“Now we have seen the GOLD, and seen the men who dig it, and are satisfied” wrote an on-the-scene observer for American frontier newspapers in April 1858—thus confirming fabulous rumors about gold strikes in the British possessions. Waves of miners from the American West already were on their way to the Fraser River country, joining hundreds of Indians, Vancouver Island colonists, and former fur trade employees in excavating for riches. The year 1858 would prove to be the most eventful in western Canadian history.
Through the spring and summer, perhaps 25,000-40,000 gold seekers (estimates vary widely) in hastily arrayed watercraft swarmed up the Fraser’s cold current into the vast, “New Caledonia” wilderness—till then occupied only by native tribes and Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts. Another 8,000 wealth hunters, striking overland on rugged mid-Columbia and Okanogan trails, likewise sank their shovels in the rich Fraser and Thompson river sandbars. The newcomers—mainly from Washington, Oregon, and especially California, and including original “Forty-niners”—were the first significant white population and some of the earliest pioneers of western Canada.
This volume chronicles the remarkable events of 1858, largely in the words of those who were there—“miners and prospectors, merchants and entrepreneurs, officers and statesmen, and ‘the media’ of the day, those American and British newspaper reporters who were privileged to cover one the great stories of the century.”
Illustrations / photographs / maps / notes / bibliography / index / 200 pages (1998)