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Klondike Gold Rush

This article of 9,510 words was transcribed and posted on November 6, 2021

Victoria Daily Times (Victoria, British Columbia) - Saturday, November 6, 1897

The Canadian Gold Fields, 1897

An Interesting Lecture on the Yukon from the World's Greatest Authority

    William Ogilvie, F.R.G.S., the Canadian surveyor, who has rendered such valuable services to Canada by his northern explorations and surveys, lectured before a large audience at Institute Hall yesterday evening on the Yukon region. Hon. Col. Baker, minister of mines, acted as chairman and in a short introductory address he said that the object of the lecture was not only to interest Victorians but to provide funds for St. James' church. Mr. Kains had been prospecting for gold for that church, and finding Mr. Ogilvie he had prevailed upon him to deliver a lecture, thus securing a paying prospect. The chairman then referred to the valuable services rendered by Mr. Ogilvie as an explorer and surveyor, for which he had received the medal of the Royal Geographical Society, and had also been made a fellow of that body. Col. Baker said that while there is gold in Klondike, he believed that even greater wealth would be discovered in the great mineral belt of gold and silver running from the southern to the northern boundary of British Columbia. He then introduced the lecturer.

    Mr. Ogilvie on coming forward was greeted with an outburst of applause. He said:

    Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: After the very flattering introduction given me by the chairman and your very hearty reception, I feel called upon to make a few preliminary remarks in explanation of my position. I have come totally unprepared except for a few notes I made this morning, having, I may say, had to snatch the time for the purpose from my visitors, who wanted to get information from me - but I have been able to compile a few notes. You know the general explanation which is often used by the good lady of the house when she says that your visit is altogether unexpected and has taken her by surprise, although you know that she has not only been good enough to expect, but has also during the past few days been busy making preparations for your comfort. However, you will see that I am not in that position, but am really in the position in which the good lady of the house professes to be and is not with this important difference, that I cannot "cook" that which I have to serve to you.

    If you will kindly allow this to be understool and pardon any shortcomings, I will do my best to give you all the information I can, and if you see any fault please attribute it to this want of preparation. My hands are tied officially and I am not able to disclose certain things until a certain bluebook is published at Ottawa, which I hope will be early next year. I must also say that never but once before have I occupied a similar position to that in which I am placed to-night, and that on that occasion I acted as chairman.

    Now, to make a commencement of the subject, we will assume that we want to visit the Yukon country. I may say, Mr. Chairman, that I object to the use of the name Klondike, because that is a small portion of the territory we have up there in the Yukon region, in comparison with which the area of the Klondike would not compare any more than my hand would with that black-board, and nearly all that vast stretch of country has yet to be prospected.


    I will first introduce you to the several routes into this great gold-bearing region which are now known. Leaving Victoria by any one of the steamers which run from here, we make our way through the well known Seymour Narrows, taking care to time that passage to reach there at a suitable stage of the water, for it is well known that no ship can go through except at either high or low tide. In a few days, according to the capacity of the steamer, we reach Port Simpson, the most northerly seaport in British Columbia or Canada on the Pacific ocean.

    If you wish to make your way in in British bottoms we can here take the river steamers and proceed from Port Simpson to Wrangel, it being about 170 miles from the former point to the mouth of the Stickeen river, proceeding up that river about 150 miles, or perhaps a little less distance, as will be proved when the surveys are made for the proposed railway facilities. That distance occupies sixty hours or a little more.

    From the head of the Stickeen the road would follow through an undulating country which presents no obstacles to railway construction, and for the greater part of the distance of 150 miles is pretty well covered with timber. I would mention, however, that the natural food supply available for horses will not be sufficient for any great number. It might be said that enough would be found for say two hundred head, but any great number would soon eat off what there is and it will be necessary that such arrangements shall be made as will render it possible for the natural supply to be increased by importing sufficient for any number over and above that.

    Arrived at the head of Teslin lake, we produce our whipsaws and commence to get out lumber for our boats. Now, whipsawing has been said to be one of the inventions of Satan, and when two are doing that work it is necessary for success that one shall push and the other shall pull; but when, as is too often the case with the tenderfoot, both either pull or both push, there is likely to be some inquiry from the man who is above what the other fellow is doing, and there may be some complimentary language indulged in and the man below ask his partner to come down and have it out. And if the man below gets a grain of sawdust in his eye during the progress of the quarrel there will be quite a sulphurous atmosphere for some time.

    After a while, though, in spite of these difficulties, the boat will be finally got ready and then commences the trip down Teslin lake, which is 80 miles long and bounded on both sides by high mountains. This distance is, of course, only as I have been told. We arrive at the head of the Hootalinqua after traversing the lake. This river is marked on the map as being the Teslin, which is the Indian name for a fish which is caught in the lake. The Hootalinqua river is about 125 miles long - or a total distance from Victoria to Dawson City, by way of the Stickeen, Teslin and Hootalinqua route, of 1,500 miles.

