THE SEARCH FOR GOLD
The search for gold begins a new chapter in Similkameen history, and brings into the picture Governor James Douglas, Col. Richard Clement Moody, and some of his Royal Engineers. Gold had been discovered in the interior of the province in the late 50’s. In 1858 miners began to arrive from the south, where the California excitement of 1849 had died down. On their way to the Fraser diggings, or (later) to Cariboo, the majority came by the Columbia River route, following the Okanagan Lake, thence overland to the diggings. Many following this latter route diverged up the Similkameen, where gold had been discovered. Others turned east to Rock Creek where finds were of sufficient importance to lead Douglas to build a trail from Hope east.
It is known that David Douglas, for whom the Douglas fir was named, found a gold nugget in the interior of this province in 1833, and this is the earliest recorded find. But the late Frank Buckland of Kelowna believed that long before this date Spaniards came north from Mexico in search of minerals here. He believed they were the first Europeans to visit Okanagan, but of this there is no sufficient evidence.
Mrs. Allison attributed the discovery of gold in Similkameen to Hudson’s Bay employees, who found the search for gold more profitable than the hunt for furs. The discovery of gold is also attributed to members of the Boundary Commission.
In “The Sunday Province” (Vancouver, 7 July, 1929) Reece H. Hogue makes the following statements: “In 1850 Indians from the Skeena River brought gold to a Hudson’s Bay post, but an expedition which set out to find the source from which it came met with failure. Placer gold was found at Natchez Pass, and in the Similkameen country, as early as 1852, and in 1853 gold was secured from Indians near Kamloops. The following year Colville Indians were known to have gold in their possession, and between 1855 and 1857 various discoveries were made…”
In “The Oroville Gazette” for Christmas, 1910, Bobby Stevenson told of “A trip through the Okanagan Valley in the summer of 1860,” and has this to say about the discovery of gold: “Gold had been discovered on Rich Bar, four or five miles above the present town of Oroville, in August 1859, and the discovery was causing great excitement. The boundary survey party had made the discovery and the papers were full of it at that time…”
So far as Similkameen was concerned, gold-seeking expeditions from the south had three goals: Rock Creek, Similkameen and the Fraser River (the Cariboo rush came in the early sixties). Rock Creek is a story by itself. Similkameen deals with discoveries both south and north of the border. It tells of Chinese as well as white men in search of gold; it tells of the Collins expedition, and the settlement at Blackfoot, near Allenby.
PIONEERS AND PROSPECTORS
We have seen that the focal points in the search for gold were Rock Creek, Similkameen, the Fraser River and Cariboo. Next to the hunt for furs, the search for gold had more to do with the exploration and development of Similkameen than any other factor in early days. Like the Overlanders of 1862, the pioneers and prospectors were lured west by prospects of gold. They were the footsoldiers of civilization on the march. They had in mind the Promised Land, and were inspired by dreams that made them strong to endure, and patient to achieve.
In “The Similkameen Star,” 20 August, 1942, we paid the following tribute to two worthy pioneers: “This week saw the passing of two of Princeton’s best-known oldtimers – Alexander MacKenzie and P.Y. Smith. Both were in their eighties, and both had spent the best part of half a century in Similkameen. In the best sense of the word, they were pioneers, laying the foundation stones of things to be. There was little here when they came. They watched Similkameen grow. To its development they have made their contribution by their labour and their faith.
“It is given to few pioneers and prospectors to see their dreams come true. Others reap where they have sowed. Not every soul is cast in the pioneering mould, but those who are do not hesitate to face hardship and sacrifice present comfort for the sake of future gain. It matters little whether they realize their dreams or not. The thing that matters is that they do dream, and work till sunset. This is the only happiness most of them ever find. Such development as we have we owe to these brave souls who have not hesitated to suffer hardship while seeking out the hidden treasures of earth. Whilst most of us are busy in many ways, we pause for a moment to pay an humble tribute to The Laird and “P.Y.,” who have crossed the great divide.”
The Rock Creek story has points of contact with our Similkameen history. Rock Creek is on the Kettle Valley railway, and eleven miles northwest of Midway. Within recent years a splendid bridge has eliminated the long, winding “down-again up-again” dip to the creek. It was here in October, 1859, that Adam Beam, a Canadian, discovered gold while on his way to Similkameen from Fort Colville (originally spelled Colvile). By October, 1860, about 500 miners were in the neighbourhood.
Following the discovery of gold in August, 1859, by members of the Boundary Survey party, Robert (Bobby) Stevenson, then employed at the Port Gamble sawmill on Puget Sound, read a notice published in an Olympia paper, stating that Captain Collins, an Indian fighter of some note, would conduct an exploring party across the Cascades in the spring of 1860. This was stated to be the first party of white men to cross the Cascades from Puget Sound to the interior of the territory. The route selected was up the Snoqualmie River, through the pass of that name, and down the Yakima. The diggings proved to be more rich than extensive. Stevenson tells that in the spring of 1861 he saw Big John Hadley with three partners, take out $1600 in four days, but $20 to $25 per day per man was the usual average.
The expedition was advertised to start east on 19 April, so two days before that date Stevenson and two partners, Frank Pasters and James McCurdy, sailed on the steamer “Wilson G. Hunt” for Seattle. It was April 29 before the party got started.
There were 34 men in the party, and horses in excess of that number. By the time they had crossed the mountains, and proceeded down the Yakima River, they were almost exhausted. They crossed the Yakima at the present site of Parker on the evening of 7 June, and reached Okanagan River by the 16th. Franswa, in charge of the fort at Okanagan, loaned them a boat in which to cross the river.
Proceeding up the east side of the Okanagan, the party passed through McLoughlin Canyon, followed the Little Bonaparte, arriving at Kettle River, at the mouth of Rock Creek, on 22 June, 1860. “At this point,” writes Stevenson, “Captain Collins made a speech and formally disbanded the Collins expedition.” Unfortunately, we are told nothing of the results of this expedition. Instead, he tells the story of the McLoughlin party’s fight with the Indians in the McLoughlin Canyon sometime prior to the Collins expedition. At the time of his writing (1910) Stevenson was, so far as he knew, the only survivor of the party that left Seattle in April, 1860.
After the McLoughlin party’s fight with the Indians at, or near, the site of Oroville, one section of whites escaped to Osoyoos Lake, and another to Similkameen. The Indians did not follow them into British Columbia. The Similkameen party made their way across the Hope Mountains, and finally reached the Fraser River. There is a Collins Gulch near Coalmont, but it is not known that this place name had anything to do with the hero of Stevenson’s story. The place was the scene of a coal discovery much later in Similkameen history.
Stevenson arrived at Rock Creek in June. The following September Governor James Douglas arrived on a visit to the mines. Douglas appointed Stevenson customs officer. Bobby was a big man, big enough to command respect. He was known by the Indians as the “man who knew no fear.” But before long Bobby was attracted north by the growing fame of Cariboo.
