Camps des French Claims
Cariboo Gold Rush
Description 1 of 4: Historically Important Album with 190 Original Gelatin Silver Photographs Taken by a French Gold Prospector in the Cariboo Region, Showing in Great Detail the Gold Claims and Equipment on the Middle and Upper Quesnel River, Portraits of the Prospectors from the “French Claims” and First Nations People from the “Rancherie” near Quesnel Mouth, Views of the Quesnel River and Canyon, the town of Quesnel, Cariboo Wagon Road, Ashcroft, Vancouver, Victoria, CPR Stations Across Canada etc.
Ca. 1900s. Oblong Folio album ca. 25×34 cm (9 ¾ x 13 ¼ in). 190 original gelatin silver photographs each ca. 5,5×8 cm (2×3 in) mounted in windows four per page on recto and verso of 24 stiff card leaves, including 16 matte photographs and the rest glossy, all captioned in French in period manuscript pencil on the mounts. Period red half morocco album with red pebbled cloth covers, with small period manuscript black ink label “Ile de Vancouver et Colombie Britannique” on the spine; marbled endpapers. Mild wear at album extremities, a few minor chips on covers, one leaf with small tear, and very mild foxing at leaf extremities but otherwise a very good album with historically interesting strong sharp photographs.
Travaux de recherché des French Claims
Cariboo Gold Rush
Description 2 of 4: Very interesting extensive collection of carefully captioned original photos taken by a French gold prospector and surveyor in the Cariboo District in the early 1900s. The album’s compiler travelled to the remote British Columbia goldfields from France to complete a surveying “mission” of the “French [gold] claims” on the middle Quesnel River. As follows from the photos’ captions, the “French Claims” were located near the “Johnson” and “Sullivan” claims which, according to the 2012 study of Andrew Nelson and Michael Kennedy, were staked somewhere between Dear and Towler Creeks, about 30 to 50 kilometers north of the modern day ghost town of Quesnel Forks (Fraser River Gold Mines and Their Place Names// BC Studies 172, 2012, pp. 105-125; with: A Map from Hope to Quesnel Forks// BC Studies 172, insert in back cover).
The album contains over 95 photographs of the central and upper Quesnel River gold claims, including “French,” Johnson’s, Columbia [Hydraulic Mining Co.’s], Sullivan’s, E. de Loyne’s, and Thompson’s, several views of the “Dredge Hall” which was located “3 miles south of the French claims,” apparently discontinued “Fader’s dredging camp” with the abandoned wooden house and dredges on the river bank, mines and camps near the Quesnel Forks town, including the Little Lake and Gold Point mines (the latter shows the Quesnel Forks village in the background, one photo portrays Japanese workers having lunch at the worksite), views of the Quesnel River valley, banks, canyons and gravel bars, Morehead Lake, Beaver Creek, a section of the First Creek, etc. Very interesting are the photos of the “French Claims” camp and workers, showing a canvas tent and a quickly erected wooden house, an “open-air kitchen,” portraits of the workers taking samples of gravel, gold panning with a sluice and a rocker box, digging trenches, traversing the Quesnel River on a raft, posing next to an erratic boulder or a post marking the “claim Green” (H.E. Green hydraulic claim); there are also portraits of “Ha-Sching,” “the mission cook” (in work and fancy outfits) and one of the workers named “Mr. Warner.” A couple of images show the digging works and the “entrance to Gallery No. 1” on the “French Claims.”
Types indiens de Quesnelle
Cariboo Gold Rush
Description 3 of 4: There are also about thirty interesting photos of the Cariboo Region and Cariboo Wagon Road, including views of the Fraser River and the Quesnel Mouth (modern-day town of Quesnel), showing the river near Fort Alexandra, “Charlotte” river steamer, a boat of Hudson’s Bay Company arriving to Quesnel, a “wooden bridge” over the Quesnel river, views of the town from the river, the main street with the store of “James Reid General Merchant” (est. 1873), the store of “Wa Lee Co.” (captioned “House of Qua Li, Chinese merchant”), a portrait of a “Chinese boy in Quesnel” etc.
A dozen views show Ashcroft (the CPR station, the main street with the “General merchandise” store, a street in the Chinese quarter, Thompson river bridge) and Cariboo Wagon Road (a wagon in Clinton street in front of the store of “Wm. J Kelly, Harness & Saddle master,” an “Indian house” on the road, 83-miles house and 150-miles house).
“Rancherie” de Quesnelle
Cariboo Gold Rush
Description 4 of 4: Over twenty interesting photographs portray the First Nations people from the Cariboo district. A series of photos taken on a “rancherie” or native village near Quesnel show the local chief, his wife and children, an elder, a man chopping wood, women with children (one woman wearing a European type of dress and a hat), an open “summer house,” a “cache” where provisions are stored, and the cemetery. The other photos show a family in front of their permanent house, three men with a catch of salmon, a “young Shilkotin man” [Tsilhqot’in/Chilcotin], native girls from Fort Alexandra, an “Indian porter in Fort George,” and a view of the “Indian houses” taken on the trail to the “French claims.”
The album also houses a series of photos taken during the travel to the Cariboo gold district across Canada. There are over twenty views of Vancouver showing the “new CPR station” (second CPR station, 1899-1914), the first Hotel Vancouver (1888-1916), Christ Church Cathedral (1895), the first Hudson’s Bay Company’s store (1893), “Scottish Baronial” Bank of Montreal (1893), the first Vancouver courthouse (1890), Granville and West Georgia streets, Stanley Park, Cordova Street with a tram car, “Railway street,” the “Velodrome” (Hastings racecourse?), and others. The other photos show Victoria (Government street and tennis courts), stations and settlements along the Canadian Pacific Railway (Nipigon, Fort William, Port Arthur (all in Ontario), Russian Dukhobor settlers (mujiks) in Manitoba, Brandon (debris from a train crash), Laggan (Lake Louise Alberta), a CPR snow plow), Ottawa and New York.
Overall a very interesting historically significant large collection of rare photos of the remote Cariboo goldfields and towns.