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Introduction: Gold Rush Era!

Travel to Cariboo

Settle in the Cariboo

Roads and Trails

The Gold Rushes

Cariboo Map 1862-1865



....this is the magic word that led men to the West and to the North causing them to leave their families and steady jobs to risk hardship, starvation, and physical danger--all for the glitter of gold!


The first gold rush in North America was the California Gold Rush of 1848. In the 1860s goldseekers moved North to the Colony of British Columbia and by the late 1890s gold was found in the Klondike.

The search for gold was a major force in opening British Columbia for settlement and in shaping our landscape, our government and laws.

Who discovered placer gold in British Columbia?

And where and when?
Prospecting on the Fraser River

Chief Trader Donald McLean, of the Hudson's Bay Company, is said to have traded gold dust from the First Nations people as early as 1852.

"The reputed wealth of the Couteau mines (local name for the Thompson-Fraser area) is causing much excitement amongst the population of the United States of Washington and Oregon, and I have no doubt that a great number of people from those territories will be attracted thither (here) in he spring." (Douglas Letters; B.C. Archives)

In 1858, word of the discovery of gold on the Fraser River reached the outside world. The small community of Fort Victoria on the south end of Vancouver's Island became the destination of goldseekers.

Doctor J.S. Helmcken recalls the events of April 25th, 1858:

One sunday morning we were astonished to find a steamer entering the Harbour from San Francisco....(the miners)...built tents of grey cotton: hundreds of these tents dotted the land from Government Street almost as far as Spring Ridge.... The town thus grew and grew...Everyone wanted to get to Frazer's River." (BC Archives Add Mss 505 Helmcken Papers)

Travel to the Cariboo

Last updated November 30, 1998.
Produced by Carollyne Yardley
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