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Vancouver Island was consummated. New Westminster had been proclaimed the capital of the colony of British Columbia in 1859, but upon the union of the colonies, the City of Victoria (1868) was chosen to be the seat of government.
While these internal changes were taking place, miners who accumulated money in California, and some who had been unsuccessful, were affected by the rumour that employees of the Hudson's Bay Company had found gold on the banks of the Thompson, and between 1858 and 1860 the trading post of Victoria witnessed the arrival of at least 18,000 or 20,000 adventurous discoverers. These hardy men roughed it over trails and tracks; climbed precipitous mountains; forced their way through dangerous gorges and trackless forests; disputed with semi-hostile Indians the right to invade their hunting-grounds, and to gather "fine" and "coarse" gold on the lower reaches of the Fraser. As year followed year the restless pioneers continued their researches, until the Cariboo country, some 400 miles from the sea, was reached. Then began an era of gold gathering surpassing anything that had been known, even in portions of California. The "placer" mining in the channel of Lightning Creek produced gold amounting to $200 to each running foot of its length, while portions of Williams' Creek, far up in Northern Cariboo, yielded over $1,000 for each running foot of its length. The record shows that from Steele's claim, Sox25 feet, over $100,000 worth of gold was obtained; from the Diller claim, in 24 hours, 200 lbs. weight of gold, valued at $38,400 was raised, and in 1863 twenty claims produced from 70 to 400 oz. of gold per day. This was the "golden year" on Williams' Creek, and many will remember the celebrated "Cariboo Cameron" of Glengarry, who amassed much wealth, lost it all in speculations, and returned to be buried near the spot whence he had obtained a fortune.
Great development followed in other parts, until, in 1870, the Butcher claim
on Lightning Creek yielded 350 oz. of gold a day; the "Aurora," 300 to 600 oz.; and the 'Caledonia, 300 oz., and, up to the present time, the old valleys of Cariboo, the Omenica district, which drains its basin into the Peace River, the Cassiar district in latitude 58°, prove that those portions of British Columbia still possess rare deposits of alluvial gold, the lowest estimate of the total output, since working commenced, being $54,000,000; fully justifying the expectation that, as the gold obtained has been mingled with the quartz of the parent veins, quartz mining has yet to introduce a second golden epoch in the far North, more particularly as the great streams tributary to the Yukon (an unorganized district in the North-west Territories), such as the Stewart, Hootalinka, and other rivers, are now yielding immense quantities of the precious stuff; while recent reports from Forty Mile Creek prove beyond doubt that quartz veins richer than the Treadwell mine exist throughout the Yukon country.
This then, in brief, is the story of British Columbia's earlier experiences. The Province produced able men, these being devotedly attached to her interests; in fact, if there is one thing above another which impresses the observer, it is the pride all classes manifest towards native institutions. The people rolled up history in a hurry; a Fur country, a Crown colony, an Independent colony, a Province of the Dominion, every phase within a quarter of a century! Could a more suggestive and significant object-lesson be found elsewhere? Is there a community prepared to dispute the claim of British Columbia to a foremost place in the galaxy of Provinces forming the Dominion? Is there a Canadian, is there a British subject, unwilling to recognize the sterling qualities of those who control the Empire's Golden Gateway to the Orient? Surely not.
One thing is certain, British Columbia has been honest with the outside
world. There is a marked contrast between the candour of statements made in official pamphlets and the generally accepted impression as to western veracity. No El Dorado has been painted; no gloss or loud colouring is discoverable; dangers and difficulties are in no degree minimized; all are told, "Let no one imagine that he is certain to find in British Columbia ample and immediate scope for his abilities. He must rather consider what sacrifices he is prepared to make!"
The policy of British Columbia is peculiarly creditable, in view of the fact that even over-eulogy would fail to convey the full idea of her economic resources. The enquirer aims at forming a just opinion of the coal product; what does he find? That in Nanaimo there are 200 square miles of deposits; in Comox, 300 square miles, the latter estimated to yield 16,000,000 tons to the square mile. Then in the vicinity of Field, on the Canadian Pacific Railway, large deposits exist, while in the Crow's Nest Pass district twenty seams are exposed, with an average thickness of 120 to 140 feet, much of it resembling Scotch "Boghead," rich in dispos able hydrogen, and yielding 40. 19 per cent. of firm, lustrous coke. And iron! Let those desirous of gaining practical knowledge of the fact go to Texada, an island in the centre of the Gulf of Georgia, north-east from Nanaimo, and, if he is dubious as to the quality, visit the smelter at Port Townshend. Again, at Sooke, in the southern extremity of Vancouver Island, and away to the north, large deposits of magnetic ore exist, and the day may not be far distant when the iron and steel works of British Columbia will be a recognized institution throughout the Dominion. Is lumber required? Let the visitor go to New Westminster district, with its scores of mills; to Vancouver, Yale, Cariboo, and even as far as Cassiar. Of course, the proportions of the Douglas fir are known to be phenomenal, and fully eighty or eighty-five per cent. of the cut is from this timber. In the Comox district, it is stated on unquestionable authority, a firm of loggers
cut and measured 508,000 feet of timber off one acre of forest. And seal hunting, salmon canning, deep sea and coast fisheries, these flourish throughout the Province, while the fur trade is usually remunerative and active, including the skins of the black, brown and grizzly bear, the beaver, silver fox and sea otter, besides minor pelts of various kinds. It is, indeed, a heritage to be proud of.