    At two points, one near the head of the river and one quite a distance below, there are obstacles in the way of steamboat navigation at certain times of the year, during certain stages of the river. A few miles below the river broadens out into innumerable channels, until at last, at the lower end, it widens to two and a half miles. If one of these channels were deepened out, a sufficient depth of water could be obtained to allow of a free passage for a steamer drawing three or four feet without difficulty.


    I leave you now at the mouth of the Teslin and go back to Wrangel, where we take an American boat to Juneau. There has been during the last few months some talk in regard to a proposed route by way of Taku Inlet. In 1894 and 1895 I was employed to go in that portion of the country. Taku Inlet is something about eighteen miles long and leads up to a glacier of much greater size and affording considerably more danger to boats than the much talked of Muir glacier in Alaska. The ice is cast off in great avalanches and is continually breaking off. I have visited the Muir glacier and have never seen a breaking take place; whereas, in Taku, where I remained for three weeks, I saw large bodies of ice break away every day, and which in every case create a surge in the water that is dangerous to boats even to so great a distance as three miles away from the glacier.

    This Taku river extends for sixty miles. There are enormous gravel bars which render it impossible for steamboats to navigate it, although it is said that they might during the months of June or July - or during the warm weather. From the forks we go up by the left-hand branch about nine miles over to Tagish lake. Along this route we meet with no very great difficulties, and keep up about nine miles, going past the Silver Salmon creek. In regard to this route, however, I may say that I have not examined any considerable portion of it, but civil engineers are now exploring it, and their reports will, of course, be made public.

    From the summit there will be no difficulty in constructing a road to the head of Teslin lake. We have here then, two roads - one of them offering most perfect advantages with the additional greater one that it can be called an all Canadian route if we choose to so name it.


    We go back again to the coast now, and proceed a hundred miles above up to Skagway, where we find the celebrated White Pass route. From tide water to the summit of the White Pass is a distance of about seventeen miles, four miles being all through timber. Above that the valley breaks, and any road will have to be constructed to lead along the hillside. An elevation of 2,000 feet is reached at the summit of the pass. Once on the summit the remainder of the 85 miles is tolerably level, but it is extremely rocky and the land is of very little value.

    We now go to the Dyea route, which has been used by the Indians for generations. And it is evident that they knew their business ia selecting it. The word Dyea is itself an Indian one, meaning "pack" or "load" - a very appropriate name for the trail. From tidewater to the mouth of the canyon it would be as easy to build a road as can well be imagined, as easy almost as to construct one along one of your city streets. From the mouth of the canyon to Sheep Camp construction is more difficult; in fact it would probably be necessary to suspend the road by iron girders from the sides of the cliffs. From Sheep Camp to the head of the climb is yet more difficult, as all who have gone over the road will heartily agree. It is very steep, and very, very stony. From the summit to Lake Linderman there is a decline of 1,320 feet, and the road has been somewhat improved of late. Lake Linderman itself, the first lake, is about four and half miles long, and between Lake Linderman and Lake Lebarge there is a sandy ridge three-quarters of a mile long, which brings us to the end of the present Dyea route.

    Lake Bennett, which is first encountered on what is known as the Skagway route, is for the first half of its length narrow and comparatively shallow. The other end of the lake is fully exposed to the strongest winds prevailing in that district, and which frequently get up a very ugly sea, decidedly dangerous for small boats, as I have myself experienced. Cariboo Crossing, which is about two and a half miles long, brings us to Tagish lake, which is about 17 miles long. Here the Mounted Police and the Canadian customs officers have been stationed. The geography of Tagish iake is already pretty well known, nor need any special attention be given to Marsh lake.

    Twenty-five miles from Marsh lake we come to the canyon, where the river is very swift and passes between almost perpendicular walls. Running the canyon is easily practicable, provided the boat is kept in the very centre of the stream. Do this and the boat rides through safely. If not, she wili be dashed against the side walls of basaltic rock and pounded to pieces. In the middle of the canyon, which is about five-eights of a mile long, is the basin - a circular pool which it would be impossible for a man to climb out of. At the foot of the canyon is a very large rapid | through which the boat goes so fast that she dips into them, taking in water unless the greatest care is taken. Should she get into the eddy, man and boat will be thrown on the bank, whether they will or no. Below the canyon there is another rapid, which, however, offers no special obstacle to a man wanting to go through. I have been through.

    Below that is what is known as the White Horse rapid. Now, you can run the White Horse rapid if you want to - at least, you can try, I don't. I traced up thirteen men who had lost their lives in running this rapid in a single season, and though I cannot say so for certain, I believe that this must have been a large proportion of those who made the attempt. Of course, for those who want to do the daring deed and talk about it afterwards, there is the White Horse rapids to be run. I don't do it, however.

