Quicksilver: Trapping gold with mercury

How did goldseekers wash out the gravel from their pans without losing any specks of gold? The answer is liquid mercury, known in the 1800s as quicksilver.

quicksilver

ad for Quicksilver July 28, 1860

Imagine a gold miner at the water’s edge filling a gold pan with water and then shaking it around in a circular motion. It takes several dips of the pan to get the gravel out. Then the smaller pebbles have to be picked out by hand until all that’s left is black sand (iron ore).  With some more water added to the pan there might be some yellow ‘colour’ in the pan. How to quickly retrieve most of the gold? To solve that problem miners would pour a few ounces of quicksilver (liquid mercury) into the pan before they started. In a few minutes the ‘quicksilver’ would engulf all the fine gold fragments and form a solid mixture (amalgam).

How much quicksilver was used?

How much quicksilver was used during the Fraser River gold rush or the Cariboo gold rush? No one knows for sure. It was easy to use but extremely dangerous to handle.

Quicksilver was poured along the riffles in rocker boxes and sluice boxes. The high density of mercury allowed gold and gold-mercury amalgam to sink while sand and gravel passed over the mercury and through the sluice. Large volumes of turbulent water flowing through the sluice caused many of the finer gold and mercury particles to wash through and out of the sluice before they could settle.

Gravel and rocks that entered the sluice at high speed caused the mercury to break into tiny particles. These tiny mercury particles became airborne. In the meantime, more mercury would be added to the sluice boxes. The bottoms of some sluice boxes eventually became coated with mercury.

Working a claim at Emory Bar

Some mercury was lost from the sluice, either by leaking into underlying soils and bedrock or being transported downstream with the placer tailings. If it was too cold, the mercury was ineffective.

The Daily Colonist published a letter February 12, 1859 from a miner working a claim on Emory Bar who wrote “…the coldness of the water thickens the quicksilver so much as to prevent a full half of the fine gold from being taken up or amalgamated as it would when the weather is warm.”

Dissolving the mercury

Some miners would take their amalgam down to Victoria where an assayer would dissolve the mercury under intense heat.


Did you know? Mercury is made by  roasting crushed cinnabar ore (HgS) in a furnace. Cinnabar  is mined in only a few places in the world. The New Idria Quicksilver Mining Company in central California started operation in 1854 and closed in 1972; the town of Idria was abandoned as a result.

Fort Langley feeds the gold seekers

What food did the Hudson’s Bay Company sell to the Fraser River gold rush miners?

The Farm at Fort Langley

Every Hudson’s Bay Company post was encouraged to be self-sufficient. The sites of HBC forts were chosen to include the most fertile land as well as to be near a transportation route. When the first site for Fort Langley was chosen in 1832, a handful of cows were brought over. Seven years later, it was decided to move Fort Langley further up the Fraser River. Another group of livestock was delivered and sent out to graze on the Langley Prairie about 11 km away.

Spanish Longhorns

Spanish longhorns

Spanish longhorns

Among the animals that stepped off the Beaver (HBC steamer) were a bunch of “Wild California Cows.” These Spanish longhorns were a tough and wild breed descended from a group that had been brought to Mexico in the 1600s.

In Oregon, cattle were bred by the HBC subsidiary,  Puget Sound Agricultural Company (PSAC). Its original mandate was to provide beef to the Russian-American Fur Company.  PSAC raised a mix Spanish longhorns and British short-horns. The British breeds had been bred from cattle that had made the long journey along the Oregon Trail from the eastern United States. These cattle were much larger than the Spanish and more docile.

In a few short years, Fort Langley was growing a variety of crops, and raising herds of beef cattle for export. In addition, the fort took advantage of its location to trade for salmon and cranberries with the tribes that gathered to fish on the Fraser River.

Fort Langley Beef

Fort Langley Corned Beef

Fort Langley Corned Beef – ad in the New Westminster Times

Some historians have said that the farm at Fort Langley faltered during the Fraser River gold rush for lack of leadership. Some of this can be attributed to the fact that the HBC’s future was in question and that for so long they never had any competition. Nevertheless, the farm kept producing. This advertisement was printed in the New Westminster Times January 21, 1860. “For Sale. 100 Barrels of British Columbia Fresh CORNED BEEF, first quality (grown on the Company’s Farm), and preserved with great care. To be delivered at Langley. Apply to F.V. Lee, Hotel de France.”

