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The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush began in 1858 after discovering gold on the Thompson River in British Columbia. The Fraser Gold rush had a great impact on the indigenous people that resulted in the Fraser Canyon War.
See the fact file below for more information on the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush or alternatively, you can download our 25-page Fraser Canyon Gold Rush worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Before 1858, the population of New Caledonia (a French Territory in the southwest Pacific Ocean) was between 40,000 to 50,000 people, mostly Indigenous. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Europeans arrived.
- In 1849, Britain established Fort Victoria to assert its sovereignty in the West after losing territory in the 1846 Oregon Treaty, which established the American/British boundary at the 49th parallel.
- In 1850, news of gold strikes in Queen Charlotte Island, which is now Haida Gwaii, sent the first stream of miners to the area. At Fort Victoria, there were only a few hundred settlers on Vancouver Island.
- Most of the settlers were employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, HBC.
- The population of Fort Victoria immediately doubled overnight with the intrusion of the miners. However, the HBC was not very welcoming.
- The company did not want to do extravagant things that would upset the fur trade’s delicate balance. It also tried to suppress any news about the gold strikes that were happening.
- Sir James Douglas declared that there would be a criminal and civil prosecution if anyone tried to remove the gold unauthorized.
- In 1852, the Indigenous people residing in the area drove out the miners.
THE SPRING OF 1858
- Unlike the Cariboo Gold Rush that happened from 1861-1867, which attracted several Canadians, the Fraser Gold Rush became an extension of California mining society. In the 1850s, placer mining (mining gold) in California had used up free gold.
- Miners adjusted to the glory days of the California Rush were marginalized by capital-intensive hydraulic mining, and there were large numbers of unemployed miners. News of a gold strike sent hundreds of men into the wilderness to make their fortune or die trying. Fellow miner Thomas Seward stated this.
- In 1856, gold was first discovered in the Thompson River by a Shuswap member, which is now the Secwepemc nation. They kept gold until a sample of 800 ounces was sent in February 1857 to San Francisco for evaluation.
- In March, several newspapers in Washington and Oregon printed reports that gold was discovered on the Fraser River. Sir James Douglas, the HBC Governor and the sole authority on the West Coast, stated the Crown’s (a symbol of the state and its government) authority and announced that there would be a system of mining licenses.
- When people and newspapers in California got the story, a gold frenzy took hold of San Francisco’s population, stimulating a sudden mass migration by land and sea, bound for the Fraser River.
- The first wave happened on April 25, 1858 when about 400 miners from California arrived in Fort Victoria. Between May and June of the same year, about 10,000 American miners, mostly of European descent but some of Hawaiian, African-American, and Chinese origin, traveled to Fraser River by boat past Fort Langley to the Fraser Canyon.
- The total number of miners reached 25,000 by fall and around 50,000 more miners the following year. About 80 percent of them came from California.
- Yale, an area just downriver from Nlaka’pamux territory and formerly an HBC trading post, was immediately transformed into a cultural center similar to 1850s San Francisco.
- In between Hope and Yale in the Fraser Canyon, the richest gold discoveries of fine flour gold occurred. This area was controlled by Americans who triggered conflicts between Whites and the Indigenous people.
- The North of Yale, waterfalls, and steep canyons averted steamers from furthering ascending the Fraser River. Several miners excluded from the dominant culture in the lower Fraser, such as the Chinese, Chileans, Hawaiians, African-Americans, and other ethnic groups, established digs beyond Yale.
IMPACT OF THE RUSH ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE
- All the Indigenous lands of the southern interior were invaded by large mining companies, prompting the Fraser Canyon War of 1858. As the summer continued, miners disturbed the Nlaka’pamux communities.
- Several miners mined gold without the provision of the Nlaka’pamux community leaders and threatened violence when challenged. Some of the miners also committed acts of sexual violence against the women of the Nlaka’pamux community.
- Most critically, the rush disrupted the Nlaka’pamux salmon fishery, which was considered a critical economic activity for the people at the end of the summer. The miners occupied the fishing sites and disrupted many rivers, lakes, and creeks to wash gravel through mining sluices.
- The miners ruined crucial spawning grounds for the future of the salmon fishery. Additionally, according to Dan Falloon, a smallpox epidemic broke out in 1862 that killed several indigenous people.
- The Fraser Canyon Gold Rush broke the support of full-scale Indigenous resistance in the region, specifically among the Central Coast Salish, Interior Salish, and the southern populations of the Tsilhgot’in.
- On August 22, 1858, when peace came across the Nlaka’pamux and miners, the Nlaka’pamux agreed to grant the miners access to their resources and territories.
IMPACT OF THE RUSH ON BRITISH GOVERNMENT
- On August 2, 1858, the British government immediately established New Caledonia as the British Columbia colony to prevent lawless conditions of the Californian and Australian goldfields a few years earlier.
- However, the prosperity did not last long. In the mid-1860s, the Fraser Rush collapsed, resulting in the deep recession of British Columbia.
Fraser Canyon Gold Rush Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush across 25 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Fraser Canyon Gold Rush worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush which began in 1858 after discovering gold on the Thompson River in British Columbia. The Fraser Gold rush had a great impact on the indigenous people that resulted in the Fraser Canyon War.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Fraser River Gold Rush Facts
- Canadians’ Gold Rush
- Significant Events
- Questions in the Canyon
- Impacts of the Rush
- Filling the Miners
- Indigenous, Miners
- Gold Related Words
- Jumbled River
- Golden Ending
- News of the Gold Strikes
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Link will appear as Fraser Canyon Gold Rush Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 1, 2021
Use With Any Curriculum
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