Francis Barnard and the BC Express Company

Francis J. Barnard

Francis J. Barnard of BC Express Co.

The BC Express Company was a name that was synonymous with the Cariboo gold rush. In 1865 alone, the BC Express Company hauled $4.5 million worth of gold from the Cariboo to Yale.

Who was the man who started founded this famous BC gold rush company? His name was Francis Jones Barnard. Barnard was born in Quebec City in 1829 and came to British Columbia at the height of the Fraser River gold rush in 1858.

It was a long trip out west and he spent a short time panning for gold, after which he sold his claim and worked as a constable. Later he became a purser on board the steamship “Fort Yale” and survived the explosion that sank it.

In 1861, Barnard acquired the packing business of Jeffray and Company, which also carried the official mail without charge from Victoria to Yale.

In 1862, Barnard established the BC Express Company with one mule and the government awarded him a paid contract to carry the mail from Victoria to the Cariboo. The following year, he bought a two horse wagon to carry express mail and gold from Yale to Barkerville.

By 1866 Barnard became the sole proprietor of the horse express business from Victoria to Barkerville.

The BC Express Company incorporated in 1871. This consisted of F.J. Barnard, holding one half interest, and Steve Tingley and James Hamilton each holding one quarter interest. Hamilton died in 1886 and Barnard sold his share to Tingley who thus became sole owner.