So I headed south and east across the Salish Sea and into the mouth of a very big and very muddy river. They called it Fraser. Swimming against the current really developed my leg muscles. Along the way I was hearing tales of gold being discovered throughout the canyon that the river ran through. Sure enough, I ran into thousands of men all staking claims along every river and creek they came across. Most of the gold was found on the sandbars in the river and I had some work acting as a guide for many gold seekers who had come north from California. I also helped maintain communication with Governor Douglas (I like to think of myself as the founder of the airmail service in the area) in Victoria and was instrumental in Britain declaring the land as the Colony of British Columbia. It was an exciting time!
Eventually I hooked up with a man called Billy Barker. He was heading further north and east into what became known as “The Cariboo.” There we were in the middle of nowhere having walked for weeks, panning here and there but with no real luck. One morning Billy headed off to what we called Williams Creek when I heard him give a whoop followed by a holler and he began to dance around like a madman. There in the bottom of his pan were the biggest nuggets I’d ever seen. Well, wasn’t that cause for celebration and the staking of a claim! Of course, that created a lot of excitement and soon the whole area was swarming with miners. They were going to call the town that sprang up Drakesville but I insisted that they call it Barkerville. I did help to plan the second town after the big fire and managed to land a job as a court clerk when Judge Matthew Begbie arrived to deliver justice to the miscreants who had been held in jail until his arrival.
My final job was as manager for the local theatre. It was called the Theatre Royal and we held burlesque and other performances nightly. It was a roaring success with the dancing girls attracting large crowds of miners. Rumour has it that many years later, when Barkerville was restored, a man called Sid Williams from the K’omoks land would perform there every summer. Small world!!