R. E. (R. Edward) Gosnell.

A history; British Columbia online

. (page 25 of 79)
Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 25 of 79)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

work of mining was begun in 185 1, and has never been discontinued.

Coal is said to have been fotmd at Burrard Inlet in an outcropping on
the shore, and H. M. S. " Phmiper " obtained enough of it there to steam the
ship to Nanaimo. No subsequent indications have been reported. Borings
in the vicinity have proved unsuccessful in revealing' a paying deposit. The
coal beds of Queen Charlotte Island, now attracting some attention, were dis-
covered as far back as 1852, and anthracite was known to exist

The finding of coal at Departure Bay by the late Hon. Robert Duns-
muir, and its subsequent development by him into the great industry it is at
present, and the fortune it brought with it, are too well known to require
detailed mention here. From 3,oc«3 tons in 1852 the output has gradually
risen to 1,000,000 tons (in round numbers) per annum.

Placer and Lode Mining.

Placer mining in British Columbia has followed the usual course of
events in all gold-bearing countries. After the richest deposits had been
worked over by the ordinary methods, the annual yield began to decline.
Cariboo saw its best days in 1863 and 1864. The experience of every
other camp has been the same. The output of 1863 was about $4,000,000.
Thirty years later it was $360,000, when it reached its lowest ebb. Then


the scale began to turn, and it has again reached over $i,cxx),ooo. There
is a reason for that, not attributable to new finds, but to newer methods.
Grounds that no longer paid by the use of the rocker, and sluicing, are being
made remunerative by hydraulicing on a large scale, and the expenditure of
large capital. Tliis promises a revolution, whereby the extensive auriferous
areas of gravel and old river beds can be worked over. Extensive hydraul-
icing plants have been inaugurated in Cariboo, notably that of the Consoli-
dated Cariboo Hydraulicing Company, which has mining leases aggregating
seveial thousand acres of land, all auriferous. It is estimated that there
are 500,ooo,cxx) cubic yards, which are available for washing. Similar
enterprises are contemplated in all the old mining camps, wherever conditions
are favorable, so that the era of hydraulicing promises results even greater
than in " ye olden times." Dredging and ground-sluicing are also receiving

There was a long interval between the time the harvest of alluvial dig-
gings made British Columbia famous, and the time when lode-mining began
to show results. At intervals along in the seventies and the eighties, there
were valuable finds reported in the way of quartz veins, carrying silver and
free gold principally. There was a silver mine at Hope, of which much
was heard, and into which much money was put. There was the famous
'' Black Jack " of Cariboo, which created a temporary quartz excitement,
and relieved the public of a certain amount of money invested in shares.
Monashee Mountain in Southern Yale, attracted a good deal of attention
and some capital to it. The old silver trail leading from the main wagon
road into Jordan Meadows, from Raymond's Crossing near Shawnigan
Lake, on Vancouver Island, attests to faith in a silver mine, that was the
base of a vision of wealth for some one. These early attempts, in the light
of an understanding of the conditions which exist generally in British Colum-
bia, were foredoomed to failure, even if the mineral had been " in place "
according to anticipation. Many persons have wondered why it was that


this province, if as rich and as widely mineralized as reported, did not de-
velop faster as a mineral producer. In certain circles, as a result of " hope
oft deferred," the impression did gain ground that British Columbia was
a doubtful mining field, notwithstanding the rich surface exposures, and we
heard a good deal about " broken formations " and " refractory ores," as an
explf.nation of the unsatisfactory results of preliminary exploitation. Over
and over again, the most sanguine anticipations were formed of some unusu-
ally rich prospect, and the public, through the newspapers, each time felt
confident of success ; but soon or later, according to the amount of funds at
the disposal of the promoters, silence reigned regarding them, and the public,
not in their confidence, wondered why. Now, the public were not " bun-
coed," at least, in the majority of cases. The promoters believed in their
properties implicitly, and backed their faith with their own capital. Failure
was usually the result of not properly appreciating the conditions which
make success in mining, They were not mistaken, but they were too soon.
Like the pioneer, the inventor, and the reformer, who usually see the fruits
of their efforts reaped by those who have not sown, they were just a little
in advance of their time. The key to success lay in the providing of facilities
of communication, without which it was impossible to win. There were
otlicr things as well. Twenty or thirty years ago, had there been the railway
facilities we possess today, many of the properties now worked at a profit,
could not have been properly operated. The reason for this is, that the proc-
esses of mining and smelting have so improved in that time, that the low
grade ores, such as are being handled in great quantities in the Boundary
and Rossland camps, would have been useless. Every mining country has
its peculiarities, and its particular requirements, and time and experience
are necessary to determine the processes and methods best suited to the treat-
ment of its ores.

