Gold, placer gold-to be had for the panning, was the irresistible force that shattered the peaceful, jog-trot pace of life in the young settlements of Victoria and Esquimalt. News of the discovery of gold in the bars of the Fraser River reached the outside world in 1858. It was the psychological moment for another Gold Rush. The placer gold fields of California were petering out. San Francisco was filled with "forty-niners," all eager to try their luck once more. Wild excitement followed the rumor of a gold strike in New Caledonia, the unknown country to the north. The Fraser River Gold Rush was on. Settlers from Vancouver Island, from Oregon, left their farms, their various occupations. Miners came from Australia, from Canada, from Europe. From the- four quarters of the globe they gathered, until thirty thousand had joined the stampede to the "gold diggings" on the bars of the Fraser River. American speculators attempted to divert the stream of profitable traffic over Oregon territory by way of the "Whatcom Trail." With the failure of that project, except for the few passengers on small ships sailing direct to the Fraser River, the whole heterogeneous mob poured through Victoria, the only British source of supplies and information. Esquimalt, with its better harbor, became the port of landing.
Ships arrived of every size and shape, some seaworthy craft, others held together with a few coats of paint. All were loaded far beyond the safety line with excited miners. A thriving trade grew up in portaging the miners ashore from their anchored ships. Keen competition between the white owners of small boats and Indians with their dugouts, added to the din. An eye-witness account of the Gold Rush days is given by Commander Richard Charles Mayne, R.N., 2rid Lieutenant, at the time, of HM. survey vessel, Plumper. in his book, "Four Years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island." He wrote:- "we returned to Esquimalt, to find that during our absence that most infectious of maladies-a gold fever- had broken out, and had seized every man, woman, and child there and in Victoria. The existence of gold on the mainland of British Columbia, had been proved incontestably; and everyone whom a few weeks ago we had left engaged steadily in pursuits from which they were reaping a slow sure profit, seemed to have gone gold-mad." The road to Victoria, Old Esquimalt Road, which bluejackets from H.M.S. Thetis, under the direction of their officers, had hewn out of the dense forest, some eight years before, was described by Commander Mayne "That road, too, from Esquimalt to Victoria . . . was changed, with the rest, almost beyond recognition.
Only a few months before, we used to flounder through the mud without meeting a single soul; now it was covered with pedestrians toiling along, with the step and air of men whose minds are occupied with thoughts of business; crowded with well-laden carts and vans, with Wells Fargo's, or Freeman's "Expresses," and with strangers of every tongue and country, in every variety of attire." Of the ships arriving in Esquimalt Harbor he gave a conservative estimate, naming only the larger vessels: "The excitement in Victoria reached its climax, I think, in July [ 1858]. On the 27th of the previous month, the 'Republic' steamed into Esquimalt harbor from San Francisco with 800 passengers; on the 1st of July, the 'Sierra Nevada' landed 1900 more; on the 8th of the same month, the 'Orizaba' and the 'Cortez' together brought 2800; and they all reported that thousands waited to follow. The sufferings of the passengers upon this voyage, short as it is, must have been great, for the steamers carried at least double their complement of passengers. Of course Victoria could not shelter this incursion of immigrants, although great efforts were made, and soon a large town of tents sprung up along the harbor side."
Supplies at the Hudson's Bay Company's trading post were sold to the miners as fast as they could be brought out. Other merchants' stores were opened outside the stockades, where exorbitant prices were charged. Real estate values sky-rocketed. The price of lots in Victoria and Esquimalt rose from $5 to $500 and more, overnight. Wharves were built on Esquimalt Harbor with warehouses to store the incoming tide of goods. Some of the newcomers, the majority of whom were Americans, were experienced miners. Others were mere "cheechakos." Some were reputable and law-abiding. Others were riff-raff. Among them were a few jail-breakers and desperadoes. In the wake of the miners came traders and promoters of varying degrees of honesty. Legal machinery to handle such a situation did not exist in the young colony. However, the man to handle the situation did exist and was on the spot. Governor Douglas did not wait to receive authorization from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. Mails were slow and the danger imminent.
