Well documented is the story of the opening of the west.
For British Columbia, it was the fur trade, followed by the fisheries, and coal on Vancouver Island that sparked settlement along the coast. It was gold that drove the opening of the interior however.
The opening of western United States has a similar tale. Like Victoria, San Francisco was established as a port long before widespread settlement of the west began. Just as the Fraser gold rush caused the population of Victoria to swell to 20,000 almost overnight, the California gold rush of 1848 caused San Francisco to swell from 1000 people to 25,000 people.
In both cases, prospectors came for the gold. As one gold rush dried up, many moved onto the next rush, be it gold, silver, or eventually copper.
For British Columbia, it was the gold rushes that spurred the opening of the rugged terrain to settlement beyond the coast. This provided access to lands well suited to ranching in the interior, as well as improved access for prospectors in search of the next big find.
For the Western United States, the California gold rush was followed by discoveries in Nevada, Utah, and Montana – discoveries that spurred the development of these states. For people familiar with the history of mining, the names of the mines will seem familiar. They include the Comstock Mine, the Bingham Canyon Mine, and the Anaconda Mine.
All three of these mines have connections to Britannia.
This series of posts is going to explore these connections.
Our story begins with George H Robinson.