Claim jumpers in the Cariboo gold rush

The term ‘jumpers’ referred to goldseekers who seized gold claims from their rightful owners. In his poem about gold rush gamblers, James Anderson writes: “it’s my belief that jumper is Chinook for thief.” 

A story printed in the Cariboo Sentinel on May 14, 1863, showed just how competitive it was to stake a claim.

“Messrs. Levi and Boas, who were packing to Richfield by natives, had been stopped, in consequence of the streams having swollen from the melting snow. The Gold Commissioners had not arrived. Jumpers were causing much annoyance.”

“When the crowd from this place arrived at the diggings and read the notices that were posted up, they discovered that the original locators had more ground staked off, than they were entitled to according to the Gold Fields’ Act and hence “jumping” commenced right off.”

“This would have led to serious difficulties had not the stronger party gave way and concluded to have it settled in the legitimate way. A courier was immediately dispatched for the Gold Commissioner who resides somewhere near Mission Ranch, in a farming community, several miles from any mining camp. What a ridiculous location!

He came plodding along on snowshoes after several days’ delay, and I hear, has at length succeeded in reaching the field of gold and “jumpers,” and will no doubt, endeavor to settle matters. As soon as the snow melts off and the miners get operating, I will write you again..”