The Meat Tariff

As more miners were heading up to the Cariboo in 1859, Governor James Douglas established a 10% tariff on meat imports, based on the purchase cost. Douglas thought that this tax would provide revenue to the colony but not everyone paid their dues. Victoria had been declared a ‘free port’ meaning that American livestock coming there weren’t subject to the 10% tariff.

Despite the cost the overland route to the BC Interior was increasingly used by packers and drovers as the gold seekers went further north. Considering the vast profits to be made, many packers paid their dues, but many did not and slipped over the border unnoticed.

Under public pressure, James Douglas abandoned the 10% tariff the following year, and instead applied heavier customs duties on all goods and animals entering British territory through the Southern Interior.

Urgent need for beef

Six thousand cattle entered the mainland colony in 1861-1862, but that still wasn’t enough to satisfy the demand. It was reported in June 1861 that bacon was selling for 40 cents a pound at Lillooet and 75 cents a pound at Keithley Creek.

By 1862, the need for American meat at the Cariboo mines had become so urgent that the governor directed the Gold Commissioner at Rock Creek to encourage the importation of 2,000 to 3,000 live cattle duty free.

The man who built Trounce Alley

How did Trounce Alley in Victoria B.C., get its name?

Thomas Trounce

Thomas Trounce

Thomas Trounce was a gold rush miner and a builder, originally from Cornwall, England. He moved to London as a young man and later with his wife Jane, moved to New Zealand where he worked as a carpenter and joiner. When the California gold rush broke out, they sailed for San Francisco. With all the fires that occurred in San Francisco, Trounce had steady work as a builder. Then, in 1858, news of the Fraser River gold rush reached his ears and Trounce got on a ship bound for Victoria.

He first lived in a tent on Government Street while he worked as a builder. He was able to buy a property not long later. The only issue was that the right of way to his property belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company and this they sold. What was he to do? Trounce was hardly discouraged, instead he established his own thoroughfare between Government and Broad Streets which became known as Trounce Alley.

Tregew ‘The Flourishing Place’

In 1860, Trounce built his house in James Bay which he named Tregew, Cornish for ‘the flourishing place’. It lived up to that name with all the fruit he grew there.

Many buildings in Esquimalt were built by Trounce thanks to his good business dealings with Admiral Hastings and Paymaster Sidney Spark. It was discovered later that the paymaster had overlooked the requirement to get other tenders.

Trounce, who advertised himself as an architect and builder was able to take advantage of both roles. He built several brick buildings around Victoria and was the contractor for the construction of the St. Nicholas Hotel.

In later years, Trounce served as alderman on Victoria City Council and he became a Grand Master of Masons. Apples that were grown at Tregew earned him a prize at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition. Shortly after his wife Jane died in 1888, Trounce married again to Emma Richards, a widow 27 years younger. He was 76.

A hundred and seven years after it was built, Tregew was demolished to make way for an apartment building.

Water Troubles in Victoria

In the early days of the Fraser River gold rush, drinking water was expensive. Every saloon charged “one bit” (12 cents and one half penny) for a glass of water. Some even charged as much as 15 cents. In comparison, you could buy a cocktail for two bits (25 cents).

water for sale - September 28, 1859
water for sale – September 28, 1859

Why was water so expensive? There was no sewer system back then, only open drains which contaminated the local streams. John Muir, one of the early settlers of nearby Sooke, recalled that to navigate Wharf Street one had to wear boots at least 32 inches high. Given that and the overall stench, it is no wonder that the citizens of Victoria didn’t trust to drink or even bathe in water unless it was purchased from a water carrier. If they were short of water they washed themselves in the ocean or used rainwater they collected.

Every day, water carriers took their horse drawn wagons to a place outside of town known as “The Springs” and filled their barrels free of charge.

Victoria’s water source sold

Governor Douglas had declared The Springs to be public property in August 1858, however the lands belonged to the Hudson’s Bay Company. After the HBC was officially removed from its control of Vancouver Island, it began to sell its properties. In March 1861, an area surrounding The Springs was auctioned off.