    Below, at the Five Fingers, the river is partially dammed by a conglomerate rock standing like a pillar in the stream. Avoiding it, let the boat go easy and all will be well. But see that the boat doesn't dip or she will take much more water than you require. Below this there is another rapid, and then the smooth and unhampered river, from which on everything is all right.


    Of the Dalton trail I know nothing by personal observation - only by report. I had an interview with Mr. Dalton, from whom the trail is named, in 1896, and I have also talked with Mr. McArthur, our surveyor, who has spent some time in that district recently. Of course, the substance of his report cannot be divulged at present.

    The summili of this trail is about 45 miles from the coast and 3,000 feet above the sea; the watershed is about 75 miles from the coast and Dalton's trading post 100 miles from the coast. Thence to the Pelly is 200 miles further. This route passes over a nice undulating plain, well timbered in the valleys and with grass on the slopes, but not enough to feed uny number of animals. The first 34 miles of the Dalton trail is in disputed territory, the rest of it in Canada, just as is the case with the Dyea and Skagway trails. Now, for my part, I think that it is our duty as Canadians to sink all political differences - to let the fire of patriotism consume all feelings that would tend to retard the acquisition of this most desirable line as an all-Canadian route to the Yukon (applause), so that we may enjoy as far as possible the benefits that region will bring if we use our rights wisely and well. We have the best end of the Yukon river - that is certain.

    In going down the Yukon in a steamer recently from Dawson, the first 140 miles was made without any difficulty, and until we got below Circle City there was no trouble. But below that the steamer began to labor, the water got shallower, and the steamers have often been detained on sand bars for weeks. It is a common occurrence to be delayed hours, and even days, on bars and on what is known as the Yukon flats, just below Circle City. Not once is there difficulty of this kind found in our part of the river, but in the Alaska portion it is an every day occurrence for a steamer to stick. I know of one steamer that stuck for three weeks, another that was on a sand bank for four or five days till another steamer came along and bunted her off, and then stuck on the same bar herself - and I don't know how long she stayed there. (Laughter)

    The navigation of the Yukon river in the upper part is open from May till the middle of October, while at the mouth it is not open before the 1st July, and navigation does not last longer than the 1st of October - that is, only from two and a half to three months - and it takes river steamers fourteen, fifteen and sixteen days to get up the river to Dawson.

    St. Michaels, the headquarters of the river boats, is 80 miles from the mouth of the river, and only in calm weather can the steamers cross that bit of open sea. Of course, this route by way of St. Michaels with its river difficulties is not our road. We have a right to navigate the Yukon; but, as I said before, it is not our route.

    Now I will tell you the vessels that are engaged at present navigating the Yukon. The Alaska Commercial Company have two large steamers, the Alice and the Bella, besides smaller ones named the Margaret and the Victoria, last being named after Queen Victoria, as it was built in the Diamond Jubilee year and launched about the time of the Jubilee. There were also two other small steamers belonging to the company running at the mouth of the river. The North American Transportation and Trading Company have three steamers and contemplate putting on two more next summer.


    Next let me tell you something about the history of the discovery of gold in the Yukon. Early in the '70's an attempt was made to get over to Teslin Lake by Cassiar miners, who learned of the existence of a large lake northward from Cassiar. Several people tried, but unsuccessfully, and returned disgusted. In 1872, September 2, two north of Ireland men, from county Antrim, named Harper and F. W. Hart, and Geo. W. Finch, who came from the vicinity of Kingston; Andrew Kanselar, a German; and Sam. Wilkinson, an Englishman, left Manson creek to go on a prospecting trip down the Mackenzie river. Harper, because there had been found gold on the Laird, which empties into the Mackenzie, was under the impression that there was gold on the Mackenzie. He made his way down to what is known as Half-Way river. There he met a party of men surveying for the C. P. railway, and unwittingly helped to drive a spike in our great highway, because they gave their boat to the survey men to make their way up the Peace river. Harper and the others packed their provisions up the Half-Way river and over a two or three mile portage to the waters of the Nelson river, down which they went until they found it safe for the passage of canoes, where they made a cache and proceeded to make three dug-out canoes with which to descend the Nelson.

    In 1891 I was sent by the Dominion government to examine the northeast portion of the province, and going in the trail followed by Harper, I saw the cache which Harper had told me about in 1887. Well, Harper's party made their way down to the Laird river, where they met two men named McQuestion and Mayo. Wilkinson determined to try his luck on the Laird, and left the others. Harper, Hart, the German and Finch went down the Mackenzie across to the Peel and thence over to Bell's river, an affluant of the Porcupine, down the Porcupine to Fort Yukon. There Harper saw an Indian who had some native copper which he said came from White river and Harper determined to try for it.

    Harper, Hart and Finch went 400 miles to White river in September, but did not find the copper. Instead they found some gold as the result of the search. They found no gold on the Mackenzie. The result of Harper's prospecting he gave to me as follows: On the Nelson, nothing; on the Laird, colors; on the Mackenzie, nothing; on the Peel, fair prospects; on the Bell, nothing; on the Porcupine, colors; and prospects everywhere on the Yukon.