Communication, however, was the principal want of the country in the
early days of the development of quartz mines. It is yet, to a very large


extent. Whatever are the metallurgical problems to be solved, no success can
be achieved until there are railways, or tramways to connect mines with
the waterways, affording cheap transportation. The successful mining camps
today, are located only in those parts of the province, where such transporta-
tion exists, as in the Boundary, Trail Creek and Slocan districts, in East
Kootenay and on the coast of Vancouver Island. These have only touched
the rim of the mining possibilities, within which are a vast field, over most of
which prospectors have trodden, and discovered indications of mineral wealth.
This field still waits the whistle of the railway train to make it alive with
industry'. We have the promise of two more transcontinental railways,
piercing the Rockies north of the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, within
the next five years, and of one or two systems following the natural lines
of travel north and south, after which will follow the inevitable network of
branch lines. In twenty-five years from now, the province should be yield-
ing $200,000,000 worth of minerals annually, instead of its present output of

The first quartz mining of any importance, was done at Camp McKin-
ney, which was discovered in the year 1884. One mine there, the Cariboo-
Amelia, paid dividends to the extent of $550,000, and only closed down in
1903. Ainsworth, or as it was known in early days as Hot Springs, on the
Kootenay Lake, was one of the first camps to be developed. Dr. Dawson,
in 1889, found mining being actively carried on, and it had been for several
years previous. About that time, prospecting and preliminary mining de-
velopments were very active all through the West Kootenay country, and in
parts of East Kootenay. In the vicinity of Nelson, Revelstoke, Rossland, and
Lardeau, in West Kootenay, and in East Kootenay in the Golden and Winder-
mere divisions, the countr}' swarmed with prospectors and miners. The
celebrated Hall mines, on Toad Mountain, near Nelson, was discovered in
the fall of 1886, and located the following year. The Field mine was in
operation in 1888. A location was made in Comaplix, in the Lardeau dis-


*-r-irL in the same year. The first claim recorded in the Rossland camp, was
*n 1889. The Centre Star, War Eagle and Le Roi, were located in 1890,
"nd in 1891 came the almost sensational discovery of the Slocan, which pro-
'^«ced a boom in 1892, upon the top of which Kaslo came to the fore. Ross-
'and and Trail were later developments. The Boundary district, though
'blower of development, on account of the lack of railway facilities, which
were not supplied until 1899, had its beginnings even earlier. In 1886-7,
mineral was discovered and located near Boundary Falls, in Copper Camp.
But it was not until the early nineties, that the properties that have become
the chief producing factors — the Mother Lode, the Old Ironsides and Knob
Hill claims — were staked. The North Star mine at Kimberly, in East
Kootenay, was staked in 1892. We have also the Eugene group of claims
on Moyie Lake, and the Sullivan group near Kimberly, which came into
prominence about the same tim.e, and have been large producers. Fairview
Camp, in the Yale district, was the scene of active operations over ten
years ago, and a good deal of capital has been invested in development
work and stamp mills. Important discoveries of copper-gold were made on
Mount Sicker, in 1896 or 1897, and large developments followed, and two
smelters. Prior to that, however, Texada Island began to attract attention,
and in 1896 a small test shipment was sent out, and a smelter to treat the
ores was erected in 1899. The Marble Bay mine, near the Van Anda, has
been a regular shipper. The largest body of copper ore yet discovered any-
where on the Coast, has been on the East shore of Howe Sound, and com-
prises what is known as the Britannia group, officially described in the Min-
ister of Mines report for 1900. Good properties were located on the Alberni
Canal about ten years ago, and several fairly well-developed mines have been
the result.

