Economics assignment 3

Economics assignment 3



Question Out of Weight
1 a 12 30%
b 5
2 a 78 70%
b 78
c 78
d 78
Q2 Average 78
3 a 4
b 3
c 3
Subtotal Q2 + Q3 88
Communication 6 (can be 2x)
Q2 & Q3 Total 100



Table of Contents

Question 1 [Reading]………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2

Sample Answer for 1.b………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 3

  1. [Regular]………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 4

2.a………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6

2.b………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7

2.c………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

Question 3 [Challenge]…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 10

Appendix (Optional): The London Times on the Cariboo Gold Rush…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 13




Question 1 [Reading]


  1. Read the section titled “From ‘Leech’ to Miner: The Chinese Adaptation to the Gold Mines”, on pages 84[1] – 93 of the following thesis:


Herbert, C. D. (2005). Unequal Participants: Race and Space in the Interracial Interactions of the Cariboo Gold Fields, 1860-1871 [Master’s thesis, Simon Fraser University]. Retrieved from


  1. (12 marks) Write a 3-2-1 report in the usual fashion.


  1. (5 marks) Many of the sources Herbert cites in their footnotes are also available to you – specifically, the articles from the Daily British Colonist and most of the articles from the Cariboo Sentinel. For this question, I’m going to ask you to check Herbert’s work by looking up one of their sources, and seeing whether you agree with Herbert’s interpretation of the source. To find sources, go to the following:


Daily British Colonist: (Hint: Try ‘browse by date’)


Cariboo Sentinel:




  1. What source are you looking up, and footnote is it found in? (Note: You CANNOT pick “Arrivals from the River” from footnote 274, since that’s the sample answer.) (1 mark)



  1. Cite the source you found, in APA format. (2 marks)




iii. Do you agree with Herbert’s interpretation of the source? Why or why not? Provide evidence from the source to back up your answer. (2 marks)





Sample Answer for 1.b

  1. What source are you looking up, and footnote is it found in? (1 mark)


“Arrivals from the River,” mentioned in footnote 274.


  1. Cite the source you found, in APA format. (2 marks)


ARRIVALS FROM THE RIVER. (1861, June 10). The British Colonist, p. 3. Retrieved from

iii. Do you agree with Herbert’s interpretation of the source? Why or why not? Provide evidence from the source to back up your answer. (2 marks)


Footnote 274 is attached to a statement by Herbert that “From 1860 to approximately 1864, White miners, with the complicity of the colonial state, excluded the Chinese from the main gold fields in the Cariboo Mountains.” (Herbert, 2005, p. 84). Among the statements in the ‘Cariboo’ section of ‘Arrivals from the river’ is “Chinamen are not allowed to go to Cariboo by the white miners.” This is consistent with Herbert’s statement, and so I agree with the interpretation.




2. [Regular]


How expensive were consumer goods in British Columbia during the Cariboo gold rush? There were frequent complaints in newspapers about how expensive basic items were. For example, in the article[2] used in the sample answer for Question 1.b, we read:


“The supply of goods does not equal the demand, and a scarcity is feared. Pack animals are in demand. Provisions at Forks City were: $38 per 100 lbs. for flour, 40c. per lb. for beans; bacon, 75c; China sugar, 75c. The only provisions taken into the Cariboo diggings have been on mules’ or Indians’ backs.”


By 2021 standards, these prices don’t seem high at all. A pound of sugar for 75 cents is quite reasonable. The problem is that these are 1861 prices, NOT 2021 prices, and prices in general have gone up in the past 160 years – we need to adjust for inflation.


If this were a price from 1914 or later, adjusting for Canadian inflation would be easy. Canada has a Consumer Price Index (CPI) series that dates back to 1914. Unfortunately, we don’t have a Canadian CPI for 1861, so we can’t easily keep prices ‘real’ in this way (at least not without making a few adjustments)


There’s another way to ‘keep things real’ that doesn’t rely on price indices – if we know what the relevant wages were, we can see how much of a particular good we could afford with an hour or a day of work.


For example, a 6.5 ounce bottle of Coca Cola cost 5 cents[3] in 1956. In 1956, the average hourly wage in Canada was[4] $1.53/hour, so if Coca Cola cost 5 cents per bottle, you could buy 1.53/0.05 = 30.6 servings of Coca Cola with one hour of work. In September, 2020, the average hourly wage in Canada was[5] $27.08, and the average price for a 500 mL serving of Coca Cola was[6] $2.49, making the cost of 6.5 ounces (192.228 mL) about $0.96[7]. That means that one hour of work could buy 28.2 6.5 ounce servings of Coca Cola with one hour of work.


In terms of hours of work at the average hourly wage needed to buy a serving of Coca Cola, the price of Coca Cola has gone up since 1956. By how much, though?


In terms of hours of work:


Price of Coca Cola in 2020 = 1/(28.2 servings/hour) = 0.0355 hours/serving (approx.)

Price of Coca Cola in 1956 = 1/(30.6 servings/hour) = 0.0327 hours/serving (approx.)


