Primary Source
Return to Table of Contents


Fredrick Dally

John Boyd

George Anderson

Land Act 1884

Thomas McMicking

Alexander Anderson

A.T. Bushby

Royal Engineers 1858-1863

John B. Wilkinson

Charles Evans Diary

Madelon Cruickshank's Autograph Book

Kinahan Cornwallis

David W. Higgins

In 1845, while stationed in Alexandria the lowest post on the Frazer of New Caledonia,

I foresaw the probability that, under the Oregon Treaty then pending, the line of demarcation

between the British Territory, and that of the U. States would pass north of the lower Columbia. I judged it prudent, therefore, to endeavour [sic] to provide beforehand some route of access to the sea which might supplement, and perhaps eventually supersede, our usual route of communication, via the Columbia River, with the depot at Fort Vancouver I accordingly,wrote to the Governor (Sir George Simpson) in Council at Norway House near Lake Winipeg,and requested to be allowed, for the reasons stated, to explore a route to Fort Langley on the lower Frazer, through a tract of Country

at that time practically unknown. In response six picked men were detailed for the service and I was authorised to proceed. In May 1849 [?] I set out, and passing down the Thompson by the line, of what is now a portion of the waggonroad as far as Cache Creek, struck across to what was then, and is perhaps still known as the Upper Fountain on Frazer River. Thence we set out on foot; and, crossing the Frazer lower down, at Lillooette, on foot and by canoe alternately by the way of what are now known as Anderson~Seton Lakes, and the Harrison River, and Lake, we reached Langley without much difficulty.

Returning, we ascended the Frazer in Canoe as far [as] the mouth of the Lue-que-alla, where the village of Hope now stands; and thence. hap-hazard, struck across the Cascade Mountains to the heads of the Similkameen, which we followed down until we fell in with our horses at an appointed rendezvous in the open country.This line in its main features,was afterwards adopted for the government road and is the direct route of communication with the South~eastern Interior of B.C.) In 1847 I again started; this time down the Thompson and the valley of the Frazer ~ Sending our horses back from the mouth of the Nicholas River, near what is now known as Cook's Ferry; we set out on foot, following the line, approximately of what is now the wagon~road,via Shilkumchun (Lytton) to the head of navigation where Fort Yale (now the town of Yale) was afterwards established - Thence by canoe to Langley. Returning we ascended in Canoe, took our canoe up the Yale rapids, (though with risk, as the water was still high) and disembarked at Ke-que-loose, near where the suspension bridge has since been erected ~ Thence on foot across the Cascade Range (here rapidly subsiding in elevation till it terminates near Lytton) until we met our horses at an appointed rendezvous ~ and so, by the way of Nicholas Lake, to Kamloops, our point of departure. It is here to be remarked that several of the lines thus traced have since become the main routes of access to the Interior ~ Large sums, indeed, have been expended in construction; but the result has been the opening up of the former Colony of British Columbia ~ the present Province. The prudence of the precautionary measures which the company had taken, with regard to the exploration of these routes of communication, became soon apparent. It is needless to say that, in 1846, the conclusion of the Oregon Treaty justified the doubts that had been entertained. The massacre of Dr Whitman, his wife, and others, to which I have before alluded, generally known as the Wailet-pee Massacre, led to immediate hostilities, and these were continued until the principal murderers had been delivered up to the Territorial authorities. Meanwhile the communicationery massacre took place late in the Autumn of 1847; and in the ear[l]y part of 1848, we received by express from head~quarters at Fort Vancouver, notifying us of the events that had taken place, and informing us that we must break our way through to Langley, whither the supplies for the several Districts would be forwarded to meet us. Accordingly about the end of May we set out, selecting my return route of the previous summer ~

