Langley, assured me that the country
was much richer in gold than the Colvile District. The principal diggings are on the
banks of Fraser's River, about 5 miles above the Forks, and the natives beyond that
point are said to have found gold. The country is in fact but imperfectly known, and
it is hardly possible to give any decided opinion at present in regard to the ultimate
yield of gold. The bed rock, and other geological features of the country as described
by the miner in question, would, however, lead one to believe that the district will be
found productive of gold. He perfectly described the older slate formations thrown up
and pierced by quartz, granite, and porphyry beds, and the vast accumulations of gravel
and shingle extending from the roots of the mountains to the banks of Fraser's River,
and its affluents ; which are all characteristics of the gold districts of California and
other countries."
No, 10. No.  10.
Extract of a DESPATCH from Governor Douglas to the Right Hon. Henry
Labouchere, dated Victoria, Vancouver's Island, May 8, 1858.
(No. 19.)
Since I had the honour of addressing you on the 6th of April last on the
subject of the " Couteau" gold mines, they have become more than ever a
source of attraction to the people of Washington and Oregon territories, and it
is evident from the accounts published in the latest San Francisco papers, that
intense excitement prevails among the inhabitants of that stirring city on the
same subject.
The " Couteau" country is there represented and supposed to be in point
of mineral wealth a second California or Australia, and those impressions are
sustained by the false and exaggerated statements of steamboat owners and
other interested parties, w7ho benefit by the current of emigration which is now
setting strongly towards this quarter.
Boats, canoes, and every species of small craft, are continually employed
in pouring their cargoes of human beings into Fraser's River, and it is supposed
that not less than one thousand whites are already at work and on the way to
Many accidents have happened in the dangerous rapids of that river; a
great number of canoes having been dashed to pieces and their cargoes swrept
away by the impetuous stream, while of the ill-fated adventurers who accompanied them many have been swept into eternity.
The others, nothing daunted by the spectacle of ruin, and buoyed up by
the hope of amassing wealth, still keep pressing onwards towards the coveted
goal of their most ardent wishes.
On the 25 th of last month the American steamer " Commodore " arrived
in this port direct from San Francisco, with 450 passengers on board, the chief
part of whom are gold miners for the " Couteau " country.
Nearly 400 of those men were landed at this place, and have since left in
boats and canoes for Fraser's River.
I ascertained through inquiries on the subject that those men are all wrell
provided wTith mining tools, and that there was no dearth of capital or intelligence among them. About 60 British subjects, with an equal number of native
born Americans, the rest being chiefly Germans, with a smaller proportion of
Frenchmen and Italians, composed this body of adventurers.
They are represented as being, with some exceptions, a specimen of the
worst of the population of San Francisco; the very dregs, in fact, of society.
Their conduct while here would have led me to form a very different conclusion; as our little town, though crowded to excess with this sudden
influx of people, and though there was a temporary scarcity of food, and dearth
of house accommodation, the police few in number, and many temptations to
excess in the way of drink, yet quiet and order prevailed, and there was not a
single committal for rioting, drunkenness, or other offences, during their stay here.
The merchants and other business classes of Victoria are rejoicing in the
advent of so large a body of people in the Colony, and are strongly in favour
of making this port a stopping point between San Francisco and the gold mines,
converting the latter, as it were, into a feeder and dependency of this Colony.
Victoria would thus become a depot and centre of trade for the gold districts,
and the natural consequence would be an immediate increase in the wreaith and
population of the Colony,
To effect that object it will be requisite to facilitate by every possible
means the transport of passengers and goods to the furthest navigable point on
Fraser's River ; and the obvious means of accomplishing that end is to employ
light steamers in plying between, and connecting this port (Victoria) with the
Falls of Fraser's River, distant 130 miles from the discharge of that river, into
the Gulf of Georgia; those falls being generally believed to be at the commencement of the remunerative gold diggings, and from thence the miners,
would readily make their wTay on foot or alter the summer freshets by the river
into the interior of the country.
