Direct from Frazer river
Most of the best news coverage of British Columbia’s early gold rushes is to be found in…California.
Naturally! BC wasn’t yet settled.
California, by comparison, was well-established, with nearly a decade of heavy White immigration and investment. San Francisco was the major jumping-off point if you were going to the “Frazer” (Fraser) River gold district.
Early on, there wasn’t much in the way of definite facts to report, so you read articles like the following third- or fourth-hand satire.
(Aside from discovering more Chinuk Wawa-related humor, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the slang word “takeoff” goes back 160 years!)
DIRECT FROM FRAZER RIVER. — The following take-off of the Frazer river news appears in the San Francisco Times:
The following letter has been handed to us for publication by a well known party, who long had a stand in front of Montgomery Block. The gentleman to whom it was addressed having neglected to erase certain portions indicated by the writer, we publish it entire, not feeling authorized to make the suggested alterations ourselves:
“EXPECTATION BAR,” near Fort Hope,
June 25th, 1858.
MY DEAR FRIEND: I take my pen in hand to inform you that I have at last arrived at the diggings. The prospects are glorious! All the miners who are at work are doing first rate; though they have nothing but common rockers, that don’t save half the gold. With quicksilver they think they could make twice what they now do, and with sluices four times as much. We are laying back till the river falls, when we hope to strike it big. The higher up the river the coarser the gold; therefore it is reasonable to suppose the best diggings are all above this. Nearly all the miners who have been here any length of time have more or less gold in their possession. I have not seen the bunch-grass the newspapers tell about, but I dare say it exists. In fact, a party is now forming here to go out and pull it. They shake the gold from the roots, like potatoes! We have not prospected the country around here any, but I have no doubt, from its appearance, that it is rich in the precious metals; it has every indication of a gold region. There is any quantity of diamonds a few hundred miles east of this place — so they say. In a conversation with a venerable Indian Chief, a few days since, he assured me that there was a mountain of gold far to the north; at least so I construed his language: “Cold snass, hiyou.“‘ These words, in the Chinook jargon, mean, to be sure, plenty of snow [DDR adds: kʰúl-snás, háyú ‘cold-rain ( = snow), much’], but as it would be ridiculous for one to speak or think of anything here but gold, I naturally concluded he meant lots of that substance.
I herewith send you a sample of the gold dug on this bar; it contains about three cents worth — mostly fine! Tell Mrs. —–, the washerwoman, I will remit the balance of her bill as soon as I make a raise. If you give my letter to the newspapers, tell ’em to leave out this. Tell ’em the sample sent in the letter was about a thousand dollars. Tell ’em it was from a reliable gentleman of your acquaintance, a practical miner, and all that.
— from the Sacramento (CA) Daily Union of June 24, 1858, page 3, column 2