WELSH GOLD MINERS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA DURING THE 1860's In 1849 Vancouver's Island was proclaimed a British colony but British Columbia had to wait until the discovery of gold on the mainland and the rush of miners seeking their fortunes in its sandbars and mountains before it could achieve that status. In 1848, gold had been discovered in California and by 1850 the inrush of 'forty-niners' had made of the region a fully fledged state of the Union. Fortunes were made but only by a comparative few, and many who had gone to California with high hopes remained there with diminishing expectations until, in 1858, a number of American miners penetrated from the Columbia to the valley of the Fraser river and found gold a little way above the present town of Lytton in British Columbia. The news of the discovery swiftly reached San Francisco and another gold rush gained momentum. Shipping companies who could see the opportunity for high profits in transporting the fortune-hunters to the diggings, advertised widely the wealth which could be made in the new El Dorado. Victoria and Vancouver's Island found themselves prospering over- night. In August 1858, Governor Douglas, of Vancouver's Island, estimated that there were ten thousand miners in the valley of the Fraser, prepared to organise some form of territorial government. For the most part, the miners were Americans and the unpleasant prospect faced the British that, unless action was swiftly taken, the story of Oregon might be repeated north of the international boundary. Douglas acted with energy and speed and left none of the miners in any doubt that they were in British territory. Parliament followed up Douglas' initial moves by creating the colony of British Columbia in November 1858. Douglas, on agreeing to relinquish his position as Chief Factor of the Hudson's Bay Company, was made Governor of both Vancouver's Island and British Columbia. A capital was established at New Westminster, and attention was almost immediately given to the question of building roads into the mining regions and the establishment of law and order. The miners, seeing the advantages to themselves from both undertakings, co-operated well and agreed to the raising of funds by a system of mining licences and tolls. Of necessity, the gold deposits on the sandbars were soon worked out and the prospectors began to follow the stream upwards. When the upper waters of the Fraser produced little, the tributaries in turn were prospected, particularly that of the north branch of the Quesnel river, deep in the Cariboo mountains. A strike at Keithley Creek in 1860 was followed in 1861 by others at Williams Creek, flowing into the Willow river and at Lightning Creek, flowing into the Cottonwood river.1 It was the mines of the Cariboo region which thus saved the colony from being virtually still-born by bringing in a fresh influx of miners from all over the world, 1 Morton, Arthur S.: A history of the Canadian West to 1870-1, London, 1939, p. 768.