Douglas intensely loyal both to his company and his country, feared that this invasion of Americans, if uncontrolled, might lead to an attempt to take over the rich, unprotected lands of New Caledonia as they had taken over Oregon. Proclamations were issued by him as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Colony of Vancouver's Island. Regulations were posted, fees collected from the miners and licenses demanded from all ships entering the Fraser River. H.M.S. Satellite was stationed at the mouth of the Fraser River to enforce these payments. In many of the regulations there was a strong bias in favor of the Hudson's Bay Company's monopoly of trade. Many of the adventurers were unpleasantly surprised to find representative government, with British law and order, firmly established in this little backwoods trading post. Her Majesty's ships of war at anchor in Esquimalt Harbor and a detachment of Royal Engineers at work on the Boundary Survey, no doubt, made an impressive background. With the strong hand of Governor Douglas at the helm and the quick action for which he was noted in evidence, any attempted lawlessness was soon suppressed. Rarely, if ever, has a mining stampede been controlled with less bloodshed. Most of the miners left for parts unknown when the bars of the Fraser River ceased to yield fortunes in placer gold. The more persistent pushed slowly up the river beyond Yale, working any likely prospect as far as Quesnel and even Fort George.
Some turned eastward into the Cariboo country. Here they made the richest "strikes" of all. In the creek beds of that district they discovered gold in vast quantities. In 1861 the Cariboo Gold Rush brought another stampede of excited miners. Fortunes were made and lost and made again. Williams Creek proved a bonanza. Over $40,000,000 in gold came out of the Cariboo before the days of shallow digging were over and the days of deep mining, requiring capital, took their place. The mining town of Barkerville sprang up overnight in the heart of this new El Dorado. Its population grew until in 1861 it numbered nearly 8,000. A.s a direct result of the mining activity on the mainland, the Colony of British Columbia was established on November 19th, 1858.
James Douglas was to be Governor of the two Colonies of Vancouver Island and of British Columbia, on condition that he resign as head of the Western Department of the Hudson's Bay Company. A detachment of Royal Engineers, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Clement Moody, was sent from England to aid in survey work and to maintain order. This detachment performed marvelous feats of engineering in the building of roads and bridges in this mountainous country, to replace the perilous brigade trails and ancient Indian trails over which the early miners were forced to travel. The four hundred miles of the famous "Cariboo Road" form a monument to their skill. The headquarters of these sappers was on the banks of the Fraser River at Sapperton.
Matthew Baillie Begbie, sent out by the Colonial Secretary to be Judge of the new Colony of British Columbia, was given the task of administering the laws of the land. He travelled through the mining district, holding court, settling disputes, and dispensing justice with a stern but impartial hand. He was feared by many, be-loved by some, and respected by all of the tough characters of the country. Judge Begbie was a tall, magnificent figure of a man, fearless, a good sportsman and an excellent shot. Many stories were circulated in the Cariboo about the Judge. On one occasion a man had been sandbagged in a drunken brawl, dragged outside the saloon and left to die. His companion was tried for murder. In spite of strong evidence against him, the jury brought in a verdict of "not guilty." "Prisoner," said Judge Begbie at the conclusion of the trial, "the jury has said you are not guilty, and you may go. But I devoutly hope that the next man you 'sand-bag' will be one of the jury."
Governor James Douglas and Judge Matthew Baillie Begbie both deserved well of their country and more than earned the knighthoods with which they were honored. One of the leading old-time residents of Esquimalt, Charles Edward Pooley, was a frequent travelling companion of Judge Begbie. In 1862, when young Pooley was eighteen, he arrived at Victoria to join the Cariboo Gold Rush. He brought a letter of introduction from a mutual friend in England to Judge Begbie, which he presented on the day of his arrival. He left at once for the Cariboo with two young men who had crossed the Atlantic and the Isthmus of Panama with him. They travelled on foot from New Westminster to Barkerville.
The three companions staked a claim and were offered $300,000 for it by some Americans. They refused the offer, then found the bedrock to be hard as glass and the claim unworkable. To restore his shattered fortunes, young Pooley started teaming on the Cariboo Road. He took part in a sports gathering at Barkerville, won the sprints races, and met Judge Begbie there. The Judge evidently admired the sportsmanship of the young athlete for he: promptly offered him the job of Registrar of the Court, a position he held for some twelve years, giving it up when he was admitted to the Bar of British Columbia in 1877. In their journeyings together through the Upper Country, these two lovers of sport enjoyed the cream of the shooting and fishing in British Columbia. Charles Edward Pooley married Elizabeth Wilhelmina Fisher, daughter of William Fisher, in 1869, at St. Paul's Church, Esquimalt. The bride's family had arrived in Esquimalt in 1863, having sailed around the Horn in the good ship Strathallan.