The sale of Victoria’s water source escaped public knowledge until the new owners fenced off the area and hired a guard to keep out trespassers. A notice was put up at the gate informing the new price of water. A water carrier was caught trying to break down the fence and was arrested and hauled off to police court. As soon as people read about it, they were outraged. The Water Case as it became known, received extensive coverage in the Daily Colonist:

Editorial: The British Colonist (1861-04-26) p 2 “The Water Stoppage”
Editorial: The British Colonist (1861-04-26) p 2 “The Water Stoppage”

“The rightful owner of the Springs is the public. We have unquestionable authority for stating that Gov. Douglas declared them, in 1858, a public reserve; and, as Chief Factor of the Hudson Bay Company, empowered to dispose of their lands, he refused to do so, on the ground that they were wholly reserved for the uses of the town. Under the Grant of the Island to the Company [Hudson’s Bay Company], he had the right to reserve any land for public purposes. Besides, the Company had no right to sell a public reserve. Having acted in good faith with the public in 1858 in respect to the Springs, how is it that faith has been broken? How is it that the Company has been allowed to sell them? On Mr. Pemberton’s new official map we find no public reserve marked at the Springs…”

Vigilantes and the lynching of an Okanagan man

Many Natives panned for gold but they were often forced from their claims or swindled out of them by white miners. Sometimes they provoked Natives into a violent confrontation just to shoot them claiming self-defense, knowing they had the backing of vigilantes. At several camps in the BC gold rush, vigilante committees ran the diggings.

At Rock Creek on June 13, 1861, a French miner named Pierre Cherbart started a fight with an Syilx/Okanagan man named Saul which ended with the death of Cherbart. Saul went back to his chief and told him what happened. Chief Silhitza told him to wait for a trial to tell his side of the story.

Sounds of gunshots at Rock Creek

Rock Creek, just north of the American border was a notorious place for rough miners. The first gold commissioner was forced to flee for his life. Few miners bothered to pay the mining fees. They were a rough bunch and like many would start their day with bitters and finish the evening with whiskey. The sound of gunshots punctuated the end of many conversations.

Map of Rock Creek area and Osoyoos Lake

William Cox, Rock Creek’s second gold commissioner, held an inquest into the death of Pierre Cherbart and put an arrest warrant for Saul. At the time of Cox’s decision, Saul was staying at a camp near Osoyoos Lake just below the border. Just as soon as the vigilante miners got word, a group captured Saul and “he was hanged towards eight o’clock in the morning. He didn’t die until the afternoon having suffered the most atrocious tortures at the hands of the Americans who made a game of it.”

During the mid 1850s, vigilantism was the norm south of the border in America. It was not uncommon for a group of self-appointed vigilantes to capture someone and find a good sturdy branch from which to hang them. Saul suffered a worse fate.

Father Pandosy

In 1855, Father Pandosy had stood by helpless as the Yakama he knew were forced to leave their homes when the settlers arrived and taken their lands. The governor of Washington Territory ordered Pandosy to abandon his mission and leave. He headed north to the Big Lake, where he established a mission near the Okanagan village of Skela’unna (Kelowna).

When Chief Silhitza told him about Saul’s vigilante execution, Pandosy penned a letter to Governor James Douglas on his behalf. He didn’t mince words.

“…my heart is heavy on seeing the manner in which justice is delivered to us. If the guilty man had been taken by the authorities, judged according to the rules, the entire camp would have learned a lesson at the gallows; but men without a warrant apprehend us and execute us without trial when Mr. Cox, your representative, is here and he has not even prepared a trial.”

At Douglas’ request, Cox provided further information about the murder of Pierre Cherbart and the chain of events that led to Saul’s lynching. James Douglas decided to let the matter drop and no action was taken to apprehend the men responsible. He was sensitive to the fact that the crime happened on American soil. This did not sit well with the Okanagan people.

W.G. Cox was transferred to other gold fields and John Haynes was brought in from Osoyoos to look after the Rock Creek office.

By the fall of 1861, the easy diggings at Rock Creek were played out. At the same time, stories of rich gold strikes in the Cariboo began to circulate. The miners departed with the first fall of snow.

The Oregon Treaty and the British Corn Crisis of 1845-1846

What did the British Corn Crisis have to do with the Oregon Treaty?

In the autumn of 1845 the potato and wheat crops in Britain failed. Famine threatened. Grain from other countries such as the United States were too expensive because of an old tax known as the “Corn Laws” which applied to all cereal crop imports.