Our party consisted of the three "brigades" of New Caledonia, Thompson's River, and Colvile~ We had about 400 horses (many of them unbroken) and in all about 50 men. Mr Donald Manson, of New Caledonia, as senior officer, was in general charge, I as head of the Colvile District (to which I had been recently appointed by the Governor in Council) was second and there were several other officers in Company ~ It is needless to enumerate the difficulties which we had to encounter and surmount: suffice it to say that we continued to reach Fort Yale, which had meanwhile been established with our packs, and thence ran down speedly to Langley - On the return-trip the difficulties, if not the dangers, were greatly multiplied; but at length we reached Kamloops though with the loss of a good deal of property and many horses ~ To conclude this subject I may mention that the following Spring we went out by the same route; but its difficulties were too harassing; and on our return we stopped short at Hope (where a small post had been erected during the winter in anticipation of this decision) and, the whole party were set to work, and soon cut a trail across the mountains, modifying somewhat my return route of 1846 - This route continued to be followed until the Government road was made as before mentioned in 1860. When the great rush to Victoria took place, in 1858, it was found necessary to provide means to provide means [sic] of access to the Interior, to enable the Miners to reach their destination. I had meanwhile, at the earnest desire of Governor Douglas, accepted office under the government in Victoria. I strongly advised the opening of a road from the head of the Harrison Lake, crossing the Birkenhead Portage, and thence via Lake Anderson-Seton to the crossing of the Frazer at the point where the village of Lillooett was afterwards founded. A party of 500 men was organised ~ volunteers from among the miners - under special arrangement, of which it would be tedious to detail the particulars. I was deputed to set the party in motion; and proceeding to the point of commencement, operations were speedly begun. This spot, as being the [blank in mscp.] of a future place of business, was called Douglas in honor of the Governor of that period.

Before the end of the summer the road, or trail, was in good travelling order, and a large traffic at once commenced ~ the whole of the supplies for the Interior passing by this route, which for some time continued to be the sole practicable time of transport. At first large boats were employed to

pass the lakes~ These were afterwards superseded by small steamers ~ The customs revenue derived from the goods thus thrown into the Interior soon re-im[blank in mscp,] the primary outlay, which did not exceed $50,000: the miners received the supplies which enabled them to prosecute their researches: and, in short, to the opening of this road the whole after progress of the Colony may be attributed. Afterwards the road along the Frazer was undertaken - a stupendous and costly enterprise-: a suspension bridge was thrown over the Frazer, some 13 miles above Yale; and, in time this road quite superseded the original road via Douglas and Lillooett. An impression has gone abroad that the existence of gold on the upper Frazer had long been known to the Officers of the Huds. Bay Co; but that they, from motives of policy, concealed the fact ~ Than this statement nothing can be more erroneous; no suspicion of the fact ever existed, as I can personally aver. Indeed, it was not till after a considerable interval, and after much careful research by experienced miners from California, that the riches of the Caribou Mines, were partially developed. The locality of these mines was entirely out of the way of the ordinary business of the company. It was a secluded hunting-tract, frequented by the natives during summer, and abounding with the Large Rocky Mountains Rein-deer, the Caribou of the Canadian Voyageurs. Like other similar tracts elsewhere the natives (Tah-cully) designated it generally as Ho-tsee-Kaya = ie~ Rein-deer or Caribou Region Hence its present name.

It may not be amiss that I should here notice the first intimation we had of the existence of gold in the Interior~ not of the Frazer River section, but on the Columbia~ It was in 1855, when Mr Angus McDonald, whom I had left in charge of Fort Colvile on my departure in 1851, wrote down to Fort Vancouver, stating that one of his men, while employed hauling fire-wood, had, almost undesignedly, amused himself by washing out a pannikin of gravel on the beach near Colvile. Some particles of gold appeared ~ enough, however to excite curiosity and invite further research explorers went out; and, at the North of the Pend'Ouille River, close by the Boundary line, diggings which were moderately productive were discovered.

Afterwards explorers went in the direction

Last updated Febuary 28, 1999.
Produced by the Schoolnet Digital Collections Team.