Philip Nind: First Assistant Gold Commissioner for the Cariboo

Philip Nind: first gold commissioner for the Cariboo

Philip Nind: first gold commissioner for the Cariboo

Philip Henry Nind was the first assistant gold commissioner for the Cariboo.

Nind was born and raised in England and graduated from Oxford with a Master of Arts degree in 1858. Almost immediately he left for Victoria, British Columbia where he was employed as a clerk in the Colonial Secretary’s office. The following summer in 1859, Nind was chosen to be the first assistant gold commissioner for Alexandria (Cariboo) district.

In August 1859 Nind and Constable William Pinchbeck arrived in Williams Lake. Nind and Pinchbeck visited mining claims at Keithley Creek before crossing the 6,000 foot summit of Snowshoe Plateau to Antler Creek. Nind made the observation that miners were living in holes dug of snow which was between 6 and 7 feet deep.

The following month, Nind travelled with Judge Begbie and a court registrar to the various mining camps to register mining claims. They reached the town of Quesnel Forks in September, after having travelled on horseback from Mud Lake to Beaver Valley, then to Little Lake where they established a base camp.

Entrepreneurs at Quesnel Forks (now 18 homes and tents) requested ferry licences and bridge charters. The Cariboo Wagon Road had not yet been built and merchants were having to pay for trails and bridges with their own money in the hopes of being compensated by grants from the colonial government and tolls from eager miners.

At Quesnel Forks, Nind laid out five streets, two parallel to the South Fork River, two at right angles, and a fifth street bordering the South Fork River. He suggested that the Royal Engineers survey a townsite, but Colonel Moody refused; “a mining town is in truth for a long while more the character of a prolonged “Fair” than anything else.”

In between surveying Quesnel Lake and writing despatches to Governor Douglas, Nind built a log cabin for himself at Williams Lake with the help of his two constables, William Pinchbeck and Charles Seymour.

Nind took a sick leave and he went back to England in December 1861. The following April, he married Elizabeth Sivewright and extended his leave of absence until the fall when they returned to British Columbia. Nind resumed his position of assistant gold commissioner but became disillusioned by the speculation in mining claims by other government officials. He left the Cariboo for Australia in 1869.