CENTRE OF LEGEND
Stevenson became a legendary figure in Similkameen. He was born in Ontario in July, 1837, and came west in 1859. He had many mineral claims at Copper Mountain and elsewhere in Similkameen. He is remembered as “a man of infinite jest” and many of the stories told about him are reminiscent of the exploits of Paul Bunyan or Baron von Munchhausen. One story must suffice. In the early days in Similkameen it was the unpardonable sin to steal a man’s horse. On one occasion Bobby was the victim of such a theft. Suspecting Ashnola John, Bobby armed himself with two revolvers, and followed tell-tale tracks. As he surmised, they led to the Indian reserve, and to Ashnola John, not far from whom was Bobby’s horse.
Bobby shook his fist at the chief, and said that this sort of thievery had got to stop once and for all. Placing one of the two revolvers in the chief’s hand, he explained that they were to fight a duel. They would stand back to back. When Bobby gave the word of command, each would march ten paces, then turn quickly and shoot to kill. As Bobby told the story, they stood back to back. “I gave the word of command, marched ten paces, and when I turned around the scoundrel was half a mile away.”
ALL FOR THE LOVE OF A LADY
Before leaving Rock Creek, there are two worthies who must find a place in this chronicle: Jimmy Copland and Archie Aberdeen, both of whom often visited friends in Similkameen.
On more than one occasion, when in his nineties, Jimmy Copland addressed the Princeton Sunday School. Born in Forfar, Angus-shire, Scotland, 4 July, 1838, at the age of fourteen he went to sea in a sailing ship. He sailed the seven seas, and rounded Cape Horn half a dozen times. He was barely twenty when he landed in San Francisco, and headed north to British Columbia, with thousands more, to the Fraser River in search of gold. At Fort Langley on Friday, 19 November, 1858, he witnessed the birth of the crown colony of British Columbia. Since the weather was too wet for an outdoor ceremony, all concerned met in the reception room of the Big House at Fort Langley. James (afterwards, Sir James) Douglas handed M.B. Begbie his commission as Chief Justice of the new colony; and Begbie handed Douglas his commission as Governor. Oaths of office were taken, proclamations were read, English law adopted, guns fired, and in a drizzle of rain British Columbia came into being. Jimmy Copland was the last survivor of those who witnessed this historic scene.
From the Fraser Jimmy went to Rock Creek, and this became his headquarters for nearly eighty years. He took part in almost every gold rush in the province. When on his way back to Hope in 1860 he met Governor Douglas near what is now Oroville, and then followed the Similkameen till he came to the site of Princeton. There was gold excitement here, too; and here Jimmy built one of the first (if not the first) buildings in what is now Princeton. Copland built a cabin for Mr. and Mrs. John Marston. Marston was the fourth to take up the land here. The record reads, “September 20, 1860 –P/R 4, Similkameen (Hope) 160 acres, between the north and south forks of the Similkameen River at the extreme point of said forks.”
In spring of 1870 Copland travelled north to the Skeena River country, where he had some thrilling adventures. Here he found the only woman he ever loved, an Indian maid whom he married. Later, she accompanied him to Camp McKinney, where she commanded the respect of all the miners. In July, 1951, the writer accompanied A.D. Broomfield on a trip to Camp McKinney. We arrived there mid-afternoon on the 5th, and did some exploring in a downpour of rain. The forgotten cemetery looked desolate but we were able to photograph the marble shaft erected to the memory of Mrs. Copland; and to read the inscription at its base: “Copland, Jeannie Shulaget Copland. Born 1860 at Kitkargas, Skeena River. Died May 18, 1908.” Mr. Copland died in Grand Forks on 20 April, 1938, and was buried in the Rock Creek cemetery.
A BROTHER SCOT
Archie Aberdeen was tall, straight, and bearded, a venerable looking figure. His cabin was not far from Jimmy’s at Rock Creek. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in June, 1829, at an early age he came to Canada and arrived on the Pacific coast long before the railways came. Like Copland, he made Rock Creek his home, and was a familiar figure among the prospectors, and in mining camps. In April, 1930, after a holiday in Vancouver, he was returning to Rock Creek, and broke his journey to visit friends in Princeton. He was then 101 years old. On the 16 April, the writer had a pleasant chat with him in the sitting room of the Princeton Hotel, of which A.D. Broomfield was then proprietor. It was suggested to Archie that he attend church the following Sunday. For a moment Archie looked into space, and then he said, “I haven’t been to Church for a hundred years; but,” he added, as with sudden resolution, “I’ll come next Sunday.”
Archie’s mind was made up, but the following night, Thursday, 17 April, he died sitting in his chair. On the 20th – Easter Sunday – they brought him to church, and after a brief service he was buried in Princeton cemetery on the hill south of the Similkameen River. The spring grass on the rolling hills made a picture of rare beauty. The long day’s work was done. Now he rests from his labours, and a little monument marks the place where he lies. “Archie Aberdeen – 101.”
It will be seen that the story of Rock Creek had much in common with the history of Similkameen. Many came from the Creek to stay in our valley. It was the discovery of gold at Rock Creek that determined Douglas to push a road of sorts from Hope across the mountains and through Similkameen to the diggings. This brought to our valley the earliest settlers. Douglas was a visitor, and many of the Royal Engineers learned to know and love Similkameen.
OUR FIRST SETTLER
Although many had come to hunt for furs, or search for gold, John Fall Allison was the first who came to make this valley his permanent home. He is rightly regarded as our pioneer citizen. Allison was born in Leeds, England, on 6 January, 1825, where his father was house surgeon to the city hospital. In 1837 the family moved to Illinois, and twelve years later the son joined the Forty-niners travelling westward to California hoping to get rich quick. In 1858 he was in Victoria with a letter of introduction to James Douglas, who asked him to visit Similkameen and report on recent gold discoveries. This was the beginning of Allison’s connection with Similkameen.
Allison was instructed to ascertain the facts regarding reports of rich placer grounds discovered by Hudson’s Bay employees at the north fork of the Similkameen, or the Tulameen as it was called by the native peoples. Unknown to himself at the time, Allison followed the Similkameen, finding good prospects at a number of places. He also discovered outcroppings of copper which twenty years later he staked, and developed as the Allison mine.
It was not until he arrived at the forks that he discovered that he had followed the south branch, instead of the north branch of the river which comes to Princeton from a westerly direction. About a quarter of a mile below the forks he found Johnny McDougall, an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company, with his wife and family, camped on a high bench above the river. They had constructed a rough chute to convey the paydirt of the river where it channelled through a rocker and the gold extracted. They were getting nuggets worth $3 or $4 each, and making good wages, they said.