(Price of Coca Cola in 2020) / (Price of Coca Cola in 1956) = 0.0355/0.0327 = 108.6%[8]


àIn terms of hours of work at the average wage, the price of a serving of Coca Cola has gone up by about 8.6% from 1956 to 2020.  (Why 8.6% and not 108.6%? Because we start at 100% of the price of Coca Cola in 1956, and then add 8.6% more to get the 300%.)


This is the approach we’ll take to study gold rush prices. In this question, you’re going to determine whether basic goods in British Columbia were more expensive during the Cariboo gold rush than they are now, taking into account that wages were also higher. As our source, we’ll be using an article[9] on the Cariboo published in the Times of London:


“[T]he miners’ labours were suspended for some time towards the end of May by the floods from the melting snows of the adjacent mountains, and there was a scarcity of food. The roads, or tracks and trails, at any time only fit for mule travel, were then impassable for animals, and provisions had to be carried on the backs of Indians, who were paid $50 a day for “packing.” Labouring men, who had no mining claims of their own, were hired to work those of the miners at $7 and $8, and found. Provisions were relatively high in price. Flour was at 38c. (1s. 7d.)[10] per lb.; bacon, 75c.; beans, 40c.; tea, $1 50c.; sugar and coffee, 75c. per lb. Single meals at the restaurants, consisting of beans and bacon and a cup of bad coffee, cost $2 (8s. 4d.).”


We’re going to look at the price of flour, bacon, beans, tea, sugar and coffee, as well as the ‘minimum daily wage’, and see how expensive the Cariboo rush was, compared to Victoria in 2021. Based on the passage, we’ll use $7.00/day as the ‘minimum daily wage’ for a miner in 1861, and $15.20 / hour x 8 hours/day = $121.60 as the ‘minimum daily wage’ for a worker in 2021 British Columbia[11].


I went to the Thrifty Foods and Save on Foods web sites and found the prices of popular brands and serving sizes of the goods in question. Prices from 1861 and 2021 are as follows:


1861 Prices (Fraser, 1861)
Item Weight Price
Flour 1 lb $0.38
Bacon 1 lb $0.75
Beans 1 lb $0.40
Tea 1 lb $1.50
Sugar 1 lb $0.75
Coffee 1 lb $0.75


2021 Prices[12]
Item Weight Price
Robin Hood All Purpose Flour 10 kg $14.99
Maple Leaf Bacon 0.375 kg $7.99
Compliments Pinto Beans 0.9 kg $5.20
Twinings – Earl Grey Tea Tin 0.1 kg $8.69
Rogers Fine Granulated Sugar 10 kg $15.99
Kicking Horse Coffee Kick Ass Coffee 0.454 kg $16.99





  1. The first thing we’re going to do is turn the 2021 prices into price per lb., so we can compare the prices directly to the 1861 prices. To do this, first you convert the price into price per kg., and then turn the price per kg. into price per lb. For this question, assume that there are 2.20462 pounds (lb.) in a kg.


I’ll get you started by performing the calculations for Maple Leaf Bacon.


Maple Leaf Bacon costs $7.99 per 0.375 kg:

Price per kg: ($7.99)/(0.375 kg) = 7.99/0.375 $/kg = $21.31/kg (to the nearest cent).

Price per lb: ($21.31/kg) / (2.20462 lb/kg) = 21.31/2.20462 $/lb = $9.67/lb (to the nearest cent)


Now you do the rest:




2021 Prices
Item Weight Price $/kg $/lb
Robin Hood All Purpose Flour 10 kg $14.99    
Maple Leaf Bacon 0.375 kg $7.99 21.31 9.67
Compliments Pinto Beans 0.9 kg $5.20    
Twinings – Earl Grey Tea Tin 0.1 kg $8.69    
Rogers Fine Granulated Sugar 10 kg $15.99    
Kicking Horse Coffee Kick Ass Coffee 0.454 kg $16.99    


Show your work for the Robin Hood All Purpose Flour calculation (this is so we can give you part marks for partially correct work, even if your final answers aren’t right):


[Show your work here]




  1. Now let’s calculate how many pounds (lb.) of each item you could afford with one day of work. Please round these to one decimal place. We’re trying to find out how many pounds of each item you could afford if you spent one day’s wages on them. These wages were $7.00 in 1861, and $116.80 in 2021. To start you off, I’ll again do the calculations for Bacon.


In 1861, daily wages were $7.00 and bacon cost $0.75/pound. That means a miner earning $7.00 could afford 7/0.75 = 9.3 pounds of bacon per day, rounded to one decimal place.


In 2021, daily wages are $121.60 and bacon costs $9.67/pound. That means someone earning $116.80 could afford 121.60/9.67 = 12.6 pounds of bacon per day, rounded to one decimal place.


