Queen Victoria’s influence on the BC gold rush

As a colony of Britain, the monarchy held great influence over the people in British Columbia. Queen Victoria herself had named British Columbia and the town of New Westminster.

Albert Wharf in Victoria was named after Prince Albert. Approximately three miles south of Yale on the Fraser River were the prosperous gold diggings of Victoria Bar and Prince Albert Flat. In the spring of 1860, it was reported that Prince Albert Flat was paying from $8 to $14 “to the hand” with four companies working there.

News of Prince Albert’s untimely death on December 14, 1861 reached the town of Victoria the following year in February. The news came as a shock to Victorians whose town was named in honour of the Queen.

The confirmation of the…demise of Prince Albert was received throughout the length and breadth of the Old and New Worlds – with heartfelt sorrow. The flags of the Government Buildings and the of the Harbormaster’s Office were at half-mast during the day…His Excellency Governor Douglas has most appropriately issued a call to Her Majesty’s loving subjects resident to manifest their grief…

Citizens wore black crape hat bands or wore crape bands around their left arms as signs of mourning for a week after hearing the news.

It was not revealed at the time but Prince Albert died of typhoid fever; a disease that also affected the gold rush population in British Columbia at that time.