It is impossible in brief space, to follow the course of mining develop-
ment in the wide area of the province over which the prospector has travelled
and staked. Important discoveries have been made at Quatsino, on the


Northwest coast of Vancouver Island, at various points up the Coast, as
far as Windy Arm, at the boundary between Alaska and British Columbia;
on the Skeena River, and in the Bulkley Valley; at Sooke and Coldstream,
Vancouver Island; in the Pitt and Harrison River districts, on the Lower
Mainland; in the Mount Baker district, near Chilliwack; on Burrard and
Jervis inlets ; on several islands not mentioned ; in the Lillooet ; in the Fish
River, Ferguson, Trout Lake, Poplar Creek camps, and elsewhere in the
Lardeau district. Perhaps the most important district is in Yale county,
included in what is known as the Similkameen. This section of the province
has been delayed, owing to the lack of transportation. In Similkameen,
there are many and extensive copper deposits, and at Hedley, a new mining
camp, there is located a very promising gold property called the Nickel
Plate, which has forty stamps in operation. From the various local mining
centres, hurriedly indicated, the prospector has branched out and staked
the country in many directions.

Many small towns and incorporated cities (every incorporated town is
classified as a city) have sprung up, following the course of mining devel-
opment, each with a bright future predicted by its founders. Thus Kalso
and Kamloops were incorporated in 1893 (Kamloops, however, was for a
long time the urban centre of the Yale District) ; Nelson, Grand Forks,
Greenwood and Rossland in 1897; Sandon in 1898, Phoenix in 1900, and
Slocan and Trail in 1901. There are others such as Fernie and Revelstoke,
which have been incorporated since that time; but there is a long list that
are the direct creation of the mining industry, such as Ainsworth, Atlin,
Comaplix, Crofton, Eholt, Elko, Ferguson, Fairview, Fort Steele, Hedley,
Ladysmith, Michel, Morrisey, Moyie, New Denver, Quesnel Forks, Silverton,
Three Forks, Trout Lake, Bullion, Camborne. Some of these are already in
the " sere and yellow leaf," following the fortunes of the camps that gave
them life and activity, but the majority are substantial and growing, while
others are springing up.


Coal and Other Minerals.
l"he history of coal mining is not less interesting than that of the other
minerals. Already, a short sketch has been given of the very early opera-
tions. The mines at Nanaimo and Departure Bay developed into extensive
industries, finding their principal market in San Francisco. The Vancouver
Coal Company, which was controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company, was
subsequently reorganized in London, under the title of the New Vancouver
Coal Company, which carried on operations for years. Recently their prop-
erties were acquired by the Western Fuel Company, whose shareholders are
American. The mines at Departure Bay are not now worked, and Welling-
ton is now practically a deserted town. R. Dunsmuir & Sons, the owners,
have opened up a new and valuable mine, known as the Extension mine,
in Cranberry district. The other well known mines, also operated by R.
Dunsmuir & Sons, are at Union, in the Comox Valley. The Union mines
have shipped extensively for years. Coal exists in many parts of the province,
— at Quatsino, on Queen Charlotte Islands, in the Northern Interior, in the
.Similkameen and Nicola districts, and in the Crow's Nest Pass, but with the
exception of the last named, have not been utilized. An interesting history
is connected with the development of the coal fields of the Crow's Nest
Pass. It dates back as far as 1887. In June of that year, Mr. William
Fernie, then of Fort Steele, and Lieutenant-Colonel Baker, a member of the
Provincial Legislature, decided to prospect the coal measures, the existence
of which had been reported by Mr. Michael Phillipps, an old Hudson's Bay
Company employee. Every summer, for eight or nine years, Mr. Fernie
took men from Fort Steele to the Elk River district, where they prospected
the coal seams outcropping there. A syndicate was formed in Victoria, to
acquire and develop them. Eventually, a company was organized to take
over the syndicate's holdings, and a charter from the Provincial Legislature
obtained, authorizing the construction of the British Columbia Southern Rail-
way, for which a land subsidy was obtained, to give access to this coal dis-