Now fill out the rest on your own:


  Price per lb. Pounds/day
Item 1861 2021 1861 2021
Flour $0.38      
Bacon $0.75 $9.67 9.3 12.6
Beans $0.40      
Tea $1.50      
Sugar $0.75      
Coffee $0.75      
Daily Wage $7.00 $121.60    



Show your work for the Flour calculation (this is so we can give you part marks for partially correct work, even if your final answers aren’t right):


[Show your work here]




  1. Finally, let’s see by how much prices (in terms of days of work per pound) have changed between 1861 and 2021. What’s cheaper? What’s more expensive? By how much?


We want the % change in price, in terms of days of work at ‘minimum wage’. To do this, we have to divide the (pounds/day) in 1861 by the (pounds/day) in 2021, and subtract 1 (100%). Why?


We have pounds/day, but the price is actually days/pound, which is 1/(days/pound). So, just like in the Coca Cola example, we have to divide (days/pound in 2021) by (days/pound in 1861), and subtract 100% to see the change in price. But, this is just like dividing (pounds/day in 1861) by (pounds/day in 2021).


To make things clearer, let’s do this for bacon. Pounds/day for bacon are 9.3 in 1861, and 12.6 in 2021. That means the ‘price’ of a pound of bacon in terms of work is 1/9.3 = 0.1075 days/pound in 1861, and 1/12.6 = 0.07937 days/pound in 2021. We COULD just divide these prices by each other: Price in 2021/Price in 1861 = 0.07937/0.1075= 0.74 (approx.), but that’s a lot of decimals and we’re likely to introduce a lot of rounding error. Since we have pounds/day, it’s easier to just divide (Pounds/day in 1861)/(Pounds/day in 2021) = 9.3/12.6 = 0.74 (approx.)


This means that, in terms of work, the price of bacon in 2021 is 74% of the price of bacon in 1861, which means that the price of bacon has gone down by 26% (=74% – 100%), and the % change in price is therefore -26%. If we start at 100% of the price of bacon in 1861, we need to go down by an additional 26% of the price of bacon in 1861 to get the price of bacon in 2021.


Now it’s your turn to fill out the rest: please round your answers to the nearest % (e.g. 0.33333 would be rounded to 0.33 = 33%).


Item % Change in Price (days of work per lb.)
Bacon -26%



Show your work for the Flour calculation (this is so we can give you part marks for partially correct work, even if your final answers aren’t right):


[Show your work here]


  1. Overall, priced during the Cariboo gold rush high compared to prices in 2021 Victoria, when you take wages into account? Briefly explain your reasoning.







Question 3 [Challenge]


This question will show you how you may combine information from a variety of sources to create a picture of an individual or organization.  We will be looking at Hong Yuen & Co. General Vegetable[13] Dealers.  This company was founded in Victoria by Hong Yuen, and is not mentioned after the 1920s.


We’ll focus on the years 1891 and 1911, because these are years that are unusually rich in information.  Both of them are census years, and UVic has online copies of fire insurance maps for both years.




Question Marks Answer
a What year was Hong Yuen born in? 2  
Where was Hong Yuen’s daughter born? 1  
# of live-in servants (Domestics) 1  
b Business Partner 1  
Suspected of Smuggling (2 items) 2  
c Address of Hong Yuen Co. 1  
Across the street from 2  





  1. Search the 1891 census[14] for Hong Yuen, who lives in British Columbia in the District of ‘Victoria’. Once you find the relevant census record, click and the image and read it to find the following information:


What year was Hong Yuen born in? (Write answer in table provided)

Where was Hong Yuen’s daughter[15] born? (Write answer in table provided)

How many live-in servants (Domestics
[16]) did Hong Yuen have in 1891? (Write answer in table provided)


  1. Who was Hong Yuen’s business partner in 1891, and what was he suspected of smuggling? To answer these question, use the British Colonist ‘Advanced Search[17] to find instances of ‘Hong Yuen’ in 1891.


Business Partner in 1891[18]: (Write answer in table provided)

Suspected of smuggling[19] (he was suspected of smuggling two types of item – make a note of both): (Write answer in table provided)




  1. (2 marks) What was Hong Yuen Co.’s address in 1891, and what major Victoria landmark was it across the street from (NOT next-door to)?


To answer the first part of this question, you will need to look up Hong Yuen & Co. in a BC Directory[20] for 1891. For that year, there are two choices – Henderson’s or Williams’s.


To answer the second question, you will need to look up the address in the Fire Insurance Plans for 1891[21].  The first few pages of the Plans are an index that tells you on which pages you will find maps of particular streets.  For example, Bay Street is on pages 19 and 21.


Address of Hong Yuen Co. in 1891[22]: (Write answer in table provided)

Famous Landmark across the street (NOT next door): (Write answer in table provided)



Appendix (Optional): The London Times on the Cariboo Gold Rush[23]




I have not written much on the subject of British Columbia of late because the accounts which reached us throughout the summer and autumn were of so glowing a character, and gave so superlative a description of the wealth of the upper gold country, as appeared fabulous. The reports from Cariboo were really so extravagant in their character that I did not feel justified in giving circulation to them on hearsay evidence. Being now, however, in possession of proof of the general accuracy of the very flattering reports which regularly reached Victoria by every succeeding steamer from British Columbia during the whole period of the mining season just over, I feel justified in communicating them.