    Provisions giving out, they had to make their way down the river to St. Michaels. On his way back Harper saw an Indian with some gold he said came from the Koynkuk.

    Inquiry elicited from the Indian the place where he found the gold, and Harper prospected there all winter, but found nothing. It is now known where the Indian got the gold, which was not at the place he indicated. During the summer McQuestion made his way up the Yukon and built Fort Reliance, about six and a half miles below the mouth of the now famous Klondike. In the following summer Harper joined him there and they traded in partnership at that port for many years. The valley of the Klondike was their favorite hunting ground, but they never prospected there, and if they had, in the Klondike itself, they would haye found nothing, for it is a swift mountain stream, which has washed away all the finer sand and gravel; consequently the gold would sink out of sight, and in those days no prospecting was done but on the bars in the rivers and creeks.

    In 1882 goid was found on the Stewart river by two brothers, by name Boswell, from the vicinity of Peterboro, Ontario. At this time there were only about thirty or forty miners in the district. A number of Cassiar miners had discovered the river from Lake Lebarge and had done considerable prospecting, finding the gold. On the Stewart river the bars yielded fine gold in small quantities. In 1866 Mr. Harper established a trading post, and in the same year some prospectors found coarse gold at Forty Mile.

    This took all the miners up to Forty Mile, coarse gold being what every miner is looking for, and the excitement there continued to draw them until 1891, when gold was found on Birch creek - 200 miles below Forty Mile. This discovery was due to a Canadian missionary, Archdeacon Macdonald, of Ft. Peel, travelling through the country from Tenana river, where he found a nugget. He reported the find to some prospectors whom he met and gave them a discription of the place where he had made the find. A search was made, but although the men could not from his description locate the spot, they found gold.

    This, of course, boomed Birch creek, and in 1891 everyone at Forty Mile went down there. One or two creeks are rich, but the best of them cannot begin to compare with the El Dorado or the Bonanza, the tributaries of the Klondike. As an incident I may mention that one experienced man told me that the Birch creek diggings are only "Chinese diggings" compared with the later discoveries which have attracted such attention to El Dorado and Bonanza. He said he knew of one claim on El Dorado which he would not give for the whole of the Brich Creek district.

    Gold was found at the head of Forty Mile. Napoleon Gulch, named after the Frenchman who located it, is rich in nuggets. Franklin Gulch is pretty rich, as are also Davis, Mosquito and Chicken Creeks. The last named, discovered in 1896, was considered very rich at the time, this being a few weeks before the discovery of gold in El Dorado and Bonanza. By the United States law a man is allowed to take up a claim 1,320 feet in length, and before any one could get there the few who had discovered it had taken it all up, so that everyone else was shut out.

    For some time there was a doubt as to whether some of the creeks upon which gold was found were in Alaskan territory, and in 1896 I was sent in by the authorities to mark the boundary line as I might find it necessary. Miller and Glacier creeks join Sixty Mile, which runs into the Yukon forty miles above. It was called Sixty Mile, because it wes believed to be that distance above Fort Reliance. In my survey of the line I found that these two creeks, which are the richest, were in Canada. So far are they in Canadian territory that no doubt as to the location of the boundary line can affect the question, they being at least two miles east of it. So that we can claim these two creeks, which are very rich, without any doubt, and in addition we can claim a much larger region which I will describe.


    The discovery of the gold on the Klondike, as it is called, although the proper name of the creek is an Indian one, Thronda, was made by three men, Robert Henderson, Frank Swanson and another one named Munson, who in July, 1896, was prospecting on Indian creek. They proceeded up the creek without finding sufficient to satisfy them until they reached Dominion creek, and after prospecting there they crossed over the divide and found Gold Bottom, got good prospects and went to work.

    Provisions running short they decided to make their way to Sixty Mile to obtain a fresh supply, and went up Indian creek to the Yukon to Sixty Mile, where Harper had established a trading post. Striking upwards on Forty Mile they came across a man, a Californian, who was fishing in company with two Indians. The Indians were Canadian Indians, or King George men, as they proudly called themselves. Now, one of the articles of the miner's code of procedure is that when he makes a discovery he shall lose no time in proclaiming it, and the man felt bound to make the prospectors acquainted with the information that there was rich pay to be got in Gold Bottom. The two Indians showed a route to this creek, and from there they crossed over the high ridge to Bonanza.

    From there to El Dorado is three miles, and they climbed up over the ridge between it and Bonanza, and reaching between Klondike and Indian creeks, they went down into Gold Bottom. Here they did half a day's prospecting, and came back, striking into Bonanza about ten miles beyond, where they took out from a little nook a pan which encouraged them to try further. In a few moments more they had taken out $12.75. A discovery claim was located, and also one above and one below for the two Indians.

