Why was the Cariboo Wagon Road built?
Before the Cariboo Wagon Road was built, the Fraser River gold rush was regarded as diggings for the well-to-do only; as the cost for pack-horses to bring supplies was at least 40cents per pound for food. Freight and mining supplies were even more costly.
Governor Douglas was proud of the Port Douglas to Lillooet trail, however many were critical that this road had cost the Colony a lot of money without providing a huge benefit to gold seekers wishing to make their way north.
What was really needed was a “good wagon road to Fort Yale…which could be kept open at all seasons could be made a moderate expense.”
The expense of building a wagon road was one that must have weighed heavily on the mind of Governor Douglas.
Shortly after James Douglas was named Governor of British Columbia (including the mainland) in 1860, he was granted powers to “raise further revenue for the purpose of opening and improving the communication and roads from Port Douglas and Yale with and to the mining regions beyond.”
“I do hereby declare…that from and after the 1st day of March 1860, every pack-horse, mule, or other quadruped, leaving Port Douglas or Yale for the purpose of carrying a load or burden towards the mining regions beyond…shall be charged with a toll of one pound sterling for each journey…”
“Any person wilfully evading or attempting to evade the toll aforesaid shall be fined treble the amount of the toll or any sum not exceeding £100 at the discretion of the Magistrate.”