Royal BC Museum Archives

Two visits to the archives allowed me to investigate a wealth of material for a future book. The first happened last October and the more recent trip in February.

Best of all, a senior on a tight, fixed income can travel from the lower mainland to downtown Victoria and back for less than eleven dollars. Seniors travel free on the ferries from Monday to Thursday, perfect for my needs. Public transportation worked well on both the mainland and the island although patience is required. I took food along and stayed at a great location just blocks from the museum. Hard to beat Airbnb in the off season.

In October I photographed correspondence between the BC Provincial Police and the Inspector Hussey in Victoria. My focus centered around the gold bar robbery and subsequent inquest from 1896 and 7. New information helped to clear up misinformation about the robbery and following events. Having used a straight pen and bottled ink as late as my grade four class, I was amazed at some of the beautiful handwriting in the days before ball and gel point pens. There is a sharp difference between the educated and less educated from the 1890’s. The shaky signatures revealed a man not used to handling a pen. My two grandfathers were such men. The Englishman had an education in a private boys school and came to Canada to farm the freedom of the prairies. The German from Odessa could only pen his name but he built barns that still stand and fiddled with the best of them. Education starts when you decide to listen.

The February trip included a few rare gems. I watched the last shift to work at the Camp McKinney mine on a 1966 tape. The fifty second clip goes all too fast but we see the cable man working in the wheelhouse, the last miners coming up and later the last ore car pulled up with the help of a 1950’s GMC truck. Rare good luck to see the clip and perhaps in the future I can share it with you. It appears on a video shot on the old Dewdney Trail. The tour of the trail showed a grave for one of the Royal Engineers, a fact I hadn’t seen listed on other sources. The fee to use the Dewdney was listed as one shilling or twelve pence per fifty pounds of freight. I also listened to part of an interview with an early resident named H H Stevens. He drove the stage from Penticton to Grandforks and back in 1897, a rough journey that took two days one way.

I took photos of mining affidavits from the 1890’s. The legal requirement dictated miners had to swear they did a minimum amount of work in their or someone else’s mine before the mining licence was issued or reissued. I’m well acquainted with Hugh Cameron’s name and connection to the camp. He made an oath several times but for uneducated miners I believe. Expenses were listed as well. Dynamite, always a necessity for hard-rock mining, varied from a low of thirty-sevens cents a pound to a high of forty-seven cents a pound with an average of forty.

My book for this adventure, now in its eighth year, continues to grow. But I am nearer to the end, closer to an exciting conclusion.

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