By that means also the whole trade of the gold regions would pass
through Fraser's River and be retained within the British territory, forming a
valuable outlet for British manufactured goods, and at once creating a lucrative
trade between the mother country and Vancouver's Island.
Taking a view of the subject, simply in its relations to trade and commerce, apart from considerations of national policy, such perhaps would be the
course most likely to promote the interests of this Colony; but, on the contrary,
if the country be thrown open to indiscriminate immigration the interests of
the Empire may suffer from the introduction of a foreign population, whose
sympathies may be decidedly anti-British.
Taking that view of the question it assumes an alarming aspect, and
suggests a doubt as to the policy of permitting the free entrance of foreigners
into the British territory for residence without in the first place requiring
them to take the oath of allegiance, and otherwise to give such security for
their conduct as the Government of the country may deem it proper and
necessary to require at their hands.
The opinion which I have formed on the subject leads me to think that,
in the event of the diggings proving remunerative, it will now be found
impossible to check the course of immigration, even by closing Fraser's River,
as the miners would then force a passage into the gold district by way of the
Columbia River, and the valuable trade of the country in that case be
driven from its natural course into a foreign channel and entirely lost to this
I C 2 14    CORRESPONDENCE relative to the DISCOVERY o/GOLD in the
On the contrary, should the diggings prove to be unremunerative, a
question which as yet remains undecided, the existing excitement we may suppose
will die away of itself, and the miners having no longer the prospect of
large gains will naturally abandon a country which no longer holds out any
inducement for them to remain.
Until the value of the country, as a gold producing region, be established
on clearer evidence than can now be adduced in its favor,—and the point will
no doubt be decided before the close of the present year,- I would simply
recommend that a small naval or military force should be placed at the disposal
of this Government, to enable us to maintain the peace, and to enforce
obedience to the laws.
The system of granting licences for digging gold has not yet come into
Perhaps a simpler method of raising a revenue wrould be to impose a
Custom's duty on imports, to be levied on all supplies brought into the country
whether by Fraser's or the Columbia River.
The export of gold from the country is still inconsiderable, not exceeding
600 ounces since I last addressed you. The principal diggings are reported to
be at present, and will probably continue, flooded for several months to come, so
that unless other diggings apart from the river beds are discovered, the production of gold will not increase until the summer freshets are over, wrhich
will probably happen about the middle of August next. In the meantime the
ill-provided adventurers who have gone thither will consume their stock
of provisions, and probably have to retire from the country until a more
favourable season.
I shall be most happy to receive your instructions on the subjects in this
No. 11. u        No. 11.
Copy of a LETTER from the Governor of the  Hudson's Bay Company to
Secretary Sir E. Bulwer Lytton.
Sir. Hudson's Bay House, June 24, 1858.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of the Earl of Carnarvon's
letter of the 22nd instant, stating your desire to be furnished with extracts of
the letters lately received by the Hudson's Bay Company from Governor
Douglas, on the subject of the gold fields on Fraser's River, and I beg in
accordance therewith to transmit the accompanying copy of a letter from
Governor Douglas, dated Victoria, April 27th, and extracts of his letters of the
19th and 30th of the same month.
I have, &c.
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart, (Signed)    JOHN SHEPHERD,
Colonial Office. Governor*
Encl. 1 in No. 11. Enclosure 1 in No. 11.
Victoria, Vancouver's Island,
(Extract.) April 27, 1858.
I HAVE to communicate for the information of the Governor and Committee that
the steam vessel u Commodore " arrived in this port on the 25th instant, direct from
San Francisco, with 450 passengers, chiefly gold miners, who have come here with the
intention of working the gold mines of the interior.