At the same time, James Polk was elected president of the United States.  In his campaign, President James Polk promised to expand American territory and push back the borders all the way to the 54th parallel in the north. His slogan “54°40‘ or fight” summed up his intentions.

Why 54°40′?

map before Oregon Treaty signed

disputed area highlighted in yellow before Oregon Treaty was signed

For many years, the northern coast was controlled by two fur trading monopolies—the Russian-American Company and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

After years of clashes between the two  rival companies and conflicts with the Natives, Governor Wrangel decided to hand over the Alaskan panhandle to the Hudson’s Bay Company.

On June 1, 1840, chief factor James Douglas formally took possession of the territory from Governor Wrangel and the Russian-American Company Fort Redoubt St. Dionysius was renamed Fort Stikine. The city of Wrangell, Alaska sits on that same site.

Oregon Territory – land of plenty

The Hudson’s Bay Company had forts and trading posts throughout the Oregon territory which covered a vast area from the 42° parallel (the border with Mexican province of Alta California) to the border with Russia at 54°40′. Competition from American trading vessels was virtually non-existent. The Hudson’s Bay Company had trading posts in Mexico. One of the HBC’s most southerly trading posts was Yerba Buena (the present site of San Francisco).

The Willamette Valley in Oregon (known as the Columbia District) turned out to be a boon for the HBC. They established farms and raised cattle and grew wheat and vegetables which they exported to their own forts as well as Mexican communities in California. They even exported their flour to the Kingdom of Hawaii.

Manifest Destiny

President Polk was determined annex the entire territory of Oregon for the United States. He didn’t necessarily want to start a war with Britain but what better way to take over an enemy’s land than by simply moving in?

Wagon trains of American settlers arrived hungry and destitute at Fort Vancouver. The chief factor John McLoughlin took pity on these new arrivals and provided them with beef and cattle to raise for themselves. Eventually it became obvious that the sheer numbers of new settlers were going to overwhelm the Hudson’s Bay Company’s resources. It wasn’t long before the settlers demanded a democratic government to represent their interests.

The HBC tried to sound the alarm that it was about to lose control of the entire Oregon territory. The American military began surveying the coastal waters and the Columbia River. It didn’t help that the newly elected British government was critical of the Company.

Irish Famine

For the vast majority of Irish farmers, their main crop was one variety of potato. When a fungus  arrived in 1845 it quickly spread across Ireland. By harvest time there was nothing. Famine was imminent. During the winter of 1845-1846 the British government spent £100,000 on American maize which was sold to the poor. For those who could afford it, the maize was hard to grind down and make a meal out of.

Seeing as how they would be dependent on the United States for food, Britain wanted to keep good relations with the United States. The new foreign secretary, Lord Aberdeen, decided to give away the Columbia territory without a fight. On June 15, 1846, The U.S. and Britain signed the Treaty of Oregon which established the boundary between their territories at the 49th parallel.

The HBC received some compensation for the loss of their southern forts, but it was a blow to their operations.

Goldseekers came north for the Fraser River gold rush just twelve years after the Oregon Treaty was signed. Many American miners still believed in ‘Manifest Destiny’ and that the land up to 54°40′ was rightfully theirs.

What is the significance of 54°40′ today? This is the latitude of the border between British Columbia and Alaska.

Barrels of Beans and Square Meals in the BC Gold Rush

What is a square meal? A square meal in the gold rush was one that kept gold seekers full all day and gave them enough energy so they could hike the long trails to the gold diggings. The term ‘square meal’ was a common term with Americans as the term square meant ‘right’ or ‘proper’.

The ad below from Hardie’s Hotel in New Westminster advertised ‘square meals’ for 50 cents.

square meal

square meal

Beans and bacon were considered food staples back then. A goldseeker remarked:

“At the inn here we enjoyed what our Yankee companions called a ‘square meal,’ of the generally characteristic fare of the colony, bacon and beans; the latter are abundantly imported in barrels from the States. Here also, after our toilsome march, we indulged in a good wash, the only really cheap comfort obtainable in British Columbia.”

From pipes to puncheons – barrels of food and liquor

barrel

barrel

Most of the food that made up a ‘square meal’ was brought by ship in wooden casks and barrels. These barrels ranged in size depending on what they were containing.