The portion of British Columbia which has yielded nearly all the gold produced this year, and which is destined to attract the notice of the world to a degree hitherto not accorded to the country in the aggregate, is a newly-discovered district called Cariboo (a corruption of “Cerf-boeuf,” a large species of reindeer which inhabits the country). […] Cariboo was discovered late in the season of last year, but its riches were not developed till this summer. I can only spare room for an epitome of the mining operations of the season.

In May the miners got to work on Antler Creek and some of the new hands – raw at the work “took out gold to the value of 200 dollars a day each, while new claims were daily opened with like prospects of success.” One man, working with a rocker, a very slow and inefficient implement, took out 400 dollars (40l.) in one day; while two men washed up 10 ounces (worth 44l. 5s.) a-piece in one day, also with a rocker. […] “Bench claims,” terraces situated 100 feet above the water of the creek, were yielding from 4 to 8 ounces of gold to each rocker every day. […] In the early part of this month (May), there were five feet of snow on the ground, but this did not prevent several miners from getting to work. […] As the miners constructed “flumes,” which economized manual labour and enabled them to discard the slow and tedious rocker, the results were very much higher, amounting to all sorts of amounts from 100l. to 500l. a-day to a company composed of three to five and six men. […]

Other creeks were now being discovered, and they were worked with varied success, ranging from 1s. to the pan of “pay dirt” to 10l. a-day to the hand.

The truth of these accounts was doubted at the time, but they had the effect of inducing a considerable emigration of miners from all the other diggings in the country to the Cariboo, which increased the mining population to about 1,400 by the end of May, and the number was constantly receiving fresh accessions. On the 9th of June $30,000 in gold arrived from Cariboo, besides the sums carried by 35 men who came down on business, and who, it is supposed, returned to the mines. The same day $40,000 arrived, some of which was also from Cariboo. These receipts awakened confidence, and a description of the gold of the district, which corresponded with the character of that just received, accounted for the enormous earnings. The gold was all coarse gold, granulated, gravelly stuff, mixed with pellets and pebbles of pure metal of considerable size. Of the fine-scale gold of the Fraser river, a man could not physically wash out so much as the reported individual earnings, but of such nuggets as then came down it was easy to take out pounds’ weight in a day. Freshets from the melting snow carried away the flumes, and the miners’ labours were suspended for some time towards the end of May by the floods from the melting snows of the adjacent mountains, and there was a scarcity of food. The roads, or tracks and trails, at any time only fit for mule travel, were then impassable for animals, and provisions had to be carried on the backs of Indians, who were paid $50 a day for “packing.” Labouring men, who had no mining claims of their own, were hired to work those of the miners at $7 and $8, and found. Provisions were relatively high in price. Flour was at 38c. (1s. 7d.) per lb.; bacon, 75c.; beans, 40c.; tea, $1 50c.; sugar and coffee, 75c. per lb. Single meals at the restaurants, consisting of beans and bacon and a cup of bad coffee, cost $2 (8s. 4d.). A correspondent of one of the newspapers in Victoria, writing from Cariboo at this time, quotes the prices of what, in the grandiose style of these parts, he calls “miners’ luxuries,” as follows:- A tin pan (worth 3d.) sold for $8 (1l. 12s. 9d.); picks and shovels, $7 50c. each (1l. 4s. 6d. and 1l. 10s. 6d.). Washing was charged for at $6 a dozen pieces (1l. 4s. 6d.). The latter is the only item of “luxury” I see in the “Price Current,” and I cannot believe that the laundryman was much patronized. It was added that “business of every description was lively.” At such prices a man would need to earn his 5l. to 20l. a day to enable him to keep “business lively.” These wages and prices show the large gains of the miners.

The first news of operations in June exceeded the glowing accounts of May. The melting of the snow kept many miners idle, and the country was covered with mud and slush, which made travelling almost impossible. However, those who could work earned largely, one “rocker” washing out 50 ounces of a forenoon, and three men “washing out” 100 ounces from a flume in a week. Omitting these “big strikes,” which fell to the lot of the favored few, we find that the fickle goddess was more sparing in her gifts to others. $50 to $100, and as low as $20 a day, are quoted as individual earnings. A person on the spot wrote, what seems to have been the truth, judging from what one knows of the temper and habits of the miner, – “Those who have not are making nothing and have nothing. These were the unlucky ones, who would not choose to work on hire, and who were waiting on Providence for ‘something to turn up,’ and for good weather to set out on a ‘prospecting’ tour, from which many of them would return footsore and ‘strapped,’ i.e., ‘dead broke.’”

In June intelligence reached Cariboo that gold had been discovered on the east side of the Rocky Mountains in British territory. This news, and the return to Antler Creek of exploring parties with a report that they had found “favourable indications of gold and plenty of rich quartz veins, 30 miles off,” added intensity to an excitement already at fever heat. Many of the miners wandered about the pathless wilderness “prospecting” for rich and yet richer “claims” which would contain the philosopher’s stone, and lost their time and their strength and health in their restless wanderings, and earned nothing.