About 400 of those men were landed on the same day, and, with the exception of a
few who left yesterday for Fraser's River, are now engaged in purchasing canoes and
making arrangements for continuing their journey by Fraser's River into the Couteau
They all appear to be.well provided with mining tools, and there seems to be no want
of capital and intelligence among them. About 60 of the number are British subjects,
with about an equal number of Americans, and the rest are Germans, Frenchmen, and
Though our little town was crowded to excess with this sudden influx of people, and
there was a temporary scarcity of food and dearth of house accommodation, the police FRASER'S RIVER DISTRICT, m BRITISH NORTH AMERICA.. 15
force small, and many temptations to excess in the way of drink, yet they were
remarkably quiet and orderly, and there has not been a single committal for rioting or
drunkenness since their arrival here.
The merchants and general dealers of Victoria are rejoicing in the increase of wealth
and business produced by the arrival of so large a body of people in the colony, and are
strongly in favour of making this place a stopping point between San Francisco and the
gold mines, which, so far as respects the prosperity of the colony, is evidently an object
of the utmost importance, as both in going and returning, the miners would make
purchases, and spend a great deal of money ; the value of property would be vastly
enhanced, while the sale of public land and the colonization of the country would be
greatly promoted.
The interests of the empire, if I may use the term, may not, however, be improved to
the same extent by the accession of a foreign population, whose sympathies are decidedly
From that point of view the question assumes an alarming aspect, and leads us to
doubt the policy of permitting foreigners to enter the British territory, ad libitum,
without taking the oath of allegiance, and otherwise giving security to the government
of the country.
In the meantime, the people who have gone into the interior will meet with, innumerable difficulties of route in their progress towards the mines, both from the nature
of the country and the'dangerous state of the rivers.
The principal diggings on Fraser's and Thompson's Rivers are also at present, and will
continue, flooded for many months to come ; there is moreover a great scarcity of food
in the gold districts, so that those united causes will, in all probability, compel many
of the ill-provided adventurers to beat a retreat and for the time to relinquish the
enterprise. •
The licence system has not been yet carried into effect, and it will be difficult to bring
it into a general operation. It has since occurred to me that by levying an import duty
on goods, the gold districts might be taxed to any desirable extent, without clamour or
exciting discontent among the people, an object which might be effected at a moderate
expense, by means of a customs station on Frasers River, and another at the point
where the road from the Columbia strikes the ford of the O'Kanagan River, those being
the only two commercial avenues of the Couteau country.
I shall soon address Her Majesty's government on the subjects referred to in this
communication, and it is also my intention to represent how seriously the peace of the
country may be endangered by the presence of so many people wandering over the
interior in a vagrant state, especially in the event of the diggings proving unremunera-
tive, and the miners being, as an inevitable consequence, reduced to poverty, and destitute
of the common necessaries of life.
We have this moment been informed of the arrival of the Pacific Mail Steamer
" Columbia," at Port Townsend, with 80 passengers from. San Francisco, who are also
bound for the Couteau gold district, and we observe by the latest San Francisco papers
that several other vessels are advertised for the same destination.
Enclosure 2 in No. 11. Encl# 2 {n No# lh
Extract of a Letter from James Douglas, Esq., to William G. Smith, Esq., Secretary of
the Hudson's Bay Company, dated Victoria, Vancouver's Island, April 19, 1858.
"Mr. George Simpson was the bearer of despatches from Fort Langley of the 14th,
and from Chief Trader M'Lean, dated Forks (Thompson's River), the 4th instant, and
arrived here by canoe on the 1.7th instant.
" The tidings from the gold district are of the most flattering description, but are not
supported by a large return of gold dust. Mr. Simpson reports that gold is found in
more or less abundance on every part of Fraser's River, from Fort Yale to the Forks, but
I presume those diggings cannot be very productive, or there would have been a larger
return of gold. Chief Trader Yale reports that parties are proceeding up Fraser's River
towards the gold diggings almost every day,"
Enclosure 3 in No. 11. EncL 3 in No# 1L
Extract of a Letter from James Douglas, Esq., to  W. G.  Smith,  Esq., Secretary of the
Hudson's Bay Company, dated Victoria, Vancouver's Island, April 30, 1858.
tfc We have received no official intelligence from the gold mining districts since my
letter of the 19th instant.