The Fisher family had settled in Esquimalt where William Fisher had built a large house near the Naval Dockyard. The first home of the Pooleys was in the old village where their eldest daughter, Alice Marian, was born. Later, they built "Fernhill" on Lampson Street, surrounded by twenty-six acres of lovely gardens and woodlands. Mr. and Mrs. Pooley and their family of seven kept open house at "Fernhill." It became a center of the gay social life of the Royal Navy days in Esquimalt. One of the great occasions in the family life at "Fernhill" was a naval wedding in 1896, when Annie Bickerton, the second daughter, was married at St. Paul's Church to the Hon. Victor Stanley, son of the Earl of Derby. Victor Stanley was then Lieutenant in the Royal Arthur, later Rear-Admiral Sir Victor Stanley. For twenty-four years Charles Edward Pooley represented Esquimalt in the Provincial Legislature. For six years he was Speaker of the House and for nine years, President of the Council. His third son, Robert Henry Pooley, followed in his father's political footsteps. For twenty-five years, from 1912 to 1937, he was member for Esquimalt in the Provincial House. The Detachment of Royal Engineers who arrived during the Gold Rush days was disbanded in 1863.
Each man was entitled to a free grant of one hundred and fifty acres of land. A number chose to stay and throw in their lot with the young colony. Richard Wolfenden, a Yorkshireman who became the first Queen's Printer, was one of this group. He arrived at Esquimalt on April 12th, 1859, with the main body of the Royal Engineers, 187 strong, including 31 women and 34 children, in the small clipper ship, Thames City. They were transferred to the steamer, Eliza Anderson, which took them to their new headquarters at Sapperton near New Westminster. As a lad in his teens, Richard Wolfenden had been apprenticed to a printer. Although his love of the out-of-doors made him desert printing for surveying under his brother who was a practicing surveyor. His knowledge of printing was to serve him in good stead in the future. He had joined the Royal Engineers in 1855. A crack shot, he became an Instructor of Musketry at Woolwich. In 1858, Corporal Wolfenden volunteered for service in the Columbia Detachment of the Royal Engineers, to be sent out to maintain order and to open up roads in the new mining country.
Colonel Moody was in command of the Royal Engineers and was also Chief Commissioner of Lands and Works. The young corporal was employed in the Colonel's busy office. When a small printing press was installed for the printing of proclamations, blank forms, etc., for the Colonial Government, he was placed in charge. In 1863 the splendid work of the Royal Engineers in British Columbia came to an end. Richard Wolfenden decided to stay. In the autumn of that year, he was appointed Superintendent of Printing for _British Columbia, with three ex-members of the force as assistants. With the union of the two colonies and the choice of Victoria as the capital, the Printing· Department was moved to Victoria. Richard Wolfenden's title was changed in 1889 and he became the first Queen's Printer of British Columbia. He was King's Printer and the active head of that department at his death in 1911 at the age of seventy-five. Retaining a keen interest in shooting and military affairs, he was a member of the Canadian Wimbledon team of 1874 and an officer in the early Victoria militia, an important defense force in those days. He retired from the First Artillery Brigade of Victoria in 1888 with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Richard Wolfenden was married twice. His first wife was Kate Cooley, an English sweetheart who came out in 1865 to marry him. They had seven children, three- sons and four daughters.
After her death he married Felicite Bayley. Her parents were globe-trotters and as a child of three she had spent two years with them visiting Fort Victoria. She returned with the Innes family when Mr. Innes was appointed Naval Storekeeper at the Dockyard. By the second marriage there were two sons and one daughter. Two members of the first Wolfenden family, Nellie Frankland and Arthur Richard, made their homes and brought up their families in Esquimalt_ Nellie, the eldest daughter, afterwards Mrs. George Mathews, was born at Sapperton. As a young woman she taught in the school in Old Esquimalt village, which, incidentally, was the first free school established in British Columbia. Arthur Wolfenden was a well-known and beloved resident of Esquimalt for many years. He served as one of the early councilors. To his far-sightedness and his belief in its future, Esquimalt owes the early installation of more than one of the municipal services. The Royal Grant of the whole of Vancouver's Island to the Hudson's Bay Company was annulled in 1859 and any unsold land reverted to the Crown. The Government of the Colony of Vancouver Island now initiated a land settlement policy, by which they sought to persuade some of the new arrivals to take up land on the Island and become farmers instead of miners. The district of Chemainus, being accessible by water, early attracted prospective settlers. On July 18th, 1859, a party of thirty left Victoria by the Nanaimo Packet, which had been cleared for the purpose. Their chief goal was the un-surveyed land of Chemainus.