Presently the weather improved, provisions became abundant, new discoveries were being made at great distances apart, and success attended the efforts of all who worked steadily and stuck to one spot. On Keithley’s Creek a party of five “divided” $1,200 from one day’s labour, and their daily average was a pound weight of gold a day.

Several “sluices” were set to work on this creek, and the results were $20 to $50 per man per day. There were 200 men on this creek, of whom 75 were at work about the middle of June. The gold found was in small nuggets, of the value of 6d. to 8s. sterling each piece. No quicksilver was used to amalgamate the gold, which made a vast saving in time and expense and which enabled the miner to make such large gains as I have stated above. Another fact, peculiar to the Cariboo Diggings generally, is that the gold is found near the surface – a few inches, a foot or two, and very seldom more than six feet below the surface. There is an efflorescence of gold near the surface in the virgin soil of most gold-bearing countries, but I never knew it so general as it is here.

The diggings on Snow-shoe Creek were opened in June, and yielded $12 to $25 to the hand per day.

Here are a few statistics of this remote country, noted down in June by a traveller:-

“A little town springing up at Keithley’s, consisting of three grocery stores, a bakery, a restaurant, a butcher’s shop (cattle had by this time been driven up from Oregon and the lower Fraser), a blacksmith’s shop, and several taverns, some in tents and some in log-houses. At Antler 10 houses erected, and a sawmill on the Creek. In all Cariboo there are five white women and three physicians. Several vegetable gardens started at various points.”

The native Indians are very quiet, civil, and industrious; very useful as carriers of provisions, &c. The mule trails rendered impassable; but the Government appropriated $2,000 for opening a bridle road to the district, and the miners of Antler and of Keithley’s subscribed $800 to open a trail to the former place. Labourers’ wages at Antler, $8 a day; at Keithley’s, $7 a day – and board in both cases. A considerable number of hands thus employed. When a member of a “company” cannot work himself, he puts a hired man in his place.

We had from the first discovery of this gold district heard most unfavourable reports of the severity of the winter season, which was said to render the country uninhabitable. The matter was set at rest by some Canadians who wintered in Cariboo last year. They found the intensity of the cold so much less than in the Canadas that they represented the climate as mild compared with that of their native country. […] The mining season continues from May to October at present; but when accommodations increase, and the miners begin to tunnel the banks and hills for gold, as they soon will do, the winter will present no obstacles to continuous work, under cover of adits, [sic.] during the whole season.

A mining claim is a (parallelogram) piece of ground 100 feet wide, running from bank to bank of a creek. The depth is indefinite, varying, of course, with the width of the creek. Each miner is entitled to one of these “claims,” and there may be several miners associated together to work a “claim.” In case of such an association amounting to five miners, the “company” would be entitled to 500 feet of ground in width, and running from bank to bank. At first many miners “took up” claims in simulated names, and thus caused a monopoly – an evil which was remedied by the Government Gold Commissioner when he visited the country in the summer.

Under the mining laws of British Columbia, which are well adapted to the country, the miners have the power to regulate their own mining affairs, such as settling the size of claims, which must vary in different localities, &c., with the assent and assistance of the Gold Commissioner in each district, and subject to the approval of the Governor.

The provisions of the mining laws are very seldom, if ever, complied with in all respects; but still the mining operations are conducted with exemplary propriety, and no body of men, upon the whole, could conduct themselves more peaceably than do the miners of British Columbia. All disputes are submitted to the Commissioner, and if his decision is not acquiesced in, an appeal is taken to the judge of the Supreme Court of Civil Justice (the only one in the whole colony), who goes circuit to all the inhabited parts of the country.

While on this subject I should not be doing justice to the country if I failed to remark upon the absence of crime in British Columbia. The fact is remarkable, considering the heterogeneous nature of the population, as it is gratifying. It speaks well for the miners, and for the magistrates also, who are a very efficient and respectable body, all young men in the prime of life; and I am certain, from my knowledge of his character, that the moral effect of the judge’s free intercourse with all classes, of his disinterested counsel when appealed to extra-judicially – as he frequently is, to settle disputes – and of his urbanity, is very beneficial. The exercise of his good-nature prevents litigation, and the fearlessness with which he punishes crime prevents the commission of heinous offences.

July opened with increased exertions and proportionate results, in consequence of the disappearance of the snow. […] Four day’s work yielded a man 104 ounces, and some men from Victoria were making two and three ounces each a-day. The town of Antler growing “like magic.” Instead of 10 houses, as it counted last month, it now boasts of “20 substantial stores, whisky shops, and other edifices, surrounded by any number of tents. Provisions still rather dear in consequence of the scarcity caused by increased consumption; meals, $2; flour, 70s. per lb.; beef, 50c. (2s.); beans, 90c. per lb.; and liquor – ‘Minié rifle and tangle-leg, warranted to kill at any distance,’ was snapped up at 50c. (2s.) a glass.” The prosperity of the town was in part indebted to an evil influence. Professional gamblers track the successful miner as the carrion crow scents the dead on a battlefield. The clink of money and the sound of gamblers’ voices is heard at all hours. Monté and Paro Banks and Poker Games are all the go. Large sums of money change hands constantly.” I heard of one party who lost, between three of them, $27,000.