trict. After a long series of negotiations, which forms a most imiwrtani
chapter in the political history of this province and of Canada, an agree-
ment was finally closed with the Canadian Pacific Railway, for the construc-
tion of the railway through Crow's Nest Pass, to connect with its line at
Lethhridge, in the Northwest Territory, thus affording direct connection be-
tween the Eastern wholesale markets, and those of the Kootenay mininj^
towns. In the meanwhile, the Crow's Nest Pass Coal Company, controllea
by Senator Cox, Robert Jaffray and other Eastern moneyed associates, ac-
quired the coal lands, and have developed the mines, which are now produc-
ing both coal and coke on a large scale. These mines, and the coking industry
in connection, supply the smelters of the Interior with coke, which is largely
shipped to the United States as well. To give an idea of the extent of
these coal fields, their area is estimated by Dr. Dawson, to be about two
hundred (200) square miles. For a portion of this area. Dr. Selwyn, for-
merly director of the Geological Survey, estimates the coal underlying eaclr
square mile to be 49,952,000 tons. Thus we have one of the most remarkable
coal basins known. Assuming that the estimate of Dr. Selwyn holds good
for half the area, and the production at 10,000 tons a day, the supply in
sight is sufficient to last 500,000 years, quite long enough to relieve imme-
diate posterity from the danger of a fuel famine.

For the present, the output of coal is affected by the use of petroleum
for fuel purposes, which is restricting the market, formerly enjoyed. The
increasing use of coke in smelters, however, is in some measure compensating
for the competition in oil fuel; and forever the coal measures of British
Columbia must remain one of the greatest of provincial assets.

There is not time or space to review all the mineral resources of the
province. The next most important mineral, and it may prove eventually
to be the most important, is iron. As yet, it has not taken on the same degree
of economic importance as the other minerals reviewed, from the fact that
the iron industry has not yet been established on this Coast, but prospects


in that direction are visibly brighter. Iron ores in British Columbia are
•widely, distributed throughout the Mainland and along the coast of both
Island and Mainland. Although the Mainland has been but little prospected
■for iron ores, extensive deposits are known to exist at Cherry Creek, near
Kamloops; at Bull Creek, Gray Creek, and Kitchener (Goat River) in East
Kootenay; and are reported in the mountains north of Trail and in the
Cariboo district. On the Coast, iron deposits occur on Texada Island and
adjacent islands, at Rivers Inlet, and' on Queen Charlotte Islands. The
most important of these exist on the Island of Vancouver, at Sooke, Malahat
Mountain, Port Renfrew (at the mouth of the San Juan River), Barkley
Sound (including Sarita River and Cooper Island), Alberni Canal, Hesquoit
Harbor, Nootka Sound and Quatsino Sound." As a rule, the iron ore is
inagnetite in character, but deposits of Hematite hav6 been discovered at
Quatsino, near Chemainu's, at Kitchener, and one or two other points, but not
sufficient has been done to determine their extent or value. There is little
doubt but that the bodiesofiroh, especially on the West Coast of ^Vancouver
Island, are sufficiently extensive to maintain large blast furnaces ' for an
indefinite time. -

The conditions which affect the rtianufa^cture of iron on the Coast of
British Columbia, are favorable in the extreme, if we except the^qii'estioh
of market, which is yet an uhdeterfnihed factor. They are: cheap water',
transportation, and' easy access to the water; good fuel at low* cost, with
abundance of pure lime for fluxes. It is true that labor is higher on this
Coast, biit the demand created by the existence of blast fuinaces, w'ould
probably tend' to equalize conditions in that respect. The other favorable
conditions, however, would tend to offset the price of labor, and place the in-
dustry on a very favorable basis" as compared with other parts of the world!

The other minerals, which are possessed in British Columbia in' suf-
ficient quantity to be of importance econoniicallv, are zihc, associated prin-
cipially with the silver-lead ores of the" Kootenay s'; cinnabar, the 'quicksilver-


bearing zone, two miles wide, having been traced for thirty miles, crossing
Kamloops Lake, about three miles above the lower end of it ; platinum, which
occurs principally in the Tulameen, a branch of the Similkameen, and in the
copper ores of Boundary and Rossland, and in the placers of Cariboo and
Cassiar; mica, found in large quantities and excellent quality, in the vicinity
of Tete Jeune Cache ; gypsum in the vicinity of Kamloops ; and lime in abun-
dance in many parts of the province. Sulphur in the form of pyrites is more
or less general; arsenic, osmiridium, scheelite and other minerals are also
found. Tin, nickel, asbestos and manganese have not been reported to exist
to any extent.

