British Columbia's Progress Illustrated Graphically (and a Great Map of the Yale District)
Fine large Canadian government publication, illustrating the Yale Mining District and adjoining mining Districts, extending north to the Cariboo District.
The map shows Land Divisions overprinted in red and the Mining Divisions overprinted in brown along with roads and trails, railways, location of some mines and camps.
The map was printed by The Colonist Litho., in Victoria, under the direction of Tom Kains, Surveyor General.
The earliest gold in the region was discovered in 1858. Gold was discovered on a gravel bar 2 miles south of the town of Yale on the Fraser River. This place was soon known as Hill's Bar named after the prospector who found gold there. The discovery of gold caused a massive influx of people to pour into the region, primarily from the California Gold Rush of 1849. Yale briefly known as the biggest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco.
The Yale District was created in 1871 as a result of British Columbia joining Confederation and went through various changes over the next 4 decades. It largely consisted of the southeastern portion of British Columbia, extending from the Fraser River in the southwest to Arrow Lake, Moose Lake and the Columbia River in the East.
The Cariboo gold fields have remained active to this day and have also yielded other boomtowns, such as Wells. The city of Quesnel remained important after the wane of the rush as the jumping-off point for other goldfields discovered yet farther and farther north in the Omineca and Peace River Country to the north of Fort George (today's city of Prince George).
The towns of Quensel and Quesnel Forks are derived from Jules Maurice Quesnel, who accompanied Simon Fraser on his journey to the Pacific Ocean. Quesnel came to be called 'Quesnellemouth' to distinguish it from 'Quesnel Forks', 60 miles up river. In 1870, it had been shortened to Quesnelle and by 1900 it was spelled Quesnel. Quesnel is located along the gold mining trail known as the Cariboo Wagon Road and was the commercial center of the Cariboo Gold Rush. It also marks one end of the Alexander MacKenzie Heritage Trail. Due to its location on the Fraser River it was also an important landing for sternwheelers during 1862 until 1886 and then from 1909 until 1921.
Barkerville, once the largest city north of San Francisco and west of Chicago, was situated on the western edge of the Cariboo Mountains. It was named after Billy Barker from Cambridgeshire, England, who was among those who first struck gold at the location in 1861 and whose claim was the richest and the most famous.
Before the construction of the Cariboo Wagon Road, people hauled their own supplies to Barkerville, either on their backs or in a pack train. Because supplies were scarce, the prices of even the most everyday items were extremely high. High prices for goods in Barkerville did not ease up until the Cariboo Road had been finished, when goods could be transported by huge freight wagons. Soon, movers of freight boasted that they could pack and carry a set of champagne glasses without any breakage - for a price, of course. More women also came to Barkerville after the construction of the Cariboo Road.
At first, the town consisted only of makeshift cabins and tents. By the mid-1860s, however, Barkerville had a population of approximately 5,000.
Chinese immigrants were an important part of Barkerville life for almost a hundred years. They established a number of businesses, including the Kwong Lee Company, a general store that sold groceries, clothing, hardware and mining tools. The company had stores in other parts of British Columbia but the Barkerville store was one of the most impressive in town. The Chinese community also built cabins (for Chinese miners, who saved money by sharing four or five to a cabin) and Tai Ping (the "Peace Room"), the equivalent of a modern nursing home. Chinese benevolent associations provided social services to the Chinese community and also resolved disputes within the Chinese community without the use of BC courts.
Barkerville's population was declining by the end of the century and it eventually only had a few residents. It did, however, have a revival in the 1930s, when the Great Depression caused widespread unemployment and the price of gold skyrocketed. But, as the depression turned for the better, Barkerville declined to a very small village.