Gold Rush Gamblers

James Anderson wrote a poem about gold rush gamblers in Barkerville:

There is a set o’ men up here
Wha never work thro’ a’ the year,
A kind o’ serpents, craulin’ snakes,
That fleece the miner o’ his stakes;
They’re Gamblers – honest men some say,
Tho’ its quite fair to cheat in play
If it’s no Kent o’ I ne’er met
An honest man a Gambler yet!
O, were I Judge in Cariboo
I’d see the laws were carr’d thro’,
I’d hae the cairds o’ every pack
Tied up in a gunny sack,
Wi’ a’ the gamblers chained thegither
And banish’d frae the creek forever.
But Sawney, there’s anither clan,
There’s nane o’ them I’d ca’ a man.
They ca’ them “jumpers” – it’s my belief
That jumper is Chinook for thief; –
The jump folks claims and jump their lots,
They jump the very pans pots;
But wait a wee – for a’ this evil –
Their friend’ll jump them.
He’s the deevil.

Gambling went on unimpeded in the ‘gold diggings’ during the Fraser River gold rush and the Cariboo gold rush. Games such as Monte Bank, Keno and Euchre were played at ‘gambling houses’ which were usually tents.

In Fort Victoria, gambling was not tolerated. Many public lectures were given on how gambling houses would lead to the degredation of society. An editorial speaks of this prevailing attitude:

Praise is due to the authorities of Victoria for the prompt suppression of every attempt to introduce public gambling into this colony. Our town has consequently been preserved from all those incidents which ever follow closely in the train of the greatest of social vices…[where] life and property are rendered insecure…[and] the exhibitions of deadly weapons, and often their use, around the gaming tables, are the order of the day.

As a result, gambling was done behind closed doors. Here is an article from the British Times Colonist dated May 22, 1860:

A case was called on in the Police Court yesterday morning, which attracted a great crowd thither. It seems that Sergeant Carey has had the bookstore of W.F. Herre, on Yates Street, under his surveillance for some time, suspecting that gambling was being carried on in the rear apartments.

On Sunday night last, Carey, in company with [four other officers] went to the rear of the house, and having peeped through the blinds, discovered a party of men playing cards. The posse proceeded to the front door and demanded admittance, which being denied, the door was broken open and the parties arrested.

The Judge considered the charge against Herre of keeping a gambling-house fully sustained and fined him twenty pounds. The case was appealed to the higher court…