It must not be imagined that only one gold area has been discovered or worked in British Columbia. The writer has referred to northern placer mining; it is also carried on in East Kootenay at present. A glance at the map conveys an intelligent idea of the various divisions. Cariboo comprises Barkerville Division, Lightning Creek Division, Quesnellemouth Division, and Kerthly Creek Division. Cassiar comprises Laketon Division, McDame Creek Division, and Liard River, and Kootenay comprises the Eastern and Western Division. The others are Lillooet Division, Yale Division and Osoyoos, which includes Okanagan, the Boundary country, and all that section south of Vernon. Lillooet has produced free milling quartz, the "Golden Cache" being phenomenally rich, so far as operations have extended. Some properties have been abandoned, and some worked to advantage. The Yale Division has been far-famed for Boston Bar and other placer deposits. In fact, the gold and silver area apparently has no limit north, and occupies a belt of fully 200 miles between the East and West. Some of the ore, both gold and silver, is low grade, but as a general thing tonnage assays yield very satisfactory results.
Presuming the traveller to be going directly south, he arrives at Revelstoke on the Canadian Pacific in the afternoon, changes cars at the Station, and takes the Columbia and Kootenay road, operated by the Canadian Pacific, to Arrowhead on the Columbia River; secures passage on the navigation Company's steamer, and in winter,
consequent upon shallow water, when reaching Robson moves bag and baggage into a smaller craft, and about one o'clock the next day is at Trail, where he walks a plank, mounts a gangway, and looks about him. Trail, with a population of 1,800, is prettily situated on the banks of the river.
A tramp up the hill to the great smelter is one of the "things" that must be done. It is very creditably managed, all the officials being young and devoted to their duties. Several promising gold properties are being worked on Lookout Mountain, in the immediate vicinity, amongst which the "Sawbill," "Sovereign, "Joker," "Sultana," "Red Point," "St. Charles," "Debbs" are prominent. Consequent upon proximity to the smelter much interest is taken in their development, and, judging from progress made, these mines promise to rival the very best in other localities.
So much for Trail. The tourist is anxious to proceed; and he can drive from Trail to Rossland, or take the Columbia and Western Railway destined for the same point. By rail, with its zig-zag, "switch-back" twists and turns, and jumps and bumps, the route is about 12 or 13 miles; the time occupied in the trip, from one to five hours, depending upon the weather. Sometimes the passenger prefers walking, or it becomes imperative, as the locomotive, or a car, leaves the track, or snow blocks the entire "outfit." Then pedestrianism follows.
Well, the traveller has arrived at Rossland; he can choose the Allan House in the centre of the town, or the Windsor, or the Butte, or the Lancaster, or the Kootenay, or the Pacific, or the Clifton, or the Grand Union, all comfortable hostelries, some with sleeping apartments and no diningroom, others with both. Then the traveller can go to bed, sleep peacefully, fearing no evil, for law and order are supreme, and spend the night dreaming of far-famed Golconda and its fabulous productions.
Any of the substantial mining managers grant permits to responsible
parties to visit their claims; horseback is the usual method of locomotion, and so long as the tourist is careful no accident need happen. At times an animal slips, the rider rolls off, and his cayuse goes down hill; strange to say it seldom sustains serious injuries.
On Columbia Avenue, in 1890, where now for half a mile buildings of every description have been erected, but one unpretending edifice could be seen. It was the cabin, or "shake," or "shack," of Ross Thompson, an Ontario boy from Bruce, who, having roughed it in Manitoba and the Western States, sought, and for the time being found, solitude in this region. None appeared anxious to disturb him, nor did he intend that they should. He came and went, prospected and hunted, was cheerful at times, despondent at times, his log shanty was his castle, his settlement being ironically called "Ross's Land." Meanwhile a few stragglers arrived from Montana and Idaho, gold was discovered in paying quantity, and Ross Thompson came to the front. So much has been written about the early development of Trail Creek and its tributaries that the reader may well be spared further infliction. Suffice it to say, Rossland townsite was surveyed in 1894, and in March, 1895-not two years ago the coming city of the Kootenays began its rapid strides. The old log cabin was moved to the rear of Columbia Avenue, to make way for a commodious drug-store and other buildings; then the pioneer workers, with Ross Thompson, drew up and had their likeness taken, with the old log cabin in the background. They were all present except one, and his absence the writer discovered from a pioneer settler, who, looking at the photograph, exclaimed, "Say, Boss, Austin should be in that 'ere picter!" As there was no time to introduce Mr. Austin, the only method of remedying the omission is to chronicle the fact.
The town has an electric light
DRAWN BY F. H. BRIGDEN.
AT THE MOUTH OF A MINE.
ing system, water-works yet to be greatly improved-capital hotels, and stores of every description. The fire system has not yet been perfected, although a good force exists. There is a hospital, where the Sisters are, indeed, ministering angels, and where many an injured miner has found a haven of rest and comfort. When the railway system of Southern Kootenay is completed Rossland will be a centre from which many roads will radiate, including the Columbia & Western, the Columbia & Red Mountain, the Crow's Nest (to be commenced this year), and eventually, perhaps, the proposed line through the Hope Mountains into the Okanagan country, and east. Thus it will be seen that those who should know, those most interested, have faith in the permanency of Rossland's gold output.
The opening of the Boundary Creek country will in no manner injure Southern Kootenay, although new towns will spring up at Grand Forks, Greenwood City, Anaconda, and other points. Grand Forks is situated at the junction of the North Fork and Kettle River, about three miles north of the boundary, and it is stated that the Spokane & Northern Railway contemplate constructing a narrow-gauge road from Marcus, in Washington, to the former point, eventually connecting with a line from the Pacific coast. There are now daily stage routes from Marcus and from Penticton to Okanagan Lake. Up to recent date the postal facilities were wretched, a poor building and paucity of attendants being particularly noticeable. No doubt the Government of the day will see to it that the local officials are supplied with the necessary assistance, for it is sadly required. The Canadian Pacific and Western Union Telegraph
(The First Owner of Rossland.)