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Cariboo Gold
By Cindy Finnegan

1     Tales of gold attracted people to British Columbia with hopes of striking it rich. British Columbia had two gold rushes; one was on the Fraser and Thompson Rivers in 1858 and the other was in the Cariboo District in 1862. Two stories have circulated about how the gold rush news spread. One was that the First Nations people had been trading gold dust back in 1852, and the other was that the Hudson's Bay Chief trader, Donald MacLean, sent James Douglas, the company's chief Factor, two small pickle jars full of gold in 1856. Either way, the news traveled over land and sea.
2     Victoria, British Columbia, was a small town on Vancouver Island with about 450 people until April 25, 1858. That's when the Commodore, a wooden side-wheel American steamer ship, arrived with 450 gold hunters carrying their blankets, miner's pans, spades, and firearms. As you can imagine, the community was taken completely by surprise. This was just the beginning. Within two months, the town's population grew to over 20,000 as prospectors arrived from California, Australia, Scotland, England, Germany, China, and a few from eastern Canada. Miners set up tents all over town as they camped while they purchased supplies and mining licences.
3     When the miners were ready to move on, they would paddle a canoe with four other miners to New Westminster and then take a paddle-wheeler up the Fraser River to Fort Yale and rest there for a few days. The accommodation provided at Fort Yale left a lot to be desired. The lodging offered at Yale Roadhouse consisted of a one-room, dirt floor log cabin (measuring only 3.6m x 4.2m/12' x 14') shared with several miners. Meals were prepared and served in the same cabin at the opposite end of the room by the fireplace. Most meals consisted of bacon, salmon, bread, tea, and coffee for a dollar. No butter, milk, or cream was provided.

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