Following a visit to Victoria, Mr. Allison returned to Similkameen to explore trails, and prospect for minerals. Mr. Allison wrote that when he first caught sight of the Similkameen hills and valleys he thought it was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. “The luxuriant bunch-grass, uncropped and waving in the wind like a field of grain, all the sidehills, that are now barren, covered with tall grasses.” To other miners and prospectors, distant fields looked more promising, but Similkameen won the heart of John Fall Allison.
Later, he entered into partnership with an American named Haynes, buying a herd of Durham cows and settling down as a stock-raiser. In 1866 (1867) he was married to Susan L. Moir, youngest daughter of Stratton Moir of Ceylon.
Without severing their connection with Similkameen, Mr. and Mrs. Allison farmed at Westbank, Okanagan, 1872-1884. The story of this interlude is told by Dorothy Hewlett Gellatly in “A Bit of Okanagan History” (Kelowna, 1932. pp. 14 – 22). “In November, 1872, with a pack-train loaded with supplies and belongings, they set out for the Okanagan by way of Dog or Skaha Lake. Mrs. Allison carried two of her three small children on horseback, one in front, and the other tied on the saddle behind. Marie and the Indian girl took charge of the third. Slowly they travelled over the perilous mountain trails from Princeton to Okanagan. Less than two months later, on January 2nd, 1873, Mrs. Allison’s fourth child Louise, was born – the first white child born on the west side of Okanagan Lake.”
During the summer of 1880 the notorious McLean boys were at large in Okanagan and Similkameen. The sons of an HBC chief factor, with a companion named Alex Hare, they were desperadoes at war with society. The climax came when they murdered John Ussher, government agent at Nicola, and J. Kelly, on 7 December,1879. One of the boys paid a visit to Sunnyside, as the Allison farm was called, when Mr. Allison was absent on one of his periodic trips. Mrs. Allison showed more kindness than fear, and was unmolested. The boys were eventually captured, tried, convicted; and hanged at New Westminster on 31 January, 1881.
Among visitors to Sunnyside were Mrs. Allison’s sister and her husband Edgar Dewdney. On 1 November, 1892, Mr. Dewdney was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, and members of the Allison family were frequent guests at Government House in Victoria.
The winter of 1880-81 was one of the worst on record. Allison lost half his herd of 800 head. He returned to Princeton and here he remained. Allison was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1876, and assistant gold commissioner in 1885. This latter position he held until the office was moved to Granite Creek, when he retired and devoted himself to private business. Several severe accidents affected his health, and he died in 1897. He was buried in the Allison cemetery at the base of Castle Rock. The tombstone erected to his memory bears this inscription:
“Sacred to the memory of
JOHN GALL ALLISON
Born Jan. 6 1825
(18 Died Oct. 28 97)
Born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Eng.
Came to Similkameen 1859
and Grace Thomas
Mrs. Hugh Hunter always maintained that there were three mistakes in the above inscription: (a) Allison’s middle name was Fall – not Gall, as in the inscription; (b) the date of death is two or three days out; (c) Allison came to the Similkameen in 1858. Mrs. Hunter was right about the spelling of Allison’s middle name. If it is not as stated in the inscription, we do not have the exact date of Allison’s death; there seems to be a difference of opinion as to the best-known cattleman in the whole valley. Mrs. Allison lived till 1937, when she died (1st February) in her 93rd year.
In his “History of British Columbia” Hubert Howe Bancroft quotes “The Victoria Colonist” for 5 February, 1867, which tells of Jackass John who prospected Similkameen in 1860, and wingdammed a portion of it. After taking out $40 in two days the water rose and drove him out. Returning in October, 1866 he washed out $900 in fourteen days. Among other places, Jackass John worked at Blackfoot, which was the earliest community formed by gold seekers. It was on the south fork of Similkameen, about six miles south-west of Princeton, and two miles above Allenby. In 1861 the flat and its immediate neighbourhood contained forty homes, including miners’ cabins. For many years this remained one of the forgotten ghost towns of the province. In September, 1935, the site was relocated, and identified with Kruger’s Bar. According to James Jameson, iron spikes in a river boulder indicated till about 1925 where a bridge crossed to a store and hotel on the south side of the river. Theodore Kruger, who gave his name to the place, was born in Hanover in 1829, and came to British Columbia in 1858. Like J.F. Allison, he had tried mining on the Fraser before coming to Similkameen. In 1868 he moved to Osoyoos as store manager for the Hudson’s Bay Company.
DOUGLAS VISITED PRINCETON
Douglas visited what is now Princeton on his return from Rock Creek in the fall of 1860. It was he who ordered the Royal Engineers to lay out the townsite of Princeton. It was originally spelled Princetown. When King Edward VII was Prince of Wales he visited Eastern Canada and the United States. That was in the spring and summer of 1860. When Princeton was laid out that year, it was named in honour of the Prince of Wales, afterwards King Edward VII, known to history as “The Peace-maker.” The last (perhaps the only) living link which Princeton had with the Prince’s visit was the late Albert E. Howse, who was born on 12 July, 1855 and died on 13 December, 1938. (Mrs. Howse died in Toronto on 11 November, 1949, and her ashes were brought here for interment.) Mr. Howse often spoke of the visit of the Prince of Wales to Eastern Canada. He remembered being taken to see the proceedings on the occasion of the visit. He was only five years old at the time, when in Grimsby, Ontario, his uncle Jacob Beamer hoisted little Albert on his shoulder so that he might get a good view of the Prince. The townsite that was surveyed and named in honour of the Prince was a mile east of the present townsite, and was a mile and a quarter square. Its eastern boundary was Allison Creek; its western, a line running from Swan Lake to the river. When the present townsite was surveyed, and mapped out into lots, the name Princeton was transferred to the new site within the forks. It was the search for gold that brought Princeton into being.
There is more to be told about trails and roads when we consider transportation. Douglas’s scheme of a wagon road from Hope to Rock Creek was not completed. Trouble arose over a proposed tax on freight, and the road, after being constructed 25 miles east from Hope, was discontinued. A glorified trail was pushed through to the gold diggings at Rock Creek.
THE ROYAL ENGINEERS
When British Columbia was born at Fort Langley in November, 1859, Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton (author of “The Last Days of Pompeii”) was Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Imperial Parliament. He ordered a detachment of Royal Engineers to British Columbia to assist Douglas in governing and opening up the new crown colony. Col. Richard Clement Moody was in charge. The first and second groups to arrive came by way of Panama, arriving in Victoria on 29 October and 8 November, 1858. The body sailed from England on “Thames City,” rounded Cape Horn, and arrived at Esquimalt on 12 April, 1859. Altogether, there were 165 officers and men. When Douglas determined to build a road from Hope to Rock Creek, Captain J.M. Grant was placed in charge of this undertaking. The Royal Engineers under his charge did lasting work. Howay described Grant as “the greatest road builder of them all.” When work on the wagon road was discontinued, the remaining, existing trail was widened. Three parties continued work under Sgt. L.F. Bonson, Cpl. William Hall and Sgt. J. Murphy.