    In August, 1896, the leader, generally known as Siwash George because be lived with the Indians, went down to Forty Mile to get provisions. He met several miners on his way and told them of his find, showing the $12.75 which he put up in an old Winchester cartridge. They would not believe him, his reputation for truth being somewhat below par. The miners said he was the greatest liar this side of - a great many places.

    They came to me finally and asked me my opinion, and I pointed out to them that there was no question about his having the $12.75 in gold; the only question was, therefore, where he had got it. He had not been up Miller or Glacier creek, nor Forty Mile. Then followed the excitement. Boatload after boatload of men went up at once. Men wHo had been drunk for weeks and weeks, in fact, were tumbled into boats and taken up without being conscious that they were travelling.

    One man who went up was so drunk that he did not wake up to realization that he was being taken by boat until a third of the journey had been accomplished, and he owns one of the very best claims on the Klondike today. (Laughter.) The whole creek, a distance of about twenty miles, giving in the neighborhood of 200 claims, was staked in a few weeks. El Dorado creek, seven and a half or eight miles long, providing eighty claims, was staked in about the same length of time.

    Boulder, Adams, and other gulches were prospected, and gave good surface showings, gold being found in the gravel in the creeks. Good surface prospects may be taken as an indication of the existence of very fair bedrock. It was in December that the character of the diggings was established. Twenty-one above discovery on Bonanza was the one which first proved the value of the district. The owner of this claim was in the habit of cleaning up a couple of tubfuls every night, and paying his workmen at the rate of a dollar and a half an hour. Claim No. 5, El Dorado, was the next notable one, and here the pan of $112 was taken out. That was great. There was then a pan of even greater amount on No. 6, and they continued to run up every day, and you who are down here know better of the excitement there was than I, who was in and didn't see it.


    The news went down to Circle City, which emptied itself at once and came up to Dawson. The miners came up any way they could, at all hours of the day and night, with provisions and without supplies. On their arrival they found that the whole creeks had been staked months before. A good many Canadians who were in their talk out and out Americans, came up to Canadian territory with a certain expectation of realizing something out of this rich ground by reason of their nationality. One of them particularly, on finding that he was too late, cursed his luck and said that it was awfully strange that a man could not get a footing in his own country.

    Another of these men who arrived too late was an Irishman, and when he found he could not get a claim he went up and down the creek, trying to bully the owners into selling, boasting that he had a pull at Ottawa and threatened to have the claims cut down from 500 to 250 feet. He came along one day and offered to wager that before August 1st they would be reduced to 250 feet. One of the men to whom he had made this offer came and asked me about it. I said to him: "Do you gamble?" His reply was: "A little." Then I told him that he was never surer of $2,000 than he would have been if he had taken that bet.

    This ran to such an extent that I put up notices to the effect that the length of the claims was regulated by the act of the parliament of Canada and that no change could be made, except by that parliament, and telling the miners to take no notice of the threats that had been made.

    Jim White then adopted another dodge, locating a fraction between 36 and 37, thinking that by getting in between he could force the owners to come to his terms, forgetting that the law of this country does not allow any man to play the hog. For three or four days this state of things kept the men in an uproar. I was making my survey, and getting towards 36 and 37; when I got near, I delayed my operations and went up to 36, finding there would be no fraction, or, at least, an insignificant one of inches.

    I took my time, and in the meantime the owner of 36 became yery uneasy, and White also. I set in a stake down in the hollow until I saw how much fraction there was. I found only a few inches. I was very tedious with this portion of the work, and the man who was with me seemed to have quite a difficulty in fixing the stake. Then I went down with the remark that I would do that myself. I had made it a rule never to let anyone where there was a fraction until it was marked on the post.

    While I was standing by the post Jim White came up to me. He had a long way to go down the creek, he said and he did not want to wait any longer than was necessary. Well, I said, I can't tell you just yet exactly how much of a fraction it will be - but something about three inches. That is how Jim comes to be known now as "Three Inch White."


    Bonanza and El Dorado creeks afford between them 278 claims; the several affluences will yield as many more, and all of these claims are good. I have no hesitation in saying that about a hundred of those on Bonanza will yield upwards of $30,000,000. Claim 30 below, on El Dorado, will yield a million in itself, and ten other will yield from a hundred thousand dollars up. These two creeks will, I am quite confident, turn out from $60,000,000 to $75,000,000, and I can safely say that there is no other region in the world of the same extent that has afforded in the same length of time so many homestakes - fortunes enabling the owners to go home and enjoy the remainder of their days - considering the work that has to be done with very limited facilities, the scarcity of provisions and of labor, and that the crudest appliances only are as yet available. When I tell you that to properly work each claim ten or twelve men are required and only 200 were available that season, it will give you an idea of the difficulties which had to be contended with.