Salted beef and pork came in wooden casks called ‘tierces’ which contained 42 gallons.

Liquor was imported in different types of wooden barrels.

A ‘hogshead’  typically contained 63 old wine gallons or 54 old beer gallons. A ‘pipe’ contained twice as much.

Rum and whiskey came in ‘puncheons’ and each puncheon typically held about 84 gallons.

Here is a list of some other types of food that were imported:

crushed sugar
Golden Gate Flour
Hope Butter
Rio Coffee
J & H Lard
black Tea
Turk’s Island salt
mats of China Rice
boxes of Macy’s candles
Harvey’s Scotch Whiskey in puncheons
Holland Gin in pipes
Champagne cider in barrels and kegs
Edinburgh Ale in stone jugs or bulk
bottled porter
India Pale Ale in pints and quarts
dried apples
hot whiskey punches
barley
bran

Looking for a ‘square meal’

A ‘square meal’ was nearly impossible to find in the Cariboo as Viscount Milton and Dr. Cheadle discovered when they stayed at J.D. Cusheon’s hotel in 1863:

“Our quarters at Cusheon’s Hotel were vile. A blanket spread on the floor of a loft was our bedroom, but the swarms of lice which infested the place rendered sleep almost impossible, and made us think with regret on the soft turf of the prairie, or a mossy couch in the woods. The fare, limited to beefsteaks, bread and dried apples, was wretchedly cooked and frightfully expensive. Beef was worth fifty cents or two shillings a pound, flour the same, a “drink” of anything except water was half a dollar, nor could the smallest article, even a box of matches, be bought for less than a “quarter” -one shilling. Before we reached Williams Creek we paid a dollar and a quarter, or five shillings, for a single pint bottle of stout.”

Edward Mallandaine’s night school for miners

Heading back to school? If you were in Victoria in 1859, chances are you would have seen a ‘notice’ (advertisements were called notices back then) for a day school run by J. Silversmith:Select Day School 1859

Select Day School. J. Silversmith, Principal. Corner of Broadway and Yates streets, Victoria. Parents and Guardians are advised that in this Institute, children of both sexes, from the age of five years and upwards are successfully instructed in the elementary branches of an English education – and free from Sectarianism. Private Tuition in the French, German, Spanish and English Languages. Music: Piano, Violin, Guitar and Singing.

School for Young LadiesAs soon as the Fraser River gold rush began, Bishop Demers, who was already running several schools for boys, sent word out to the Sisters of St. Ann to come and teach girls. In June 1858, four sisters arrived from eastern Canada after a lengthy journey by ship via Panama and San Francisco. In December 1859, the Sisters of St. Ann opened a school for ‘young ladies’.

What about the miners? It wasn’t just young people who needed an education. If you were going to strike it rich, you needed to know basic math.

The winter months were a time when a lot of miners returned to Victoria from ‘the diggings’ with gold dust and time on their hands.

Edward Mallandaine

Edward Mallandaine – architect, teacher, school principal

Edward Mallandaine saw an opportunity. He was trained as an architect but had caught the gold fever himself and wound up in Victoria like so many others. In December 1859 he started teaching miners at night at J. Silversmith’s select school.Evening Tuition - Select School

To All Persons Wishing to Profit by the Winter Season, the undersigned, E. Mallandaine, at the above central establishment, offers evening instruction at moderate charges, in Reading, Writing and Ciphering. To more advanced learners, thorough tuition in the English and French Languages, Grammar and Composition, Arithmetic, Geometry, Elementary Algebra, Drawing, and Line Drawing, the principles of Architecture and Design. Apply at the “Select School,” Broad Street to E. Mallandaine.

At first he saw this as a way to make extra money while he furthered his career as an architect but he wound up buying the school from J. Silversmith and it operated for many years.


Notes:

The school where the Sisters of St. Anne taught was constructed in 1848 by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s expert post-and-sill builder Jacques Laquechier. It was sold and moved several times before Bishop Demers bought it and moved it yet again. This school was later bought by the provincial museum and moved to its present location on the museum grounds.

Ciphering was an old method for solving proportions. It predated algebra. Here is an example via mathforum.org.

To cipher to the rule of three for 3, 9, and 2 
is to complete the phrase "3 is to 9 as 2 is to ___," with the answer 
being the quantity 6.

