Through a variety of primary sources in the article ,“A great Humbug; British Columba’s Gold Rushes”, the reader is introduced to three different letters that suggest British Columbia was not a land of opportunity.[vii] This contradicts the stories circulating through out the world that British Columbia was a land of plenty and one could easily build a life there.
` `This article is made up of on letters written by three different people all sharing their various experiences in British Columbia from 1858-1869.[viii] Each letter expresses the difficulties experienced while in search of golden opportunities in BC.[ix] The first letter, written by C. Gardiner discusses the treacherous journey up the Fraser River.[x] He talks about how fast, cold and unpredictable the river was. [xi] How lives were lost, no money was made and all the stories of grandeur being told about the Fraser River are nothing more than fiction.[xii]
In the letter written by Charles Major, September 20th 1859, he states that “the country is not what it was represented to be.”[xiii] He talks about the fact that the winters are harsh and, in his opinion, it is winter all year round. [xiv] He states that there is no farming, the landscape is horrible at best, the mines are all used up and what little money can be made is often immediately spent on the provisions needed to survive.[xv] As a result one must have a small fortune in order to be able to last in BC. [xvi] He suggests that one stays away from this area, as all the rumors of a magical place are false and highly exaggerated.[xvii]
This statement can also be found in the letter written by Charles Major and Matthew MacFie. He discusses the fact that most of the people who came to BC were of two groups, rich and poor. The goal of both of these groups was to make money quickly. However more often than not both left with nothing. [xviii] He also states that no one was equipped to survive through the harsh winters. More often than not the individuals who came to BC were forced to wait out long winters, ice to melt and a long spring, waiting for the waters to drop and banks to be uncovered so that they could hunt for gold. [xix] Many would leave empty handed.
All in all the three letters displayed in this document, support the overall theme that British Columbia is not the “land of opportunity” as once thought and dreamed of by many. [xx] By using these primary sources the article is believable and factual. The letters give a voice to the immigrants coming from different parts of the world seeking gold, property and a new life. However they are met with the hardships of an unforgiving environment resulting in many leaving with less than they started and some losing their lives.
[vii] Thomas Thorner, Thor Frohn-Nielsen, “A Few Acres Of Snow: Doccuments in Pre-Confederation Canadian History, Third Edition”. University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division, 2009, 234
[viii] ibid 235-251
[x] ibid 235-237
[xiii] ibid 237
[xvii] ibid 237-240
[xviii] ibid 240-250
[xix] ibid 240-241
[xx] ibid 234