    On Bear creek, about seven or eight miles above that, good claims have been found, and on Gold Bottom, Hunker, Last Chance and Cripple creeks. On Gold Bottom as high as $15 to the pan has been taken, and on Hunker creek the same, and although we cannot say that they are as rich as El Dorado or Bonanza, they are richer than any other creeks known in that country. Then, 35 miles higher up the Klondike, Too-Much-Gold creek was found. It obtained its name from the fact that the Indians who discovered it saw mica glistening at the bottom, and, thinking it was gold, said there was "too much gold - more gold than gravel."

    A fact I am now going to state to you, and one that is easily demonstrated, is that from Telegraph creek northward to the boundary line, we have in the Dominion of Canada and in this province an area of from 550 to 600 miles in length, and from 10 to 150 miles in width, over the whole of which rich prospects have been found. We must have from 90,000 to 100,000 square miles, which, with proper care, judicious handling and better facilities for the transportation of food and utensils, will be the largest, as it is the richest, gold field the world has ever known.

    You, Mr. Chairman, may wish to extend that down to the boundary line - but that, of course, I leave to you.

    Stewart and Pelly, in the gold bearing zone, also give promising indications. Everywhere good pay has been found on the bars, and there is no reason why when good pay has been found on the bars, the results should not be richer in the creeks. The Klondike was prospected for forty miles up in 1887 without anything being found, and again in 1893 with a similar lack of result, but the difference is seen when the right course is taken, and this was led up to by Robert Henderson. This man is a born prospector, and you could not persuade him to stay on even the richest claim on Bonanza. He started up in a small boat to spend the summer and winter on Stewart river, prospecting. That is the stuff the true prospector is made of, and I am proud to say that he is a Canadian.


    In regard to quartz claims, seven have already been located in the vicinity of Forty Mile and Dawson, and there is also a mountain of gold in the neighborhood bearing ore yielding $5 to $7 a ton. The question to be considered is whether with that return it will pay to work it under the peculiar conditions which exist, and the enormous freight rates charged for the transportation of anything of that kind.

    About forty miles up the river two claims have been located by an expert miner from the United States, and who has considerable experience in Montana and other mineral states, and he assured me that the extent of the lode is such that these two claims are greater than any proposition in the world, going from $8 to $11 a ton. On Bear creek a quartz claim was located last winter, and I drew up the papers for the owner. He had to swear that he had found gold; he swore that he did, and the amount, which, if true, will make it one of the most valuable properties that exists in the country.

    On Gold Bottom another claim has been located, and I have made a test of the ore. I had no seive and had to employ a hand mortar, which you who know anything of the work will understand would not give the best results. The poorest result obtained, however, was $100 to the ton, while the richest was $1,000. Of course I do not know what the extent of the claim is, but the man who found it said that from the rock exposed, the deposit must be considerable in extent. He didn't know whether the exposure was the result of a slide, but said that it would be an easy matter to find the lode.

    About thirty miles up the Klondike another claim was located, and the man swore that it was rich, although be would not say how rich.

    On El Dorado and Bonanza the gold obtained on the different benches has about the same value, that is it has about the same degree of fineness, and is worth about $16 per oz., and as you go down the creek this value decreases to about $15.25. From that point, however, it increases again, and from this the inference appears to be plain that the same lode runs right across the region that these creeks cut through, which is proved still more surely by the fact that the value increases as you strike Hunker, and in the other direction Miller and Glacier. The nuggets found in El Dorado show no evidence of having travelled any great distance, and some I have are as rough as though they had been hammered out of the mother lode.

    The mother lode is yet to be found in the ridges between the creeks, and when it is found it may be found to consist of several large lodes or a succession of small ones that may not pay to work.

    On Stewart and Pelly rivers some prospecting has been done and gold found, and on the Hootalinqua in 1895 good pay was discovered and the richness of the gold increases as work is continued further down. Some men, working 15 feet down, found coarse gold, when the water drove them out and they had to abandon the work and come out determined to return; but they did not go back, as in the meantime the Klondike excitement knocked that place out.

    Gold has been found at the head of Lake Le Barge, on the stream flowing into the lake at this point; in fact there is gold everywhere in this zone, which is 500 miles long by 150 wide. Prospects too are to be found on the Dalton trail on the other side of the Yukon river. A man riding along the Altsek trail was thrown from his horse and in falling caught at the branch of a tree. As he drew himself up he saw something shining on the rock which fixed his attention at once. He picked it up and found that it was gold. Other excellent prospects have also been found along the same creek. From these circumstances and discoveries it may be assumed that in all this country there is gold, while in this particular zone it is especially abundant. This zone lies outside of the Rocky mountains and distant from them about 150 miles.