I met a Spaniard on his return from Cariboo. He is a muleteer, and was engaged in packing. On my asking him about the richness of the mines, he answered that the gambling was as rife and carried on as high as in California in her palmiest days. […] He saw piles of gold bullion and 20-dollar pieces laid out on the gambling tables, and he saw a bank of portentous size, and he saw large stakes played and won and lost; and all these evidences of wealth satisfied him that “the country was saved” without going beyond Antler. He had been informed that Cariboo was a “fizzle;” but at Antler he changed his opinion, and went vigorously into the packing business, made money, and is now building a house to enjoy his otium cum dignitate.

It is hard to suggest a cure for this vice of new mining countries. The miner requires relaxation, and no healthy means of relaxation exist. He will adopt the first and readiest.

I do not see what the Government can do except to discourage it. It cannot put it down with the strong arm, for the rapid growth of population and of wealth outrun Government administration in these cases of sudden developments of the treasures of the earth. The magistrate intimated that he would hold the tavern-keepers who permitted gambling in their houses responsible. Beyond this his means of enforcing the law would not carry him. The vice will wear itself out, as it did in California.

In August and September mining was at its height. […] On the Antler Creek the rocker yielded 50 ounces of gold of a forenoon. […] The town site is threatened to be “washed” away, as the miners are entitled to all mineral ground which lay waste when they staked it off for mining. Water for sluicing sold at 50c. (2s. sterling) an inch (cubic measure, flowing through a square tube), yet after paying this heavy charge, the yield left $40 to $60 a-day to the miner. […] The miners were by this time enabled to extend their means and appliances to save manual labour. “Flumes were built of enormous size and length, with numerous wheel-pumps to supply water for washing the gold, which were to be seen turning, constantly, as far as they eye could reach.” “The magnitude of the works was surprising.” These were due to the neighbouring sawmill, which produced lumber on the spot, and must have also yielded a rich return to the proprietors, for the price was high, of course, 25c. a foot and upwards.

The mining “holes” were described as shining with gold. When the “bed-rock” was laid bare it was found studded or paved with “lumps” of gold, and every shovelful contained a considerable amount, in some cases to the value of 10l. sterling, and required no “washing,” the nuggets or pellets of gold being picked out by hand.

The diggings were now found to be not only rich but extensive, which led to a new enterprise. A drift was driven into one of the hills. This “tunnelling” is now the chief mode of working practised in California, where the efflorescence of gold has been long exhausted, and where the placers are nearly so. Labourers were in demand (in Cariboo) for this work at $8 a-day and board, so that, with health, no man who chose to labour could fail to make money. A miner told my informant, at this time, that his “claim” would last him 10 years “to work it out.” […]

The miners were now in good heart. Their condition was much improved by the abundance of salmon caught in the Fraser and other up-country rivers. There was abundance of grass, also, on the mountains all through the summer – a supply as necessary as human food, as all commodities being “packed” there were many mules and horses to feed.

A miner writes that his gains far surpass anything ever produced in California, and cites the fact of $1,700 having been dug out of two crevices in the rock less than three feet under the surface. In fact, the explanation of the enormous yields is, as I before stated, the large, solid, nuggety character of the gold and its proximity to the surface. Men who had never mined before, tradesmen, mechanics, and labourers new to the work, did just as well as the old, practised miner. This result will cease as the efflorescence of gold near the surface becomes exhausted. Then some skill and much labor will be needed to produce far less results than paid the exertions of the Cariboo last season.

“Veins and boulders of quartz are seen in every direction in the hills, such as would of themselves create an excitement in any other country,” but they are here neglected for the placers, which are so much more easily worked. […]

The account of September’s work is but an exaggerated repetition of that of the two previous months. Prodigious quantities of gold were found in limited spaces, such as 65oz. form a crevice, 22oz. washed out of one panful of dirt – all nuggets. […]

Money was also made by other industrial pursuits besides mining. Packers made large sums, and so did traders, of which we have ample proof in Victoria, for these parties brought their money here, and I know two cattle-dealers who made 10,000l. profit in the season.