One of the Royal Engineers, Lieutenant H. Spencer Palmer made a remarkable journey from Hope through Similkameen to the United States border. He was instructed to make careful survey of “the country lying between Fort Hope and the 49th parallel of latitude, where it meets the route of Fort Colville.” Palmer left Hope on 17 September, 1859, and on the 22nd “struck the Similkameen below the Forks.” Following the Similkameen, he crossed the International Boundary on 27 September.”
Some of the Engineers pre-empted land in Similkameen, and are remembered in such place names as Moody’s Prairie and Luard Lake. Their most enduring monument in Similkameen was the road and trail from Hope to Princeton. About seventeen miles from Hope a section of their road is still to be seen, and an historical marker is planned here to comemorate their work.
Others had a hand in building the road-trail from Hope to Princeton. Walter Moberly tells us that in the spring of 1860 he “entered into contract, in partnership with Edgar Dewdney to build a trail from Fort Hope on the Fraser River to Shemilkomean River on the east side of the Cascade range of mountains…” It is still known as the Dewdney Trail.
THE WHATCOM TRAILS
The Whatcom trails were links between Similkameen and the Fraser River gold rush. There were two Whatcom trails. The first was begun by residents of Whatcom, (afterwards included in Bellingham) in the State of Washington, in the spring of 1858 in the hope of avoiding payment of levies imposed by Douglas. It was hoped to divert to Whatcom a share of the mining trade which would otherwise go to Victoria, following the discovery of gold on the Fraser. The trail followed the Nooksack River, crossed the boundary near Huntington, and came to the Fraser about thirty miles below Hope. It did not touch Similkameen as we have defined it.
This trail proved unsatisfactory, and Captain W.W. DeLacy located a second one, which followed the Skagit, and joined Anderson’s route of 1846. The second trail proved no more successful than the first and the few who travelled it experienced nothing but grief and disappointment. The advent of river boats on the Fraser ended all hope of breaking the trade monopoly.
It is commonly said that distant fields look more green. Glowing reports in the early 60’s of rich finds in Cariboo lured thousands of prospectors away from the Fraser, Similkameen and Rock Creek. Among those who headed north was our old friend Bobby Stevenson, who played an important part in a deathless story of heroism and romance. In this section, two new characters are added to our story – Cariboo Cameron and James Schubert. It is because of the part played in it by Bobby Stevenson that the Cameron story is linked with Similkameen history.
When he resigned as customs officer at Rock Creek, Stevenson drove a large number of horses into Cariboo, and sold them at a handsome profit. Thereafter he visited Victoria, arriving there on 15 December, 1861. There he met “Cariboo Cameron,” who, with his family, had arrived in March. Stevenson returned to Cariboo in April, 1862. Mr. Cameron followed in July. In their search for gold they were successful beyond their dreams, but an epidemic of smallpox brought nothing but sorrow and grief. Mrs. Cameron died on 23 October. The husband had promised his wife that if anything happened to her she would be buried in Cornwall, New Brunswick, from whence she had come.
Mr. Cameron kept his word. The remains rested in a cabin till the mournful trek to the coast could be made. No one would volunteer to help in this journey, though Cameron offered twelve dollars a day, and a bonus of $2000. They were all afraid of the smallpox. But Bobby Stevenson said he would go at his own expense. They set out on the last day of January, 1863. The temperature was fifty degrees below zero. On their way to the coast they found many dying of smallpox. Cameron and Stevenson suffered untold hardships,but finally reached Victoria on 7 March. After a temporary burial, the body of Mrs. Cameron was taken east by way of the Panama, and was finally buried in Cornwall.
THE OVERLANDERS OF 1862
Bobby Stevenson was in Cariboo when members of the Overland Expedition of 1862 arrived there. Among them were the Schuberts. Mr. and Mrs. Augustus Schubert had three children: Augustus, James and Mary. Soon after reaching Kamloops a daughter was born, and they called her Rose, the first white child to be born in the interior of British Columbia.
As a young man, Jim took up land in North Okanagan. He used to drive stage from Kamloops to Okanagan Lake, and changed horses at Round Prairie where the family had settled. Jim afterwards moved to the south end of the lake, and later to Hedley then Tulameen, where he ran a store. He was a mere infant when he came with the Overlanders in 1862. He related to the writer how Peter McIntyre took him on his back and swam across the Saskatchewan River. That was his earliest recollection.
After mining in Cariboo, and prospecting in the Mackenzie River district, Peter McIntyre crossed to the United States of America, where he became Indian fighter and pony express guard. In the early eighties he returned to British Columbia, and settled near Vaseux Lake, where his sister kept house for him. McIntyre’s Bluff, north of Oliver, is named for him. When he died at the age of 91, Jim Schubert was one of the pall-bearers. Jim died on 17 March, 1938 and was buried at Tulameen. Mrs. Schubert continued the business in Tulameen till 1954, when she went to live with her daughter Mrs. Ivan Hunter, in Oliver. Mrs. Schubert died there on 5 March, 1957.
We have already noted the community of gold seekers at Blackfoot. The only other “rush” in Similkameen was to Granite Creek. Here, in 1885, a large community sprang up. This was at the mouth of the creek, where it enters the right bank of the Tulameen, twelve miles west of Princeton. W.H. Holmes, recalling his arrival there soon after the rush began, said that the place was full of life, and at every hundred feet on the river was a water wheel, all turning to a different tune.
The rush was started by the discovery of a gold nugget by cowboy John Chance. The date of the discovery is given as 5 July, 1885 – a red-letter day in Similkameen history. According to S.R. Gibson, Chance was driving a band of horses from Washington state to New Westminster. For some unaccountable reason, after he reached Princeton he did not follow the Dewdney Trail, but went up the Tulameen, passed Aspen Grove, and followed the old Coquihalla Trail. News of the discovery soon leaked out, and the rush was on.
Within a few months a tent town covered the flat near the mouth of the creek. By the end of October, 62 companies had creek claims averaging 300 feet each. From 5 July to 31 October gold to the value of $90,000 was reported. In December, Henry Nicholson, the mining recorder, estimated the population at 600 whites and 300 Chinese. Tents were soon replaced by log buildings. In January, 1886, G.C. Tunstall, gold commissioner, reported forty houses, six saloons and hotels, and seven stores. The peak production was in 1886, when gold and platinum to the value of $193,000 were taken, chiefly from Granite Creek. By 1900 Granite Creek was just another ghost town. Hugh Hunter, who had been appointed mining recorder in August, 1899, was in March, 1900, moved to Princeton as government agent.