" Several parties of Americans and Canadians have, however, lately returned from
thence disappointed and unsuccessful.    They report that the waters of Fraser's River had
C 3 16 CORRESPONDENCE relative to the DISCOVERY of GOLD in the
risen so much, that the auriferous < Bars' were flooded, and they could not consequently
employ themselves to advantage. They, however, think that the country is decidedly
auriferous, and will yield large returns of gold.
" About 150 white miners had already arrived at the Forks of Thompson's River,
when they left that place, and they met about as many more on the river travelling
towards that point."
No. 12. No. 12.
Copy of a LETTER from the Secretary of the Admiralty to Herman
Merivale, Esq.
Sir, Admiralty, June 26, 1858.
I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to send
you herewith, for the information of Secretary Sir E Bulwer Lytton, a copy of
a letter from Captain Prevost, of H.M. Ship " Satellite," dated at Vancouver's
Island, 7th May 18£8, respecting the discovery of gold on Fraser's and
Thompson's Rivers, near to the 51st parallel of north latitude, in North
■The newspaper and specimen of the gold dust referred to in Captain Prevost's
letter are also enclosed.
I am, &c.
Herman Merivale, Esq., (Signed) H. CORRY.
Colonial Office.
End. in No. 12. Enclosure in No. 12.
H. M. S. u Satellite," Esquimalt,
(Extract.) Vancouver's Island, May 7, 1858.
I HAVE the honour to report to you that considerable excitement has been
occasioned recently in this neighbourhood by the discovery of gold on Frasers and
Thompson's Rivers, at about the position of the juncture of the latter with the former
river, near to 51st parallel of north latitude.
The reports concerning these new gold diggings are so contradictory that I am
unable to furnish you with any information upon which I can depend. That gold exists
is certain, and that it will be found in abundance seems to be the opinion of all those who
are capable of forming a judgment upon the subject; but it is so obviously to the
advantage of the surrounding community to circulate exaggerated, if not altogether false
reports, for the purpose of stimulating trade, or creating monopolies, that it is most
difficult to arrive at any correct conclusion, or to obtain any reliable information. I have
every reason to believe that the Indians have traded some quantity of gold with the
officers of the Hudson's Bay Company, and I am satisfied that individuals from this
imm diate neighbourhood who started off to the diggings upon the first intelligence of
their existence, have come back with gold dust in their possession, and which they assert
was washed by themselves; but whether such be really the case, or whether it was
traded from the Indians I am unable to determine. These persons all declare that at
the present moment, although the yield is good, yet that there is too much water in the
rivers to admit of digging and washing to be carried on with facility ; but that when
the water falls somewhat, as the summer advances, that the yield will be abundant.
I am inclined myself to think that this information is not far from the truth, for
these persons, after obtaining a fresh stock of provisions, have all returned to the
The excitement in Vancouver's Island itself is quite insignificant compared to that
in Washington and Oregon territories, and in California, and which, of course, is
increased by every possible means by interested parties. The result has been that
seyeral hundred persons from American territory have already flocked to the newly
reported auriferous regions, and by the last accounts fresh steamers, and even sailing
vessels, were being chartered to convey passengers to Puget Sound, or to Vancouver's
Island, whence they have to find their way to the diggings principally by canoes.
I have heard that all the crews of the ships in Puget Sound have deserted, and have
gene to the diggings; I am happy to say that as yet I have not lost a single man from
the "Satellite" since the information w-as received, and I have every reason to hope
that I may not be unfortunate in this respect, although, doubtless, soon the temptations to
desert will be of no ordinary character. FRASER'S RIVER DISTRICT, in BRITISH NORTH AMERICA. 17
No. 13. No. 13.