    Another product of the country that demands attention is copper. It is doubtless to be found somewhere in that district in great abundance, although the location of the main deposit has yet to be discovered. Mr. Harper was shown a large piece of pure copper in the possession of the Indians - indeed I have seen it myself. It comes from the vicinity of the White river somewhere - just where has yet to be disclosed. Silver has also been found, and lead, while to work our precious meals we have coal in abundance. It is to be found in the Rocky mountains or, rather, the ridge of high mountains running parallel to them in the interior. A deposit of coal in this range runs right through our territory. At two points near Forty Mile it also crops out, in one place only about forty feet from the river Yukon. Further up the Yukon on one of its many smaller feeders, at Fifteen Mile creek and on the head of the Thronda, there are also outcroppings of coal. On the branches of the Stewart and on some of the five fingers of the Yukon, coal is also exposed. Im fact there is any amount of coal in the country with which to work our minerals when we can get in the necessary facilities.


    Regarding the surface of the country and the difficulties of prospecting: Passing down the river in a boat one sees a succession of trees, ten, twelve, fourteen and sixteen inches in diameter, and be naturally comes to the conclusion that it is a well timbered country. And so it is, along the margin of the river. But let him land, and go inland and he will find the ground covered with what is locally known as nigger grass. This is a coarse grass, which each year is killed and falls, tangling in such a way as to make pedestrian progress all but impossible, tripping one up every few feet. It is, as might be imagined, a most difficult thing to walk through this grass, great areas of which are found all through the district. And where these areas are found the miners avoid them as they would the plague.

    For the rest of the country the rocks are covered with one to two feet of moss - and underneath, the everlasting ice. On this a scurbby growth of trees is found, extending up to the mountains. It is this which appears to those passing down the river in boats to be a continuation of the good timber seen along the banks. Timber that is fit for anything is scarce, and we should husband it carefully. Our timber has built Circle City. Our timber has served all the purposes of the upper Yukon country. A large amount of timber is required, and what we have we should keep for our own use, particularly as the ground has to be burned to be worked.

    Above the timber line you come to the bare rocks - the crests bare save where clothed with a growth of lichen on which the cariboo feed. There is no timber in the way here -no moss and no brush. The miners, in travelling, consequently keep as close to the top of the ridge as possible.


    Prospecting necessarily has to be reserved for the winter. First the moss has to be cleared away, and then the muck - or decayed rubbish and vegetable matter. The fire is applied to burn down to bedrock. The frost in the ground gives way before the fire, ten, twelve, or perhaps sixteen inches a day. The next day the fire has to be applied again, and so the work proceeds until the bedrock is reached. It may be twenty feet or so below the surface, in which case it is usually reached in about twenty days. Through this trees have been found in every position, as they have fallen and been preserved as sound as ever in the everlasting jce. Having burned down to bedrock and found the paystreak, you start drifting.

    If you have a depth of twenty feet you may be able to go down two feet and no further, and must put down another drift. Very few people have the good fortune to succeed with one shaft; prospecting holes as many as twenty or thirty must be dug until you cut the whole valley across before you find pay. The next man may strike it at the first hole.

    To give you an instance: One man put down eleven holes and didn't find anything, and yet other men had confidence enough in the claim to pay $2,500 for a half interest in it, knowing that the owner had put in eleven holes and found nothing, a fact which will go to prove the character of the country.

    After you have worked until April or May the water begins to run, and the trouble is that the water accumulates and you cannot work, as it puts out the fires which have been used to thaw out and soften the ground. Then the timber is prepared and the sluice boxes put in.


    In one clean-up eighty pounds avoirdupois of gold was taken out, or a total value of about $16,000. When you consider that the securing of this amount took the united labors of six men for three months, you can understand that there is considerable cost connected with the operations.

    One man, who owns a claim on El Dorado and one on Bonanza, has sold out, so it is said, for a million dollars; he went into the conntry a poor man with the intention of raising sufficient money to pay off the mortgage on his place. He has, I believe, not only done so, but paid off those of all his neighbors.

    Althongh these creeks are rich, and, as I have told you, more men have made homestakes there than anywhere else in the world, I do not wish you to look only on the bright side of the picture. An American from Seattle came in in June, 1896, to the Forty-Mile with his wife, with the intention of bettering his condition. They went out again last July with $52,000. I was well acquainted with this man, a very decent, intelligent man. He told me one day that if he could remain in this country from three to five years and go out with $5,000 he would consider himself lucky. He has gone out with $52,000, and after the prospecting he has done, a little in the middle and at the end of the cloim, he believes that he has $500,000 there.

    On the other hand, however, a Scotchman named Marks has been in there for eleven years. I have known him well, and once last fall when he was sick I asked him how long he had been mining. His reply was forty-two years - in all parts of the world, except in Australia. In reply to the question as to whether he had ever made his stake, he had never yet made more than a living, and very often that was a scanty one. This, of course, is the opposite extreme. I could quote scores of cases similar to that, so that I would not have you look too much on the brigtht side.

    There are men in that country who are poor, and who will remain so. It has not been their "luck," as they call it, to strike it rich. But I may say that that country offers to men of great fortitude and some intelligence and steadiness an opportunity to make more money in a given time than they possibly could make anywhere else. You have, of course, a good deal to contend with; your patience will be sorely tried, for the conditions are so unique that they have surprised many who have gone in and they have left in disgust.


