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Travel to Cariboo

Settle in the Cariboo

Roads and Trails

The Gold Rushes

Cariboo Map 1862-1865


Travel to the Cariboo

British Columbia had two big gold rushes, one in 1858 on the Fraser River and the other in 1862 in the Cariboo district.

Everyone heard of the discovery of gold along the Fraser River in the Cariboo after the Hudson's Bay Company shipped 800 ounces of gold to the Federal Mint in San Francisco on the steamship Otter in February 1858.

The gold was sent south because gold was of little use to gold-seekers in its raw state and the nearest mint was in San Francisco.

Paquebot Otter
Paquebot "Otter"

Everyone in San Francisco was talking of the gold that was brought in on the steamship.

Since the California gold rush had taken place only a few years earlier, San Francisco was very gold conscious and the Cariboo sounded like the next great "discovery".

Steamship "Commodore"

The first major influx of people heading to the Cariboo region was on April 25th, 1858, when the steamer Commodore docked at Victoria with 450 men, 60 of whom where British and the remainder Americans, Germans, Italians, Chinese and a variety of other nationalities.

More than 30,000 prospectors sailed north during the summer of 1858, and most of these men reached the gold-fields via Victoria.
BC Archives A-04498
Miners waiting for licenses in Victoria

The miners came first to Victoria to obtain a valid "mining license" which permitted them to prospect for gold.

Almost overnight, the population in Victoria grew to over 20,000 people as miners camped while they purchased their mining licenses, and all the supplies - equipment, food, clothing, they would need for their journey to the gold-fields.

The sand bars of the Fraser River were a disappointment to many miners. The miners who did not return to California in disgust, slowly worked their way up the Fraser River.
BC Archives PDP02738
Williams Creek

By 1862 these prospectors had reached the Cariboo in the southern interior.

There, on Williams Creek early in 1862, Billy Barker struck gold.

Less than a year later Barkerville, which had grown around Barker's claim, had a population of 10,000 people.

Settle in the Cariboo

Last updated November 30, 1998.
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