Gold officially reported at Granite Creek represented only a percentage of what was actually taken. Chinese were regarded as the worst offenders in this connection. If government agents were unable to report correct returns, others were able to overstate them. The truth lies somewhere between what was actually reported and what was stated in “The Similkameen Star” for 10 September, 1915: “F.P. Cook, the pioneer merchant of Granite Creek was to Princeton last Friday. In 1885 when Mr. Cook walked into Granite Creek carrying his blankets it was with difficulty that he made his way along the crowded main street. Twelve saloons did a flourishing business and closing hours were unknown. The town had a population of about 2000 inhabitants, and was third largest city in B.C., being only exceeded by Victoria and New Westminster. Kamloops then would probably come next in size. Placer miners in 1885-1886 took probably $800,000 in gold and platinum out of Granite Creek.”
In connection with reporting incorrectly amounts of gold taken, one Chinaman was called “Not Enough” because this was his invariable answer when asked how much he had taken. “Not Enough” was a well-known character in early Tulameen and Granite Creek history.
There is little today to suggest the former glory of what was possibly the third largest town in the province in 1886. Coal superceded gold as the main source of industry in the Tulameen Valley. Early in the 20th century coal was discovered near the site of Blakeburn, and in 1909 at Collin’s Gulch. Coalmont was so named because of the belief that there was a mountain of coal which could be stripped and operated by steam shovels.
Bert Irwin had intimate knowledge of life in Granite Creek during the “rush,” and today our best-informed citizen on its early history. In 1900 Frank Bailey, remembered as “stuttering Bailey,” issued a map and forty-paged pamphlet in which he tells of nuggets of exceptional size: two from Bear Creek worth $400 and $415 respectively. “In 1887 a Chinaman found a nugget worth $900, which was exhibited at Wells, Fargo & Co’s bank in Victoria.”
The site of the Granite Creek gold rush is one of the historic spots in Similkameen, and is well-worthy of a marker to indicate its past importance in our history.
Following the discovery of rich placers in 1885, Dr. G.M. Dawson visited the Tulameen and Granite Creek in 1888, and a short summary of his work appears in the annual report for that year. Preliminary examinations were made by Charles Camsell in 1906 and 1908, and geological work continued during 1909 and 1910. Important work had been done by J.F. Kemp in 1900, and W.F. Robertson in 1901. In his second Report on the district, Camsell writes: “The topographic work in this district begun by L. Reinecke, in August, 1908, and was carried to completion in the summer of 1909. The methods employed were partly photographic, and partly plane-table and sketching from traverses run between fixed points.
“The geological work was begun by the author in July, 1909, and continued until the end of September of the same year, the assistants being W.J. Wright and W.G.S. Agassiz. In the following year the months of June and July were spent in this field, and the work was carried on with the assistance of J.D. Galloway and W.S. McCann. Altogether five months was required to complete the geological mapping and to collect the necessary information for the report.”
RED PADDY AND GRANITE CREEK
Here follows notes of conversations with David Whitly, better known to oldtimers as Red Paddy. During the last few years of his life he lived on the Merritt Road, almost opposite the DeMuth sawmill, which is now operated by Jack Munsie, about six miles north of Princeton. Paddy and his collie dog Venus were inseparable. He was born in Belfast on 20 November, 1853, and came to Canada in 1882. He had a remarkable memory of the photographic kind, and was never at a loss for a date. He used to boast that he was the only man in Princeton who could prove his sanity. Apparently he had been given a “clean sheet” from Essondale and had papers to substantiate his statement. The notes which follow were taken in 1928:
“I came west in 1885, right through to Granite Creek. There was great excitement there then. Sometimes I travelled on foot, but mostly on horseback. There would be three or four of us together. Granite Creek was a busy place then. I was always able to make a little money. My partner, Fred Kelly, sold his claim to a man called Cameron – not the Dr. Cameron who was so well-known there. This one used to play the piano.
“The first government recorder was a man named Lindsay. He came from Victoria. Mr. Irwin came after him. The gold commissioner was Judge Tunstall. The place where Chance discovered gold – I’ve seen it lots of time.
“I had a garden at the mouth of Granite Creek. Two boys called Mills had taken it up, but didn’t do anything with it. Then John Smith took it up. You’ve heard O’ Widder Smith at Spences Bridge, and her apples? She sent a box to Queen Victoria, gold medal apples they were. It was this lady’s husband who brought in ploughs and started the garden. But he quit, and left it to me. Martin Strong helped me sow oats. He was a contractor and brought down some mules.
“Rev. George Murray of Nicola was the first preacher in Granite Creek. There were tents aplenty, and two cabins, but really no houses when Murray first came.”
According to Paddy, who claimed to have gone round with the hat collecting gold dust for the preacher, the first service was held in a log building under construction. It was three logs high. The place was destined for a saloon, and afterwards became knows as the Adelphi. It was by Jim Leighton, who in 1928 was living at Savona.
Mrs. A. Irwin, wife of government recorder from 1886-1889, rode into Granite Creek on horseback in 1886. Mrs. Irwin was living in Princeton in 1928, and remembered the three preachers who, periodically, represented the Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican churches at Granite Creek – George Murray, James Turner and Henry Irwin, known to oldtimers as “Father Pat.” For some time Mrs. Irwin was the only white woman in Granite Creek. Then for a time, there was Mrs. Thompson, sister of Mrs. A. E. Howse. Mrs. Irwin recalled, “There was no music at the services. I used to lead the singing especially when Mr. Murray came – he couldn’t sing at all. Services were held in a large, log building which was built for a store.”
A BOOM TOWN
We are fortunate in having the autosketch of Walton Hugh Holmes. He was a regular attendant at the annual supper meetings of the Similkameen Historical Association till the Second World War made such gatherings difficult. Many will remember the tales he old. Mr. Holmes died on Thursday, 21 March, 1940. Funeral services were held from Coalmont United Church, and a fitting tribute was paid to the memory of the grand, old man.
Mr. Holmes had a long and varied career. He was born in Bury, England, on 20 March 1853, and received a liberal education. After a brief apprenticeship at office work, he answered the call of the sea. Then followed four voyages in the sail-rigged ships of the last century: two to India, one to South America, and one to Portland, Oregon. Mr. Holmes always believed that there was no sight at sea comparable to a full-rigged ship, with all sail set to the wind. The memory of the sea, and the uprightness of the sailor, were part of the heritage that was his.
After his visit to Oregon he determined to leave the sea, and settle on land. Returning home, he passed his nautical examinations, came to New York, and crossed country to California and Oregon. He came to British Columbia in 1880, while the CPR was still in the making and worked on rail, and on riverboat till Canada was spiked down from sea to sea. He loved to tell about Hope and Yale and New Westminster in these early days.