In 1862, H.M.S. Hecate, with a sloop in tow, took one hundred hopeful farmers-to-be to Cowichan Bay. Governor Douglas, Attorney-General Cary and Colonial Surveyor Pemberton, accompanied this expedition whose objectives were the lands around Shawnigan Lake, Somenos and Comiaken. In the same year, a party of thirty left Victoria for Comox aboard the gunboat Grappler. Among them were a number of miners and sailors from Australia and a group from the British Isles. The Cariboo Gold Rush had attracted them but Attorney-General Cary had persuaded them to try farming in the Comox Valley instead. A name well-known in pioneer days in the Cowichan Valley, later to hold a place of honor in Esquiinalt was on the passenger list of the sailing ship, Strathalla.n, already mentioned as arriving at Esquimalt in 1863. This was the Guernsey name of Mainguy. Daniel Wishart Mainguy, a young man of twenty one, tall, handsome and of fine physique, sailed from England for Vancouver Island soon after he left Cam bridge.
By the time he reached Esquimalt the first wild excitement of the Gold Rush days was over, and he was among those who chose to settle on the land. He took up land near the mouth of the Chemainus River and on the island in its mouth known today as Mainguy Island. In 1884 he married Mary Elizabeth Fry, whose father, Henry Fry, one of the pioneers of North Saanich, had moved with his family in 1870 to the district later known as Duncans, (now Duncan). Daniel Mainguy and his wife made their first home on their island in the river. They had a family of four sons and one daughter. In an interesting diary which he kept from the time he left England, Daniel Mainguy gave a graphic description of rounding the Horn :- "Friday, March 6th/63. Horn in sight. Lovely day. Water very smooth. Mild Mr. Breeze sprung up at 11 A.M. Hoisted sails. 10 P.M. Heavy squall took us on Starboard bow, all helped to take in sail.
A ship driven across our bow. Under close reefed topsails all night. Very heavy sea running." Eighty-three years later, almost to a day, on March 20th, 1946, Daniel Mainguy's youngest son, Captain Edmond Rollo Mainguy, in command of H.M.C.S. Uganda, "sailed" his ship around Cape Horn from West to East. He wrote:- "Of course we were all ready for the vilest kind of weather and all indications yesterday pointed to our being right. What did we find? A flat calm sea, moderate swell, and a gentle westerly breeze pushing us along! So we stopped the ship opposite 'The Horn' and lowered two boats full of people with cameras. Then we turned back, hoisted 3 sails (small ones, I admit!) and sailed majestically between the boats and the cape." Rear-Admiral E. R. Mainguy, O.B.E., R.C.N., was soon after to fly his Admiral's flag at Esquimalt as Commanding Officer, Pacific Coast. Not all the gold seekers rushed off to the "diggings" or took up land. Some saw business opportunities in this new country.
Three American newspapermen from San Francisco who landed here in 1858, H. C. Williston, J. W. Towne and Columbus Bartlett, brought a complete printing outfit with them and published the first newspaper in the colony, "The Victoria Gazette." Alfred Waddington, an Englishman and "forty,1iner" who also came in 1858 from San Francisco, was one of the most enterprising and became one of the wealthiest merchants of Victoria. In 1862, he conceived the idea of building a wagon road from the head of Bute Inlet to Fort Alexandria and from there eastward to tap the rich mining fields of the Cariboo and to link the West with eastern Canada. The massacre of his road-builders by Chilcotin Indians shattered this dream. Nothing daunted, he turned his energies to the promotion of a transcontinental railway. He did not live ta see this vision materialize but his work bore fruit. Wealth was brought to the young Crown Colonies of Vancouver Island and of British Columbia during the Gold Rush days, wealth not only in gold but in a fine type of settler, men and women of courage, foresight and enterprise.