It would be difficult to say which of the four main resources of the Prov-
ince are the most important. Mining has by general consent been given the
first place, and it will probably continue to occupy that place for some years
to come, if not forever. The value and extent of the fisheries are as yet
somewhat problematical, though it is doubtful even if fully developed, they
would yield the same amount of wealth as the minerals of the Province. De-
velopment in the case of the fisheries means depletion, unless means and
methods are adopted to insure propagation on a scale commensurate with the
fishing operations. There is great forest wealth on the Pacific Coast, but the
timber is doomed to extinction along with that of the older parts of America.
Up to the present time, no systematic or comprehensive system of protection
and of forestration has been adopted, and without it, between the forest fires
and the lumbermen, this capital resource will soon vanish. As yet, we have
vast reserves, but with many loggers and mills at work, its disappearance will
be much more rapid than the growth of new timber. The resource, however,
upon which the highest permanent hopes may be based, is that of Agriculture
in all its branches. We are told that the rainbow was placed in the sky as
a token that as long as it remained there, there would be seedtime and harvest.
It is morally certain that with rain and sunshine the industry, which is the


foundation of all industry and wealth, will continue unimpaired and perpetually
productive. Owing to the potentialities of the soil and climate in British
Columbia, the future of the Province is of the brightest possible character, and
although the area of arable land is limited as compared with other provinces
in Canada, it is not inconceivable that the output of the farms and orchards
of British Columbia will yet be greater than that of the mines. Taking these
resources in the order of their relative importance, as they appear at present
from the value of the annual output, they are :


There is a considerable variation in the value of the output of the fisheries
from year to year. In 1901, which was the record year, owing to the large
salmon pack, the yield of fisheries was estimated in value to be about $8,ckx>,-
000. The word " estimated " is used because outside of the salmon pack,
there are no absolutely exact returns. In 1902, the value of the yield fell to
$5,280,000. It is not proposed to go into a minute history of the fishing in-
dustry in this Province.

The salmon canning fishery, which has developed to such large propor-
tions, practically began in the year 1876 on the Fraser River, New Westmin-
ster District, The first pack amounted to almost 10,000 cases, which rapidly
increased. The pack was 225,000 cases in 1883 ; 204,000 cases in 1887; 315,-
000 cases in 189 1 ; over 1,000,000 cases in 1897, and over 1,236,000 cases
in 1901. These were mainly big years. Statistics show, with more or less
regularity, every fourth year to have been big years, followed by one or two lean
years. The exact cause of this periodicity, which is peculiar to the Fraser
River, has never been definitely ascertained. The development of the salmon
fishing for commercial purposes was gradual at first, but proceeded more rap-
idly in later years. It extended from the Fraser River to the Northern rivers
and inlets, and we find canneries located at Rivers Inlet, Skeena and Naas


Rivers, Lowe Inlet, Dean Canal, Namu Harbor, Bella Coola, Smith's Inlet,
Alert Bay, and on the West coast of Vancouver Island.

Recently, presumably as a result of the numerous canneries operated
and the catching of fish in traps by American fishermen before they
reach the Fraser River,' there has been signs of depletion, and attention
has been directed particularly to the increase of the natural supply by
artificial methods of propagation, and by an endeavor to secure co-opera-
tion with canneries operating on the American side, and uniformity of
regulation with a view to prevention of destructive methods and perman-
ent sources of supply. The cannerymen, both north and south of the
boundary line fully appreciate the importance of this and undoubtedly in the
near future a mutual understanding will be arrived at. The artificial propa-
gation of salmon by means of hatcheries began in 1885. In 1902 the Prov-
ince erected a large hatchery at Setori Lake, which last year had an output
of over forty million of salmon fry. About the same time that the Province
undertook artificial propagation, the Dominion Government began erecting
other hatcheries, and there are now four operating on the Fraser River, Gran-
ite Creek, Shuswap Lake, Skeena and Nimkish Rivers.

A comparatively small trade is carried on in fresh, dry, salted and smoked
salmon. The salmon most used for cannery purposes are the sockeye and co-
hoes. The spring salmon and steelhead form the staple product for fresh
fish export, while the dog salmon is now being utilized for the Japanese and
other markets, in which a cheap product finds a demand. The fish next in

Online LibraryR. E. (R. Edward) GosnellA history; British Columbia → online text (page 25 of 79)