Cattle Drovers of the Gold Rush

Within two months after the first miners crossed the International boundary from California, the renowned Oregonian packer ‘General’ Joel Palmer crossed the border at Osoyoos and travelled through the Okanagan Valley and on to the Thompson Valley with a cattle drive and wagons pulled by oxen.

HBC Brigade Trails

HBC Brigade Trails

The earlier cattle drives from Oregon to the goldfields followed the old Hudson’s Bay Company Brigade Trail along the Columbia River to the mouth of the Okanogan River and then north to Okanogan Lake, turning westward near Vernon and through Grande Prairie (now Westwold) to the Thompson River and west to Fort Kamloops; then along the south side of Kamloops to Savona’s Ferry, crossing the river there and continuing westward to Cache Creek; northward along the Bonaparte River to contact the Brigade Trail from the north.

Later, numerous other trails were defined to the coast and Okanagan, notably the all-Canadian trail developed after the Oregon Territory boundary was settled.

In 1859, Joe Greaves drove sheep from Oregon to Olympia,Washington, from where they were shipped to Fort Yale on the Fraser River and then trailed 250 miles along the Brigade Trail to the Cariboo.

The cattle drovers were mostly Americans who, for the most part, did not settle in the country.