    When I was in that country first, he continued, everything was well regulated and orderly, the miners attended to their business; they did not know anyone, and if a man kept himself pretty fair in his dealings there was no danger of trouble, but a few years afterwards saloons came into vogue, and many of the old miners stayed around them all day. The saloon keepers were their partners, and miners' meetings began to be recognized, which were attended by the saloon keepers and the loafers. They carried things just to please themselves, and great injustice was sometimes the result. As a consequence of these decisions miners' meetings came into disrepute, and as soon as the police came in they were looked upon as unnecessary.

    To furnish you with yet another instance: A tailor sued a barber for the sum of fifty cents, which he claimed the latter owed him. The German objected to paying the amount and appealed for a miners' meeting, which decided that instead of the barber owing the tailor 50 cents, the tailor must pay the barber one dollar. The latter was naturally surprised at the result, and in answer to the verdict of the meeting, he said rather than pay the amount he would float down the river on a saw log and get away. The men who formed the meeting were helpless; they could not find anyone who would pay, and they knew that as the Mounted Police were in there their decision would fall to the ground, and they had to admit themselves beaten.

    These and other instances completely knocked them out, but perhaps the next case I will tell you of will show you more plainly something of what was tried to be done. In the first place, after the discovery of Bonanza the miners all staked claims, and of course some who failed to obtain locations were disappointed and a meeting was held at which it was decided to resurvey the claims, stating they were too long. They cut a rope, which it was alleged was fifty feet long, and sent men up to re-measure the claims. They cut down some of the claims to 400 feet, to 350 feet and even 300 feet, putting in new claims, which they located themselves upon it, being, of course, desirable for their own interests if they could manage it, to secure the intervening space between claims like 16 below, which were known to be so rich. The result was confusion, the original owners were shoved off their workings, no one knows where to work.

    As the authorities took no action, some of the men came to me. I said I had no authority and told them to go to the agent. They said they had been to him and he would not do anything, so at last I said if they would get up a petition and ask me to survey the claims I would undertake to do it for them. I drew up the petition for them, and enough of each side signed it to enable me to feel justified in going to work.

    I surveyed the claims and threw out those interpolated claims altogether, much to the disgust of the miners who had called the meeting. Some of them made dire threats and said they were going to have my survey thrown out, but when I got up to where they were I found they were very lamb-like. Finally a number of them waited upon me to see if they could not put in a protest against my decision to Ottawa. I said I would help them all I could to enter that protest and would draw up the petition and send it to Ottawa for them. I asked them why they didn't go and see the agent, to which they replied they knew he would do just as I said and I replied that if they went to Ottawa they would find themselves even in a worse position in that respect.

    After we had talked quite a while I finally said to them, "Gentlemen, the worst feature of this case is the position in which you are yourselves." They asked me what T meant, so I explained to them that they had rendered themselves liable to punishment for a misdeameanor, the penalty for which was a fine of $300, imprisonment for three months or so and that they were also indictable for perjury, which I explained to them was by Canadian law a very serious crime, which rendered them liable to fourteen years in the penitentiary. They asked me why this was and I went on to point them to the clause which that anyone who cuts down a stake guilty of misdemeanor, and read the penalty, telling them they swept away all the posts on 43 claims and if they come before me I would both fine and imprison them. I then explained their position in regard to the perjury they were guilty of according to their certificate of record, and since then numerous meetings are past and done with.

    We have there a vast region comprising from 90,000 to 100,000 square miles of untold possibilities. Rich deposits we know to exist, and all may be as rich. We know now that there is sufficient to supply a population of a hundred thousand people, and I look forward to seeing that nember of people in that country within the next ten years. It is a vast inheritance. Let us use it as becomes Canadians - intelligently, liberally, and in the way to advance our country, Canada. Let us use it as becomes the off-spring of the Mother of Nations.

    At the conclusion of the lecture Sir Charles Tupper rose from his seat in the audience and moved a vote of thanks to the speaker, referring to his faithful and valuable service to the government and people of Canada. Sir Charles said: "It is not necessary to refer to Mr. Ogilvie further than what the chairmam has said of his able and indefatigable services to the country in a service of more than twenty years. During that time I have had the opportunity of judging of the measure of his worth, and will say that no man in Canada, in my judgment, is better entitled to the confidence of the government at Ottawa than William Ogilvie. (Applause.) Not only has he brought to his duty great intelligence and thorough, untiring industry, but his straightforwardness and honesty have to-day given to Canadians the most unbounded confidence in any statements he places before the country." Sir Charles expressed the hope that Hon. Mr. Sifton's visit would be the means of securing the opening of an all-Canadian route to the mines and the repeal of the present mining regulations.

    Lieut.-Governor Dewdney seconded the vote of thanks, the whole audience rising. Mr. Ogilvie briefly expressed his thanks and the meeting adjourned.

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