In 1885 he came to Granite Creek, remaining hereabouts till his death. Holmes was one of a number who planned to run a store at Granite Creek. Coming south from Merritt, they passed Aspen Grove, then crossed Pike’s Mountain. There was no trail, and the grass was so high that on horseback one could hardly see the man in front of him. Holmes never saw the grass that high again, for it was destroyed by fire that year. After leaving Otter Flat (now Tulameen) they were only six miles distant from Granite Creek. Here Holmes tells the story:
“We began to meet people between the two places but when we came in sight of Granite Creek it looked like an anthill. Several hundred men of all sorts, saddle horses and pack animals, tents on both sides of the river. What a sight! All available space taken up for tents. Campfires everywhere. There was one small cabin built by Mr. Allison for a store, but there were no supplies in it. Only some tin plates and iron knives and forks; no provisions procurable, and they were badly needed. We found our pack trains would be welcome when they arrived. The most of Granite Creek was already staked off for claims. They were only 100 feet long from high water mark to high water mark across the creek. There was no Government office to record them, so it was not long before we had to appoint a recorder, a Mr. H. Nicholson, pro tem. till a Government Agent was sent in 1886…By that time Granite Creek was quite a town, all log houses.”
THE RISE OF HEDLEY
The decline of Granite Creek corresponds with the rise of Hedley, which for many years was the largest settlement in Similkameen dependent on gold-mining. The early history of Hedley Camp was recorded by the late Harry D. Barnes, and appeared in “The British Columbia Historical Quarterly,” April, 1848. Hedley is described as lying “at a point where Twenty Mile Creek, after swinging around the western base of Nickel Plate Mountain emerges from its canyon and has cut a boulder strewn channel through the river-benches to flow into the Similkameen River a short distance below the town.” Its elevation is 1700 feet.
Placer mining, which began at the mouth of the Twenty Mile Creek, now Hedley Creek, in the early sixties, was soon exhausted. The period of lode-mining began in 1896. George Allison and Jim Riordan had staked three claims for Edgar Dewdney in 1894, and one had been recorded by J. Coulthard. These four, however, were allowed to lapse. Peter Scott located the Rollo in 1897, and three claims the following year. That same August (1898) Albert Jacobson and C. Johnson, two Swedes who had been grub-staked by W.Y. Williams, then manager of the Granby mines at Phoenix, located two claims (Mound and Copper Cleft), and four were staked by F.I. Wollaston and C.H. Arundel (Horsefly, Sunnyside, Bulldog and Copperfield). The Nickel (Plate) was to prove the richest of all, and to become the first producing lode mine in Similkameen.
Peter Scott was the father of the camp, which he decided should be named for Robert R. Hedley, then manager of the Hall mines smelter at Nelson, B.C. who had grub-staked Scott. Mr. Hedley was born in Amherstburg, Ontario, in 1863 and educated in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was still in his ‘teens when he learned assaying with the Orford Copper Company at Copelton, Quebec. Later, he was appointed chief assayer at the Eustis plant designed by W.F. Robertson who, as provincial mineralogist for British Columbia, visited Tulameen in 1901 and reported its ore deposits and placer mining. From 1889 – 1895 Mr. Hedley worked in Venezuela, Mexico and Arizona, before coming to Pilot Bay in Kootenay, B.C., as metallurgist of the first smelter to be operated in this province. In 1897 he moved to Nelson, where he remained ten years. It was during this time that he was associated with Peter Scott who located claims around Hedley. Mr. Hedley was retained by the Dominion government in 1907 to make a survey of mineral resources in Western Canada. After this he settled in Vancouver. He died on 30 September, 1940, at the age of 77, survived by his wife, two sons and one daughter. (There was a Methodist minister, Rev. J. W. Hedley, who came to Hedley in 1902. To the Keremeos field he added Nickel Plate and Hedley, with residence at the latter point. But Hedley Camp was named before he came).
In 1898 Wollaston and Arundel exhibited Nickel Plate ore samples at the New Westminster fair. These samples came to the notice of M.K. Rodgers, who represented the mining interests of Marcus Daly of Butte, Montana. At the time Rodgers was on his way to Cassiar, but cancelled his sailing from Victoria, and next morning started out for Similkameen. The first samples assayed carried values so high that Rodgers suspected salting. With this in mind, he returned by himself and resampled the properties. The results were equally promising. With the bonding of the group, permanent work was started in January, 1899. In October, 1902, a tramway was constructed, flume work undertaken, and the erection of a stampmill and cyanide plant commenced. Milling of ore began in May, 1904.
A GROWING CAMP
First supplies for the new camp came from Fairview in November, 1898, when George Cahill led a pack-train of 35 horses laden with supplies. George was to become a familiar figure in Hedley. He died in Princeton General hospital on 13 December, 1939, and was buried in Hedley cemetery under United Church auspices. He was the last of the original prospectors of Nickel Plate still living in Hedley. Cahill arrived in Hedley about the same time as Harry Yates and Fraser Campbell. It was Cahill who staked the famous Mascot Fraction for Duncan Woods of Trout Creek, Okanagan who refused all offers for it till he sold in 1933 to a Vancouver business group represented by Larry Canty. By this time Wood was in advanced age, and in poor health. He did not live long to enjoy the money he received, but left $150,000 to his sister.
Various amounts are mentioned as being received by Wollaston and Arundel from the Daly interests. Harry Barnes mentions two amounts of $60,000 each. George E. Winkler suggested another amount in this story which he loved to tell. For some time after the option was given, Arundel heard nothing about the results of Rodgers’ inspection of the claims. The prospector began to feel pessimistic. His funds were low, and one day as he was passing the bank someone tapped him on the shoulder. Turning round, he was surprised to see M.K. Rodgers, who said he wanted to complete payment on the deal they had made. Rodgers invited him into the bank and gave him a cheque for $79,000.
As Hedley grew, supplies were brought in from the coast to Penticton, and freighted from there west on the Keremeos Road to the fifteen mile cut-off over the mountains to Nickel plate made in 1900. In the fall of that year work was commenced on the Keremeos-Princeton road, and this was completed in 1901, making the Dewdney Trail a chapter in history.
By the end of the century Hedley was a busy centre and Nickel Plate was covered with claims. At first, the Nickel Plate mine was operated under a provincial charter for the Yale Mining Company, but in 1903 the Daly Reduction Co. Ltd., with more inclusive powers, was formed, Gomer P. Jones had been appointed superintendent in 1900. C.A.R. Lambly was mining recorder and gold commissioner for Osoyoos mining division, and prospectors had to travel to Fairview to record their claims.
In 1905 M.K. Rodgers was succeeded by R.B. Lamb as manager, and W.H. Brule succeeded A.H. Brown as mill superintendent. In 1906 F.A. Ross and E.A. Holbrook became manager and superintendent respectively. The Daly Estate sold its holdings in 1909 to a New York syndicate, and a new company, The Hedley Gold Mining Co. Ltd., appointed Gomer P. Jones general superintendent, Roscoe Wheeler mill superintendent , B.W. Knowles mine engineer, and William Sampson mine foreman. The years that followed were handsome years for the company. Except during the winter of 1920-21, production was maintained till 1930 when operations were suspended because of low grade ore. Harry Barnes records that from 1904-30 there had been mined and milled 1,300,000 tons of ore.
