Stephen Tingley – Crack Whip of the Cariboo

Stephen Tingley, Stagecoach Driver

Stephen Tingley, BC Express

Stephen Tingley was known as one of the best stagecoach drivers of the gold rush, and early acquired the reputation of being the crack whip of the Cariboo Wagon Road. The title was in recognition of his speed in travelling the miles between Yale and Soda Creek.

Tingley was born in New Brunswick in 1839 and came to British Columbia at the height of the Fraser River gold rush in 1858. Later he opened a harness shop in Yale.  In 1861 Francis Barnard  asked Tingley to run a new 6-horse stagecoach to complement Barnard’s Express which ran between Yale and Barkerville. From 1864-97, Tingley drove the return trip between Quesnel and Barkerville, and was known as the Best Whip in the West. It is with some irony to note that Tingley’s first wife Elizabeth died after being thrown from a wagon in 1873.

Tingley stayed on with the BC Express for 33 years, eventually becoming a partner in the business. In 1886, Francis Barnard and James Hamilton sold their shares to Tingley who became sole proprietor of the BC Express. He moved the head office to Ashcroft, and purchased numerous area properties to breed and raise horses to supply his expanding business. In 1889 Tingley purchased the 108 Mile Ranch with barns to shelter up to 200 horses. In 1894 he purchased the Hat Creek Ranch from William Cargile.