A fall of two feet of snow in the first week of October forced the miners to relax their labours in most cases, and the great bulk of the population left the country in the course of the month for Victoria, California, Oregon and other parts – some to re-unite their social ties, and others on business, but all with the intention of returning. About 200 men have remained to winter in Cariboo. Many claim owners left men to guard them from interlopers in their absence, at wages of $10 a-day. News reached this place last week that some of the claims had been “jumped,” and were being worked by parties who had usurped the possession. Several miners have gone back, in consequence, to vindicate their rights, and they are likely to adopt a very expeditious process in so doing. The revolver will in all probability decide the contest. The approaches to the country are now sealed to every means of travelling except on snow shoes, for between the Forks of Quesnelle, the nearest inhabited place, and Cariboo there are 18 to 20 feet of snow, and the distance between these two places is 50 miles. […]

At New Westminster the other day I met a man who had worked as a journeyman carpenter for me some time ago, and whom I was in the habit of seeing occasionally in Victoria. He made up to me to consult me on the best means of disposing of his gold, there being a scarcity of coin in both colonies, which rendered it impossible to “convert” bullion; while gold bars were at a discount from 3 to 5 per cent. on their value, for the same reason of the scarcity of coin. […]

In consequence of the scarcity of coin and the heavy depreciation on gold bars he went down by the last steamer to San Francisco to have his gold coined at the American mint there. He is a sharp fellow. He “calculated” that he would save $600 by the trip, for he would go down in the second cabin at a low fare, [and] he would save freight on his gold by carrying it about him on going on board. Once the vessel started the purser would take care of it for him, and at San Francisco he would get full value for his gold. […]

The day before yesterday I met Dr. Romsey, of Victoria, […] who has passed the season in Cariboo. […] I asked Dr. Romsey why it was that when “claims” which did not pay $20 were rejected, the “unlucky” miners did not take them and work them, particularly as wages were less than that amount. He answered, as others did the same question, that no good reason could be assigned for it, but that it was so, and that the miners held peculiar notions. The fact is the miner generally does entertain queer notions – an odd mixture of perverseness, indifference, and pride. I have known them idle away their time rather than labour in the ground which did not pay as well as their neighbours’ claim. Then, many of the miners, who have been at work in California for 10 or 11 years, are very much “broken down” and cannot endure much hard work. “Prospecting” and selling claims suits them better. […]

The native Indians […] are beginning to “dig,” in imitation of the white men, in some parts, and will eventually increase the yield of gold, as the desire for wealth grows upon them. As a proof of their aptitude and success in this, to them, new field of labour, I may mention that the Bishop of Columbia found a gang of them “washing” on Bridge River last summer, and that he had the day’s earnings of one Indian weighed when he ceased his labours and found it to contain one ounce of gold. His Lordship purchased it of him and paid him $16 50c., the current issue, and carried it away as a souvenir.

The miner of British Columbia pays but a very small tribute for permission to dig for gold wherever and whenever he pleases in the colony. The mining license is only 1l. sterling a-year to foreigners and to British subjects alike without any distinction or preference of any kind. And this trifle is optional. It may be paid or not at pleasure.

The payment gives the miner the protection of the law in vindicating his rights of property to his mineral ground or claim; and this advantage naturally operates as an inducement to take out the license, while it has at the same time the effect of preserving order by rendering the “wild justice” of Judge Lynch uncalled for.

The cost of a miner in getting from Victoria to Cariboo would be from 10l. to 12l. As to security of life, I consider it just as safe there as in England. As to the mining prospects, they are clear as the sun at noon. Every able man who chooses to work will make money.

Reverting for a moment to the gold production, it is rather mortifying to have to relate  that nearly the whole of the wealth which the country produces goes to San Francisco and to Oregon, to enrich foreign communities. Most of it is taken to thee countries by miners from there, on their return, but a great deal goes below in the course of trade which ought to remain here or go to England. It is impossible to give a return of the gold exported in these ways; but one house alone – Wells Fargo’s Express – remitted from August, 1858, to the 17th of November last, 1861, the gross amount of $3,642,058 30c. The great bulk was carried down in the same period by miners.

The causes of this large export of bullion, which leaves the balance of trade so much against these two colonies, are various; and I can only here just glance at them.

The high duties of the American tariff prevent an exchange of commodities. Our fish, lumber, and coal, &c., are virtually excluded from the market of San Francisco, which compels us to pay in bullion.

We produce neither breadstuffs nor cattle to feed our population, owing to the small number of agriculturists, so we have to draw our supplies from the two countries named.

We do not receive from England direct a tithe of the merchandise which we consume, such as cloth, groceries, wearing apparel, and the thousand and one articles which enter into general consumption, consequently we have to procure these supplies also from San Francisco.

We have not one-millionth of the population which the products of our soil would support, and for the same reason we have not the home industries which would create a large local circulation of money.

We have no regular postal communication with England, but are left dependent upon foreign vessels which visit us at long intervals. This is the 7th of December, and the steamer from San Francisco is just arrived. She came at about 2 o’clock in the day and leaves at midnight, staying so short a period as will not enable men of business to answer their letters satisfactorily, and the intervals are too long. This is the 25th day since she has left us, and there has not been a steamer from San Francisco since till to-day.

This infrequency of communication lessens our correspondence with England, and tends to keep us dependent upon San Francisco for much merchandise, which prompt postal communication would induce to come from England. […]

Then, a most baneful consequence to business has been the mistake of having placed the Government assay-office in the wrong place. It is at New Westminster, where there is no commerce and only 300 inhabitants, men, women, and children, and which would be deserted if the Government officials were removed.