Copy of a DESPATCH from Secretary Sir E. Bulwer Lytton to
Governor Douglas.
(No. 2.);
Sir, Downing Street, July 1, 1858.
I have to acknowledge your Despatch No. 19, of the 8th ultimo, in
continuation of former Despatches, informing the Secretary of State from time
to time of the progress of the gold discoveries on Fraser's River, and the
measures which you had taken in consequence. I am anxious not to let the
opportunity of the present mail pass without informing you that Her Majesty's
Government have under their consideration the pressing necessity for taking
some steps to establish public order and government in that locality, and that I
hope very soon to be able to communicate to you the result.
In the meantime Her Majesty's Government approve of the course which you
have adopted in asserting both the dominion of the Crown over this region, and
the right of the Crown over the precious metals. They think, however, that
you acted judiciously in waiting for further instructions before you endeavoured
to compel the taking out of licenses, by causing any force to be despatched for
that purpose from Vancouver's Island.
They wish you to continue your vigilance, and to apply for instructions on
any point on which you may require them. They are, however, in addition,
particularly anxious to impress on you that, while Her Majesty's Government
are determined on preserving the rights, both of government and of commerce,
which belong to this country, and wrhile they have it in contemplation to furnish
you with such a force as they may be able to detach for your assistance and
support in the preservation of law and order, it is no part of their policy to
exclude Americans and other foreigners from the gold fields. On the contrary,
you are distinctly instructed to oppose no obstacle whatever to their resort
thither for the purpose of digging in those fields, so long as they submit themselves, in common with the subjects of Her Majesty, to the recognition of Her
authority, and conform to such rules of police as you may have thought proper
to establish. The national right to navigate Fraser's River is of course a
separate question, and one which Her Majesty's Government must reserve.
Under the circumstance of so large an immigration of Americans into
English territory, I need hardly impress upon you the importance of caution
and delicacy in dealing with those manifold cases of international relationship
and feeling which are certain to arise, and which but for the exercise of temper
and discretion might easily lead to serious complications between two neighbouring and powerful states.
It is impossible by this mail to furnish you with any instructions of a more
definite character. Her Majesty's Government must leave much to your
discretion on this most important subject; and they rely upon your exercising
whatever influence and powers you may possess in the manner which from local
knowledge and experience you conceive to be best calculated to give development to the new country, and to advance imperial interests.
I have, &c.
Governor Douglas, (Signed)       E. BULWER LYTTON.
&a    &c*
Extract of a Letter from James Douglas, Esq., to W. G. Smith3 Esq., Secretary of the
Hudson's Bay Company, dated Victoria, Vancouver's Island, February 18, 1858.
" They say that the country is as rich as any part of California, though we have as yet
no satisfactory evidence of that fact, there being circumstances indeed which rather
favour the opposite conclusion. It is, for instance, well known that the export of gold
dust from the state of California exceeded 150,000 ounces during the eight months
following the discovery of gold in that country, and that the stream of wealth had in
that time forced its way into all the neighbouring countries. We had a good share of it
at Fort Vancouver, where we purchased at the Company's shops about 8,000 ounces in
the course of a few months, and that formed but a small part of the wealth that had
been actually brought into the country. 18   CORRESPONDENCE relative to the DISCOVERY of GOLD, &c.
" Now the ascertained export from Thompson's River up to the present time does not
much exceed 500 ounces, and admitting, for the sake of comparison, that an equal
quantity still remains in the hands of the diggers and at our own establishment in
Thompson's River, that would only give a total yield since the discovery of about 1,000
ounces, which, after making due allowance for the disproportion in the number and skill
of the mining population in the two countries, is relatively a small return compared with
that of the first eight months of the gold miners in California.
" The conclusion is obvious, but still Thompson's River may turn out to be a very
valuable gold district."
Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoods,
Printers to the Queen's most Excellent Majesty.
For Her Majesty's Stationery Office,       ,


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