But there was still gold waiting to be discovered. In 1932 the mine was sold to the John W. Mercer Exploration Co., later known as the Kelowna Exploration Co. Ltd. and once again it became one of the province’s major gold mines. The new company under the direction of W.C. Douglass, was responsible in 1937 for much community development at Nickel Plate, where a modern village was built at an altitude of over 5000 feet. This was connected with the east-west highway by a mountain road, the cut-off being just north of the native village of Chuchuewa. Photographs of the valley taken by Walter V. Ring in 1938 are prize possessions.
Before brief mention of other properties, and some record of Hedley community life, a few notes about Harry D. Barnes Hedley’s historian, should be in order. A true-born Englishman, Harry began his pilgrimage on 24 May, 1869, and was raised on a Somerset farm. In the spring of 1889 he came to Canada and worked on an Ontario farm before coming west to British Columbia in the fall of 1890. That winter he was employed clearing land in Vancouver, just south of False Creek and east of Granville street. In April, 1891, he saw the “Empress of India” arrive at Vancouver on her maiden voyage, and the next day he left for the Okanagan country. After a spell of ranching, he left in the fall of 1892 and travelled by saddle and pack-horse to the Boundary Country. Here he prospected for a number of years before coming to Similkameen in the spring of 1900.
Arriving at Hedley, he went to work for the Daly Reduction Co. Ltd. and continued till the plant closed down in December, 1930. Starting as a labourer, he was put in charge of the warehouse in 1905, and later promoted to purchasing agent. After 1930 he was interested in several mining properties, but his chief interests centred around his home, garden, church, lodge and historical society. His home was his castle, his garden was his pride and joy. He loved Hedley, because it did not have the winds of the lower valley, or the deep snows of the upper valley. From this centre he scanned a wide horizon, and by means of books, radio and newspapers kept well-informed about the progress of life in the big world beyond.
A deeply religious man, he was brought up in the Anglican Church, and to the end found strength and comfort in her paths. A member of long-standing in the Masonic Order, he was held in the highest regard by all his brethren.
During the last seven years of his life (he died in Kelowna on Sunday morning, 22 June, 1952, and was buried in the Hedley cemetery), he took a great interest in recording the history of which he had been a part; and wrote interesting papers, some of which were published in the “British Columbia Historical Quarterly,” and in the annual reports of the Okanagan Historical Society. These included the history of Hedley, Nickel Plate, and “Reminiscences of the Boundary Country.” In all these efforts he was meticulously correct, and all that he has written has become part of the definitive history of our valley.
His life was like a quiet stream passing through changing landscapes till it reaches the great ocean. His going forth was like the setting of the sun. Kindly and loyal, he was the soul of integrity. He kept alive in his own life the highest traditions of the land which gave him birth. He has left a fragrant memory, and a rich heritage of historical lore. When the news of his passing came, many felt that a Prince had fallen in Israel.
Under the direction of R.H. (Pat) Stewart, the Hedley Mascot Gold Mines Ltd., made notable progress for a number of years. An aerial tramway, connecting mine and mill, was constructed up the steep canyon side, and concentrates were shipped to the A.S. & R. Co.’s smelter at Tacoma. Exploration for new ore bodies in claims adjoining the Mascot was continued under the direction of Dr. V. Dolmage. In the Company’s seventh annual report (1940), the mine is described as “in a very healthy condition and the outlook more than ordinarily bright.” Credit for this is given to C.W.S. Tremaine, general superintendent; W.B. Montgomery, mining engineer; and Jack Moore mine foreman.
By 1950 gold-mining at Hedley Mascot had ceased to be profitable. The 1949 Report had this ominous paragraph: “During the 13 years ended April, 1949, Hedley Mascot fractional claim yielded over $8,500,000 in gold. Exhaustive exploration elsewhere on the property yielded interesting indications but sufficient ore was not found to warrant continuation of milling.”
During the second World War the writer made several visits to Apex Mountain and the Canty mine east of Nickel Plate, but here, too, operations were discontinued.
Hedley is still on the map, and those who remain are determined that it will maintain its place in Similkameen. It used to be one of the liveliest towns in the interior of our province. It is still one of the happiest. Its people live neither in the past nor the future but in the present.
Before the town began, Bradshaw’s, near the mouth of Fifteen Mile Creek, was a stopping-place for east-west travellers on the old Dewdney Trail. Tom Bradshaw came from Greenwood in 1899, and bought the newly-completed Johnson house. Bradshaw planted an orchard, and a station on the GNR was named for him. All the Bradshaws have passed on, and the familiar stopping-place is no more.
Hedley City Townsite Company was formed in 1900, and R.H. Parkinson made the first survey. Dave G. Hackney built the first Hedley hotel on Haynes Street that winter. In 1902 came the Grand Union hotel, built by McDermott and Marks, and sold to Robert Herron and Anton Winkler. A few years later Winkler became the sole owner, and so continued till fire destroyed the building in 1918. The Commercial hotel, built in 1902, was opened in 1903, with Neil Huston and W.A. McLean proprietors, McLean becoming owner a few months later. The Similkameen hotel built in 1904, was burned down in February, 1916. On the site afterwards occupied by the Shell Oil Company’s station, John Jackson built the New Zealand hotel in 1905, and this was destroyed by fire on 6 November, 1911. The Great Northern hotel (John Lind and the Peterson Brothers) was opened in 1906. At that time there was more than enough business for all of them.
Soon after the first hotel was erected, Kirby and Hine built a two-story log store which was operated by F.M. Gillespie. In August, 1892, J.A. Schubert bought the business. Charles Richter of Keremeos opened a butcher shop, which was taken over by Cawston and Edmond, then by John Mairhofer who sold out to Eugene Quaedvlieg in 1931. L.W. Shatford opened a General store in 1903 with F.H. French in charge. Hedley was well supplied with stores during the years that followed.
The Bank of British North America opened its Hedley branch in 1905 with G.H. Winters manager and L.G. MacHaffie teller. That was the first bank in Similkameen. Telephone connections with the outside world were established in 1905 by Dominion Government line from Kamloops to Keremeos by way of Merritt, Princeton and Hedley. Electric power became available in 1903, and water service the following year.
Education was not forgotten. The first school was opened in September, 1903, with M.L. Whillans, a sister of Dr. H.A. Whillans, in charge. The original school was in a room at the rear of the Methodist Church. A new school was completed in 1907. This was built against the hill, but after the big slide in January, 1939, it was taken down, and some of the lumber was used to build the present school opposite the community hall.
F.M. Gillespie was appointed postmaster in June, 1903. He was succeeded by Mr. Baxter; then by T.C. Knowles in 1937. For many years the post office was in Love’s drug-store.