Victoria is the mart of commerce for British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Here are all the merchants and other business establishments; and here naturally should the assay-office be placed. Had it been so, nearly all the gold which now goes in dust to San Francisco would be converted into bars on the spot – a circumstance which would greatly facilitate business, and which to the success of banking business is absolutely essential.

[1] Due to a few un-numbered pages at the start of the file, ‘page 84’ is actually page 92 of the PDF file.

[2] ARRIVALS FROM THE RIVER. (1861, June 10). The British Colonist, p. 3. Retrieved from

[3] There’s an interesting story behind that price. See Kestenbaum, D. (2012, November 15). Why Coke Cost a Nickel for 70 Years [Web Page]. Retrieved from

[4] Average earnings of male and female employees in manufacturing, survey week 1956 to 1965, and percentage increases over previous year [Web Page]. (2009, August 17). Retrieved from

[5] Canada Average Hourly Wages [Web Page]. (n.d.). Retrieved from on February 21, 2021.

[6] Canada – Coca-Cola – price, September 2020 [Web Page]. (2020). Retrieved from

[7] $2.49/500 mL x 192.228 mL/bottle = $0.96/bottle.

[8] Using exact numbers, closer to 108.51%.

[9] Fraser, D. (1862, February 5). THE GOLD REGION OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.  The London Times, p. 26. I have reproduced the entire article for you as an Appendix to this assignment. Reading it is entirely optional.

[10] Numbers in brackets are the price in the British currency of the time: pounds, shillings, pence, or l. s. d. One pound had twenty shillings, and one shilling had twelve pence. In 1861, one pound was worth five dollars.

[11] The minimum wage in British Columbia is currently $15.20/hour until June 1, 2022, and 8 hours a day are “standard hours of work”. See Minimum Wage [Web Page]. (n.d.). and Hours of work and overtime [Web Page]. (n.d.).

[12] All prices except tea were taken from Thrifty Foods, Victoria, on February 20, 2021. The price of tea was from Save on Foods, Victoria, on February 20, 2021.

[13] Hong Yuen & Co. did try to start a piggery in 1909, but the neighbours complained.

[14] Library and Archives Canada. (2016). Search: 1891 Census of Canada [Web Page]. Retrieved from

[15] The daughter’s family name is listed as ‘Ah’, suggesting Hong Yuen (红袁?) spoke Cantonese. Victoria’s census takers did not know ‘Ah’ (阿) is used in front of one-syllable Cantonese names to make a nickname, and would often write down ‘Ah’ as a first name or family name.  “The prefix ‘Ah’ […] is equivalent to the English Mr. or Mrs. An American named John Smith, for instance, if asked his name; would reply, if he answered [in the Chinese style], ‘Ah John.’ If further asked, ‘What Ah John?’ he would say, ‘Smith Ah John;’ so with Chinesse, ‘What Ah Sing?’ ‘Why[,] Ho Ah Sing.’” Gordon, F.L. (1887, November 17). CHINESE TRAITS. The Abilene Journal, p. 2. Also, note that Hong Yuen’s wife has a different family name. The census taker at first assumed it was ‘Yuen’, but had to cross it out and correct it to ‘Mon’ (张?). Traditionally, in much of China, a wife would keep her family name, since she was still considered part of her father’s family.

[16] Listed as ‘Dom’ in the census.

[17] The British Colonist Advanced Search [Web Page]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[18] Prior to 1875, Hong Yuen was in a farming partnership with ‘Ah See’ and ‘Chong Tie’. An ad in the Colonist in September of that year (see the very bottom of page 3) announces the end of that partnership.

[19] This was not Hong Yuen’s only run-in with the law.  In 1885, there was some confusion as to whether he could testify, as this required swearing on the Bible and he was Confucian.  From the Colonist for November 27: “Hong Yuen took the stand and had just been sworn on the Bible, when the court asked if the witness was bound by that course more than the usual one of burning a piece of paper. The interpreter said the last operation was not more binding than the other, as the only oath taken in China was when in the case of two or more disputants they each cut off a chicken’s head.” In 1928, the City of Victoria would actually require Chinese witnesses in an attempted murder trial to swear over two sacrificed roosters (see ‘Chicken Oath Administered’).

[20] Vancouver Public Libraries. (n.d.). British Columbia City Directories 1860 – 1955 [Web Page]. Retrieved from

[21] Goad, C. E. (1895). Insurance Plan of Victoria, British Columbia [Map]. Retrieved from Revised to 1895, which is why it gives ‘1895’ as the date. Note that all the image files names start with ‘1891’.

[22] In 1912, Hong Yuen & Co. would move to the corner of Fisguard & Quadra.

[23] This article was originally published in two parts: Fraser, D. (1862, February 5). THE GOLD REGION OF BRITISH COLUMBIA.  The London Times, p. 26. Fraser, D. (1862, February 6). THE GOLD REGION OF BRITISH COLUMBIA. The London Times, p. 26.