Horses, Mules and Camels

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The Royal Engineers

Horses, Mules and Camels

More about those Camels

Barnard's Express


Camel in the Cariboo
Last of the 21 camels brought to British Columbia in 1862
to bring supplies up the Fraser River to the
Cariboo gold fields

Horses, Mules, and Camels

As British Columbia's gold rush reached it's peak in the 1860's, the strangest sight the old Cariboo Wagon Road ever saw was a string of camels headed for the Cariboo.

A story in the Times-Colonist, dated May 29, 1862, claimed:

"They are now acclimated, and will eat anything from a pair of pants to a bar of soap."

21 Bactrian camels (Camelus bactrianus) were brought in because it was thought they could carry much more weight than a mule.
Francis William Laumeister
Francis Willian Laumeister
The "Camel Man" of the Cariboo

In 1862 Frank Laumeister, a prominent Victoria merchant and packer, brought 21 of these beasts to Yale from railroad construction camps in Arizona.

Clement Cornwall, of Ashcroft Manor comments in his journal,

"Met two Camels on the road at wh. the horses were tremendously frightened."
C.F. Cornwall Diaries, BC Archives MS -0759, pp1-149
They bit and kicked everything that moved and smelled so foul that horses and mules would bolt their lode and sometimes fall off the road to their deaths.

Within four months of their introduction, a government order outlawed the camels from the Cariboo Trail.

Horses and Mules

While roads were being built in 1862, mules and horses were the main form of transportation to the gold-fields of the Cariboo. Everything was packed on animals backs, and the mule teams proved tough on the rough trails to the Cariboo. As the roads were being completed, the price of packing a mule dropped considerably.
Pack Train Near Quesnel
Pack Train near Quesnel

Already the price of packing from Yale to Richfield, Williams Creek, which previously been about 90 cents a pound, had dropped to 50 cents a pound. In May 1864, upon completion of the wagon road, packing a mule fell between 15 to 18 cents a pound.


Oxen were also used to pull heavy loads of materials in to gold-fields of the Cariboo.
CPR Contractor A. Onderdonk's Ox Team

BS ing in 1893 meant bullslinging, driving a team of oxen pulling two or three 10 tonne freight wagons.

Mining town streets were then set out 37.5 meters wide, so that the bull teams could turn around.

More about those Camels

Last updated November 30, 1998.
Produced by Carollyne Yardley Industrial Art Internet Group Ltd. 1998-1999