Dr. F. Rolls opened a drug-store and office in 1903, and in August of that year Dr. H.A. Whillans with his family moved from Princeton to Hedley when he was appointed company doctor. Although built in 1907, the hospital was not opened till 1910. Dr. M.D. McEwan was chief surgeon. He died in February, 1928. The hospital was closed in 1930. Succeeding doctors were Dr. Gordon Wride, Dr. Laird, Dr. Badger, and Dr. E.G. Markowski, and Mrs. Markowski who was known as Dr. Murphy. Not only was she highly qualified in her profession, but also an accomplished musician, whose talents were always at the service of the community. For a number of years the Hedley drug-store was operated by Reg. Scott.
Grace Methodist, built in 1903, during the ministry of Rev. J.W. Hedley, was the first church in Hedley. Presbyterian services were held in Fraser’s Hall, and later merged with the Methodist cause. Rev. A.H. Cameron is the best-remembered Presbyterian. Rev. Henry Irwin (better known a Father Pat) was amongst the earliest visiting Anglican clergymen. The Anglican church was not built till after the first World War began.
“The Hedley Gazette” was founded by Ainsley Megraw in January, 1905, and ran till August, 1917. The plant was subsequently bought by R.J. McDougall of Penticton. Mr. Megraw was one of the moving spirits in organizing the Hedley Masonic lodge in 1905. Other lodges which were flourishing in their day were Orange and the Woodmen of America. Of recent years the Moose lodge has been most active in community service. For a number of years they sponsored the annual Burns’ Night, which was the event of the season, attended by guests from every part of Similkameen and Okanagan. The capacity of the community hall was always taxed. In 1950 history was made when the haggis was flown in by air, the slow freight not being able to promise delivery in time. Another event sponsored by the Moose and the ladies of this Order is the annual dinner to senior citizens.
DEPRESSION, FLOODS AND FIRE
Although gold mining operations ceased at Hedley and Nickel Plate in 1955, there is still a lively community there. Hedley has had its full share of depressions, and disasters. Floods caused serious damage in rainy years; and fires have plagued its history. The rock-slide on 24 January, 1939 resulted in two deaths, and many homes had to be relocated. Fire destroyed the Cade mill on 9 October, 1951. The Hedley fire brigade, organized 1935, has answered many calls. “1956” was Hedley’s worst year for fires: the Chinese restaurant block (original Commercial hotel) was destroyed 12 August, 1956; Hedley hotel burned down 6 December, 1956; the block opposite the hotel was destroyed by fire January, 1957.
Mrs. E.H. Frampton died as a result of this last fire, when the house in which she was living, and the block in which Charlie Anderson had his garage, were destroyed. Mrs. Frampton was born between Princeton and Hedley on 11 August, 1888. Her father, John Hatton Bromley, came to Similkameen from Ontario, and married Mary Kathrine Lorenzetto of Hope, B.C. Eliza Ann, born of this union, was baptized by Father Pat (Rev. Henry Irwin, Anglican). When she was 21 she was married to R.J. Edmonds by Rev. J. Thorburn Conn (Presbyterian) who served Princeton and district from 1907 – 1910. After Mr. Edmonds died she married Ernest Haymand Frampton (a widower) on 19 November, 1949. Mr. Frampton died a few years before Mrs. Frampton. After her death, the whole community paused to pay simple tribute to the memory of a very gracious and kindly soul.
Of one thing we may be sure: the search for gold in Similkameen and Tulameen is not done. Both on the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers there have been substantial dredging operations, and these may be resumed sometime in the future. The search for gold will continue. Time-honoured methods of hydraulicking, sluicing and panning may give place to newer methods. We predict that gold operations in Hedley will be resumed. There’s still gold in them thar’ hills. The prospector has outlived the fur-trader. The mineral resources of Similkameen are far from being depleted. They only await new discoveries. A quotation from Harry Barnes may fittingly close this Hedley section.
“With the coming of the railroad, the four-horse freight teams and stages disappeared from the roads, and a new era was entered upon. Of all the many prospectors who once had climbed the steep slopes of Nickel Plate Mountain and of nearby Apex, Northey and Riordon mountains, and had there trenched, dug open-cuts, sunk shafts, and driven tunnels in their search for gold, how very few remain. Some had left early for distant green fields; others, with more faith, stayed on until no longer able to do the assessment work on their claims; many are now dead. A few attained wealth, others made a smaller stake, but the majority gained experience only as he recompense for their labour. With their passing went much of the romance of those early days at Camp Hedley, the memories of which still linger in the hearts of the few.”
But this chapter would be incomplete without further mention of river gold. Hydraulic operations on a large scale were attempted in the 90’s, bringing C.F. Hope, W.C. McDougall and W.J. Waterman into the picture. Their first attempt, in 1893, was not encouraging. The Anglo-American Co. (Captain S.T. Scott, 1895) built the White House in connection with their operations above the Freeman ranch on the Similkameen. Results did not justify hopes or expenditure. Mr. Waterman had some success with a less pretentious operation in the same area, and this proved to be important for the part he was afterwards to play in Similkameen.
Large-scale operations were not resumed till 1947 when the Atkinson Dredging Co. commenced work. The first gold brick was shipped on 23 January, 1948. The original promoter was James W. Boothe, who became vice-president of the company. He was born in Illinois, U.S.A., on 17 March, 1880, and first came to Similkameen in 1933. Before World War II, he had acquired sixty leases, and was preparing to operate them when war broke on 3 September, 1939. Gold mining was prohibited in U.S.A., and shortage of man power made it impractical in British Columbia, and elsewhere in Canada. Old operations might continue but new ones were forbidden. “I thought I was sitting on top of the world,” he said, “then I woke up to find myself working in a shipyard in Seattle.”
After the war Mr. Boothe returned to Similkameen and began where he had left off. He found two men especially helpful: Ross Hunt and Hugh Ross. Hunt had a wonderful eye for distances and Boothe often checked the guesses to find them correct. Ross Hunt died in Princeton hospital on 21 April, 1947. Hugh Ross was a tall, spare man, with unusual powers of endurance. Ross died in Vernon in May, 1947. This was the year the Atkinson Dredging Co., Ltd. was organized with offices in Vancouver. Sheridan K. Atkinson, Sr., president; James W. Booth, vice-president; Sheridan K. Atkinson, Jr., superintendent and director; W. Scott Ford, placer miner. Mr. Ford had charge of the Princeton office. He was a young U.S. airman, who had served with the RCAF, and had often glimpsed Similkameen from his plane.
Company project No. 1 consisted of fourteen leases between the Granby power plant and the Similkameen canyon. There was much testing before dredging equipment was installed at a point beyond the Granby plant about three miles from Princeton. The dredge machinery was a Lima 1201 dragline; the washing plant, in sections on twelve pontoons, floating in a pond, was kept in place by winches on the dredge’s top-deck, from which anchorage lines ran ashore. A vast amount of gravel was removed, here and elsewhere on the Similkameen. Results of operations in the form of river dikes can still be seen. It was confidently stated by old-timers that no such operations had ever yet paid dividends to investors. This might have been the exception that proved the rule had not ice and high water destroyed the installations, and brought an end to the project.