The Importance of the Columbia River

The Columbia River was the breadbasket of the Northwest. For thousands of years, the Columbia River was an important fishing and trade route for Native Americans. They traded with other tribes who lived along the Columbia River and along its tributaries all the way up the Okanagan River. Before the international boundary was drawn up at the 49th parallel, the Okanagan people (north and south) were considered as one.  Thousands more came from the Plateau region to trade their horses for salmon pemmican, root vegetables, berries and other necessary articles such as hemp.

When Alexander Mackenzie published his account of travelling to the Pacific Ocean in 1801, fur trading companies took note. After reading Mackenzie’s book, John Jacob Astor decided to set up the Pacific Fur Company and ‘cherry-picked’ seasoned voyageurs and traders from the North West Company to start its business.

The newly formed group had just started building ‘Fort Astoria’ when David Thompson came down the Columbia River. Not long later, John Stuart, who had paddled down that first trip with Simon Fraser, started the very first brigade trip from New Caledonia all the way to Fort Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River. Unlike Fraser’s trip, Stuart’s group made part of the journey with horses.

The voyageurs coming from New Caledonia would set out from from an ice-covered Stuart’s Lake in April and by the end of June would reach the mouth of the Columbia River in time to meet the yearly ship coming from London with their supplies. At Fort Astoria, bundles of furs that had been carefully wrapped in buffalo hides were readied to be shipped to China. (The North West Company had a license from the East India Company which allowed them to send their furs there).

When the Hudson’s Bay Company merged with the North West Company in 1821, they took over their forts. The HBC built Fort Vancouver and that became the main fort.  Fort Nez Percés was renamed Fort Walla Walla although most people still called it by its old name. The HBC decided not to use the Fraser-Columbia route to supply its forts in New Caledonia, but the alternative route via the Peace River was used. This northerly route required a dangerous and lengthy (12 mile) portage. After losing canoes full of men and valuable furs, Governor Simpson decided that the Fraser-Columbia route was the better option after all.

From 1826 to 1847 the Fraser River – Columbia River route was used by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The overland brigade trail through the Okanagan served as a vital link in that route. The signing of the Oregon Treaty in 1846 which established the international boundary at the 49th parallel put a stop to that. The Hudson’s Bay Company left its forts below the line to the Americans.

The Fraser River – Columbia River route was used again by gold seekers during the Fraser River gold rush.

Note: Fort Astoria was captured by the British during the war of 1812 and renamed Fort George. Its ownership was in question for many years. In later years, the American government began to establish several military forts (in gold) including Fort Walla Walla (near the site of the old fur trading fort Nez Perces).

Here is a map from the 1970s showing the hydro-electric dams on the Columbia River:

 

Flour Sacks in the Gold Rush

Flour sacks were very useful  long after they had been emptied of flour.  They were made from tough woven fabric and could be sewn together for a sheet or a quilt to keep out the chill in a drafty log cabin.

In the early days of British Columbia’s settler history, it was a challenge to find a flour sack. Thousands of sacks of ‘Golden Gate Flour’ and ‘Self Rising Flour’ were imported, but they disappeared just as quickly as they arrived.

Flour was traditionally shipped in barrels, but because of the need to transport to the gold fields, it was much easier if the flour was put into sacks. The size of the sack was made in comparison to the same amount of flour that would fit into a barrel. One barrel held 196 pounds of flour, a half barrel was 49 pounds. For example, ‘Olympia’ flour was shipped in quarter sacks.

Gold seekers lost their lives in their efforts to save their precious sacks of flour. Consider this brief entry in the Daily Colonist on May 7, 1859:

A canoe was picked up floating down the [Fraser] river. In it was found a sack of flour. [The canoe] is supposed to have been capsized and those drowned who were working it up the river.

Cayoosh, BC November 4, 1859

We require a storekeeper with plenty of goods and capital; we have the greatest difficulty to keep a sack of flour in town; everything leaves for Fort Alexander, where there are some very rich mines…The great drawback all the way up and down the river is the scarcity of provisions. Hundreds of men have left this neighborhood for fear of starvation…Anyone opening a store here can make money rapidly next spring…

The invention of the sewing machine in the mid 1800s and improvements in spinning and weaving cotton made the use of flour sacks more cost effective than wooden barrels by the late 1800s.


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